Tuesday, 29 April 2014

‘Tough Times All Over’ – Joe Abercrombie

Another day, another short story having its moment here on the blog. Joe Abercrombie is an author that I really need to be reading more of (well, start/finish ‘The Heroes’ anyway) and ‘Tough Times All Over’ seemed like as a good a place as any to find my way back in. In case you’re wondering; this is another story taken from the ‘Rogues’ anthology, a book that is already proving to be a handy book to dip in and out of on the daily commute. Seriously, if I didn't already have a copy I would buy ‘Rogues’ when it is published but any way…

‘Tough Times All Over’ tells the tale of the courier Carcolf and the somewhat circuitous route that one of her packages takes through the city of Sipani. I got into this story right away as, unlike GRRM’s contribution (reviewed further down the page), Abercrombie stuffs ‘Tough Times All Over’ chock full of rogues; you literally cannot read a single paragraph without tripping over a rogue up to something nefarious. It was because of this approach that I became well and truly absorbed in a tale full of thievery, daring escapades, well known characters making a return and at least one character that I would really love to see appear again. ‘Tough Times All Over’ is a glorious romp (with loads of surprises and twists, the story ends just before the flow of these becomes overly repetitious) and Abercrombie adds a human touch to the proceedings which means that the tale isn’t just a Technicolor piece of fluff. Rogues are roguish but there is always a very good reason, whether it’s because they’re in debt up to their eyeballs or they just like the thrill of being the best. A little bit of motive can go a long way and here it certainly does a fine job of fleshing characters and providing a hard edge to a fun tale.

On a day when London commuters are going through hell again (thanks for nothing RMT and TFL…) a story like ‘Tough Times All Over’ is a bit of a godsend. Thanks for that Mr Abercrombie!

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