Let's be clear about one thing; Joe Abercrombie is not a nice guy, if you have the misfortune to find yourself a character in one of his novels you can expect parts of yourself too be chopped off, your entire family and friends will probably die and any sense of happiness or positivity will certainly not last. Having said that he is an excellent story teller, one of the best, house novels zip along with real energy and pace and the characters are fully fleshed out and believable. Joe loves to to the traditional tropes of fantasy novels on their heads and often established villains turn out sympathetic and misunderstood characters and the heroes are often awful people (I'm looking at you Bayaz). This is the first book in a new series set in the First Law world which while standalone, readers will benefit from having read the previous series. It's set in a world coping with a burgeoning industrial revolution with all the challenges, chaos and opportunities that comes from so much change, we see the victims and the beneficiaries and the characters are as well written as ever. This book has a much larger proportion of female characters than previous ones and is all the better for it. The chapters are shorter and the storyline is tightly plotted and will thought out. I loved it and highly recommend Joe's work, he is the best fantasy novelist in the world and he's on top of his game, I can't wait for book 2 next year.