Lies and Firsts

September 9th, 2011

I note in passing that my dark masters at Gollancz have re-issued Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora with a retro yellow cover reminiscent of the early 60s in order to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the imprint:

THE fantasy debut of 2006, other than mine.  The book, of course, is a wretched tissue of laboured plot-devices, tin-ear dialogue, slovenly world-building and all around hackery.  But this edition is worth the price of admission for the superlative introduction and fetching cover alone.  My advice?  Read the introduction, cut the cover off, then toss the rest away.

In other news, are considering the openings of various fantasy series in collaboration with Barnes and Noble buyer Jim Killen in their First in Fantasy series.  Ron Hogan kicks off by considering The Blade Itself:

The Blade Itself could almost read as a grim, ultraviolent parody of A Song of Ice and Fire, with hyper-accelerated political intrigue covered in blood and guts and shot through with savagely dark humor…”

Almost?  What do you mean almost?

“…except that Abercrombie works hard to keep even the most venal or manipulative of his primary characters well-rounded.”

Oh, yeah, that.  I accept your retraction.

Posted in reading, reviews by Joe Abercrombie on September 9th, 2011.

26 comments so far

  • Nick Sharps says:

    The UK’s original cover for “The Lies of Locke Lamora” is far better than its counterpart here in the States. On the other hand this retro cover is absolutely hideous. And yet I still somehow want it.

  • Nick Sharps says:

    Are these going for sale anywhere specific? Will I be able to order this off Amazon?

  • Joris M says:

    Actually they opened with “Best Served Cold”.

    “Best Served Cold doesn’t just underscore the anti-heroism of Monza’s quest for vengeance, it makes a point of rubbing our faces in the collateral damage of its pointlessness.”
    “…Abercrombie doesn’t ask readers to revel in this bloodshed.”

  • Pete says:

    Joe, forget comparing you to Martin, Lynch is much closer if only in length of time between books.

  • Brett says:

    That cover looks absolutely wretched compared to the blue one.

    The book, of course, is a wretched tissue of laboured plot-devices, tin-ear dialogue, slovenly world-building and all around hackery.

    Ouch. Personally, I found it entertaining, aside from the ending.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Couldn’t say exactly, but they had a big display of them in my local waterstones.

    For those whose sense of humour has been surgically removed, I am joking. Me and Scott have occasionally been known to take the piss out of each other. If I thought it was that bad I probably wouldn’t have written an introduction…

  • Harvey Quinn says:

    I read this in Waterstones yesterday (Your introduction of course) and would have bought the book had I not already read it. I must say it is an excellent introduction and I will be recommending it to all of my peers.

  • Nick says:

    @Brett, I quite liked the ending. Not to spoil anything, but I found the line: “Most illuminating…You’re not actually very good at this, are you?” during the duel scene extremely funny.

    The world of “gritty fantasy” (crappy phrase, I know) seems remarkably incestous. Joe’s written an introduction for Scott Lynch’s book, GRRM has quotes on Scott Lynch’s and Joe’s books, Richard Morgan has been reviewed by Joe and has quotes on Scott Lynch’s stuff…

    I’ve come to the conclusion that there is only one author working in this particular niche, but with many cleverly constructed false identities. This mysterious super-author then goes around showering praise on their own pseudonymic works. A bit like that historian Orlando Figes did.

  • Anne Lyle says:

    @Nick: You mean you didn’t realise? Why do you think Joe is GoH at FantasyCon and then GRRM at EasterCon, but neither is attending the other’s appearance? Why do you think all their books take so long to come out? It’s all one over-worked guy…

  • David says:

    Hey Joe,

    I have a friend who’s trying to get me to start the Locke Lamora series, but I keep telling him Daniel Abraham’s The Long Price Quartet is next since I liked both The Dragon’s Path and Leviathan Wakes. What do I do?

  • Dan says:


    I’m not Joe but I would say read The Long Price first as that series is complete. Then when you do read the Locke Lamora ones, the release of Republic of Thieves will be that much closer.
    Another reason is that The Long Price is stunning. It starts pretty slow but the 3rd and 4th books are unbelievable.
    It depends what you want though really.
    Scott Lynch’s writing is pretty much constantly entertaining and genuinely funny in places. Daniel Abraham’s is a lot more serious and introspective.

  • David says:

    Thanks Dan,

    That’s helpful. You’re definitely right about Abraham, there is maybe 2 “haha” moments in all of Dragon’s Path.

    Another part of me is holding my breath for the third book in the Acacia series, Sacred Band as well.

    I was lucky enough to start reading Joe’s books after Best Served Cold hit the stands. It’s somehow more enjoyable to read it all in one go than to wait. Much more rich since you remember everything in detail.

