Bremer dan Gorst Week

July 19th, 2010

The good news?  Third draft of The Heroes is finished, wooh!  That was addressing some general points from my editor and other readers, doing some tidying up, rewriting a couple of scenes that weren’t working as well as they might, and paying some greater attention to the setting and weather.

The bad news?  Fourth draft now begins, which will include addressing my editor’s detailed mark-up of the third draft, and going through each of the six point of view characters in turn (three major and three minor), trying to make sure their plots and behaviour make sense, the right ideas and thoughts are present in the right places and the right quantities, that their injuries stick around and continue to bother them in the right way, and above all that their voices stay as distinct and distinctive as possible.  This will involve such sophisticated writerly techniques as zooming in a long way so the text becomes REALLY BIG ON THE SCREEN.  Ridiculous, I know, but I find this can help focus one’s attention on the details, and bring examples of lazy and lumpy writing to the foreground.  It also has the added advantage of making me feel important, because when I type the letters come out REALLY BIG.  But mostly it’s not about big letters, it’s about personality.  I must fill the shoes of each character, one at a time.  I must walk in their footsteps.  I must become them.  Which means that this week I will be a suicidally depressed narcissistic master swordsman with negiligible social skills and a silly voice.  Which shouldn’t require too much of a change, really…

We first ran into Bremer dan Gorst in The Blade Itself, where his brutal style of swordsmanship had revolutionised the Union’s genteel sport of fencing.  He lost unexpectedly in the final of the summer Contest, though, due to the interference of a certain meddling Magus.  Later he joined the Knights of the Body – the royal bodyguard – and distinguished himself in the siege of Adua, becoming the king’s First Guard and close confidante.

That, alas, was his high point.  Three years later he was disgraced in a disaster not of his making, in which the king was very nearly killed whilst ill-advisedly visiting a famous House of Leisure in the city of Sipani.  Made scapegoat for the fiasco, Gorst was stripped of his position by the Closed Council, ejected from the Knights of the Body and left a pariah.

Now that war has broken out once again between the Union and the North, Gorst has been sent to follow events and report on them as the Royal Observer – a glorified errand boy.  Seeing, however, an opportunity to redeem himself in battle, with all his ambitions frustrated and nothing left to lose, he is determined to do anything but watch.  In the pretty courts, polite drawing rooms, and echoing halls of the capital he is a falsetto embarrassment, a clumsy ox with the voice of a sparrow.  But on the battlefield, the rules are different.  Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, Gorst no longer cares whether he comes out head high, or feet first…

Posted in news, process by Joe Abercrombie on July 19th, 2010.

28 comments so far

  • DRFP says:

    Sounds good! I’ll be very interested to see where Gorst ends up.

    Having read BSC first, it was fun coming across the references dropped in TFL trilogy to Monza and co. It’s nice to see further interweaving of all your characters across the different stories.

  • The Picaroony says:

    You are a tease Abercrombie!

  • Erik says:

    “Which means that this week I will be a suicidally depressed narcissistic master swordsman with negiligible social skills and a silly voice. Which shouldn’t require too much of a change, really…”

    Sounds about right. But, you? A master swordman?! Dream on Joe


  • Harvey Quinn says:

    Im going to be jump-up-and-down-while-flailing-my-limp-and-crazy-limbs excited when this is released.

  • Harvey Quinn says:

    P.S. The cover of The Heroes (and Best Served Cold actually) remind me of the cover of The Religion by Tim Willocks.

    Which, in turn, is an excellent book which you should definitely read. Its basically Joe Abercrombie meets historical fiction.

  • Liesandperfidy says:

    You know, my friend and I were just wondering “So what the hell happened to Gorst? He seemed he was well in there at the end of the trilogy.” And then this, which makes, like, seven thousand kinds of perfect sense.

    I love concordance.

  • Dan says:

    Sounds awesome Joe. But I really can’t wait to read about craw and his crew. The short was so great. Also can’t wait to see what Shivers is up to. Also can’t wait to read about black Dow. And I’m sure there will be a bloody nine cameo. Alright, dammit, can’t wait for all of it!

  • Bryce says:

    I’ve always thought the best ‘world building’ is producing memorable characters, that behave in a logical and interesting way. Nothing jerks me out a story quicker than character clearly acting in a contrived manner that may help the story progress but is not the behaviour of a three dimentional ‘real’person.

    The fact that most of your characters are clear fucked up only adds to the ‘world building’.

  • Claire Rogers says:

    This truly sounds awesome and I can not wait =D

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Well, of course, it is the master swordsman part that requires the imaginative effort for me.

    Well, next week, or perhaps the week after, will be Curnden Craw week…

  • Yulwei says:

    Everything I’ve seen about this book suggests it’ll be great but I wonder how world changing events can take place over the course of 3 days without a copious use of flashbacks

  • Dav says:

    I hope you do some research on fighting Techniques for him. If I read Gorst using a short and long steel in a pitched battle, I’m going to hurt something…

  • Dan says:

    Whats wrong with that Dav? Maybe that’s how Gorst was trained. Maybe Joe should do some research on magi. I mean, if I have to hear that Bayaz melted 6 flatheads with a fireball I’m going to gag. I mean, no one does THAT in real battles!

    Joe, your fight scenes are wonderful and perfect.

