Can You Tell What it is Yet?

March 1st, 2011

A little selection of influences, inspiration and research for my forthcoming project, a third semi-standalone book set in the world of – and featuring some characters from – The First Law:

Anyone got a notion of what genre I shall next be breeding with my take on fantasy to produce another despicable mutant offspring? 

I find starting a new book is always the hardest part of the job (if you can call it a job).   You’ve come off the high of editing and completing something (my favourite part of the job, if you can call it a job) and put it out to the delight (and otherwise) of an adoring (and otherwise) public.  You’ve trimmed it down, tidied it up, sharpened the story to its most effective point, and ended up with something you’re (hopefully) very happy with and proud of.  You’ve reached a point of being comfortable with the characters, understanding who they are and their place in the story.  You know the lay of the land intimately.  Then suddenly you are cast adrift upon the fog-wrapped sea of something new.  You’ve got ideas, sure, you know who the characters might be, roughly what they’ll be doing and where, perhaps how things will end up, but will any of it actually work?  It’s like moving from an area filled with old and trusted friends to a new one where everyone’s a sinister stranger.  Will these characters be interesting, and just what the hell are they like, anyway?  Until you really start to write them, and often for some time after, you really can’t know, and so you’re inevitably left with a shed load of doubts.

Still, doubts are part of the job (if you can call it a job), even for a writer with my massively bloated sense of self-worth.  The only way to overcome them is to get stuff written that you’re happy with.  And the only way you’ll get that done is time in the chair, grinding it out, if not with an all-encompassing mastery and understanding of what you’re doing, then at least by trial and error and laborious cutting and revision.  Let’s see where we stand in six months…

In other news, you can find me over at Borders’ Babel Clash over the next couple of weeks, blogging alongside urban fantasy author Anton Strout.  Our current topic of conversation is gaming, currently old skool roleplaying gaming and the influence a childhood full of it has had upon our writing.  Maybe we’ll see you over there…

Posted in process, progress by Joe Abercrombie on March 1st, 2011.

104 comments so far

  • SwindonNick says:

    At first I thought you were diverting away from the world of “The First law” and considering some sort of blend of cowboy novel and fantasy novel. I was quite excited at that. Then I realised you were staying in your world of “The First law” and I am still excited but also wondering what the f**K you are up to. It’s so wrong to tease and we’re going to get this for about 18 months now ain’t we? You utter git.

  • Doug says:

    Sweetness. I do love a good Western. After that are we done with this world or do you intend to write another set of books?

  • JonathanL says:

    Deadwood is such a great, great show. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a television show with such dramatic gravitas. If you’re goig to inject your next book with some of THAT, I can only call myself delighted.

  • Matthew Carpenter says:

    I actually find reading about the American west fascinating. You just cannot make up stuff like this, and I can’t wait to read what you do with it.

    I like history where the characters seem to leap off the page, much like the First Law trilogy. Some titles you could look at for a diverting read include:

    Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides (978-1400031108)
    Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short Savage Life of a Civil War Guerilla by Castel and Goodrich (978-0700614349) – actually I thought about your characters when I was reading this!

  • Eddwigg says:

    Hmm… Don`t see a copy of Once Upon a Time in the West there….
    But on a happy note, I just got my copy of SWORDS & DARK MAGIC from Amazon UK ( Signed by everyone except Gene Wolfe who being nearly 80 most probably looked at doing 500+ signatures and said ” Fuck em ” … Fine by me, when you get to that age I figure you can do what the hell you like ).

  • Davieboy says:

    Hey Joe, please stir in some Johnny Cash riffs & an Ennio Morricone score. Not sure how you do that in a book, but if anybody can….

  • Chris says:

    I read your book and Blood Meridian this month. I can’t wait to see them have sex with each other and make a gloriously violent baby!

    Do me a favor though, use quotation marks to denote dialogue. Thanks!

  • Chris Upton says:

    Will there be any Lee Marvinesque warbling moments? No singing cowboys at all?

    Also if your looking for inspiration check out The Great Silence (with Klaus Kinski no less)the ending is hilarious!

