Almost Glory

June 21st, 2009

The validity of the David Gemmell Legend Award was called into serious question on Friday night when I didn’t win.

A ha ha.

Andrzej Sapkowski won for his Blood of Elves, so congratulations to him (forced spittily through gritted teeth, of course). In many ways not that surprising since he’s much the biggest selling author on the list – bigger than Stephen King in his native Poland and pretty massive in translation in Europe and elsewhere – it shows the huge difficulty authors who don’t write in English face getting translated into English that Sapkowski has only in the last couple of years had UK and US releases. So it may be that the award had a lot more votes from outside the inward-looking English-speaking world (apparently only 500 out of 10,000 votes were from the UK, for example, though my figures might be only hearsay) or it may be that people just thought Sapkowski’s book was better than the others on the list …

But I won a pewter battle-axe which, though small, probably has enough heft to cause serious injury, which was nice, and even better got the opportunity to hold a full size full-on steel one which most definitely could cause serious injury:

It makes you feel powerful, believe me, but is frakking heavy. And before you ask I wasn’t extremely drunk, just naturally heavy-lidded. (Thanks to Liz for the photo, which I have nicked without permission from her website – bit like I get the ideas for my books, now you mention it).

In any case, it was a great event, very well organised, much the most professional genre awards I’ve ever attended (not that I can say I’ve attended that many). I think it’s a good thing that there should be an award for epic/heroic/commercial fantasy, and that it should commemorate David Gemmell’s own contribution. I hope it continues to grow and flourish and get wide involvement in years to come.

In other news of almost-glory Best Served Cold made number 11 on the Nielsen hardcover bestseller list in its first week out in the UK. Brilliant news on one level, of course, but a tad frustrating on another to just miss the top ten and hence be unable to (honestly) call myself a Times Bestseller. “Nearly Bestselling Author Joe Abercrombie” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it. Still, it was a tough week and with heavy-hitters of mainstream publishing like James Patterson, Wilbur Smith, Sarah Waters and Lee Child ahead of me, I don’t suppose I can grumble. Well, I could. I kind of am. But I definitely shouldn’t be. I should be thanking all the hard-working folks at my publisher for their hardworkingness and congratulating them on getting the book to 11. And keeping it at 20 this week, for that matter. It’s a great showing for a book of its type (that is one unlikely to find its way onto supermarket shelves where a lot of bulk sales occur these days). So congratulations to the minions of Orion in all their guises, and we shall wreak a bloody vengeance upon the bestseller list next year, mark my words. You hear me, Patterson and the rest? I’m coming for you!

Oh. Might be the year after, though…

Posted in news by Joe Abercrombie on June 21st, 2009. Tags:

16 comments so far

  • Longasc says:

    I question the validity, too. Sapkowski is good, but for sure not my favorite writer.

    But one thing is no matter of taste, and that is that Blood of Elves is nothing like David Gemmell's style of writing. The Witcher Geralt is a fascinating anti-hero and I like novels about him a lot. He is also a bit more fascinating than Monza, but Logan or Glokta smash him to pulp. 🙂

    I have read all of Sapkowski's Witcher novels and all of Gemmell's novels, and I cannot help, I would not dare to compare their style at all.

    You are without doubt closest do David Gemmell in style and you write great novels.

    And they should definitely have given you the full sized battle axe. Your characters use by far too often swords and flatbows. They even use hammers, but not so much axes.

    Just think about Huscarls, they split shields with their axes, or used their long axes like polearms to lower and drag away shields. Or to chop head like wood. Lots of possibilities for a novel! 🙂

  • Longasc says:

    By the way, the axe looks photoshopped?

  • Elena says:

    RE the nearly-bestselling bit: Should we start referring to you as the Dread Pirate Abercrombie? It sounded a bit like "Roberts's" yell there at the end: "The dread pirate abercrombie is here for your souls!" This is supposing, of course, that their souls are composed entirely of their place on the Bestseller list, as yours sounds like it wants to be….

    Way to go in general, and while I would like to say "maybe the US will show up your own country next week"…erm…we don't have subway ad's with your book on it, so I think that's rather unlikely….

  • KEIKOO says:

    I would really like to read English translation of Blood of Elves.. in Polish I think the style of writing is veery good, mostly because he uses "olde Polish" language in a modern way which makes it brilliant to read.
    Although I enjoy Sapkowski, I voted for you 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Noooo next year please

  • Bob Lock says:

    So, Joe, did you manage to keep that full-on battle-axe? It's certainly a step-up from the bannister of vanquishing!


  • Longasc,
    Well, I wasn't REALLY questioning the validity, I was more, you know, having a joke.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to a public vote, I guess. I don't know that being close to Gemmell's style can ever really be a major criterion – especially since what exactly that consists of is going to vary depending on who you ask. I'd just taken it to mean heroic/epic/commercial fantasy. I've heard plenty of people complain that I'm nothing like Gemmell either.

    The axe was cool, obviously, but he also had a sword, and I have to say that was cooler – lot less unwieldy.

    And not photoshopped. Just some strange trick of the light.

    At least in the US the list is a lot longer – I think the NYT might list 20 or 30 places? Someone else might know better about that.

    Thanks for the vote.

    Exactly what I said. Inside my head.

    Bob Lock,
    It's a big step up, but at £2,900, it's one I'm not quite ready to make…

  • Jared says:

    Weirdly, I really liked the list, but can't stand David Gemmell. Go figure.

    Sapkowski is terrific, but, honestly, there weren't many chances for voters to go wrong. A fantastic group of authors, and the list says a lot about what a wonderful new 'golden age' we're living in for fantasy writing.

    So, you know… thanks. Sorry you didn't win (although the axe is cool) – but, as a reader and a fan, I'm still just ecstatic that you're out there.

  • Anonymous says:

    I voted for you, but I have to say I found it really hard to get to a point where I could make the vote stick, it was not at all user friendly.
    Good luck with the sales, as part of my bookshop stalking (everyone has to have a hobby) I have not yet seen it in Smiths which is kind of strange.
    Swindon Nick

  • Steve says:

    It got some coverage in the Guardian

    And I think they liked yours "The presence of Abercrombie and his witty send-up of the genre proves it might not be as po-faced as many suppose"

  • Gabriele C. says:

    Sapkowski is a good example for the reason I write in English. Should I ever get published and manage to sell a few books, there's a good change for a German translation. The other way round? – not so much. But since there are a few more people who read English, I'll reach a wider audience that way.

  • I think the Gemmell Awards will have to drop the 'in the spirit of David Gemmell' thing as it's unsustainable. The Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K. Dick award winners are rarely anything like those authors. Commercial fantasy or even just 'fantasy' should be good enough.

  • Alyssa Smith says:

    Honestly, I agree. The first author I thought to compare your work to was Gemmell; the darkness and grittiness of your fight scenes speak for themselves.

    Love the axe though!

  • Hendo says:

    I voted for Russell Kirkpatrick, so neither of us are happy 😉

    The axe was a nice touch though. And until I looked at the enlarged photo, the draped table behind you with the open box looked like a coffin. Probably would have been considerate, seeing as how they were handing around lethal weapons to a roomful of disgruntled losers…

  • Hendo says:

    Sorry, disgruntled writers who'd been looked over. Didn't want to add insult to injury 🙂

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