The New Sword and Sorcery

January 14th, 2010

The cover for Swords and Dark Magic, an anthology in which I’ve got a story coming out in June next year. You’ll note the sub-title, “The New Sword and Sorcery”. The editors – Lou Anders (who publishes the First Law in the US, among many other things) and Jonathan Strahan – perceived something of a new flourishing of sword and sorcery of late, or perhaps an ascendance of sword and sorcery influences within chunky fantasy, and so they decided to produce an anthology that aimed to present in one volume stories from some of the established masters of the subgenre with some from the newer pipsqueaks and impostors such as myself. Looking at the writers involved (Steven Erikson, Glen Cook, Gene Wolfe, James Enge, C.J. Cherryh, K. J. Parker, Garth Nix, Michael Moorcock, Tim Lebbon, Robert Silverberg, Greg Keyes, Michael Shea, Scott Lynch, Tanith Lee, Caitlin R Kiernan, Bill Willingham, and some idiot called Joe Abercrombie) it would seem they’ve succeeded admirably.

I’m delighted to have a story included in such heavyweight company, of course, but it begs a question that I’ve been thinking about a little bit ever since. Not as much as, “ow, my neck hurts,” or, “man, my house is cold,” but a bit.

Do I write Sword and Sorcery?

Well do I, punk? When I started writing, I probably wouldn’t have said so. I’d have said I write important mainstream literary books that plumb the depths of the human condition, and just so happen to include a few wizards, a magic tower or two, and a whole lot of swords. A ha ha! Of course I wouldn’t have said that, that would’ve been absurd. I’d have said I write epic fantasy. Important epic fantasy that plumbs the depth of the human condition.

The fantasy that I read growing up – those books that I’d consider my early influences – are really much more from the epic school. The grandaddy himself, of course, and the wellspring from which the subgenre flows – David Eddings. But also the writers from that great tradition of core 80s epic fantasy who were so influenced by him, like Weiss and Hickman, Michael Scott Rohan and JRR Tolkein. Le Guin’s Earthsea was another, though I always saw that as being somehow in a slightly different category – maybe because they were so much shorter and more focused, or maybe because they had such a distinct feel. The only guy I really read who one would say is in the tradition of sword and sorcery was Michael Moorcock – mainly Elric and Corum – but, on the whole, no doubt, when it came to my fantasy I liked it epic. That feeling was only cemented when later, in the 90s, after I’d largely stopped reading fantasy, I came upon George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones and was blown away by seeing a lot of things I felt had been missing from the genre so surprisingly and ruthlessly expressed.

So (and prepare yourself to cringe) up until I started taking my own writing seriously, until after The Blade Itself was published, even, I’d never read any Howard (though I frequently watched Conan the Barbarian as a boy). I’d never read any Fritz Leiber (though my Dad had some of his scifi on the special scifi shelf, the one down behind the sofa). I’d never even heard of Jack Vance. Oh, the horror.

Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories featuring swashbuckling rogues Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (which I thoroughly advise you to read because in the main they’re still hugely enjoyable) epitomise Sword and Sorcery for me. They were written over a few decades, but the earlier ones are roughly contemporary with Lord of the Rings, and reading them now they feel like the road not travelled by commercial fantasy in the 80s and early 90s. In a sense (and within the confines of being adventure stories within a medievalish setting featuring magic and swords) they are the opposite of Tolkien. Vivid, murky, self-serving characters in brief, focused, small-scale stories in decidedly seedy, smelly, lawless, gritty settings – what might be called ‘low’ fantasy rather than ‘high’. Character and action are emphasised over rigorous worldbuilding. Above all they have a sense of humour, a sense of fun, a sense of not taking it all too seriously.

