Read-a-long for Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness Trilogy (A Little Hatred, Chapters 10-18)

Read-a-long for Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness Trilogy (A Little Hatred, Chapters 10-18)

Hi everyone,

Petrik and Eon here, we’ll keep this introduction brief. We’re so excited that we get to be the second-in-line to host the read-along event for A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie. It’s truly an honor for both of us to be given this opportunity, especially because Joe Abercrombie’s books are some of our favorite books of all time. Today, we’ll be discussing Chapter 10-18 of A Little Hatred. There will be heavy spoilers for these chapters, so if you haven’t read the book, please go read them first!


Chapter 10: BREAK WHAT THEY LOVE

Rikke and Isern are on the run from Stour Nightfall and his Northmen. They hide and perchance overhear Stour telling his men all the horrific things he will do to Rikke once she is caught. This both scares her and sets a fire in her belly. As Stour leaves their vicinity, some of his own followers, Clover and Wonderful voice strong misgivings about Stour and it’s hard to blame them. Say one thing for Abercrombie, his characters are always very colourful.

Reading the first page, and we laughed already. This chapter shows that Abercrombie can give humor, atmosphere, and tension within 5 pages. “There are all kinds of pleasure in life… but I’ve come to think there’s little better than a piss when you really need one.” Rikke’s face, during this moment, was near the splash of the piss, and instead of being disgusted, she thought how warm it would be if she sticks her head underneath it. It’s such a simple (and disgusting) circumstance, but it evoked just how cold Rikke was feeling at that moment. Then, by the third page of the chapter, Nightfall’s imagination of what would happen to Rikke if he manages to catch her immediately shifts the tone of the narrative towards tension. It’s all so good.

Chapter 11: IT WAS BAD

Gunnar Broad, freshly back from the war in Styria returns home to his family but finds himself none too pleased with changes that have occurred in his absence. His living has been taken from him to enrich a local lord and his land next. When Lord Isher sends three men to enforce this transfer of property, Gunner disagrees with them, violently. He may have come back from the war and its trauma, but it still has its claws deep in him.

‘So I get fucked when I go to war and I get fucked when I come back?’

Despite having returned from the war and its trauma, Gunner still bears the scars of the war. Abercrombie clearly shows us the indelible mark it has left on him as Broad constantly feels the need to fight. This is a man on the edge and his almost Jekyll and Hyde personality on display is evidence that the trauma of war is a deep-seated one that can bring about severe swings in even the mildest personality. All this on top of a dramatically changed landscape, and it’s evident that the writer has skillfully moved Broad from one battlefield to another. And this new battlefield is wholly unfamiliar and all the more terrifying because of it. Who is the enemy?

Chapter 12: A SEA OF BUSINESS

Savine dan Glokta’s drive to expand her investments interests is at full steam ahead. She’s attending the biannual meeting of Adua’s Solar Society, expertly navigating this “Sea of Business” as she traverses its choppy, ever-changing waters in the management and expansion of her empire. As an investor people look to, she has it within her power to make or break the entrepreneurs looking for patronage, however, after a possible misstep or two, she soon finds that she may have a fierce new rival in Seleste dan Heugen.

Great chapter. For the past two years, we’ve mentioned plenty of times that we consider it necessary to have read all the previous books, or at least the First Law Trilogy, before starting A Little Hatred. This chapter, among many, exhibited why. The appearance of Yoru Sulfur and what he said regarding the interaction between his master and Savine’s dad may look like nothing here, but it meant so much more if you understand what happened in the first trilogy. The same also can be said towards Jezal’s melancholic look towards Savine. Readers of the first trilogy will instantly know the meaning behind his sadness.

Chapter 13: FENCING WITH FATHER

The feckless Prince Orso, fresh from a night of debauchery,  wakes up to the news That the Northmen have invaded the Protectorate. After a brief shock, he realises that this may be his chance to do something to be proud of for a change. He tries to convince his father, the King, to retaliate but is told this is an impossibility as the royal coffers are empty. After some convincing though, the king relents – If Orso can raise five thousand men to follow him, he may lead them against the Northmen.

Get used to us mentioning how brilliant Abercrombie is, and repeating the necessity of reading the first trilogy first. This chapter is filled with Orso and Jezal fencing, but to long time fans of Abercrombie’s First Law like us, seeing Jezal fencing again felt heartwarming. This is one of the thing Jezal’s bloody good at, and to make things even better, Jezal recalls his friendship with Logen Ninefingers? Brilliant. These are all small lines but they adds up so much to the overall narrative.

Orso’s father gave a sad smile. ‘One day, my son, you’ll understand. The more powerful you are, the less you can really do about anything.’

Chapter 14: FENCING WITH FATHER

Savine is practising her fencing against Bremer dan Gorst under the watchful eye of her legendary father, his Eminence, Sand dan Glokta. Father and daughter discuss the war against the Northmen and how every possible outcome may be turned to profit. Savine becomes impatient with Bremer’s effort against her, wanting to face the full might of a dangerous man and demands his full attention and ability. She learns a valuable lesson in infallibility as he rips away the veneer of belief in her own competence.

