Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Red country has been labeled as Abercrombie’s take on the western. This partially true, as Abercrombie has managed to squeeze as much of the tropes and furniture of said genre into this book. Showdowns in bars, scouts, wagon trains, native attacks, cattle stampedes, frontier towns, a stagecoach chase, ravaged homesteads, kidnappings, last stands, and others are all gloriously skewered and given homage. There are references to many of the classics, The Unforgiven, Outlaw Josey Wales, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Searchers, Blood Meridian, but the atmosphere most resembles Leone or Kurosawa’s similar grafting of westerns tropes onto a Samurai milieu.  I say only partially true as this essentially at its core nothing but yet another prime piece of Abercrombie fiction, a writer so thoroughly on the top of his game that it is kind of disappointing to read anyone else. This book is another rollicking black comedy with existential dread and skewered moralism and terrifically drawn characters. He has always skewered genres. His original trilogy was just his take on the classic fantasy trilogy, followed by a revenge/thriller, and then war fiction. These paint by numbers genre frameworks are just place for him to splatter paint all over. He is getting better and better and this is my favorite by him yet. He brings back many of his characters from his previous books. I will not give any spoilers by revealing which ones (one is barely disguised, one receives an ending I felt a little anti-climactic, and another is well disguised but I think I guessed who.), but while this will bring smiles to long time readers I believe you can read this book without any introduction. Waiting for his next book is going to be tough, but unlike Martin I know I won’t have to wait that long.

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