Progress Report February ’18

February 27th, 2018

And so the progress reports march inexorably on. Two months into 2018 already. My god, my god, where does the time go? Well, in my case, into drafting the last book in my latest trilogy!

Where are we now? Well, if you recall, I have taken leave of my senses and am undertaking the insane plan of writing a rough draft of all three books in a new trilogy set in the First Law world, in the hope that I can find out exactly where I’m going and who my characters are before I prepare the first for publication, with the other two to follow in a timely manner.  If you haven’t been keeping up, you can look back at recent progress reports to learn more about what I’m doing and why.  But where I am with it is perhaps the more important question right now.

At new year I’d just finished a quick round of reading and revision on the first book, and come up with a general plan for the third, and a detailed plan for the first of its three parts (that is to say, the first third of this third book, since each book is split into three parts).  I’ve now drafted that first part, planned the second part, and written some 20,000 words of that one.  Each part works out about 60,000 words, each book therefore about 170-180,000 words, so I’m getting towards half way through this third one.

This is very fast work for me.  At least twice as fast as I was working on, say, Red Country back in the day (well, if back in the day is 2011, which I suppose it’s getting to be, these days).  Very rough drafts, remember, but the aim is not so much to have finished, high-quality books at this point (though even these rough drafts are OF COURSE packed with unpolished jewels), as to have a framework that makes sense and enables me to tighten up that first book, get the character voices and trajectories right, then edit and polish ready to publish, safe in the knowledge that I know exactly where I’m going and I should be able to bring the other two in in a timely manner.  Lots of work still to do on what’s already written, of course.  LOTS.  But in my experience, getting that first draft together is the toughest part, and as far as the first draft goes, I am, somewhat unbelievably as far as I’m concerned, starting to see the light at the end of a three year tunnel.

I’m hoping over the next two months I can push through to the end of this second part, get a workable plan for the last, and embark on the final part of the trilogy.  Once the entire rough draft is done, I think we can look at getting a (reasonably) firm publication date in the works for book 1, A Little Hatred, I would hope for maybe late summer 2019.  But I, of course, make no promises…

Posted in news, progress by Joe Abercrombie on February 27th, 2018.

56 comments so far

  • Darren says:

    Sounds great. Enough time to re read the previous 7. Does the new trilogy work back to back with each predecessor or will you be putting several years between each installment?

    Looking forward to more of the first law.

  • Fiona Lloyd says:

    Books in three sections.

    Have you been reading Sergei Lukyanenko?

  • tom says:

    yes! keep on keepin on sir!

  • Brandon says:

    Sony studios in Culver city is storyboarding The Blade Itself for a tv show/movie. Can you make any comment? Maybe just a nod of the head? 🙂

  • Michael Berry says:

    Thanks for the update. Can’t wait for the next trilogy!

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    New trilogy runs concurrently over the course of a couple of years, like the first law. Picks up about 12-15 years after Red Country.

    Well I wrote three books in two sections, three books in four sections, two books in five sections, and one book in seven sections, so I guess it was a natural next step…

    If I could make a comment I probably would’ve. But I can tell you from the photos that it’s not sony studios, and it’s not storyboards, and it’s not a movie…

  • Bec says:

    Excellent news Sir, cannot wait

  • Willie says:

    Joe, is there any chance you might release sample chapters from “A Little Hatred” in the coming months?

  • Christian the First says:

    YEAH! Jacked up ,Joe,for alittle of the old ultraviolence First Law style . Can’t wait . Your 3 standalones had a revenge thriller ,war,western vibe so is there a genre these are molded in?

  • Chris says:

    Will we be seeing more of the Shanka and the Eaters, especially Shenkt, in the forthcoming trilogy?

  • Emanuel says:

    thanks for the update, Joe I love your books, and I look forward to this new trilogy, good work

  • Nathan Towns says:

    Joe, you’re just the best. If you could have any composer write the music for the “not a movie” dead or alive, whom would you choose? If you feel like it’d be impolitic of you to name an alive one (risking pissing off Zimmer) feel free to restrict your choices to those who are dead. But Bayaz would need to bring them back to life. That’s the only rule.