  • I like the fact that the Elmore Leonard book is front and center. (Or, I guess, center and center.)

    I discovered Leonard about the same time as I discovered The Blade Itself, and you two became my favorite living authors … immensely cool to read in one of your recent interviews that you’ve been studying him. Bizarre, but the best kind of bizarre.

    I’m curious to hear, if you’ll share, what you see in his stuff that’s inspiring you, or techniques you see that you’d like to apply to your own work.

  • Also, if you haven’t seen Justified (TV show in the States, just started season #2), it’s worth picking up — inspired by Leonard, and he’s the exec producer.

  • Jon says:

    This makes me very excited.

    Does the Bloody Nine come wandering out of the wastes and end up in a lonely town beset by bandits…?

  • JonathanL says:

    Actually, if you’re going down that dark western path, may I humbly suggest Murder by Death’s “Red of Tooth and Claw”? It’s the most wild-western folk-rock album I’ve ever heard. It’s also seemingly populated by the same kind of characters and endings you’re so fond of creating.

  • Bryce says:

    The outlaw jesse wales, The unforgiven, The Good, the bad and the ugly, The wild bunch, A fist full of dynamite, The open range, Heaven’s gate( weird but not the awful mess you would imagine), True Grit( both), The Searchers….

    Joe you may have hit on something, fantasy based on a western theme.. You mentioned it at Glsagow but I didn’t quite to see it, but the more you think about it.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Grumpy Buddha,
    With Leonard, skill in drawing characters swiftly and economically, no doubt. There are just no stuffed shirts in his stories at all, everyone lives and breathes, even those who might appear for just a moment and speak two lines of dialogue. Funnily enough, I’ve read a couple of his western novels as well, and I actually found the short stories worked better.

  • Seeing the pic of Red Dead Redemption in there, all I hope for is a random attack by a Cougar who just kills a characters horse then prowls off.

  • Joe, you are killing me. You know, it just isn’t fair to tantalize us with this much awesomeness. The worst part of finishing THE HEROES (which I loved to death and said so on my blog) was knowing that I would have to wait more than a year for the next book.

    There is that line in Unforgiven that, in the context of reading your novels, really fits. Typically the norm with westerns is that nothing was ever as “epic” as people made out. Tall tales and all that. I love in Unforgiven when Morgan Freeman (I think) asks Clint Eastwood something along the lines of “how many of them were there 2, 3?” Eastwood says, “There were 4.” If there is a movie that fits the tone of your novels, Unforgiven is it.

    I’m also glad to see TRUE GRIT hidden off to the side. That was a solid novel. Between it and the new movie, the original John Wayne movie is rather pointless.

    I can’t wait to see where you take this.

  • Tim H says:

    I love where this is going. Lonesome Dove is one of the great American novels — best final sentence in a book ever.

    I recently read Hampton Sides’ Blood and Thunder, the story of Kit Carson, who was sort of the Forrest Gump of the American west, appearing in bit parts in every major event from the Freemont expeditions through the Indian Wars. He was a deeply moral and decent man in most ways and brave to the point of lunacy, but his campaign against the Navajo was brutal and troubling. He’d have fit right into the cast of the Heroes. The book reads better than most novels, maybe because of how disturbing it is.

  • Dan says:

    C’mon Joe, give us a hint or two ( or just tell us) about who the main characters are. Please!

  • Matt says:

    My money’s on Ferro as the ‘drifter’ style role in a Gurkish desert region, smacking down with eaters. That would be awesome.

  • Sedulo says:

    I think you can call it a job.

  • Elfy says:

    Well, gee, could it possibly be a Western?

  • Very cool you have BLOOD MERIDIAN up there in the corner. Really looking forward to this project.

  • Joe — I think you’re exactly right re characterization. I have to say he’s a little (or a lot) hit-or-miss on the story. I understand he’s a big-time discovery writer, just kind of goes with the flow, sees where his characters will take him. When they stumble upon an awesome plot (Out of Sight, Road Dogs, Stick), it’s truly a glorious thing. (Even when not, it’s still fun, but there’s a noticeable difference.)

    I haven’t read any of his short works, but in my experience, short stories by definition all have some tasty premise or plot hook, so I’m not surprised that those are consistently better.

