The Trouble With Peace - book 2 of the Age of Madness
Peace time means innovation is taking hold in the Union and a brighter future lies just around the corner for all the main characters. Lol, not exactly, afterall this is a Joe Abercrombie book. The trouble with peace is that it is provides a fertile ground for unrest to take hold in and after the events of the first book all of the main characters are quite dissatisfied with the status quo. King Orso is new to his role as head of the Union, which means the members of his open council are actively jockeying for personal power instead of supporting him, and he is still brooding over his unexpected break-up with Savine, who is struggling with her investments. To nobody's surprise Savine's one night stand with the Union's newest hero, Leo dan Brock, doesn't make her any happier. In fact it sets in motion unintended consequences that make the political situation within the Union a powder keg ready to explode. Things aren't much better up north where Stour Nightfall has new ambitions for revenge after losing his duel to Leo, and the Dogman's daughter, Rikke, is barely staying sane as her ability to see the future has taken over her life and is preventing her from dealing with the present. This means that all of these main characters have political and personal motivations to see the others come to misery, so come along for the ride and find out how it all happens.
Ultimately this one starts a little slowly with a ton of character building ang things stay relatively mild for a good chunk of the book. I daresay the slow pace even got a bit boring at times but fans of the series know that just means there will be heaps of pain handed out to everyone involved once things get going. And things do indeed get going. Once all the political maneuvering and intrigue is finally done it all culminates in a giant confrontation that spares no one from consequences. After all, this is the age of innovation in the Union and there is no better place to innovate than in weapons of war. As is usual I especially enjoyed the story when the focus was on the northmen as all of the characters there are full of personality and their interactions always make me smile. This new generation of characters may not be quite as compelling as their parents but they still make for a good time at their own expense. This is another worthy entry in the world of the First Law.
The audiobook version is narrated by Steven Pacey and there is nobody better, so this makes for an excellent listen. Abercrombie and Pacey form a great team and I can't wait to see what they offer up in book 3.