  • Blobsidian says:

    I love the First Law Trilogy so much. I know this is probably unrelated to your current process right now, but if audio book versions of this new trilogy are planned what are the chances Steven Pacey will read them? In my opinion he did the First Law Universe justice and I couldn’t imagine anyone else narrating them. Anyways, thanks for creating one of my favorite series. Keep up the good work, I can’t wait!

  • ZG says:

    I can make a comment and will. It’s about time. It better not be a movie, TV series is a better format.
    Super excited for your stories to eclipse GOT as the #1 gritty fantasy.

  • John says:

    Sorry if this is a rerun. Thought I submitted one earlier, but I Guess it got lost in the mail…
    So folks, please let the man write. He’s taking too much precious time on blogs, the people are STARVING for new stuff. It’s your moral duty, Joe, to keep your loyal band of readers entertained. I can’t wait for your next trilogy. I promise not to bug you too much, if you promise to keep tapping away.

    Exquisitely Bored in California

  • rosyatrandom says:

    I’m curious: does this all-at-once strategy stem from any particular experience or regret from writing the original trilogy? Did you find yourself wishing you’d done something differently, or trying to retcon it?

    (And if so, what? :D)

  • Jacob says:

    Will Bayaz be back? Bayaz=the best depiction of a Wizard since Gandalf.

  • eladir says:

    The bad thing about reading great books like First Law is that it makes it harder to enjoy other books. Since First Law I’ve read Hyperion Cantos, Codex Alera, Bartimaeus Sequence, all of GGKay and a bunch of other standalones and from all that, the only ones that provided comparable enjoyment were Hyperion and Tigana.

    Anyway, don’t compromise for any reason, take as much time as is needed.

  • Hawkeyye says:

    All I know is that if they are going to make shows out of Altered Carbon and the Expanse, while both worthy, they absolutely have to make a series out of the First Law. We know the content is ace. now they just have to nail the casting. And not just Logen. It has to be strong top to bottom, Three tree’s, Bayez, Dogman, etc. And I hope they film in New Zealand using mostly Aussie and English actors, ala Spartacus.

  • HavetoberealisticIknowbut.. says:


    The idea of a FL tv series makes me both shiver with delight and nailbite with worry.

    Please don’t let them run your magnificent series into the ground like they eventually did with GOT.

    Demand a say in the final scripts, otherwise …(season 6 + 7 of GOT) *shudders*

    All the best.

  • Steve Hick says:

    August 2019 is just over 500 days…..can I hold my metaphorical breath till then? It’s enough time for a binge read.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Daresay sample chapters will be along in due course in the run-up to publication.

    Less self-consciously of a genre than the standalones, or in a sense than the First Law (in that that’s very deliberately a classic epic fantasy story). Hard for me to easily describe what it is.

    A little, but not the focus.

    I am the best, that is true. Don’t have strong feelings on composers, I’m afraid.

    Pacey would always be first choice for anything First Law related.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    The original trilogy was written over a long period, plenty of time to live with the characters, and because of the length of time getting a contract and waiting for a publication date I was well underway with the third book when the first was published. So in a way this is an attempt to recreate the conditions under which that one was written. But it also just feels like the best way to get the best result, in the end (for me).

  • Sara says:

    I don’t care how much time it will take to publish the new triology, but i hope it’ll not take a lot of time more to publish
    it in spanish.

    I’ll be anxious to read it when it’ll be published in english, but i couldn’t do it until the spanish publication.
    Sorry for my horrible english, I wish you much strenght with the work.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Another advantage of a carefully structured approach is that, hopefully, the book is ready well before publication and therefore, hopefully, it can be translated in good time so that foreign language editions come out alongside, or at least not too long after, the English ones.

  • James says:

    Appreciate the updates so much! I think most fans are understanding about taking as long as necessary to come out with a book as long as we know how its progressing and are kept in the loop with occasional updates (and really you are going above and beyond in this respect). Keep up the good work Sir!