  • Michael says:

    this Gorst sounds Sassy as a sasquatch

  • Brett says:

    I strongly suggest Gorst employs ‘The bannister’ technique, as joe can attest he is the worlds leading exponent in this newly discovered martial art and is therefore best informed to describe these techniques in one of his ‘kick ass’ fight scenes!

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    As long as you don’t hurt something with a long and short steel simultaneously that should be absolutely fine.

  • Michael_C says:

    It’s frightening how logically the events of this world affect the lives of the characters. Brilliance, man!

  • Elfy says:

    Joe, that makes me look forward to this book even more and I didn’t think that was possible.

  • enjai says:

    How can world changing events occur in only 3 days without flashbacks? September 11th?

    It’s nice to see that Joe is continuing his trend of having “happy ever afters” with all of his cast. I’m just worried that Gorst is starting at a lower point than Shivers…

    It looks as though quite a bit of time will have passed if the stand-alone trilogy keeps going at this pace. Will a future trilogy be “BEst served cold” The next generation”?

  • Dav says:

    Oh hadehar, Yulwei, but please understand that in a pitched battle, it’s much stupid to have the same weapons you would use in a duel. Do you see any Dual-Wielding Officers at Blenheim? Maybe Agincourt is preferable. Having a shorter version of your weapon in a fight is just not smart; why not go for something useful, like you know, A MAUL!
    Forgive me, EVER so much, for commenting on Joe’s impeccable record of realism. I guess all us critics should go fall on our swords of PRACTICALITY. Because, after all…It’s fantasy.

  • Jon says:


    I really like the way you seem to be bridging your books. I like how they can stand alone, if need be, but when read all together wind up as a much richer experience.

    Just saying…

  • Yulwei says:


    True, those were world changing events but if we were being told the full story of said event either it’d take place over a much longer period, starting from the planning stage by the perpetrators or it would involve copious flashbacks by the same people on the day in question.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Can’t say I really agree with you there. What, after all, constitutes the “full story”. Everything has previous causes and later effects. You could tell a compelling story about D-Day, for example, without starting in 1939. The reader usually needs to understand the situation, they need to understand the characters involved, and that might mean giving them some of the history of those people, but there are much less cumbersome ways of doing that than with flashbacks.

    Look at something like, say, A Bridge Too Far. That’s a story about vast events, but it starts not long before the operation. We know relatively little about the histories of the characters, we learn what we need to know about who they are through what they do within the timeframe.

  • Dav,
    Well, I think there’s a balance to strike. This IS fantasy, which should in no way be some excuse for things that are unconvincing or lazy, but it does mean that we’re not dealing with a real period in our history. We’re combining all kinds of different elements of different periods for effect. The weaponry tends to be late medieval or renaissance, the social structures of the Union are much more advanced, of the North much less. So there’s no absolute standard of realism to aim at. We’re trying to find a good balance between what is convincing and what serves the purposes of the story. What is realistic and what is cool, if you like. In real battles everyone would have worn helmets. The first piece of armour they would have reached for if they could afford no other, for very good reasons. For equally good reasons, it serves the purposes of the story for some people not to wear helmets so that they can be identified in combat, so their emotional responses can be relayed and so on. Fantasy allows you that leeway, that opportunity to exaggerate and embellish in the same way that great comic-book artwork is not photographic, but accentuated. If you wanted to be absolutely realistic, why write fantasy at all?

  • Yulwei says:


    That’s why you’re the writer and I’m just your adoring fan.

  • A friend of mine has a voice like that . . . when he tries to deepen it, best case scenario is that he sounds like Kathleen Turner.

    Trying to picture him now as a huge narcisstic master swordsman . . . awesome 😉

  • Dave Wagner says:

    Dadgummit, now I’m going to have buy the dadgum book as soon as it comes out! Dadgummit!

    Sorry for my harsh language… O_o

  • Evan Luke Mentzer says:

    Mr. Abercrombie,

    I hope you don’t mind but I’m stealing Bremer dan Gorst to use as my character in a Dungeons and Dragons 5e campaign. Since we are playing in the Darksun setting I’ve altered him slightly. My Bremer dan Gorst is a 3rd level Half-Giant Fighter/Battlemaster. Like 85% of the PCs I have played, he is now Evil (half-giants have quirky alignments, due to their impressionable natures, {if their is a PC/NPC around that is “better” than the half-giant in anyway, the half-giant tries to follow, watch & copy that character; i.e. a half-giant farmer’s farm is raided by a tribe of escaped slaves who have been forced into banditry to survive; the half-giant abandons his farm, follows the slave tribe at a distance and becomes a bandit using strong arm robbery to support himself, for now…} half-giants only choose one half of the usual alignment to be fixed, lawful/neutral/chaotic or good/neutral/evil, and then the other half fluctuates depending on whoever the half-giant is mimicking at the moment). Unfortunately I can use only one sword for now because I’m very low level, but when I learn the requisite feats I’ll be able to use weapons one step up in size/damage then normal. He is also around 8’9″ and around 520 lbs., I don’t have my character sheet on me right now, so I guessed his size.

    Anyways, thank you for creating such an epic character. I will do my best to play him as the one man abattoir machine run during combat. I might make one of his flaws a fear of being submerged in water, (it’s a desert world anyways) so he won’t be able to wash the blood that will splatter him when his enemies pretty much explode into pieces when I cut them up, I’ll have to rub sand to dry & grind it off.

    Got any help, suggestions, criticisms or anything you wanna say about what I’m doing with your idea?

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