    One other thing — writing-craft wise, I have a helluva time describing how he does point-of-view. Sometimes it seems like there’s a lot of telling going on, and/or exposition, but on the other, the way he writes it, you feel like you’re in the POV character’s skin.

  • henderson says:

    I agree with one of the posters above that Ferro could have a role in the next novel.

    Heroes, by the way Joe, was a great read. Really enjoyed the book. Looking forward to your next one. Thanks.

  • Dan says:

    Matt, I think that is a very good guess. And if that’s the case and Logen is not in this book, then I think that’s a big indicator that the new trilogy will focus on Logen.

  • Bloody Nine says:

    You gotta love Deadwood. The only show I think is better than that is The Wire. But you just gotta love Deadwood. Al Swearengen is just the best character/real person.

  • arch2ngel says:

    I found your blog about six months ago, and have taken to checking in about once a week for updates. When the Heroes came out, I suddenly worried about the blog. Would it die until closer to the next book coming out?

    All that was to say that I’m VERY glad to see that we’re already getting teasers for the next book. Thanks, Joe – you sure know how to keep your fans excited!

  • DERO says:

    It’s somewhat off the beaten path, but I would give some thought to Butcher’s Crossing, by Paul Williams. Very much an under-appreciated masterpiece.

  • Vic Mackey says:

    A fantasy western complete with guns, perhaps? You introduced cannons in The Heroes and even had Bayaz say, “I expect we shall see more of these in the future”, so could we expect…flintlock rifles and pistols? Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be….ace.

  • Vic Mackey says:

    by the way, Cormac McCarthy is epic. I love his work.

  • Masrock says:

    Logan walks into a tavern and the piano player stops playing.

    Caulder is sitting playing dice with a dagger hidden under the table ready to throw. His eyes look desperately over Logans shoulder at the still swinging door.

    “So Punk are you feeling lucky?” Spits Logan around stick of licorice root. ” Well are yah?”

    Caulders face twists into a grin…..then a frown as he hears a sharp click in his ear.

    Captain Malcolm Reynolds dressed as a whore holds a strange device to Caulder’s ear and whispers “Well now, we have ourselves a situation now don’t we?”

    Joe, I don’t see some vital research material in that photo of yours, can you guess what’s missing?


  • Phil N says:

    Un-named character: What’s your intention Glokta? Do you think one on four is a dogfall?

    Glokta: I mean to kill you in one minute. Or see you returned to the House of Questions in Adua. Which’ll it be?

    Un-named character:I call that bold talk for cripple.

    Glokta: Fill your hands with steel then you son of a bitch.

  • fish says:

    wot no Firefly in the list of influences….shame on you as Firefly was the coolest show ever (for all of its 14 episodes!)So is yours Firefly with sorcery instead of Sci Fi? 😉

  • mus says:

    Hmm I’m really curious to see how a western themed novel set in the First Law universe works out.

    I’m sure it will be essential purchase.

    I’m still waiting to pick up my copy of The Heroes. Having it sent to my parents in the UK was a good idea at the time..not sure now.

  • Dav says:

    DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT LOGEN. Joe will not reveal his fate and I shalt cry manly tears.

    But I think, when he says Western, he means more in the vein of frontiers, or lawlessness? The new territory established in the North, under Dogman, may be pretty hard to keep under control. But Styria looks like the most promising candidate.

    I doubt he means actual flintlocks becoming popular, unless it’s 50-100 years down the line. Unless Bayaz is REALLY, REALLY, OVERLY innovative, then going from a bombard to flintlock would take alot of time.

  • Mark C says:

    Its going to be really interesting finding out how you turn the First Law universe into a Western… Looking forward to the results!

  • Dav says:

    Or he’ll make a new world up.
    That’d be pretty cool, actually.

  • Chad says:

    Lonesome Dove and Unforgiven figure as two of my favorite pieces of entertainment of all time.

    You have gained another star, Joe (we’re on a first name basis right?). Well done.

