Lamb, Shy, and Essential Fantasy

June 10th, 2013

Thought I’d post a few little things which came my way via twitter.  First off, a brilliant piece of what you might call done-for-the-joy-of-it Red Country art from British Comic Book Artist Gary Frank:

00017 copy

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted any reviews, as well, but there’s a particularly insightful (not to mention complimentary) one of The Heroes from the aptly titled Unclekins:

“All the key ingredients that made Abercrombie’s earlier books stand out – the very real feeling characters, the naturalistic dialogue, the genuinely sharp wit … are present and correct. But it’s the story it tells that makes The Heroes an audacious book.”

And finally a few of my favourite blogger/critic/genre-commentator type people have been simultaneously posting their lists of 50 Essential Epic Fantasy works, and what do you know, the works of Joe Abercrombie appear on three of the four.  Liz Bourke was the first to unleash her life-changing praise upon me:

“I read the first book. I didn’t really like it. But Abercrombie’s success – and, consequently, his influence on the features of epic fantasy – can’t be denied.”

My books are poor, but my success cannot be ignored!  Better than the other way around, I guess.  Justin Landon was more enthusiastic:

“George R.R. Martin started the modern grim fantasy, but Abercrombie perfected it. His work is biting, and harsh, and riddled with black humor. Essential.”

And Jared Shurin of Pornokitsch had a little more to say:

“Like any other trend, a couple people (Martin, Abercrombie) did something really, really interesting – they explored the idea that ‘actually a fantasy world would be really brutal/disease-ridden/awful on a day-by-day basis’. Their commercial success was immediately followed by dozens of pale imitations, all based on the false assumption that readers love them some diseased brutality. It is always easy to poach an aesthetic. The actual underlying insight? Harder to copy.”

I’m off up to London for more meetings tomorrow, and there may well be quite an exciting announcement coming soon, definitely for me, and possibly even for YOU.  Until then…

Posted in artwork, reviews by Joe Abercrombie on June 10th, 2013.

40 comments so far

  • Hawkeye says:

    Is it good artwork, yes. Is that Lamb/Logen. No. All you have to do is read the books and pay attention to know that’s not what he looks like. Andie Tong’s version is much much closer.

  • Harvey Quinn says:


    Without posting spoilers, I’m pretty sure Lamb/Logen does look like this at one point in Red Country, and it’s an artists interpretation.

    Loving it personally.


  • Jacob says:

    “Always interesting, how many people seem unable to assess artwork independently of their own conception of a book and its characters.”

    [raging fanboy mode]C’mon Joe, he was never “that” big. And WHERE ARE THE GUNSLINGER HATS?!?! EVERYONE IN THE WEST WEARS A GUNSLINGER HAT.[/raging fanboy mode]

  • Jacob says:

    Jokes aside…


    What Native American tribes were used as your primary inspiration for the Ghosts? If not a particular tribe then which ones did you read about in your research period?

    I was always curious about that.

  • Sword1001 says:

    Shy? More like Smug . . . Logen looks like an exagerated version of my uncle in that drawing . . .

  • Scassonio says:

    Here’s MY review:

    “The First Law” trilogy kicked me arse so hard, I’m sporting a pair of buttocks on my forehead now.

  • Sword1001 says:

    Can’t access the link at work, but is that Jason Mansford the comedian?! 8 Out Of Ten Cats to reviewing Epic Fantasy . . . strange career trajectory?

  • Roger says:

    I agree with Hawkeye. The Bloody Nine is not the Hulk.
    But the drawing is nice.

  • Sword1001 says:

    “I’m off up to London for more meetings tomorrow, and there may well be quite an exciting announcement coming soon, definitely for me, and possibly even for YOU”

    Recently, you’ve done the comic book adaptation . . announced some exciting short stories . . . Next book is not due for 2(?) years at least . . . so that only leaves MOVIE/TV ADAPTATION!!

    OMG 😀

  • Hawkeye says:

    I think you got it Sword. I really believe he is going to announce some kind of TV deal next! I think Starz is looking for another winner now that Sparticus is over. That’s my guess. Starz!

  • Joey says:

    It’s always amazing to me how when a visual interpretation surfaces of a character from a written work, whether it be a drawing or a movie trailer, the negative feedback is overwhelming.

    Whether or not the drawing matches your interpretation of the characters is irrelevant. It’s subjective to the reader and until you can articulate your own interpretation through any medium, you don’t really get a say.

  • Graeme says:

    Not to be a tedious pedant (ah, who am I kidding), but the first review is by a guy called ‘Unclekins’ and is posted next to his review of Jason Manford. It’s not actually by Jason Manford.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    That’ll teach me to look at this stuff on an iPhone…

  • weedypants says:

    That is how Logan should look!!!