  • Matthew Ciuccio says:

    Hello Joe,

    I am new to the Fantasy Genera, started with The Name of the Wind “series” and then went to you First Law Trilogy. I just wanted to say thanks, it is fantastic and completed, and I look forward to whatever you come out with next whenever it comes!

  • Adrian Mills says:

    Glad to hear about a new trilogy, bought the first law series years back when they first appeared as hardbacks. Then bought the collected edition on iTunes, never regretted, easily some of my favourite books, I regularly re-read them alongside Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and the Drenai Saga. very much looking forward to more To add to the collection, keep up the excellent work. Though why a northern lad lives in the south is still beyond me…

  • Justin says:

    Even if it takes you five more years to add to this story I’ll be anxiously waiting. Hands down the best books I’ve ever read. Keep up the good work brother. We’ll be waiting. (Please don’t take five years though lol)

  • Strangercomeknockin' says:

    I finally found a fellow enthusiast of your work, we’ve been talking about going door knocking to spread the faith.

    “hello sir have you heard the grim word?”

  • That Guy says:

    Cough cough, I have terminal boneitis, won’t make it till publication date, pls email A Little Hatred as soon as possible.

  • Brian H says:

    I read a lot of fantasy by a wide variety of authors, including all of your books in the First Law world. I’ve made it through The Wheel of Time series and the entire Malazan Book of the Fallen, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Name of the Wind, as well as numerous other trilogies, series, offshoots, prequels, sequels, and stand-alone books. I currently have around 60 fantasy books on my Kindle that are still awaiting my eyeballs.

    No matter what I’m reading, I find myself subconsciously remembering and comparing it to your work and how much I enjoyed reading your stuff. Because of that, I guess I have to say you’re my favorite author and your stories, characters, settings, and style really ‘click’ with me.

    Anxiously awaiting the new trilogy, and all the best to you, sir. Thank you for what you do.

  • Timothy Berling says:


    Just finished red country, as a long time reader of your work who is eagerly awaiting your new trilogy, feel no rush. I’d wait another 2 years if need be, especially if it means pacey does the audiobooks! Thanks for bringing us all into your world, I’ve hooked several of my friends, you’re always the first author out of my mouth when someone asks for a recommendation!


  • Cockerham says:

    I just finished yet another run through the first law series, which is becoming something of a yearly tradition with me. I am still finding little nuances each read even now, but all good things come to a back cover. There is a real junkie’s come down at this point and I find myself feeling slightly morose, so it was a real treat to read about this upcoming project. Looking forward to spending hours hunched over, eyes glazed, a hard used book cradled in my hands.

  • Dillon says:

    Joe, I’m a huge fan, just wanted to say how thrilling I always find your updates – I love how much you’re willing to connect with your fans! It’s fascinating to get a look behind the scenes at the enormous amount of work that must go in to these books. Eagerly awaiting your next!

  • Mel says:

    Vosulla has a lot to answer for…surely that can’t be the end of it!

  • Steve says:

    Just throwing out a quick thanks for the update and your work. Big fan and I know myself and many others look forward to reading, whenever its ready. Best wishes!

  • Finn says:

    Been a silent visitor in this site until now. I have to say I appreciate hugely these blog posts and seeing you answering questions, keep up the good work. Also it would be quite interesting to see FL as a TV series…

  • Laurence says:

    Re-reading Red Country, my favourite, very glad your still in the same world, if I had to choose one thing I love about your books, it’s how well you reintroduce old characters. It can ruin a good character when done badly, but somehow you always manage to improve on them instead.

  • William David Barnes says:

    Joe, glad to read the update and take your time, we will all be here waiting. Currently reading Red Country and have no idea how many times this will be. Temple is a great example of your character building: redemption and relapse are two sides of a very interesting coin. Believe I’ll go on to The Heroes next though I’m intrigued bu the audio version of The Blade. Too many words when all I really wanted to say was thanks for the excellent writing-you are the best.

  • Rob B says:

    I scan for anything you write I bought “The Blade Itself” I think you said there is more content in that book or is it just a compilation of the (3) that I have read , about to restart from the beginning on all of them.