  • James says:

    I was worried about it not being set in the world of the first law, glad to see you’re staying there, and also, having red dead redemption in the picture with influences for your next book just made my day, that game is the best Western story I have come across, better then any film even, although 3:10 to Yuma comes close to it for me! Don’t know how I’ll go so long waiting for your next book, just read The Heroes and am currently re-reading Best Served Cold (which is my favourite ever book), you keep what you do entertaining and I love all your work Joe!

  • Tenesmus says:

    Let me take a guess… Nicomo Cosca? He seems likely to fit right into a western… but there is also the Bloody Nine coming back from the grave like the Mysterious Stranger… So many possibilities! Can’t Wait!

  • Matthias says:

    Oh my. I remember mentioning in another blog post here about you writing a fantasy western. You responded that you were, but I thought you were just yanking my chain.

    Now that you really are, I must say OH MAH GAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWD.

  • Andrew says:

    If I had to hazard a guess (if you can call it a guess), I’d say the First of the Arseholes was right about his little “experiment” in Heroes (if you can call it an experiment) and it does indeed catch on. We’ll be seeing how that changes things and, more importantly, how it doesn’t change things several years down the road. How’d I do, Joe?

    Heroes, by the way, I humbly opine was your best stuff yet (if you can call it stuff). I enjoyed the bloody hell out of it and can’t wait to see what manner of jackanapery you’ve got up your dirty little sleeves.

  • Phil N says:

    There are several possibilities in the circle of the world though.

    Yes the new border between Angland & the North is one.

    Styria is another but I’d be surprised if Joe returned there so soon after Best Served Cold.

    The Old Empire is another. It’s pretty lawless and full of wide open plains and frontierlike towns I bet.

    Then there’s Ghurkal and the whole of the south. It’s been ten years or so since we last “saw” Ferro who know’s what she’s been up to. Maybe not much as I’m guessing the Emperor still lives else I’m sure we would have heard something during The Heroes.

    Or perhaps Joe will pick another as yet unmentioned country.

    Or it’s set slap bang in the middle of Midderland. Western’s had established settled towns as well.

  • oli roberts says:

    Pale Rider with broadswords?

  • Greg says:

    I’m really excited about this. Mr. Abercrombie is my favorite new fanatasy writer and my next favorite book genre to fantasy is Westerns.

    Mr. Abercrombie- I see its already mentioned that you add The Outlaw Josey Wales to your movie lists. I strongly 2nd that. For my money that movie has the best one-liners of any movie ever made hands-down.
    Also Tombstone is another great. And the movie adaptions of Louis Lamour’s The Quick and the Dead (the Sam Elliot one, not Sharon Stone) and Conagher, Sam Elliot was born to star in Westerns.
    Of course the new True Grit is another must.
    But I would also like to add Appaloosa starring Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris. Appaloosa was the best-seller by the famous late Robert R. Parker. That entire series about the professional lawmen, Virgel Cole and Evert Hitch, is well-worth the read. They’re a great exploration of manhood, honor, and, friendship in the context of a Western tale.

  • brandonS. says:

    I know you already have a good amount of influences (as seen by the photo above), but I can offer further suggestions.

    samurai films can also be a good resource. how? if you sit back and think about it, it does kind of make sence. the ancient times (edo period) was pretty much to japan what the old west was to america. films like the zatoichi series and anything from kurosawa are just the start.

    western comics are an option too (for a more visual and/or artistic represntation of the west). recommendations are the recent jonah hex comics (not the movie, mind you), the sixth gun (a supernatural western), scalped (modern-day western comic set on an indian reservation), and several others out of vertigo (dc comics’s subdiary for more adult comics).

    Hoped that these helped, and good luck on what is sure to be one BADASS fantasy western:)

  • Tim H says:

    Greg, do you like Zane Grey, and if so, can you recommend any his books? Lots of his books are free for eReaders now on Amazon, etc. Living in Arizona, I’ve always meant to give Zane Gray a try but have never gotten round to it.

  • Chris Upton says:

    Also Seraphim Falls with Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson. If you like your westerns brutal and at times slightly surreal that is.

  • Chris Upton says:

    Oh and I just noticed True Gritt by Charles Portiss. Gorgeous tale with one of my favourite narrators.

