Review: Red Country (The First Law Standalone #3)

Red Country - Joe Abercrombie

This was the third and, so far, final standalone book set in the First Law world after the original trilogy. However, there are more books planned. See the second-to-last paragraph of my review if you’re interested and not already aware. I didn’t enjoy the first two standalones quite as much as the original trilogy, but this third standalone came much closer in enjoyment level. The trilogy is still my favorite, but I enjoyed Red Country because it had more likeable characters and more variety to its plot than the previous two books. It also had a little more humor, closer to what the trilogy had.

 

The story focuses on a girl named Shy South, whose farm is burned and her younger brother and sister kidnapped while she and her step-father are away. She and her step-father set off to try to find the stolen children. Along the way they meet up with several other characters who have a part to play in the overall story, and there are some familiar characters from previous books.

 

All the standalones have made at least some reference to events and sometimes characters from the original trilogy, to give you the sense that life is continuing on much as you might have imagined based on the ending. However, none of them have gone into much detail that would satisfy somebody like me who was hoping for more closure at the end of the original trilogy. Red Country has a slightly stronger tie to it, and that was one of the reasons I enjoyed it more, even though it still didn’t answer any of my pressing questions from the trilogy. Well, it did answer one question I guess, but it was one I already was pretty sure I knew the answer to.

 

I have a few more thoughts, but will have to put them in spoilers since they would spoil the story for anybody who hasn’t read it yet. Some of the spoilers are major, so please don’t read them if you haven’t read this book.

 

 

I was very excited to see Logen again, since he’d been my favorite character from the original trilogy. I enjoyed seeing him, and I loved hearing his old familiar expressions. I just wish he had been one of the perspectives we read from, because he’s much more likeable that way. I also wanted more details about what had happened to him over the past decade or so. We’re told enough to get the gist of things, but I like Logen so I wanted much more of him.

 

Likewise, I found Cosca a more likeable character in Best Served Cold when we read from his own perspective but he wasn’t at all likeable in this book where we only saw him through the eyes of others. He was never the most moral or honorable character, but in this book he came across as a particularly horrible person. Sometimes he was a funny horrible person, and sometimes he was a tragic horrible person, but he was a horrible person nonetheless. When I thought he had died in Best Served Cold, I was sad and then relieved when it turned out he was still alive. At the end of this book it appears he’s really and truly dead this time and I couldn’t bring myself to feel disappointed.

 

One thing I especially liked about this book was the bond that formed among several of the characters who participated in the Fellowship headed to the Far Country. I liked the way some of them continued to be friends, and continued to help each other out, even after the journey was over. I like that kind of thing, and there hasn’t been too much of it in this series. Some with Dogman and his men during the trilogy, and with Craw and his men in The Heroes, but usually it was every man for himself or an uneasy alliance among people who didn’t know or trust each other very much.

(show spoiler)

 

 

For those who are interested, and not already aware, I came across some info indicating the author may write another trilogy set in this world that follows up on the original trilogy, although it sounds like it will be quite a while before we ever see it. He also has an anthology of short stories set in this world that’s due out in April 2016. Here’s the link. Avoid reading the comments to his post if you haven’t read all of the books, because there are unmarked spoilers. http://www.joeabercrombie.com/2015/09/17/progress-report-september-15/

 

I started this series thinking for some reason that it was complete, but I guess you can never be sure a series is completely finished as long as its author is still alive. I definitely won’t object to the chance to read more books set in this world down the road. For now, though, I’m looking forward to moving on to new things. I’ve spent a little over two months reading the 3300 pages set in this world, though, so it will feel kind of weird to leave it behind.