    My Son who just got accepted to MIT loves Books he calls his avatars the Bloodynine in Dark Souls 3 , to say you are my favorite author along with George RR Martin is an understatement sir, and thank you.

    He learned a great deal from Bayaz that was my point , and I believed he was a good character to learn the deceptive nature of some in life.

    I cant wait till hopefully the Summer of 2019.

  • Rob B says:

    Sigh , I meant “Sharp Ends”

  • Hunter says:

    Any hope for Ferro and Logan? 🙂

  • Lukin says:

    Joe, I have to ask…and pray that the answer is a resounding yes. Will Stephen Pacey be on board to voice the Audible narration of the new trilogy? I’ve listened to all 6 books (7 counting sharp ends) several times and I just…don’t think I could accept a different narrator. 🙂

    Looking forward to the new trilogy with heated anticipation man. Keep up the amazing work!


  • Lukin says:

    Doh! I just read your reply where you stated that Pacey would always be the first choice. I can sleep a bit easier now…although nothing good ever happens when I let myself fall asleep…

  • Tom Mardon says:


    So firstly the books- all read, all awesome. Second- my mum informs me we were acquainted about four decades ago, and that on one playdate you slid down a slide (as you would) in my parent’s garden in Lancaster- so far, so humdrum…. but I am told, you also managed to stick a bamboo cane you were holding into the earth at the bottom, with the other end being stuck unfortunately in the back of your throat. Do you have any memory of this, and if so has it informed the thread through your writing that life is often shit and painful?! I have no memory of this having been about 3 so not assuming you will, but maybe the collective Abercrombie memory bears it out?



  • Alan says:

    G’day Joe from Australia! Mate, I am also new to Fantasy writing – after being spoilt by GoT – and was given ‘The Balde Itself’ and told… “This, you will love” and, well my friend was indeed correct. I have read all that is available and love them all. Thanks for the updates and involvement with your readers… shows you are actually care. Two questions, when do you plan to make it to Australia? And any tips for a guy planning on getting his first book published? Cheers mate.

  • Jett garner says:

    Glokta and Ardee? My favorite power couple.

  • Jett garner says:

    Also joe I find it hard to read other authors as they don’t live up to you and Mr. Martin. However, I recently discovered Rob J Hayes and his “ties that bind trilogy”. I would not be shocked to find out you are one in the same. Very similar. Give it a go.hes a talented self publishing author.

  • Sharon says:

    Well you at least deliver your books in a timely fashion unlike some authors I could mention…. and I prefer your writing style as well of course!

  • Sharon says:

    Also, great choice with Stephen Pacey. I toured with him a few years ago and bonded with him because of your books which I had already read but played the audio version in the car whilst going from venue to venue.

  • Ryan says:

    I feel like if Joe was my dad and I came home drunk from a party, he would yell at me in front of mom, but after she stormed off he would give me a wink and say “Next time…sober up first buddy.”

    In other words, seems like a cool dude.

  • Ahmed says:

    Thank you for the update, all these sounds like an excelent plan and I’m eagerly waiting for the new trilogy.
    Here it would be a good place, to say: “Thanks for having you! I love your art, sir!”

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Tom Mardon,
    Hah! Yes, that event is indeed the subject of Abercrombie folklore. I actually remember it very slightly. But I always thought it took place in our garden? I was in hospital for some weeks after having my soft palate repaired….

  • rotLobster says:

    i drop by from time to time to see when your next books will be available. looking forward to them.

    about the sony, storyboard thing. dunno but i will say this, the shattered sea series screams for an hbo type development. it has all the makings of an interesting story, with good characters and it seems to me perhaps less complicated to craft into an hbo type product than similar undertakings. not that i wouldnt like to see the first law series developed also..

    anyways, looking forward to your next trilogy. take your time. good things are worth waiting for.

  • Dierk Rosenberg says:

    That is really weird…. after such long time ago that i was reading your last book of the Shattered Sea circle i was wondering when new work would be available… so right now i googled for “upcoming”… and just today you made this promising announcement

    stunning coincidence and i am looking forward to seeing this deede done


    Thank you for the good storytelling up so far

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