  • James N says:

    I love the fact that in the stack of books and movies you see Red Dead Redemption. Part of what makes Joe the “MAN”!! Do you think if Tolkien was still alive today and was going to write a new fantasy book he would log into Warcraft for ideas? Shoot for that matter think Martin would? And speaking of him, not to push another others webpage but he just posted today a date for DWD as July 12th. And not July 12 of 2014 but July 12th of this year.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Y’all need not worry, pardners. I said a SELECTION of influences. This is by no means exhaustive, or even particularly representative, especially when it comes to films, of which, believe me, I’ve seen a fair few in my time. If I had to pick one favourite film, in fact, it would be The Outlaw Josey Wales, which I must have seen about fifty times.

    Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’, boy.

  • Tim H says:

    James N, I just saw the date on GRRM’s Not a Blog too! What a year for fantasy. Abercrombie, Erikson, Rothfuss, and next GR-fricking-RM. Now I have to reread the first three Song of Ice and Fire books before July. And subsribe to HBO to watch the miniseries. And try to maintain five WoW toons and two new ones in Rift. Crappity crap crap crap.

    Take your time on the next book, Joe, please. And just so you know, Outlaw Josey Wales ain’t got nothin on Jeremiah Johnson.

  • Tim,
    I’ve seen Jeremiah Johnson. Gotta go with Wales there.

  • Tim H says:

    Wales is maybe right on par with JJ until the ending. Eastwood gets in some very cool lines. But I read somewhere that Redford has something like only 30 lines in JJ. Most of the time he spends looking pretty and kicking bear ass, which is exactly what I would do if I were Robert Redford. But Wales cops out on the ending, where JJ does not. Redford runs prettily into the brutal mountains, never to be heard from again outside legend. (The music sucks in JJ, but that’s half the joy of being a 70s movie.)

  • Tim H says:

    And then there’s the purpose of the two characters. Wales is pretty much driven by vengeance and its consequences. As Leo Grin might argue, Wales’ path is note entirely ennobling.

    Johnson’s motivations are hidden except for the military trousers he’s shown wearing in the opening scenes. Maybe he’s running from the horrors of war. But there’s a yellow stripe running down his pants, meaning he was an officer. So he’s not just an unwitting participant, he’s been a primary actor in whatever horror drove him to the mountains (okay, at least quite possibly — the film lets you make up your own mind here). To me, this suggests that his journey is an act of atonement rather than of vengeance. Makes him somewhat more interesting in my eyes.

    Plus, I like the vulnerability of Johnson. The truth is, the bear kicks his ass, he just happens to survive it. Ennobled somehow, despite the perfect hair.

  • Vic Mackey says:

    I love Josey Wales. The whole bridge scene was excellent. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is another favorite.

  • Vic Mackey says:

    Er, the bridge scene in good, bad and ugly I mean.

  • Bazooka Joe says:

    Mr. Abercrombie,

    If and when you should write in a different genre, it would be interesting to see a western from you. Is there one in particular you would like to make an effort in?

  • Bazooka Joe says:

    One particular genre, I mean.

  • Illu says:

    Whats the marble doing there?

  • Lots of interest in the marble, which is fitting as it is perhaps the most important influence on show in that picture. The marble is there to remind me of the glassy hardness of morality, of the emotional transparency for which I strive in my writing, and of the spherical nature of life in which, however far we go, we always come back to ourselves.

    Either that or it’s not a marble at all, but a rubber ball one of my kids has discarded on the floor under my desk.

  • Sally says:

    Highwaymen and cowboys? Oh wow, that sounds brilliant! I can’t wait! Will be interesting to see how you fit it into the world of the First Law. Good luck and I look forward to the results!

    x x x

  • Neal Asher says:

    Looks to me like Jon Shannow better oil up his gun.

  • Dan Cook says:

    “It’s not plagiarism, it’s homage”.

