I loved Paul Kearney’s two Sea Beggars books, so picked up the Ten Thousand with a good deal of eagerness. Hmm. It’s a very different read, but then Paul always is. It’s about a mercenary army that is hired to ravage the empire that rules the continent next door. They are hopelessly outnumbered, etc, but invariably triumph through their remorseless bloody-mindedness. It becomes a tale about the futility of war and humankind’s desperate search to find meaning. It’s all more than a little bit brutal and gritty.
I have a bit of a mixed reaction to this book. I like how it’s brave enough to do something different – it never shuns the difficult bits. At the same time, however, the reader never becomes that attached to any of the characters and it all becomes a bit ‘so what’ – although, ironically, that’s entirely in keeping with the themes of the book. The reader becomes desensitized and inured to all the violence themselves.
Overall, I’m not sure about it. I’ll mull it over for a few more months – which is usually the sign of a good book, eh? I’ll definitely pick up Paul’s next book, but I might hesitate if it’s another installment of the Ten Thousand. In summary, I think the book’s definitely worth a look if you like lots and lots of fighting. 7.5/10