Yes, this chapter has the same title as the previous chapter. But this time, it’s Savine fencing with Gorst, with Glokta observing. We love Sand dan Glokta; who doesn’t? And this chapter was magnificent. Again, if you’ve read the previous books, this chapter is brimming with subtle and effective recollection of the past. All the comments on Valint & Balk, and who pulls the string behind everything? We know the answer to that. Also, for those who’ve read The Heroes, you’ll know just how powerful Gorst is. Savine challenging him to use his full strength against her was a suicide move, and he still hold back here! If you want to see his maximum strength unleashed? Read The Heroes. It’s also interesting to see Glokta and Gorst together here. Both Glokta and Gorst are the only two main characters written by Abercrombie that have a distinct + contrasting inner monologue; the stuff they thought about were often different from the words they spoke. So good. So good.

Chapter 15: PROMISES

Gunnar promises his wife he will change and stay out of trouble. He applies for a job at a brewery but is turned down, before being recognised by one of the employees, Sarlby,  who fought with him in the war and hails him as “the best man I know”. Het gets the job and soon Sarlby is trying to convince Gunner that the Burners will change everything, make every man a king, give every man a vote. He seems to be trying to recruit Gunner, who voices his promise to avoid trouble and that he has fought enough.

As we see in this chapter, Broad is once again trying to hold everything together while walking the line. He almost gets pulled into a fight, but narrowly avoids it. However, the most frightening part is that for a moment, he really wanted to let go, to feel free from the restraint. He really feels like a bomb waiting to explode, but he is trying though, and getting employed and being able to provide for his family offers a glimmer of hope in a world trying to break him. And there is also his promise to his wife who seems to be a rock in the storm. It’s still early in this book and series at this point, but I think Abercrombie has done an excellent job of showing us a glimpse of Broad’s struggle with PTSD and how he is trying to cope.

Chapter 16: A BLOW FOR THE COMMON MAN

Vick and a couple of fellow Burners try to blow up a manufactory or possibly an ironworks, but fail as a successful trap has been set for them. A few of them are killed, but two, Vick and Grise are apprehended for questioning by the Practicals.

This is a short chapter. It’s only 3 pages long, and it both efficiently and effectively tells us how fast a plan could be destroyed.

Chapter 17: KNOWING THE ARROW

Rikke and Isern are running for their lives, with Stour and his men hot on their heels, almost breathing down their necks. An archer sets sight on the two women and launches an arrow that will surely find its mark. In this moment, the Long Eye comes upon Rikke, and because of it, she is able to deflect the projectile from striking Isern, undeniably confirming she has the gift. They manage an escape and are relieved to be reunited with Caul Shivers.

Rikke finally realized she has the Long Eye ability. But the highlight of this chapter for us would be Caul Shivers saving her. Shivers was a pivotal character in the standalone trilogy that came before this book. And having Shivers saying Logen’s iconic quote “Once you’ve got a task to do, it’s better to do it than live with the fear of it” is a big deal. Yes, he mentioned that it’s a saying often said by Dogman, but this saying, if you’ve read the first trilogy, you’ll know that it is one of Logen’s most famous phrases. Why is it a big deal, though? Well, Shivers has a lot of grievance with Logen, and him saying that line implied that he’s past that resentment; as we saw in Red Country.

Chapter 18: BINDING TIME, WASTING TIME

Stour is enraged that Rikke got away and along with his closest men seem to be blaming Clover for her escape. Clover however maintains she did not cross his path and the conversation diverges as Stour and his equally young hangers-on proclaim how they want to make big names for themselves, how they want to be just like the infamously feared Bloody Nine. Clover and Wonderful think it’s ridiculous and scoff at the idea as Stour and his men leave.

That may be what happened in this chapter, but honestly, the highlight of this chapter is the people of the North remembering and admiring the legend of the Bloody-Nine. Also, the duel with The Fear in Last Argument of Kings has become the stuff of legend here. Seriously, if you still can’t tell, it is incredibly crucial to read the first trilogy to get all these subtle and brilliant nod. They’re small, but done in abundance, and they totally enhanced the narrative of A Little Hatred.

‘We can’t correct the misapprehensions of every idiot any more’n we can correct the tide.’ 


You can also check out Petrik’s & Eon’s spoiler-free review of A Little Hatred if you need extra convincing.

Lastly, we would like to give our special thanks to Will, Gollancz, and Joe Abercrombie for choosing us to do this read-along!

You can order the book from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository (Free shipping)
Bookshop (Support Local Bookstores)

3 thoughts on “Read-a-long for Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness Trilogy (A Little Hatred, Chapters 10-18)

  1. Both Fencing With My Father chapters were two of my absolute favorites. It’s hard to pick any favorites with JA but I specifically remember how carefully this dialogue was written to tie past and present together. It reminded me of the scene in Emperor of Thorns where Jalen met the ‘unnamed character’ at the bar. It was a huge moment where few words carried so much meaning, and this feeling lasted throughout both of these Fencing chapters.

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