  • Greg says:

    @Tim H-Reply earlier question about Zane Grey. Sorry- I haven’t read any of Zane Grey’s Westerns. As much as I love Westerns, I struggle with finding Western authors I really like. I’ve read a lot of Louis Lamour, but mostly because, except for Shane by Jack Schaefer, Lamour’s were the first Westerns I’d read. While Lamour does have some that really stand-out, there’s no denying how formulatic his books are. Of course I do like his formula but many characters are pretty-much interchangable. A lot of your classic Western writers seem really dated to me, but I keep trying.
    I can’t recommend Robert B. Parker’s Westerns enough. Parker is famous for his mystery thrillers, like the Spenser, (80’s TV show Spenser for Hire) and others, but his westerns are really good.
    I have to go with Josey Wales over Jerimah Johnson. BTW- there are two Josey Wales books written by Forrest Cater; Gone to Texas – the inspiration for the Clint Eastwood movie, and The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales. Pretty good reads.

  • Shane S. says:

    William Munny is the baddest bastard to ever live.

  • Stefan says:

    Joe, just finished The Heroes. Damn that was good. Thanks for the hard work you put into it. It shows.

  • Oliver says:

    At first was a little disappointed when I saw the image above. Western? Oh, you wanna leave the fantasy genre completely, Joe? Last two books were quite low on fantasy elements (BSC was brilliant nonetheless). I feel what your books lately need more of is ancient history, demons, magi, monsters and such. But I guess you could find a way to have both. Maybe setting the story in the south? Let Ferro reappear? Actually she’s kind of a lone ranger, so why not. And let the Gurkish play the role of the Indians (they are dangerous and mysterious, so partially a fitting analogy). Okay, kind of weird, but in a typical twisted Abercrombie book it maybe could work…

  • Christopher says:

    Gorst as a loner, tortured, introspective wandering mercenary in the rugged north and fringes of civilization, as a man that does the dark deeds that need to be done that regular people can not do. But he does more good than bad, but his motivations are always centered around his own guilt, self loathing, and hate at the monster he has become and he denial that it is not others that set him on that path but the choices that he has made. The choices where he still tries to redeem himself but inevitably is flawed nature overcomes him and he nearly tips the balance of good to evil.

    How about that for a guess?

  • Muzza says:

    I feel a Bloody Nine storyline coming on….or that maybe the after effects of eating my weight in steak.

    Love seeing Red Dead Redemption in there. I don’t know why, but when I first played that game of thought of Logen Ninefingers(but smaller and more even tempered). But that maybe has more to do with the way I played that game.

  • simon bull says:

    Ah Lonesome Dove – just about my favouritest book o’all time. Do you know how many times out of idle curiosity I’ve perused the ‘Mc’ section in various high street book stores and found…guess what? Not a single McMurtry – not a one, plenty of McNab though, plenty, the entire McNab oeuvre in fact. Try it yourselves and you’ll see what I mean. A disgrace. Gus McCrae (a man of letters after all) must be turning in his grave down by that little creek.

  • Hmm. Think Western, think… desert. Dust. The Badlands.

    Think somewhere we haven’t really been yet. Kanta, perhaps?

  • The Bloody-Nine is getting beat up by one of Mistborn’s tin-foil chewing wenches in Suvudu’s newest cagematch.

    Just sayin’.

  • Alex F says:

    I don’t know if it’s worth mentioning, but being a fan of Westerns in general, I have to say The Wild Bunch (by Sam Peckinpah who also did the excellent Cross of Iron) is maybe one of my favorite films.

    It is certainly worth a look anyway. I don’t know how well known it is, because the first time I saw The Wild Bunch, it was like 12 at night, and I was about to head to bed, and then just got trapped watching it to its conclusion.

    It’s got some of the best set pieces in any films, and the train robbery scene is almost perfect.

  • Shaun Carter says:

    *Sort of spoiler*

    Joe, on the second day of The Heroes, when Bayaz is flaunting his new weapon to Gorst, I think he, or Yoru Sulfur, says something about how more of these specific weapons (i.e. gunpowder related ones) are bound to be invented sooner or later. I can’t remember the quote exactly, I’ve been far too busy mourning Whirrun O’ Bligh. Anyway, what I mean to ask, is this, is that little part somewhat of a starting point for the Circle of the World to begin gunpowder related production, i.e. is the quote a hint of what your next piece of work will involve?

