This is a stand-alone novel set in the world of The First Law.
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 neighbor, 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.
For glory, for victory, for staying alive.
When he’s not writing large-scale fantasy novels, Abercrombie moonlights as a freelance film editor, a skill that undoubtedly contributes to his forte of crafting cinematically vivid action and crisp, witty dialogue. His latest novel revisits territory well trodden in his First Law trilogy, which opened with The Blade Itself (2006), and traverses an imaginary landscape reminiscent of a medieval Europe populated by citizens of the Union Empire and its tribal enemies to the north. Here the story concentrates on a sometimes violent, sometimes bafflingly strange three-day battle taking place on and around an insignificant Northlands hill crowned by monolithic burial stones called The Heroes. While the battle looms as only one stepping stone in a larger campaign by the Union’s Lord Marshal Kroy in preventing the North’s Black Dow from seizing more lands, the clash of key adversaries will prove decisive. Yet the premise here is less important than the multiple political intrigues, scandals, and jealous feuds enacted by Abercrombie’s parade of colorful characters. One of Abercrombie’s most masterfully executed and compellingly readable novels to date. –Carl Hays