    No offence to those currently doing the FL comic adaptation, but Gary Frank is the man.


  • weedypants says:

    An excellent rendering of Shy’s cleavage as well, I hasn’t to add. I like it a lot.

  • Cyle says:

    You da man Joe! Can’t wait for this announcement.

  • captinyzf says:

    You are all absolutely correct. That looks nothing like Logan.
    It does, however, look just like The Bloody Nine!!

  • ColinJ says:

    I saw Shy as a plain, scrawny lass. Kind of a Sissy Spacek type.

    But I do like Logen in full Bloody-Nine mode.

  • Cyram says:

    Perhaps, when the google translator is best, also look at the wonders that we talk about your books in Spain. Here if that not have left no one indifferent. The possibility of reading books like Best Served Cold or The Heroes, has completely changed the landscape of fantasy literature in our country, much more when it seems that people only know Game of Thrones. (Speaking generally)

  • Sigurd says:

    I’m nearing the end of Red Country, having read your books non-stop since I first discovered The First Law Trilogy not long ago. This is a very interesting interpretation of Lamb and Shy, as my mental image is so vastly different. But that’s the nice thing about books, isn’t it?

    Whatever will I do when I’m done with Red Country? With the exception of your work, Mr. Abercrombie, and that of GRRM, “epic fiction” novels always, without fail, make me cringe every other page.

    I’ve been trying to find something through goodreads, but I’m struggling to find a worthy replacement until Abercrombie releases a new book. Luckily, you write at an amazing speed.

    Thanks for all the hours of quality entertainment. I’m looking forward to many, many more in the years to come.

  • Phil Norris says:

    Yes Lamb looks like the Hulk, but then I’ve always wondered if the change from Logen to Bloody-Nine is physical as well as psychological?

  • Adam A. says:

    lol I didn’t know Shy was a dwarf. Look at how wee she is! Either that or Lamb is almost 2.5 meters tall…

  • Remus says:

    I love the drawing (or should i say artwork), especially because of “Logen in full Bloody-Nine mode” (as ColinJ said it). I like Shy also, but i also like Sword1001’s comment – “Shy? More like Smug . . .” 🙂

    Joe – see if you can persuade Gary Frank to do a few more drawings! Invite him to a wisky match, or something… 😉
    We certainly would love to see more.

  • Angie says:

    I really like the drawing. I do think Lamb is a little bit too big, though. That’s more the size I envisioned Tul Duru to be. Either that, or as someone else mentioned, Shy is incredibly small. But aside from size, I really like the look of them both.

    Joe, I have sung your praises to several of my friends, and now have a good friend reading your First Law trilogy. He keeps sending me speculative emails to which I can’t reply. Most recently, he’s noticed that Quai’s personality seems to have changed, and he wonders if there’s a reason or if it’s bad writing. I’m loving it. After sharing some quotes in the D&D game my husband runs, I think we may have also convinced the other people in our group to check you out as well. The only thing that makes me happier than good books is being able to discuss them with my friends.

  • Joolz says:

    Shy should be spitting and, to me, she looks a little to glamorous. I’m on the side of ColinJ. I never saw Lamb getting bigger, he just doesn’t feel any pain from his injuries, well, until later that is.

  • Ryan says:

    I think Shy is pretty close to how I imagined her. Lamb looks a little too much like a mindless brute, but I still appreciate the image.

    On a side note, as I’m reading this article, the postman delivers my Subterranean Press edition of The Heroes. The image of Finree in it is badass! I love getting two cups of Joe in one day!

  • Graham says:


  • dakk0n says:

    I love the drawing especially that Bloody-Nine’s sneer. Only if he’s a tad smaller and less muscles, I think her’s the perfect B9 imho.

  • Stirling says:

    I love the artwork! That is much closer to the Bloody Nine I have in my head!

  • herb says:

    When’s the next book coming? I would love a story on the Prophet Khalul.

  • Bell says:

    It was my impression from the books and descriptions that Logen was not exactly a modern fantasy hunky type with long, flowing, finely conditioned locks of hair, a Hollywood rugged stubble on his finely chiseled jaw, and such. I do remember a man with a plethora of hideous scars, remnants of past beatings all over his body, a nose broken in the past, men and women being obviously distressed at his presence without even knowing his history, and, most importantly, a man who has simply survived many years in the face of incredible violence. In my opinion, this rendition works well.

  • Angie says:

    Bell, I didn’t see anyone in here claiming he should be more attractive in the drawing. I do agree with you that he looks great, but as I said, just a little too big, in my mind. But I also really like the depiction in the graphic novels up there.