    Cool event back in Deansgate, Manchester, it was my first book signing and you made it epic!

  • joliet jake blues says:

    Hmmm, looks like a possible Western influence. Maybe try a little Leigh Brackett – either her actual Westerns, or her Stark stuff and Mars/Venus short stories which are really westerns on other worlds.

  • millclose says:

    Exciting news Joe!
    I think back to how Akira Kurosawa’s films, like the Yojimbo and The Seven Samurai, were originally inspired by early John Ford westerns. And then how Akira’s movies then went on to inspire others such as Sergio Leone’s Westerns and George Lucas. I’ve also been inspired from reading through your blog and finding new stories/movies to experience in the western genre. Can’t wait to see what sort of possie you amass in your future works.

  • millclose says:

    I forgot to mention that the drone band Earth were heavily influenced by Blood Meridian for their album Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method. The album has a great sinister doom country vibe.

  • Dan says:

    Joe, have you thought about naming this whole series of books “The circle of the world” or “A tale from the circle of the world” or some such? Some kind of title to tie the trilogies (past and future) and all the stand alone’s together? I tried to think of something better, but “circle of the world” seems the most comprehensive…

  • DERO says:

    I know you aren’t looking for more sources–you’ve certainly got some great ones in the picture–but I have to throw in one of the greatest lines ever uttered in a Western (The Magnificent Seven) that also goes a long way to capturing the ethos of some of your sources: “Mister, we deal in lead.” And it sounds much better when Steve McQueen says it.

  • Snow says:

    Oooo prediction time! (I love this.)

    It all starts off with Severards ghost. We follow him around in the Old Empire where he searches for allies to take revenge on Glokta. This is very hard to do since he is a ghost now. So he decides to try and possess people. But for this to be more effective he dies again, and now there are two ghost-Severards.
    His first ally (victim) is a starnge nothern man with only nine fingers, he seems kind of familiar but Severard can’t remember him at first. He stumbles upon Malacus Quai’s twin brother and decides to take him along also, only too late does he find out that he is actually much better than his twin in the high arts.

    While this goes on the second ghost of Severard has found its way to Styria. There he stumbles upon the handsome son/daughter (both?) of the Snake of Talins. Deciding that he/she would get him a high ransom or be a valuable ally he possesses him/her. None of them new yet, but it was beginning of a beatiful story of friendship and loneliness.

    Also, Severard and Severard invents guns and sell them to Bayaz and Khalul so they can continue their war.
    The end.

    …. I think I’ll go write First Law crackfic on my lj now XD

  • Nick Sharps says:

    So when can we maybe learn more about this next project?

  • Sedulo says:

    Please, no spoilers! Argh!

  • Sedulo says:

    Hello. I meant to politely suggest that comments not include spoilers from The Heroes. If I had not read the book I would know two very important outcomes via the comments.

    As far as spoilers regarding the book that is to come, fire away! I think there is a teensy weensy hint that it may be in a setting akin to myriad portrayals of the Old West. If you think about it the time period Westerns take place in was not really that long ago!

  • Connor says:

    Hey, Blood Meridian! Awesome.

  • Gordon Smith says:


    Maybe it’s just my imagination running amok, but I seem to recall a certain Western film directed by a guy named John Ford which featured a search for a woman who had been abducted by Indians. Now, in the HEROES, we have a woman who has been abducted by savages and taken off to a possibly hideous fate worse than death. Seems to me, some folks down in the Union might want to do something about getting that gal back. Might be able to make a middling fantasy Western out of that dangling plot-line.

  • Nick P says:

    If you haven’t seen them, I must recommend The Proposition, Red Hill, and Seraphim Falls. They are some recent Westerns (of varying degrees), that have a gritty, grimy, but personal touch.

  • henderson says:

    How about Shenkt as the lone plains drifter?

  • Juhan says:

    I think you should add some semi-westerns into the mix as well… like China Miéville’s IRON COUNCIL… And maybe Clint Eastwood’s HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER.

  • TheChubby41 says:

    Nice selection. Unforgiven one of the all time best westerns.
    As for books, have you check out Louis L’Amour, specifically the Sackett books? Great stuff. Fast reads.

