Progress Report June ’18

June 29th, 2018

Six months into 2018 and I HAVE FINISHED A FIRST DRAFT OF MY ENTIRE NEW TRILOGY.  Let ring the bells.  As I’ve often said, a huge amount of work still to do, but what is usually for me the toughest part is done and, thus far, I am pleased with the results.  It consists of 3 books, 9 parts, 191 chapters, and around 520,000 words.  It has 7 point of view characters, 4 men and 3 women, as well as a host of walk-on extras, many of them well known to readers of the First Law, and features at least one duel to the death, three major pitched battles and an awful lot of hangings.  It takes place mostly in the Union and the North, some 30 years or so after the end of the first trilogy as the world moves into a more industrial phase.  So the tone is inevitably a little different.  Perhaps less self-consciously a take on classic epic fantasy than the First Law was, with its inscrutable wizardly mentors, boys with special destinies, dark powers rising and lots of swords.  But I hope it will have the same qualities which made you love (or hate) the First Law – a tight focus on vivid and distinctive characters experiencing an epic sweep of love and war, with lashings of sex and violence (tastefully done, of course) a few twists in the tale and a rich vein of dark humour.  And lots more swords, of course.

I also had a meeting at the publisher to discuss how things are going.  Looks very much as if the first book, A Little Hatred, will be published September 2019 in the UK and US, with the other two books, The Trouble With Peace, and The Beautiful Machine, following at beautifully regular and predictable one year intervals.  This is the hope.  No promises are made, of course.  That would be MADNESS.  We also hope that at least some of the key translations can be done in the meantime, so we can make that release date across a few different languages, which would be lovely.

First thing on the menu for me is a re-read of all the other first law books to make sure I haven’t forgotten any characters, or interactions between characters, or history or geography explicitly stated before.  I’ve just started the Heroes and so far I must say I am LOVING these books.  Just my kind of thing.  I warmly recommend them.  Once that’s done it’ll be time to do put all the various notes and reminders I’ve scattered throughout various documents together into one action plan, and tackle a second draft of the first book, which is the heavy lifting on plot and central character – making sure the beginnings match the endings for each character, the key themes are well bedded in and the arcs silky smooth and believable while also doing a fair bit of cutting and polishing and introduction of VOICE.  My first draft tends to be more neutral, and I then work on refining the voices of each character and getting them as distinctive as possible over successive rounds of revision.

Hopefully, by the time of my next progress report at the end of August I’ll have a nice tight second draft of that first book where everything makes beautiful sense.  Then will come further rounds of editing and revision…

Posted in news, progress by Joe Abercrombie on June 29th, 2018.

62 comments so far

  • Darren says:

    Thanks for the update Joe. I have to say you have my mouth watering for the next installment.
    I hope to see you at a book signing for A Little Hatred. Any plans to release a taster chapter in the lead up to release?


  • Marco Túlio says:

    Thanks for the update! I can’t wait to read the book, i’m sure it will be a masterpiece, as always. Keep up the good work!

  • Garret O'Rourke says:

    Will Steven Pacey narrate the audiobooks like the previous?

  • I’m really looking forward to the new trilogy! Thanks for all your hard work Joe. Glad to see that with your busy schedule you still maintain your sense of humor through it all 😉

    I’m eager to see what the new covers will look like. When the first law books hit the shelves I really appreciated that they didn’t look like all the rest. People love to say that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but let’s be real. It was eye catching and made me pick it up which = sales and a customer/fan for life.

  • KubaLorenc says:

    Those updates are something xD

  • James says:

    Thanks for the update Joe! Looking forward to getting my hands on the new trilogy. I am also re-reading the 6 existing books set in the World of the First Law. One question, will we get any resolution to what happened to Ferro Maljinn after Last Argument of Kings? Even a mere mention of her name…

  • Geoff says:

    Thanks for keeping us posted Joe. Looking forward to the new trilogy. Keep up the good work. All the best to you Sir. Hope you are able to make it the U.S. midwest, and I can catch you on a signing tour.

  • Ivan says:

    I am in love with your writing. Keep up the good work. Theese reports means a lot. Thanks Joe.

