Springtime in Styria. And that means war.
There have been nineteen years of blood. 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.
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 Northman 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...
Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.
Abercrombie returns to the blood-drenched arena of the First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, etc.) with this skillfully crafted and bleakly humorous sword and sorcery adventure. Duke Orso imagines that he can become king by ending the civil wars that have devastated Styria, but he errs by trying to kill his overly popular general, mercenary Monza Murcatto. Recovering from her massive injuries and mourning her murdered brother, Monza vows vengeance on Orso and half a dozen of his accomplices. Employing her own motley crew of death dealers, Monza gets her revenge, but it's neither simple nor satisfying; each target requires fresh strategy, and each death has unexpected effects. Abercrombie is both fiendishly inventive and solidly convincing, especially when sprinkling his appallingly vivid combat scenes with humor so dark that it's almost ultraviolet.