It feels to me now as if Sword and Sorcery was on the heavy retreat in the eighties, at least in significant written form, crushed under an avalanche of Tolkien-cloning world-build-a-thons and moral absolutes in big, chunky, epic form (though I daresay it was still flourishing in dank and seedy corners unknown to the front of the bookstore). But where it was hugely influential, I now realise, was in the development of Role Playing Games. Short, focused stories about small groups of seedy, wisecracking characters out for themselves were custom made for the format. Adventures and campaigns of that type are vastly easier to run than epic confrontations of good against evil with casts of thousands. Having read Vance, Lieber and Howard now I can see their thumbprints are all over Dungeons and Dragons, and of course the influence of Dungeons and Dragons on roleplaying, both of the dice and paper variety and later of the computerised variety, is profound.

It’s interesting (albeit probably not terribly surprising) that so many fantasy authors were role-players in their day. Looking at that list above I know that Scott Lynch published supplements in his time, and Steven Erikson’s world is based on one developed for role-playing. I’d be shocked if a lot of the other contributors didn’t have a few strange-looking dice at the back of a cupboard somewhere. Now I’d imagine most of them have long been familiar with writers like Howard and Leiber, but for me the Sword and Sorcery came circuitously, via roleplaying games, fused with Tolkien and the epic stuff he inspired, and led (seasoned by thousands of other non-fantasy book, film, and gaming influences) to the bastard offspring which is my work. Looking at what I produce now (and especially at Best Served Cold), I feel it has as much in common, at heart, with Leiber as it does with Tolkien.

So do I write Sword and Sorcery? Yeah, I guess, kinda. The New Sword and Sorcery, maybe?

Posted in opinion by Joe Abercrombie on January 14th, 2010.

36 comments so far

  • Very excited for this collection, but can't say I think too much of the cover-kinda uhhh-snooze.

  • manmela says:

    Well, I think this is almost certainly gonna get my vote for best anthology in the 2011 awards I'm eligible to vote in. A lot of authors there whose work I love, plus a load more I keep meaning to read.

  • Anonymous says:

    Looks like a great collection but with a cover that reflects the old school not the new breed which is a shame.

    The gamer become author is very valid but there is a need to use this as background and not a template. Raymond Feist wrote the fabulous Magician but some of his later efforts reflected not only some personal problems, but was lazy gaming written up as a book, so it can work against you unless you are careful!
    For what it's worth, I think you write epic fantasy too, not too much of a magical bent in your stuff…

  • Brushy says:

    Dear Mr Author No. 1

    Do you write sword and sorcery? That really is an interesting question regarding your work. For sure, you have created something special and new. I can still remember the first paragraph I read off your first book, and how it gripped me from the first word on. My husband and I quote “You have to be realistic, and water corpse floating at the docks” all the time. “(Even years later). You have to be realistic” is really a useful phrase for all kind of stuff. He even calls me Glokta (I’m not sure if that is a compliment or not). Things we never do with other books. And I have many, loads of, lots of and a lot of books. It’s hard to place your books only in one category. Perhaps, extraordinary books with a touch of sword and sorcery, describes your work better?

  • grandreas says:

    I'm not too excited about that cover either.

    As for sword and sorcery, give it all up for Conan and Kull. I could never bring myself to like Elric. Anyway, sword and sorcery nicely goes hand in hand with epic fantasy I think. It's more plausible that way than a fantasy Jack Bauer rescuing the world again and again.

  • Harvey Quinn says:

    Joe I think you should definitely set up a account, it's brilliantly addictive and will allow us further insight into that mysterious head of yours.

    And i'm really looking forward to the collection, good on you.

  • Jared says:

    Brilliant blog entry. You just answered about 17 of my burning questions…

    I'm completely fascinated by this wonderful new golden age of fantasy – some sort of lovely singularity caused by… I dunno… the Wire, David Eddings (glad you gave him credit – he's getting a lot of post-revisionist 'poo-poo'ing right now) and a generation of fantastic talent.

    Really fortunate to be a fantasy reader right now. Thanks!

  • I guess when recommending your stuff I've always said to people "if you like more sword than sorcery, you'll love it". Epic fantasy, yeah. Straight sword and sorcery, I wouldn't have thought so. Is there a bias here? Sure.