  • Mr sad says:

    Abercrombie who I admire as an amazing fantasy author seems to be wasting a great opportunity with the first law. Having build a great history and introduced very memorable characters I don’t understand why he has chosen to write books set so long after the first law events. Best served cold and heroes work well as it seems he is placing all of his pawns on the chess board before the huge events if what should be the next trilogy,,,, however with the introduction of red country the time gap becomes far too great and some of our best loved characters will simply be too old, obsolete, or even dead without us completing our first law journey with them. I feel that Abercrombie has yearned to write something different and new but has perhaps been pressured into keep writing in the first law universe crossing over characters… I can’t help but think red country should have been set in a completely different spectrum and after the heroes Abercrombie should have returned to our original trilogy with all of his pieces set and beginning to take motion. Instead for me red country spoils most of the suspense as we know not much has went wrong in the union and Bayaz hasn’t had too many problems if any at all. The course of action that makes sense to me is monzcarro vs the union and the secret plans of glokta and jezal as they try to remove the god hand if Bahaz from their world. We would be left also with the progression of Calder in the north…. And also the perhaps corruption of the dogman as governer. Meanwhile the war between the union and gurkish needs to be resolved and ferro needs to have her journey completed. Too many character arcs have been left open to interpretation to justify such huge leaps in time. It doesn’t work and it spoils an immense opportunity. Red country may be a huge leap for fantasy once again crossing over gritty realism with small elements if fantasy but I really don’t think it belongs in this universe. It also completely destroys logen nine fingers and our lovable rogue cosca. Not to mention that shivers gets completely wasted also. These characters should never have been in red country.

    We can’t even hope for Abercrombie to go back in time and give us a trilogy set just after the heroes (where it makes perfect sense) because red country has already shown us the state of affairs in the the world so there would be next to nothing at stake.

    As I said before I really love abercrombies work up until red country but it’s hard watching something you love so much not fulfil it’s real potential.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Mr. Sad,
    You don’t have to talk about me in the third person. I’m right here. I’m real glad you like the books, of course. But I haven’t been pressured into anything. I write exactly what I want to. You talk about your preferences as though everyone else will agree. But what makes ‘perfect sense’ to you doesn’t to everyone else, and even if everyone agreed, it wouldn’t make any difference. When you read my books, you don’t get what you want to read. You get what I want to write. That’s the method that has produced all my work so far. And more than likely always will. There’s just no other way to do this.

  • Frank Fitz says:

    Mr. Sad,

    For me, the best writers don’t linger on old characters, rather, they recognise that there is a whole population of people within the world to explore, with different stories and views to be shared.

    Besides, the one and only important character in his world is Bayaz, as everyone else is but a pawn in his eyes and therefore, everyone else is inconsequential after he is through with using them, even the great Logen.

  • Sword1001 says:


    I asked this in the Inquisition, but have you ever felt the urge to write outside the FL universe, or outside the genre altogether? I don’t doubt for a second that you write what you want to write, but do you think that taking a break from the characters would recharge the creative juices?

  • Hawkeye says:

    Mr. Sad, I actually totally agree with you. In a perfect world, Joe would have done just as you suggested and picked up a year or two after Heroes. And In the past years I have asked similar questions, or urged for more of this or that. Alas, this is something we have zero control over and have to simply go along for the ride as Joe see’s fit. Over time I have let go of my own wants and placed my trust in Joe to do what he does. He knows this world better than us. He has not let me down yet.

  • Lastword says:

    I really like the artwork, but why are her feet so long/big? They seem almost comically (no pun) big. I get the impression she’s like 5’2″, and he’s 6’4″ or so.

  • […] Or if they have any recommendations for fantasy literature other than Game of Thrones (The works of Joe Abercrombie as an example)? I never do though, as it is a small and petty annoyance. It is harder sometimes […]

  • Thom Olson says:

    Mr. Abercrombie! I love your writing, your characters, and the insights to the human condition that you wrap in such juicy and darkly hilarious stories. A friend turned me onto the Blade Itself after a discussion of berserks. Ninefingers is amazing! But they all, are. Glokta… who’d have thought he was the good guy? I’m listening to them again. Just saw Ferro and Logen through the undercity of Aulcus.
    Do you think you’ll let us know what Ferro is up to? Do you think you’ll write more in the Shattered Sea?
    And, finally, to me this image is the most accurate to what Logen looks like in my head. I was so disappointed in the character designs in the graphic novels that I didn’t buy them. That said, the images your put in my head with your writing are some of the most vivid characters I’ve read.
    Thank you for so much fun!

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