The Trouble With Peace by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Union and the North find themselves at peace with their enemies, but what is peace other than a time to prepare once again for war. Tensions are still high and conspiracies are growing to the point of full on treason. Orso has become king even though many of his people think him a buffoon, Rikke struggles with the long eye, Savine is trying to recover from her ordeal in Valbeck, and Leo just wants to be a hero. As the new generation takes over from the old, there are no lack of problems.
The Trouble with Peace is what I've come to expect from Joe Abercrombie, humanity at it's bleakest. I did find one thing I didn't expect however, me being dismayed by what was happening. I don't know if it was living during a pandemic, but the feeling of hopelessness was bumming me out. I worked through it and enjoyed Abercrombie's nihilistic view of the First Law world.
It's hard reading the various knowing the nature of Abercrombie's writing. A group of individuals who are either already broken and jaded or well on their way to it. I'd split the point of view characters into two camps, those being broken down and those already broken. Those being broken down are Orso, Rikke, and Leo, while the already broken are Clover, Vick, and Broad. It's a tragedy in action yet against all reason I still hold out hope for most of them.
If you aren't familiar with the First Law world and you plan on learning more, then don't continue past this point. This will be jammed full of spoilers from the original trilogy.
In the First Law world some things just are: like the sun, the moon, and the First of the Magi Bayaz. He's a force of nature and betting or battling against him would truly be a mistake in the long run.
Bayaz helped create the Union, but he is also the cause of the Union's problems. Valint and Balk, owned by Bayaz, chokes the Union's resources with interest on loans they forced the Union to take. Without that money the Union couldn't come to aid the North when they battle Stour Nightfall. The interest also made the Union ask for an increase of taxes after the North won the war, leading to trouble. Styria wants to end the threat of Bayaz in all it's forms. Valint and Balk's greed also helped create the Breakers and Burners by placing profit above all else and by his example of complete greed impacting the affluent in the Union. Bayaz reaps all the rewards, takes little personal risk, and rarely assists. When he does assist, there are nearly unbreakable strings attached and as far as the books have shown only death can free most people from Bayaz once his hooks are in them. I'm not saying Bayaz is the devil, but he seems as though he may be the closest thing walking on the First Law world's surface.
Many people of the world want to destroy what Bayaz has built. I do wonder as magic leaks from the world, if the Union will be freed from his influence or if he'll continue to guide the world based on his greed.
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