    Hopefully this anthology will redress the stereotype of what's potentially become the airport fiction of the spec fic world. Funny how it's perfectly OK these days to say you're reading 'gritty, politically-driven, dark' fantasy, when to admit to reading straight 'sword and sorcery' comes with all kinds of labels. Most of them unflattering to one's intelligence levels.

    Interesting choice to go the swticheroo with Eddings and Tolkein in the granddaddy stakes. Sarcasm? Postmodern commentary? Sleep deprivation? Finally developed a crack habit?

  • Den says:

    Sword and swearery more like.

    And I think being a GM, or Dungeon Master or whatever is a really great way to develop story telling muscles.

    Your players will soon tell you if your story sucks, or what works, and what doesn't.

  • Anne says:

    I think you're on to something here, but I think you have neglected one really critical component – the visual. Here's what I mean:

    You argue that the reading culture of the 80s and 90s is a major influence in creating and sustaining the new sword and sorcery trend, and suggest that the physical culture of the gaming table, with its social aspects and the limits it imposes upon story and character, is also an important influence. You touch upon the visual aspect with your telling comment about watching Conan long before reading Conan.

    I think that the importance of the visual culture can't be underestimated when considering the success of the new sword and sorcery. This is primarily via the Star Wars trilogy, which despite being largely sci fi contains fantastic elements (the Jedi are essentially wizards with magic swords, no?) and is undeniably epic in scope. I think Star Wars went a long way towards priming an entire generation for fantastic epics, whether or not that generation was aware of it. It was an remains an enormous, mainstream phenomenon. The new generation of writers are those who grew up with Star Wars, as did the new generation who are reading them.

    There's a secondary argument to be made about the importance of the many fantasy movies produced in the 80s – including Conan – in creating and sustaining the new interest in sword and sorcery.

  • I was just wondering how many anthology books will there be? I think there are 17 amazing authors listed here. If you can remind us in 2011, as I will most likely need a reminder since I can't remember from one moment to the next what I am doing, that would be great. I would really like to pick this up! Thanks for passing the word on to us.

  • Anonymous says:

    That cover is cheesy and twee which is kinda how I have regarded S&S; over the years. Thats why I never really got into fantasy until guys like Scott Lynch and yourself came along (I am more of a sci-fi reader and Richard Morgan's The Steel Remains is a fantasy fav of mine). This anthology could, perhaps, be a bit of an intro to all those established writers I have disregarded in the past… might let me see what I have been missing out on! With the added bonus of another of your stories to boot, I think I'll be buying it!

    Mark C

  • MB Lanyon says:

    Just can't get my head around the logic of that cover design and it is blocking my interest.

    I suppose it stems from the idea that they want to feed the 'new' to the old guard and already established consumers of the genre and perhaps the use of classic dishcloth girl-and-guy with swords works, in that sense.

    But that in itself seems self-defeatist, as acquiring a fresh audience is paramount for survival. It looks like something I would see in a second-hand book shop, which is all the more irritating because the content is going to be (I expect) rock-solid.

    But then this is something entirely out of your hands Joe.

  • JenMo says:

    I like the cover. Sexy folk and swords, can't go wrong. And Joe, if you and other new comers like Lynch and Weeks are the future of Swords and Sorcery, we're in for some great stuff.

  • Greetings to one and all: In that most precious name. That name which is above every name, the name: "Jesus"

    There's tremendous power in that name. I'd suppose we'll never fully realize all that can truly be accomplished, by us simply calling out that name in true faith.

    There's an old, old, gospel song that goes like this: Faith in the Father, faith in the Son, faith in the Holy Spirit, great victories are won. Demons will tremble and sinners will awake, faith in Jehovah will anything shake.

    For you who have never come into this realization, if you're reading this, just give him a welcome into your heart and life. You will both feel and see an awesome difference. You will have also purchased the ticket to heaven (by accepting, therefore making him welcome to come into your life. You will also sup from His cup that contains living water. (As did the woman at the well of Bethesda.) John 4:10

  • Bombie says:

    Wh-what just happened?

