Pieces of Hate collects two Tim Lebbon stories revolving around the assassin Gabriel - "Dead Man's Hand" and "Pieces of Hate." Gabriel is on the hunt for Temple, who slaughtered his family, and it provides the basis for two equally interesting settings with one serving as a de facto western (albeit a weird western) and the other a good old-fashioned pirate story, respectively.
I won't say more about Gabriel, his mission, or Temple because, really, why spoil the fun of those discoveries? There's some interesting history between these two figures, and if you've read the book description you already know the gist of it.
Frankly, I'm a bit torn on this book. It's filled with good ideas and interesting locales, which I liked a lot, but the execution just didn't jibe with me.
In "Dead Man's Hand," we join Gabriel in the infamous Wild West town of Deadwood. This one's a first-person POV narrated by a man named Doug who discovers a bloodied-up Gabriel in his shop. Doug's personal history isn't exactly one that would mark him as an adventurer, and he's about as interesting as the timber walkways lining the fledgling community's horseshit covered streets. Gabriel and Temple are, of course, the most interesting aspects of this story, but with Doug serving as a filter most of that gets watered down. Doug, you see, doesn't know what the hell is going on and can't really tell us anything meaning. Lebbon teases us with hints of a much better story than what is actually delivered by hapless Doug. We get all kinds of mystery and intrigue, but zilch in the way of answers and resolution. Thanks for nothing, Doug.
"Pieces of Hate" is the more interesting of the two, because PIRATES! This story is a close third-person account with a much stronger focus on Gabriel than the introductory story, and contains a bulk of the meat missing from "Dead Man's Hand." Unfortunately, it's equally frustrating in its resolution, and those hoping for an epic showdown between these sworn enemies will be disappointed. While there's some nice swashbuckling elements, I would have preferred a stronger finale for my time investment.
As a collection, Pieces of Hate provides two stories that are well written, but which lack a satisfying resolution. I guess the end of the second story offers a slim glimmer of hope that maybe a third story will come out to put a pin in all this with a decent finale. I might even be swayed to read it. Lebbon has some great ideas here, but none that are fully realized.
[Note: I received a copy of this title from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.]