Back in January, I read my first story from the anthology focusing on sword and sorcery, Swords and Dark Magic. If you missed it, here's the link for the short review:
Since A Red Country by Joe Abercrombie is still several months away and I recommended Joe to a few of my friends, I thought that it was a good idea to get a dose of the author in the form of a short. Here comes The Fools Job.
Curnden Craw is a Northman. He's the chief of a dozen. He accepted a job and as usual, this job is no walk in the park and he has to lead his crew to a possible butchery while trying to keep them all alive. Their objective is simple, bringing back something. They don't know what, but they will when they see it. Only problem is the encampment and men surrounding it.
For those who have read The Heroes, Curnden Craw is probably already a well-loved character. When I reviewed that book, I mentioned this about him:
Curnden Craw and his crew are the bunch I wanted to root for. Even though they can be considered on the bad side of things if you envisage the civility of the Union, masterminded by a cruel wizard, to be the good guys. Anyway, as with Bremer being probably blacker that Dow himself when on the battlefield, the line between good guys or bad guys is not only blurred, it's not even there. Craw leads a curious dozen, counting among the numbers the holder of the wicked Father of Swords no less. The Chief only wants to keep his crew alive and is the reasoning spirit of the gang. I felt a great pride and pain for this fatherly loyal fellow.
The same can be said about the guy here but a lesser extent. The dialogues between the crew members, the fighting descriptions, the atmosphere and the humor; you can find it all here, as it was found in The Heroes. I can easily understand why Joe chose to use that great character in a longer story after writing this short. Even if you haven't read The Heroes, The Fools Job will be a treat.
One small thing stands out however, at least for me. I didn't remember Craw as being twitchy. His reflection feels the same but that little detail would have been a must in The Heroes. Alright, enough of that other book, you know I liked it a lot, back to the short.
I'll comment on a last aspect I liked about the guy (I emphasize on him since he's the point of view...), it's his reaction to the start of a fight, here's a glimpse:
Craw felt time slow to a weird crawl, that way it did before blood spilled. Enough time to take in silly things. To wonder whether it was a chicken bone through one of their ears. To count the nails through one of their clubs. Eight and a half. Enough time to think it was funny he wasn't thinking something more useful. [...]
Finally, there's the denouement. It's simply brilliant! I don't think I can find better word for it. However, I won't spoil, you'll have to find out on your own but these 25 pages are completely worth the time.
That anthology got better, I'll keep you updated on my reads.
The Fools Job review score: 9.5 / 10