A violent and blood-spattered fantasy novel with a revenge plot to beat all revenge plots, this book demonstrates Abercrombie's good eye for characterization and description. But the curiously sympathetic and foul-mouthed protagonist comes off rather unlikable, though she has her reasons. While this is a fast-paced and clever book that fans of this sort of thing will enjoy, others may find it to be just all right.

Monza Murcatto is a mercenary, and a damned good one -- quite possibly too damned good. Betrayed by her employer, thrown off the side of a mountain and left for dead, after her recovery (if you can call it that), she swears vengeance on him and those who helped, no matter the cost.

Helped by a poisoner, an unreliable drunk, a numbers-obsessed mass murderer and a foreigner who wants nothing more than to do the right thing, Monza has her work cut out for her if she is to see her vengeance through to the bitter end. (ORBIT, Aug., 512 pp., $24.99)

Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs