Release Date: 27/01/10
They say Black Dow's killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbour, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they've brought a lot of sharpened metal with them. Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honour on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he's far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Even if it's his own. Prince Calder isn't interested in honour, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he'll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Just as long as he doesn't have to fight for it himself. Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins any more, he just wants to do the right thing. But can he even tell what that is with the world burning down around him? Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts, or even the strongest arms that prevail. Three men. One battle. No Heroes.
The reader returns to the land of the First Law trilogy at a crucial point in the battle for the north. It’s brutal, it’s definitely bloody and it’s got a body count that would have not have frightened any Medieval general.
It’s definitely a title that will sate the reader who loves a solid fantasy, the characters are vivid and Joe’s comprehension of battlefield humour really shines through. Add to this some cracking prose, some spartanesque descriptive style and not a single word is wasted in this epic struggle. The fate of the north may not be completely writ but Joe has got one hell of a struggle on his hands as his talent improves with each successive title. A seriously good read and one that will hopefully garner the respect as well as reader time that it deserves.