  • rosstafarian says:

    Nick: You’re forgetting Patrick rothfuss, he’s surely part of that “super author” the world might not be quite as gritty but the time between 1st and 2nd book surely proves it so! The interviews you see are surely some sort of halogram, I mean come on look at that beard Rothfuss has, clearly it’s the result of years of research on generating such lush facial hair halographically. The time between books is all a ploy to keep people interested while he works on other books “oh yeah dance with dragon’s will be out in a year”, “yeah wise man’s fear will be out in a year”…. “yup keep checking, keep your interest peeked while i write these other books under my pseudonym’s!” and dance comes out right after the hbo series, coincidence? i think not! 😉

    He faked the moon landing too.

    and killed Kennedy.

  • David says:

    Nick: GRRM has written many quotes on Daniel Abraham’s work as well. Lets throw him into the mix.

  • Anne Lyle says:

    @Joe: Guilty as charged, of initially taking your lambasting of Scott seriously – I really shouldn’t be allowed online when I’m only half awake. I still stand by my comment about that bloody wind, though 🙂

    All I can say is, if all these books are by one sekrit super-author, he’s awesomely prolific. Or maybe it’s really James Frey’s author mill…

  • Jacob says:

    I looked at “Lies” for a bit, examined the cover art, glanced over the back cover for a brief glimpse as to what it was about, thought “Once I finish the rest of ASoIaF and Best Served Cold I’ll give this a go”…

    I Then I proceeded to notice another Lovecraft anthology was out…WITH A DIFFERENT COVER! Tee hee hee. Honestly, once I breeze through the majority of my required reading I will eventually give this one a go. Until then…I anxiously await the last 150 pages as we near Fontezarmo.

  • bta says:

    Love the old Gollancz yellow jackets… if only I could find an original with ‘Neuromancer’ and ‘William Gibson’ on it I’d be a happy man.
    Plus richer.

    FYI, and whisper it quietly, reckon you’re streets ahead of SC; thought so in 2006 when you were both launched at an unsuspecting public (wasn’t it on the same day?) and more so now.

  • Thaddeus says:

    I think it’s nice that they’re making covers for the visually impaired.

    The Lies of Locke Lamora starts a bit slowly, but gets better and better throughout. Bloody good book. If you ask nicely Mr. Lynch might give you some tips :p

  • Adam says:

    Are critics so bereft of imagination, they’ve no other way to consider someone’s work than comparing it with someone else’s work? “Oh hey, Abercrombie is kinda like Martin, but this, this and that.” It’s the same genre!

    Oh and by the way, Slayer is also kind of like Black Sabbath except they sound nothing alike unless you’ve no interest in either, in which case, yeah, they’re probably the same thing and you’re better off downloading the latest Kardasian single.

    If people know they’re specifically reading a fantasy review, why not simply review the story on its own merits?

  • Mr Dow B. says:

    Picked up the book right after completing Joe’s books.
    Not bad,not good a meh would suffice.
    Atrocious cover BTW wouldn’t sell me in 1000 years.

    Am I the only one that finds it extremelly difficult to find/read books that are NOT Joe’s?

  • Phil says:

    “Lies” is a brilliant opener into the world of Locke Lamora (nearly as good as that Abercrombie fellas). It was a shame – for me anyway – that Red Skies under Red Sea was such a let down.

    Here’s hoping Republic of Thieves is back on “Lies” form.

  • Phil says:

    Of course that should be Red SEAS Under Red SKIES, must lay off the cider this early in the evening…

  • DRFP says:

    Saw these editions lined up in the Forbidden Planet in London and have to agree that they looked mighty hideous fluorescent yellow sight. And they FEEL cheap too. Not nice editions at all.

    It’s shame Lynch has been having the troubles he has and the Republic of Thieves has been pushed back again and again. TLOLL was decent and I’m one of the few (seemingly) who think the sequel was better (less “Look at how edgy my series is with the way all the characters swear so f*cking much”). Plus, Lynch’s short, “In The Stacks”, in that Swords & Dark Magic anthology was maybe my favourite of the whole lot (sorry, Joe!). So I’m hoping this upward trend of his continues into RoT.

  • Jordan says:

    That is the ugliest cover I’ve ever seen. And I already bought Lies. Ain’t gonna buy it a second time.

  • Dan says:

    Mr. Dow B., Totally agree. Everything is just meh after reading Joe’s stuff. As far as Lies goes…average book (at best), horrible cover. How bout an update on A Red Country?!

  • Alex F says:

    Lies I found to be a good book; my fiance even managed to enjoy it; an achievement really as to say she’s not really a fan of Fantasy in general would be an understatement.

    Red Seas, I didn’t enjoy as much as the first, but reading it a 2nd time when on holiday, I found myself liking it alot more.

    It’s a real shame as to the reasons why the third book has taken a while to come out, but I’m looking forward to it.

    On the subject of finding it hard to like other books not written by Abercrombie, in my quest to get my friends to read the series, one got very disappointed after asking me when the next book after The Heroes was going to be out.

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