Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness series is a lot of fun. Grimdark, but fun. So I couldn’t resist when Will at Gollancz reached out with the idea of a massive readalong. This is WEEK 4 – so we’re going from the Sinking Ships to The New Monument chapters of A Little Hatred today. Check out the previous posts in the series here (WEEK 1 – Grimdark Magazine; WEEK 2 – Novel Notions; WEEK 3 – Alhambra Book Reviews). But without further ado, let’s dive into the story. These chapters really take us into the meat of the revolution breaking out which means there’s a lot of action – and especially a lot of re-action from the various factions introduced earlier in the story.
Sinking Ships brings Vick and Tallow to Valbeck, where they join the Breakers, one of the factions planning the looming rebellion. This chapter does well showing the discontent spreading through the lower classes of the city and how there isn’t much tinder needed to set them aflame. Vick and Tallow find out that the Weaver, their leader, is in fact Superior Risinau, one of the members of the Inquisition that the Breakers (and their more violent cousins, the Burners) are rising against.
Welcome to the Future – oh the joys of capitalism and industrialisation! Vallimir shows Savine the budding factory which is teeming with child labour and exploitation. Not like they care though, it makes them money. But this is where things start to go really sour for the rich: they are attacked when the rebellion and its accompanying riots break out. Savine almost dies, and manages to rescue herself with the help of a handy river.
The Little People is the kind of chapter in which Abercrombie shines. I think he’s at his best in these mood-setting atmospheric snapshots. This chapter shows the impact of the beginning rebellion and riots on the population of Valbeck through a series of vignettes showing minor characters and what happens to them as the violence breaks out. I really loved this chapter in particular.
In Something of Ours, Savine is reeling from the heinous attack that she just survived. She is desperate to find shelter, though it is no easy feat. Eventually, May, a maid, recognises her as someone of importance due to the expensive clothes she wears (which are in rags by now) and takes her in.
The Man of Action takes us to the court of the Royal Family, where everyone is in uproar after news of the rebellion in Valbeck has reached them. The Crown Prince Orso is dispatched to help combat the rebellion – and of course ensure the safety of the story’s darling, Savine dan Glotka. (Hi, yes, can you tell she’s my fave) This, of course, means that he can’t follow his plans of going North to fight there…
Ugly Business brings us to Rikke and Leo dan Brock. We meet them again, tangled in bed, discussing royalty and war, when the army camp they’re in gets news of the events in Valbeck. As Rikke says “Reckon we’ll have to save ourselves.”
In the Mirror – the chaotic events in Valbeck are mirrored in the chaos at the court of the King of the Northmen. King Scale is holding a feast, when his nephew Stour returns, late, disappointing the king. Nevertheless, Scale officially names Stour heir – to the dismay of his advisors but much raucous feasting.
A Deal. Savine is recuperating with May and her family. They are simple people, and Savine is exceedingly grateful. May gets her to enter a deal: in return for taking care of Savine and rescuing her, Savine will use her influence to gain immunity for the family, so exchanging protection for protection.
The New Monument takes these chapters full circle. We’re back with Vick and Risinau, overlooking the destruction that happened during the course of the riots. Monuments have fallen, but what new ones will arise? Or will they all perish?
So, much that happened in those chapters, especially in terms of setting the scene and worldbuilding. There was a big focus on atmosphere, which I really enjoyed. On to the next nine chapters now!