    True Faith did, is what! Oh yeah!

    Living Water sounds awesome though. Somehow takes me back to the Xena intro. I never realy watched that show – the attempted humour and generally light-hearted nature, yuk! – but I'm guessing that's what a lot of the younger generation of fantasy readers might've grown up with watching. Perhaps I'm wrong and it was more epic in scale than mere chakram and sorcery..?
    I agree with Anne that the visual medium probably had/has a great impact on genre readership, but without statistics that's more of a gut feeling I suppose.

    I'm also not a fan of the cover, but hey what gives, I was sold months ago when it was first announced anyway!

  • DRFP says:

    Ahh, another dodgy fantasy cover. I think we've run that topic into the ground however. At least the collection of authors there is top notch. I'm not usually one who buys such anthologies but I might just have to pick that one up.

    Do you write S&S;? I suppose on some sort of level you do. But I've recently begun to consider certain novels as "minimal fantasy", a sort of fantasy with a light touch.

    Obviously that's a counter to "epic fantasy". TBH, I think fantasy novels stick out like sore thumbs. Terry Pratchett might dislike his books being labeled fantasy (because of this stigma that fantasy isn't a genre worthy of much consideration – in big contrast to science fiction but that's another debate for another time) but that's what his books are when it comes down to it. Certainly Pratchett's books are more than fantasy but in a bookstore the only place they fit is in the fantasy section. I just think some authors get slightly nervous about being too heavily fantasy.

    Anyway, that digression aside: minimal fantasy. I just came up with this idea in my head because of novels such as your's, GRRM, Lynch, and Glen Cook's excellent Black Company novels (which I've steadily been allowed to read as they've been reprinted).

    All the above authors have created worlds with magic and other strange goings on but it's all rather pushed into the background. Set "Best Served Cold" in the Italian Renaissance era, minus the Eaters, and I don't think it would look too out of place labeled as a kind of extreme historical fiction novel. "A Song of Ice and Fire" has strange stuff going up beyond the Wall but, so far, that actually feels rather secondary and peripheral. The political civil war in Westeros, the bulk of the story, with the exception of events surrounding Catelyn, is all normal and magic free (though I admit that situation looks like changing). Locke Lamora – yes, there are crazy magician types in his world but he and his companions are all regular powered humans. Black Company – yup, again, there are some big powerful wizards out there, but the focus of the story is about the grunts on the front line.

    I feel I'm rambling far too much here but my point being that while all those works can be classified as nothing but fantasy, the fantasy element in them is rather light. At least compared to the epic fantasy I have read.

    Writers seem to have become a little embarrassed at trying to ape Tolkien so much in creating vast worlds and histories and sagas that run for a dozen books. I think readers have become exasperated too – see the amount of grumbling that accompanies Wheel of Time discussions.

    It feels to me like there has been a shift in fantasy writing towards this sort of fantasy with a lighter touch. The books are still fantasy but there's been a change in emphasis, away from world building and magic, towards more varied plots and characters.

    I'm going to stop there because I fear I've written far too much as it is and god knows how much of it is bulls**t written straight after I've awoken.

  • Abelard, High Professor of Postmoderny Deconstructionisms says:

    "the above authors have created worlds with magic and other strange goings on but it's
    all rather pushed into the background. Set "Best Served Cold" in the Italian Renaissance
    era, minus the Eaters, and I don't think it would look too out of place labeled as a kind of
    extreme historical fiction novel. "A Song of Ice and Fire" has strange stuff going up beyond
    the Wall but, so far, that actually feels rather secondary and peripheral. The political
    civil war in Westeros, the bulk of the story, with the exception of events surrounding
    Catelyn, is all normal and magic free (though I admit that situation looks like changing).

    Locke Lamora – yes, there are crazy magician types in his world but he and his companions are all regular powered humans. Black Company – yup, again, there are some big powerful wizards out there, but the focus of the story is about the grunts on the front line.