  • henderson says:

    Carlot dan Eider as the damsel in distress.

  • Rosemary Punter says:

    I’m sorry Joe but I don’t like reading westerns. Please tell me it isn’t going to be a western!

  • DrGonzo says:

    Sound more like a western in the land of First Law I would suggest. :oD

    Nice selection on the picture. I love Ride with the devil and just saw the Cohen version of True grit.
    A lot of my friends did not get into The assasination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Fort but I think this one gets the feeling of a realistic western.

    Do you know The Proposition? Plays in Australia but uses also music by Nick Cave and gives you a really dark and depressive story.

    Cant remember the book my english teacher gave me, when I was around 12. Something about all famour revolveman. All bloody, pictures of hanged and so on. Pretty shocking for me at this age but very well written.

    I am just in the middle of heroes so far. Great boot. Nice to see all the characters back in action.

  • henderson says:

    Hope you have a corrupt sheriff along the lines of Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood or the Brian Dennehy character in Silverado.

  • Peter says:

    I’d recommend BRMC’s Howl for musical inspiration, it did me good with some short fiction stuff and feels really atmospheric.

    Looking forward to your work, it’s been ace so far and I’m not expecting anything less this time!

  • henderson says:

    Building from the idea of the corrupt sheriff, how about Nicomo Cosca as a corrupt sheriff or mayor?

    How about Harding Grim as a bounty hunter type of character?

  • Martin says:

    I cackle with delight. This is going to be fucking fantastic.

  • J says:


    A bit of melancholy to go with the blood, spit and sarcasm…

  • Tim R. says:


    I just recently discovered your work and I am really enjoying The Blade Itself. Though I haven’t finished it yet, it has provided enough entertainment so far that it has made me very excited to have found a new talented writer and I look forward to purchasing the next book in the series. When I decided to visit your site and discovered you are working on a Western I was even more excited. I have been a long time western fan and am always searching for new stories. I wish you the best of luck in writing it!

    There has been a lot of feedback here on a number of western authors, movies, etc. so I would like to add a suggestion of my own. Anyone that is a fan of Louis Lamour should check out Ralph Cottons work (not to be confused with Ralph Compton). Mr. Cotton is currently writing and puts out about 3 to 4 books a year and while they may be somewhat formulatic as was Lamour’s work, he has created some very distinct and likable characters such as Ranger Sam Burrack and Fast Larry Shaw. The characters are so well done that I can’t wait to sit down and share in their adventures every time Ralph puts out another book. I would suggest picking up “Gunman’s Song” the beginning of Fast Larry’s series or any of the Ranger series if you have any interest.

    Anyway I look forward to reading more of your work and I hope that all of it is a success.

  • Troy says:

    Ya know what i want is a prequel. the story of glokta in his prime, logen as a young northman, west trying to move up the ranks etc… The possibilities with the world u created are endless and Hell ill take anything u create from this world. Tunny and gorst were my fav characters in the heroes… made me feel bad he lost the contest to jezel. gorst is a beast!

  • Ed says:

    Tunny reminded me a lot of Yossarian in Catch-22.

  • fgalkin says:

    Cowboy Bayaz, anyone? 😀

  • David says:

    Evening Joe. I sit here slowly ( oh so slowly on my iPod) pecking out this note in the shadow of the Rockies. Ever since I read this post I wanted to recommend a Western to you that seared it’s story across my immortal soul. Well it sprung to mind anyway. That was two months ago… And indeed I haven’t read the 102 comments here (that iPod thing once more).

    So… Once Upon A Time in the West. If there was a western that aligned with your style and vision I would suggest this was it. The thread of tragedy that haunts every great story is present here as is that other driver – sheer bloody minded revenge. It could be that you have seen it – some may say that it is over wrought and those closeups overdone but I love it. Regardless it is worth your time even if it is just to witness the payoff.

    Love your work Joe, looking forward to your next story!

  • James Williams says:

    What?! No Sergio Leone?

    I also can’t believe that “The Wild Bunch” is missing.

Add Your Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *