Joe Abercrombie: The Trouble with Peace – Book Review

Joe Abercrombie: The Trouble with Peace - Book Cover

What can happen in a monumental fantasy series after the supreme mage deals with everyone as he pleases? (Raymond E. Feist could tell you about this in connection with the Riftwar Cycle books.) However, Lord Bayaz doesn’t really have any opponents left on the horizon. Joe Abercrombie decided to sideline Bayaz and continue the adventure in the First Law world with The Age of Madness trilogy, introducing many new and old characters, advancing the history of the Union in a tableau-like manner, now also welcoming the industrial revolution alongside magic, spewing smoke and fire.

The second part of the trilogy, “The Trouble with Peace”, seemingly follows the same recipe as the first. The characters engage in conflicts of local significance, and nothing earth-shattering really happens. A rebellion raises its head here and there, and the strong men of The North, as usual, make trouble, but they always do that. (Let’s add that without this tough and wild masculinity, Abercrombie’s series probably wouldn’t work so well, as mostly only the Union’s bureaucracy and petty political disputes would remain.)

And yet, you find that The Age of Madness is much better to read than all of Abercrombie’s previous books. Perhaps because now the characters from earlier stories, who were often of simple (solely fighting or sulking) nature, come to life. (Except, of course, Caul Shivers, the current most dangerous man in the North. But he’s doing just fine as he is.)

It is said that truly good writers can write about everyday events in a way that makes them seem much more than they are. Well, the viewpoint characters of “The Trouble with Peace” easily accomplish this task. If we consider just the three extremely strong female protagonists of the book (a spy loyal to the point of self-sacrifice, a clairvoyant who regularly poops his pants, and Adua’s ruthless and ambitious businesswoman, who is provided with a tailwind by the Inquisition itself), we see that at least two of them are very difficult to fit into the likable personalities category, yet you eagerly flip through the pages, following their fate with bated breath.

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Deadly Class – Vol. 7: Love Like Blood by by Rick Remender · Wes Craig – Comic Book Review

Deadly Class – Vol. 7: Love Like Blood by by Rick Remender · Wes Craig - Comic Book Cover

If you were a school psychologist at the King’s Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts, you would definitely be stuffing benzodiazepines into your own mouth by the handful. Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s Deadly Class seems perfect for apprentice assassins at first glance, but in reality, it wouldn’t work.

A high school for the children of criminals? Where students trained for killing roam armed?! Come on!

You’ve probably heard of the dramaturgical principle that if a loaded gun appears on stage, sooner or later it will be fired. Well, for those attending the assassin class, firing the gun – with classmates in the crosshairs – is part of the prescribed curriculum.

The King’s Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts is essentially a psychopath training ground, which would only work until the first freshly graduated seniors returned home to mommy and daddy. However, instead of a resourceful karate champion, ninja, or commando, the parents could welcome home unpredictable wrecks devoid of any human emotions. Afterward, dissatisfied ancestors from all over the world would flock to San Francisco to demand a refund of tuition… and incidentally, to chop the entire teaching staff into tiny pieces.

Rick Remender, the master of the most unbelievable twists, organizes a class trip to Mexico in the seventh part of the Deadly Class. And you, the reader, are supposed to believe that Marcus, one of the most repulsive protagonists in comic literature, successfully takes on a group of Yakuza. Man, he got expelled! Not to mention that he only attended for a year, most of which he was totally high on drugs!

So, do you believe it? Okay then.

If it’s been a relatively long time since you read the previous part, you’re in luck because you might not remember exactly why you hate the characters in the book. (Just know that you hate them.) Perhaps this is one reason why you don’t find the seventh part of the Deadly Class as annoying as the previous ones. But it could also be because of the continuous action.

Fortunately, the blood-soaked, ninja-like action is precisely interrupted by the more lyrical parts. These, almost without exception, work now. There is death, a turning point, truly profound twists, but even in their extremeness, they stay grounded in reality.

If you were to start acquainting yourself with Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s series with this part, you actually wouldn’t find much to criticize.

And when Saya takes center stage, the character who hasn’t made a complete fool of herself in the series so far, you’ve reached the climax of “Love like blood,” but for real the whole series. The power combined with a sense of inferiority is capable of astonishing things – and, of course, paves the way for a very pleasant future revenge.

But the best is saved for last: Master Lin, who resembles a small, acholic*, sausage-shaped piece of poop, remarkably does not appear in the panels of this comic!

7.5/10 (75%)

Deadly Class – Vol. 7: Love Like Blood by Rick Remender (writer) · Wes Craig (illustrator)
120 pages, Paperback
Published in 2018 by Image Comics

acholic* referring to a pathological lack of bile, characterized by a white color

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay – Book Review

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay – Book cover

It can really mess up the American dream if you smash your girlfriend’s head with a big rock. Danny Pine is currently residing at the Fishkill Correctional Facility for precisely this reason. However, his family steadfastly believes in his innocence and has been fighting for his exoneration for years. Meanwhile, Danny’s estranged brother, Matt, receives terrible news: all their relatives on a Mexican vacation died in an accident. As time passes, the circumstances become increasingly suspicious. Matt decides to uncover the truth… Despite the dramatic setup in “Every Last Fear” Alex Finlay surprisingly crafts a family-friendly thriller.

The writing style of “All Your Fears” is quite unremarkable, lacking any distinctive features. Countless books with similarly subdued quality are published daily. However, Alex Finlay successfully overcomes this by structuring the novel effectively. Alongside Matt’s private investigation, you get the reminiscences of other Pine family members, leading up to the tragic conclusion.

FBI agent Sarah Keller, investigating the case, also gets dedicated chapters. So “All Your Fears” meanders through various paths, providing UNEXPECTED twists at each turn. Introducing new turns, possible suspects, and clever tricks, these sophisticated maneuvers significantly enhance the enjoyment of the thriller.

The unpredictability of Alex Finlay’s book manages to conceal the fact that the main characters of “Every Last Fear” the Pine family members, are not very well-developed. Matt, the most thoroughly introduced among them, is a true-blue average American citizen, and that’s about it.

However, it’s effortless to identify with all of them. The family-friendly label at the beginning of this review was not accidental. Finley’s thriller paints the picture of of an ordinary and supportive family, even in times of trouble – while flashing glimpses of sketchy portraits of everyday America along the way.

Family relationships receive significant emphasis – somewhat unnecessarily – in the case of Agent Keller too, who turns out to be the best-developed character in the book. (And by the end of “Every Last Fear”she slowly becomes an honorary family member.)

The impact of the book largely relies on knowing what will happen, creating a growing unease as you watch the pages of the book decrease. This oppressive feeling is particularly noticeable when reading Maggie’s chapters. Maggie, Matt Pine’s sister, is the perfect opposite of contemporary TikTok-expert teenagers: dedicated, smart, and kind, the ideal little sister in every respect.

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