  • Yuri says:

    Hi, Joe!
    In the previous report you said that “the titles all come from quotes”.
    Can you tell what quote will be for “А Little Hatred”? Because different quotes in Russian translation will make a different title…

  • Christian the 1st says:

    Great news indeed. pretty exciting stuff, 3 books coming down the line. With a new primary cast of characters but some of our favs in there hopefully ( even if in glimpses). Joe, any news on possible adaptations ? We all know The First Law would make an amazing series if done right.

  • Marcin says:

    Thanks for the update Joe. I hope that Polish is one of the mentioned key translations. Keep up the good work!

  • John says:

    Thanks for the update, Joe. As always, very refreshing to hear how an author goes about his craft; especially a complex work that borrows from previous works. Don’t go tame on us, though. Don’t ease up on the blood, gore, sex, swords etc. In these troubled times we need these now more than ever. Thanks again!! Written from sunny, hot California!!

  • Nathan says:

    Question, Joe:
    Do you read them in paper form or do you let the silky baritone of Steven Pacey immerse you in the world of The First Law?

  • Chris Shipley says:

    Awesome. Love your books.

  • Levi says:

    Thanks for the update, Joe! I’m currently re-reading the First Law books, too. I’m in the middle of Best Served Cold and love it even more than the first time!

  • Aleksandr Anikin says:

    It takes place mostly in the Union and the North, some 30 years or so after the end of the first trilogy as the world moves into a more industrial phase.

    Like Thief and Thief 2 Metal age)

  • Taliesin says:

    Well done Joe. Sounds like a great new series.

  • Glennchuck says:

    These progress reports are like a master class in writing epic trilogies (or fourlogies, fivelogies…). Seems like all it would take to duplicate your success would be to follow the process you’ve laid out, add a big load of talent, a dogged work ethic, an excellent editor and publishing staff, not a little bit of luck, and–POOF–a star is born. Easy peasy.

  • ALEC keene says:

    Know is the time to start the next set of books.
    We don’t need the wait, so get of your a and start working

  • Garret says:

    Joe, thank you for your update, I’m incredibly excited for this new trilogy! The first trilogy and the three stand-alone novels are among my favorite books, so I’m very anxious for A Little Hatred. Will Steven Pacey narrate the audiobooks again? He did absolutely perfect with the last six (seven including Sharp Ends, of course), makes for a very relaxing drive!

  • Just finished reading The First Law Trilogy for the third time and there were so many things I noticed this time round that I didn’t on my other read-throughs. For one, Quai’s subtle change in Before They Are Hanged, two, the significance of Shiver’s introduction to Dogman’s team, and three, that the Bloody Nine is a master of analogy. Say one thing for Logen Ninefingers, say his alter ego loves simile.

  • Strangercomeknockin' says:

    Can’t wait to see the effect the old characters had on the world and their legend in the next generation. Really looking forward to the new cast as well.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Daresay there’ll be some kind of teaser in due course…

    Yes, Steven Pacey is already booked, apparently. Which is fantastic. I’ve loved his readings of the books.

    Michael Nicholson,
    Covers are key, of course, and in a way we’re slightly victims of our own success – the covers of the First Law have I think done an amazing job and still look great twelve years later. But that makes it tough to move on. So we may be looking at a development of the theme the way Best Served Cold did. We shall see.

    Well you wouldn’t expect me to give away the specifics, would you…?

    I hope to do some events in the US this time around, but it’s always tough to justify the expense out there where the distances are huge and obviously someone’s got to get me there in the first place, so we shall see…

    If there was news I could share on adaptations, believe me, I would give you news.

    I love the Pacey versions but for this purpose listening to them would just take too long. I read em on an iPad, that way I can quickly flick back and forth between reading and making notes, then quickly load the notes into word.

    Huge fan of the original Thief. Awesome world building on that game.

  • Joe Lindley says:

    Looking forward to seeing how much the Circle of the World has changed since Red Country, hopefully see a few old favourites rear their ugly heads. Hopefully there’s a book signing in Leeds or York when A Little Hatred is released

  • Greg says:

    Mr. Abercrombie. I think I love you, in a purely heterosexual kinda way.

  • Just posting to say thanks for the update, and for still using your blog to talk to us. 🙂

  • Jonas says:

    I’m super excited, but it’s been quite a while since I read the previous books, will you include a short recap in your next book?

