The book follows three principal point of view characters, plus a slew of minor characters in the second half. Let’s get the important part out of the way first: None of them are likeable.
There’s Captain Jezal dan Luthar, an egocentric little prick whose only reason for falling in love seems to be that the lady in question is “damn fine looking” – it certainly isn’t her personality, take that from me. There’s Inquisitor Sand Glokta, a cripple who hates everybody and their mum and, judging by his name, seems to be the child of Portuguese and Dutch immigrants (kidding, but: the names in the book enraged me with their wanton inconsistency). And then there’s Logen Ninefingers, the only one of the sorry lot that seems to be even remotely likeable, although he is thick as a brick, which doesn’t go far towards endearing him to me.
Supporting characters include Ferro Maljin, an escaped slave woman whose only goal in life is killing and spitting in the face of every other living being on this planet, including her allies. Major Colleem West, who will trick you into thinking that he’s likeable until you find out that he is just as uncaring and egocentric as his buddy Jezal. And Dogman, who doesn’t seem to have a proper name and enjoys pissing himself…
In short, an endearing lot.
The book isn’t helped by being the first part of a trilogy, the part where everything gets rolling. It consists of long, detailed (I’m not using that as a compliment here) descriptions of how our characters become part of the team and what they have to endure to get to the eventual starting point of their mission. One very brief scene tells us a little bit about the larger picture, but since that scene is (no doubt deliberately) written as a conversation between two high mages that already know everything, it might as well be written in Swahili. The rest is mediocre jokes, unending fight scenes and a love story so horrible that you want to tear your eyes out.
Don’t. Read. Trust me.