This is definitely dark fantasy. I started this book a couple of times, but just couldn’t find the heart to continue after the first chapter or so. It's grim and brutal. The main character, Jorg, is a thirteen year old boy who seems to be, at the least, a sociopath. He is leading a band of Brothers, men who are equally disturbed, on a rambling journey through a broken land, burning villages, raping, pillaging, all narrated by a very emotionless and practical Jorg, with flashes of a dark humor that took me aback but made me laugh in spite of it all.
Well, I gave it another shot. I kept reading and found myself getting sucked into the story. Through flashbacks some parts of why Jorg is who he is, and what the men are become more apparent. The writing is spare, but intertwined in the matter-of-fact relating of events, are thoughts, sentences of stark beauty. It’s hard to describe how compelling this became for me. Jorg is, well, definitely not your typical fantasy hero - he’s a deeply twisted soul, but I found myself understanding him a bit more as the story went on. I can’t believe the author made me understand and even have a bit of empathy for these broken men, but I think that’s the sign of some great writing.
The world is definitely broken, and the cause of that came as a surprise to me - I wasn’t expecting this type of world at all. This is my first stab at a truly dark fantasy, and while I do confess a certain preference for, well, lighter and brighter fantasy (and heroes, dammit!), I’ve already headed into book 2.