  • Matt says:

    I have to say, I’ve been largely turned off the fantasy genre as I grew into my thirties and had less free time. So many authors with book 5 of 13 in the works for five+ years. Adults really don’t have time to track and read series over decades, and as much as I love the mammoth fantasy story it’s a teenagers world.

    I can’t say enough how glad I am that you are out there Joe, with your Workman approach to writing, regular goals l, and reasonable timelines between books. You are one of very few authors in the genre I still have time to follow and read.

    Stoked for this new series. Does the trilogy have a title yet? Or just the books? Forgive me if this has been mentioned elsewhere.

  • Kentromir says:

    Joe, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the way you are doing things. This is the way to write a series. I am a long time fantasy reader. I had my heart broken by the untimely passing of Robert Jordan. I have come to accept that I will never see the end of A Song of Ice and Fire. You are now my favorite author. Not only because your work is masterful, but you also show great consideration for your readers. The regular updates and extra effort to put out books timely is priceless. George R.R. Martin could learn a lot from you.

  • Björn says:

    Could you look into adding some tasteless violence in your editing run?

  • April says:

    Hi Joe, I’m halfway through The Heroes right now, and it is, regretfully, the last book of yours I have left to read. I can’t wait for your new trilogy. It makes me very happy to know that you are somewhere writing more. Awesome books and 3 FINISHED trilogies. Awesome! Thank-you!!

  • Jumjumbandito says:

    I could not be more excited about this. Another wonderful trip back to the Union, with smatterings of cameos?! I already look forward to next September. Perhaps it will be time for me to reread the First Law as well

  • Manuel says:

    Thanks for the update Joe! I can’t wait to read the book, It will surely be a masterpiece!
    I’m currently re-reading the First Law books, too. I’m in the middle of The Blade Itself and love it even more than the first time!

  • Michael Luder-Rosefield says:

    Sounds like you need a private wiki for world/character details, timelines and possible connections/arcs…

  • Del says:

    Here is hoping Bremer Dan Gorst is still kicking ass in old age. His POV chapters were the finest and funniest of all your books in my humble opinion.

    Will be purchasing on release, cheers for the updates.

  • ZG says:

    Any morsel of news you can drop regarding any film or TV adaptation of your tasteful works??

  • Marco says:


    Thanks so much for the update. We’re aware that taking the time to do it distracts from both (a) real work, and (b) fun, but we really appreciate it.


  • Rob Turnbull says:

    Hi Joe,
    Realizing the enormous rift in word-crafting experience between us, for my novel I used a text parser to count the number of times any single word through phrases eight words long appeared. I found that it helped define each character’s speech and mannerisms as distinct. Do you employ a similar technique?

  • Andrew says:

    I only checked in because I am about to start re-reading The First Law. This update has me very excited, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  • Jimmy Shaker says:

    Thanks Joe. You’re the man! Hey do yiu plan on playing Reaf Dead 2 this fall? Looks prettty good and might be a nice way to take a break from work.

  • Georgia says:

    Hey Joe! Excellent news, congratulations on all your accomplishments. Also I’ve heard good things about the Heroes, so will definitely pick that up for one of my summer reads. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Does the trilogy as a whole have a name? Maybe with “saga” or “chronicles” in there somewhere? The Second First Law Trilogy, perhaps? What’s the hashtag, is what I’m saying.

  • Michael says:

    Great news! Just finished listening (for the 2nd time) to the entire First Law Trilogy. Loved it even more than the first time around. Wonderful to hear that the new series will be performed by Steven Pacey. Lots of good things to look forward to!

  • Michael L says:

    Please tell me that the over arching plot with Shenkt and Bayaz will resolve in this trilogy. Also what happened to Ferro, Logen and his adopted family, Glotka, I’m not asking for a happy ending! Just an ending!

    Bayaz needs to die. Somehow.

    Also “A Little Hatred” is a fantastic title

  • Dumond says:

    I feel actually, tangibly giddy. I didn’t realize that was a real thing once you’re past 10.

    YES YES YES SWORDS SWORDS SWORDS. And tasteful, romantically-significant sex scenes.

    And MORE swords!

