Stars in my Eyes

January 23rd, 2008

Publisher’s Weekly, that esteemed organ of the American book trade, was not entirely bowled over by The Blade Itself when it was published in the US back in September. They said, and I quote, though it hurts me to do it:

“British newcomer Abercrombie fills his muddled sword-and-sorcery series opener with black humor and reluctant heroes … The workmanlike plot, marred by repetitive writing and an excess of torture and pain, is given over to introducing the mostly unlikable characters, only to send them off on separate paths in preparation for the next volume’s adventures.”

Aaarghhh! The pain! Take it away! Take it away! I was expecting when they came to review Before They are Hanged, therefore, at best a little movement in the right direction, from awful to, say, quite bad. Well either my second book went to a different reviewer or I got a whole lot better:

“This grim and vivid sequel to 2007’s The Blade Itself transcends its middle volume status, keeping the reader engaged with complicated plotting and intriguing character development… Abercrombie leavens the bloody action with moments of dark humor, developing a story suffused with a rich understanding of human darkness and light.”

Starred Review. Yes, that’s right, STARRED REVIEW. Don’t look directly at me, mortals! You could be blinded!

Posted in reviews by Joe Abercrombie on January 23rd, 2008.

6 comments so far

  • It's me Jo- again, twice in one day you lucky monkey you :) says:

    my retinas are burning, ye gods the pain … who turned off the sun ? wait… nah… is that a giant pair of m00bs obscuring the solar system ?

    ” excess of torture and pain “- no_such_thing. How could they have missed the expertly written bad sex – unless that counts as ” dark humour ” 🙂

  • The Wedge says:

    A few hundred pages to go in The Blade Itself and let me tell you I appreciate you using the word “wedged” in many places.

    I can already tell I’m going to be anxious to read Before They Are Hanged, but it won’t be out stateside for two more months. GAH!!!

    And then to wait half a year for Last Argument…. double GAH!!!

    Still, that’s not so bad considering some other series…. Good on ya!

    Starred Review. Well done!

  • Elena says:

    Glad you’ll have a GOOD review on book 2 as amazon’s at a glance. I’ve had to give my own gloss to friends, since the PW review on Blade is what comes up as the book description. “Just ignore that, guys, seriously, it’s good!” But now the clouds obscuring your star have parted and you are revealed at last to shine. Brilliant!

  • Cutsnake says:


    Just wanted to say I just finished “Before they are hanged” and absolutely loved it. Congrats. “The blade itself” was fantastic too and the second book definitely stepped it up a gear. The more the characters develop along the way the more I love them.

    Can’t wait for the final instalment.

    Any chance of you getting down to Australia in the near future?

    PS Love you’re blog. My kind of humour.

  • jo-again
    The bad sex is indeed expertly written – a vast amount of personal experience to draw on there.

    You get pissed at a book every six months? I wonder how you’ll feel when I spread out to a ten year cycle…?

    I know, I know. It burns me like acid down my pants to think of that review being the first opinion people see of my work.

    Glad you’re enjoying the books, and I hope you like the third one. If you liked the other two, I reckon you will. Might not see you in Australia any time soon, unfortunately. I hear it’s quite a long way away. Like even further than France.

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