Man, if only I spent a fraction of the time writing my books as I do dreaming up hilarious pun headings for my blog we might really have some quality fantasy fiction out there in the marketplace. I mentioned in the last post that I attended a panel at Eastercon about online reviews, and the opinion seemed to be pretty much unanimous that an author should never respond to their reviews. Best just to rise above it. You only dignify it by responding, and cheapen the authorial coin. Nothing to gain, everything to lose. The dignity of silence.
Yeah, right. Dignity? Me?
Probably I’m a bit late to this, but there’s quite a substantial review of Last Argument of Kings in the latest edtion of Locus:
“Abercrombie holds nothing back in his depiction of torutre, hand-to-hand combat, the clash of armies, and climactic assaults that recall some of the worst of World War II … But behind the mayhem there’s no Dark Lord or Darth Vader dreaming of the ultimate triumph of evil; (nearly) everyone here is fully human, driven by the force of circumstance and the vagaries of self. Last Argument of Kings ends the First Law trilogy with a mordant brilliance … Despite the apparent medievalism of its courts and tribes, this is industrial-strength, politically savvy fantasy for our own times.”
Mmmmmmm. Melts in the mouth. Equally warm and tasty was Hobbit’s response at SFFWorld:
“For those jaded by the genre’s predictability, yet hopeful about revisiting the elements that encouraged them to read Fantasy in the first place, this might be the series. A trilogy that justifies being a trilogy, produced in three years … For those who have stuck the course, this trilogy shows an amazing development and progression, not only in scope but also in writing style. And the man’s only three books into what, I hope, will be a lengthy publishing career. How do you top this? Recommended very highly.”
Not quite so easily digestible (at least for me), was the opinion of a guy I was lucky enough to meet at Forbidden Planet, and subsequently at Eastercon, the Little Kid with a Beard, who basically enjoyed the series greatly, but is one of an emerging group of, for want of a better description, cynical malcontents who had some issues with the ending:
“Abercrombie’s talent for developing believable characters and changing the tone and voice of each chapter according to the point of view is a joy to read. Although Abercrombie takes familiar fantasy staples, he manages to escape coming off as a cheap hack reinventing Tolkien … Strangely, Last Argument of Kings seems to rob both its reader and the protagonists of a peaceful ending. In fact by the end of the book you can’t help but wonder if certain characters are any better off than when the first book started.”
Endings, shmendings. In all seriousness, he’s not alone in having his doubts about the conclusion. It’s a difficult area to get right, and I always knew the road I took wouldn’t work for everyone. But then that’s true of every aspect of writing. Such is the torture of reviews for the author. Some consensus, please, guys? Just give me the objective truth, if you will?
Only a thousand, thousand voices, raised in a clamour of infinite discord…
Anyway, the differing response to the endings is something that I may have to look at in more detail once more folks have read the books, along with some spoilerific content about what I was trying to achieve with the whole business. Other than to live in an enormous mansion with a swimming pool shaped like a magic sword, of course. Still waiting on that one…
BY THE WAY: If you haven’t read the books, best not read the comments. They’ve got some spoilers in them, which I should probably have seen coming, and I’d hate to damage anyone’s enjoyment of my own books.