    Wondering if early-age guns / rifles will be involved too.
    Any thoughts?? The Union and Gurkhul were tinkering with explosives and cannons already, so I’m guessing it’s not much of a stretch 30 years into the future.

    So excited, thanks Joe! All behind you 100%.

  • Gene Robbins says:

    I can’t wait!!! I came to your books late, I just finally discovered your amazing work around 7 months ago and devoured every book! So happy that there will be another trilogy set in the world of the First Law! I loved all the books with “Best Served Cold” and “The Heroes” my two personal favorites. But really, every book you have written is amazing. I loved the Shattered Sea trilogy also!

  • Benjamin says:

    Currently on holiday reading this update immediately after finishing Sharp Ends (amazing btw) to say I’m having to hide a certain amount of arousal is an understatement. Keep up the good work Joe!!

  • Igor says:

    Thanks for the good news, Joe! Is there any hope for A Little Hatred in Russian in 2020?

  • Chris says:

    Re-reading First Law trilogy. (It’s a series that begs a re-read due Bayaz’s manipulating antics.) Loved it the first time, loving it more the second time around.

    Joe, who would win — the canonical Conan or Bloody Nine?

  • MIchael says:

    Excellent news!

  • Andreas Marko says:

    thanks for the good news

    Weiter so 🙂

    best regards from germany

  • Taylor says:


    Huge fan of the original Thief. Awesome world building on that game.”

  • Karen says:

    I could not be more excited!

  • the Sigillite says:

    will the lioness of hoskopp be in this trilogy?

  • Magdalena says:

    Great news! Can’t wait for the new books!

  • John says:

    Wow, can’t believe it’s been seven years since The Heroes. Keep cracking along!

  • Gerald H says:

    While deployed to Iraq it was you and your books that kept me somewhat sane.

    Some people don’t realise that even in an area outside of the ‘green zone’ and FOB is just about 90% waiting. So in between the stuff of nightmares and the waiting for anything stuff to happen, there was a lot of down time.

    It’s in those periods of down time that most people break. The anticipation of waiting for the horrible things (like mortar attacks occurring while you’re doing your business in a port-a-john) to happen when you’re not on watch, drove a few of my buddies to insomnia, a tad bit of madness, and a lot of depression as they’ll continually wonder if their wife’s have found someone else to keep them warm at night.

    Sorry this is so long, but I don’t think I’ve told you how much your books kept me somewhat sane. So thank you for your novel’s and the escape from reality that they provided.

    If only I was deployed with an ARMY of Ninefingers… I would have been home and out of that desert quicker…

  • Matt says:

    Heroes and Best Served Cold are singly two of the best books ever written!

    I just wanted to ask, will the new series be published by subturanean press at some stage? as i like their special collectors editions but usually ive already got the books and read them and in hard cover, before they get their hands on it.

    any plans to go to them earlier than usual?


  • Cat Connolly says:

    Excellent to hear the new trilogy is coming along. Just finished “Red Country” yesterday and I am jonesing for some more Aberchronicles (haha). I’m interested in how the series world has slowly been entering an industrial age since at least Best Served Cold, and wondering how it will change the power dynamics between the major players. Certainly any of the remaining devotees of Kanedias (if there are any) will be clutching their pearls at the bastardization of technology. Onward!

  • C Mayo says:

    My favorite author, cannot wait for the next trilogy. Have read the first law books over and over. All of the subsequent books only serve to have me salivating for the next installation. What of the eaters and the south? So many questions….please don’t stop!

  • Rick Matthews says:

    Cannot wait to get a hold of anything to do with the first law trilogy!!!! I am praying that my favorite character Bayaz is somewhere in there!!!! His character is the #1 reason I read all of your books!!! Guess it might be to much to ask to request a series of books around his world becoming first of the magi and Euz??? Would so love to have some books from the old world when devils ruled the earth before Euz sent them to the other side!!! Just wishful thinking

  • Luke says:

    You replaced David Gemmell as my all time favourite author. Thoroughly looking forward to the new trilogy.

  • Cedric Smith says:

    I picked up Heroes at a discount store and I have been hooked on your books every since. I could not acquire them fast enough. Glad you are putting some new one in print. They will be great if anything like your earlier books.

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