War may be hell, but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular--a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance.
Whatever the cost, seven men must die. Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a barbarian who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started There have been nineteen years of blood.
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The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll, and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king. From George R. His cast features tyrants and torturers, a pair of poisoners, a serial killer, a treacherous drunk, a red-headed warrior and a blood-soaked mercenary captain.
And those are the good guys The battles are vivid and visceral, the action brutal, the pace headlong, and Abercrombie piles the betrayals, reversals, and plot twists one atop another to keep us guessing how it will all come out. This is his best book yet. From Publishers Weekly Starred Review : "Abercrombie is both fiendishly inventive and solidly convincing, especially when sprinkling his appallingly vivid combat scenes with humor so dark it's almost ultraviolet.
From the Times: "Joe Abercrombie is probably the brightest star among the new generation of British fantasy writers An insult from anyone else, from Benna it was effortlessly charming. He had a knack of making people happy that always seemed like magic to Monza. Her talents lay in the opposite direction. You always bring good news.
You bring good news today, yes? There are precious few of them left in Styria. Benna blew out his cheeks. Suits of old armour stood gleaming to silent attention, antique weapons clutched in steel fists. The sharp clicking of boot heels snapped from the walls as a man in a dark uniform paced towards them.
See a Problem?
She and Benna were proof enough of that. Ganmark nodded stiffly to Monza. Count Foscar, you are keeping to your exercises, I hope? A soldier without discipline is no better than a corpse. Worse, in fact. A corpse is no threat to his comrades. Benna opened his mouth but Monza talked over him. He could make an arse of himself later, if he pleased. A comic turn in a great tragedy, but one appreciated by the audience, I hope. The echoes of their footsteps swelled as they passed through another archway and into the towering rotunda at the heart of the palace.
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The curving walls were vast panels of sculpture showing scenes from antiquity. Wars between demons and magi, and other such rubbish. High above, the great dome was frescoed with seven winged women against a stormy sky — armed, armoured and angry-looking. The Fates, bringing destinies to earth. Monza never got over how tiny, weak, utterly insignificant this space made her feel. That was the point of it. The four of them climbed a sweeping staircase, wide enough for twice as many to walk abreast. Have you not read your Stolicus? It makes them winning dinner companions.
Then we can all hang up our swords. Ganmark did not give so much as a sharp breath. Faithful Carpi, the longest-serving captain in the Thousand Swords, the scars of a hundred engagements marked out on his broad, weathered, honest face. Most of the men are quartered outside the walls with Andiche and Victus. Seasoned men, not prone to impulsiveness.
The proof that revenge IS a dish best served cold
Ganmark and Faithful followed. Monza paused a moment on the threshold, trying to find her hardest face. She looked up and saw Benna smiling at her. Without thinking, she found herself smiling back. She leaned and whispered in his ear. Lofty windows marched in bold procession along one side, standing open, a keen breeze washing through and making the vivid hangings twitch and rustle. The opposite wall was covered with towering panels, painted by the foremost artists of Styria, displaying the great battles of history.
The victories of Stolicus, of Harod the Great, of Farans and Verturio, all preserved in sweeping oils.
The message that Orso was the latest in a line of royal winners was hard to miss, even though his great-grandfather had been a usurper, and a common criminal besides. The largest painting of them all faced the door, ten strides high at the least.
“When somebody steals your identity, they only take the good parts.”
Who else but Grand Duke Orso? He was seated upon a rearing charger, his shining sword raised high, his piercing eye fixed on the far horizon, urging his men to victory at the Battle of Etrea. The Duke of Talins himself sat crabbed over a desk, wielding a pen rather than a sword. A tall, gaunt, hook-nosed man stood at his elbow, staring down as keenly as a vulture waiting for thirsty travellers to die.
A great shape lurked near them, in the shadows against the wall. He had one leg crossed over the other, a wine glass dangling carelessly, a bland smile balanced on his blandly handsome face. Make yourselves comfortable, my friends, I will be with you shortly. You look well. If all soldiers looked as you did, I might even be tempted to go on campaign myself. A new bauble? He glanced heavy-lidded towards the windows. The Banking House of Valint and Balk agrees to this further loan for the period of one year, after which they regret they must charge interest. Orso snorted. Make sure you extend to your superiors my infinite gratitude for their indulgence.
The duke rose smoothly from his desk. You do bring happy news, eh, Monzcarro?
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Come, tell me of your victories in the open air. The sun was climbing now, and the bright world was full of colour. The blood had drained from the sky and left it a vivid blue, white clouds crawling high above. Below, at the very bottom of a dizzy drop, the river wound through the wooded valley, autumn leaves pale green, burned orange, faded yellow, angry red, light glinting silver on fast-flowing water. To the east, the forest crumbled away into a patchwork of fields — squares of fallow green, rich black earth, golden crop.
Further still and the river met the grey sea, branching out in a wide delta choked with islands. Monza could just make out the suggestion of tiny towers there, buildings, bridges, walls. Great Talins, no bigger than her thumbnail.rentbumpmidesouth.gq
She narrowed her eyes against the stiff breeze, pushed some stray hair out of her face. Here I can keep one eye always on my subjects, as a watchful parent should upon his children. Monza thought it incredibly unlikely. The duke squeezed her shoulder. Ario is ambitious enough, but he has no insight. All he cares about is whoring. And shoes. My daughter Terez, meanwhile, weeps most bitterly because I married her to a king. I swear, if I had offered great Euz as the groom she would have whined for a husband better fitting her station.