My first Joe Abercrombie reads were his Shattered Sea trilogy, so A Little Hatred, introducing his Age of Madness series, is my introduction to the world of Angland (a world created with a cast of characters who are a generation earlier in his First Law series). My being a novice in this new setting didn't hinder my reading experience as Abercrombie excels at drawing the reader into the lives of his characters and into their battles (the political/professional/bloody ones and the personal as well).
The Kingdom of Angland is on the cusp of an industrial revolution and the massive changes that can bring are causing strain and stress across the country. In the north the armies of Stour Nightfall are invading and young Leo dan Brock hopes to win glory by pushing them back. But he needs help, help that may not come, or if it does it will be in the form of a ragtag army led by the never-tried-in-battle Prince Orso (also hoping to make some kind of world-changing mark). Help is slow to come because while battle is raging in the north, in the cities of Adua and Volbeck another kind of fighting is taking place - that of worker against employer as more and more are losing their jobs to the machines that are taking over industry. The protests are getting violent and the country's coffers are stretched thin.
While the first section of this novel is a slow build as the many characters are put into play (including a young woman who can see the future, and the powerful daughter of Inquisitor Glotka) and the complicated plots are set in motion, the payout as they all come together is worth it. There are very few black and white characters here. Each is a shade of gray. And that ambivalence makes this a much richer reading experience as you'll find your allegiance shifting and adjusting while events play out. I was thoroughly engrossed. And now I'm going to backtrack and grab up the earlier series to hold me until the next in this set is published.