    …the point being that while all those works can be classified as nothing but fantasy, the fantasy element in them is rather light. At least compared to the epic fantasy I have read.


    It feels to me like there has been a shift in fantasy writing towards this sort of fantasy
    with a lighter touch. The books are still fantasy but there's been a change in emphasis,
    away from world building and magic, towards more varied plots and characters."


    I think it has much to do with the current cultural popularity of pessimism and realism at the moment, and (traditional) fantasy is a great topos or place to mix pessimism into. Get Gandalf a cocaine problem, make him fondle a few hobbits, and have a few of his fireballs burn some houses down, and suddenly things get more interesting. I think that essentially all the _traditional_ fantasy tropes have been explored, and so now the culture is exploring what other ways fantasy stories can go (all literature, I would venture, follows this course). Ante omina,it is basic literary innovation: take something light and make it dark, take something linear and make it nonlinear etc etc.

    Too, fantasy presents a nice location to explore, in a veiled fashion, cultural critiques that simply would not be published through traditional big houses or even more ideologically oriented indi presses. Again, if you want to explore homosexuality or big bank and government corruption, avenues of literature that are inherently exhausted (and to some extent tepid to begin with)…you could suddenly import those ideas into a fantasy setting, and the story (and to my mind, more importantly, the themes) becomes far more potent, and a
    readership that generally does not willfully expose itself to such topics suddenly finds itself faced with a whole new area of literature to consume.

    Finally, I think SFF is much closer to the type of Art that Shakespeare, Homer, Chaucer, Plato, Dante, Boccaccio, Nietzsche, Keats etc were doing, and is far more elastic than what is considered as "Literature" by the majority of large and small publishing houses today.

  • GoodOldSatan says:

    Well, I wouldn't consider you the author that I do if you didn't write Sword & Sorcery. (I'm sure that's as clear as I intended.)

    If your story appears in the compendium before Cook's, Moorcock's, Ericson's, Keye's, and maybe Lynch's, I just might get to it.

    JK. Congratulations on your well deserved place in my favorite genre.

  • Terry Pratchett writes fantasy and is proud of it. He ripped into Rowling when she claimed HARRY POTTER wasn't fantasy, and has written many articles and taken part in many interviews and discussions on Tolkien's influence on DISCWORLD and its place in the fantasy canon. I've never encountered the suggestion that he might has said his books aren't fantasy.

    As for swords and sorcery, the old fantasy demarcation lines have been thoroughly eroded over the years. You used to be able to seperate high fantasy, heroic fantasy, epic fantasy, swords 'n' sorcery and so on into different categories quite nicely, but probably since somewhere around Glen Cook coming on the scene these lines have blurred. Erikson, for example, mixes Elric-esque swords 'n' sorcery with Gemmell/Cook-esque military fantasy with fate-of-the-world-at-stake epic fantasy and blurs them all together. Martin employs the large scale of epic fantasy but his characters lack the heroic goodness that is a trademark of say LotR's Aragorn. It's hard to see where those lines are anymore.

  • Anonymous says:

    William Dunigan.

    I was joking with the new religion line, hope you are also.

    But then again this is a fantasy site…


  • DRFP says:

    My mistake, Adam.

    I'm not the most knowledgeable of readers regarding Pratchett (he doesn't do much for me) but I thought I read something along those lines. Maybe it was something about his disappointment in being pigeonholed, or not being taken seriously because he was termed a "fantasy" author.

  • Juan Ruiz says:

    Joe; modifing what George RR Martin said about Lev Grossman´s The Magicians. you are to Sword'n'Sorcery what Sam Pechkimpah was to the Western (or maybe what John Woo was to the gangsters Movies, the Hong Kong flick I mean, not the americans…)

  • Oooh, lots of comments. Some specifics:

    It is quite the list of names. And mine.

    Your husband calls you Glokta? Affectionately, I hope.

    It is indeed a meeting of many influences.

    A bit of all four…

    I agree. A GM has to storytell on their feet.

    You don't mention what I'd have thought would be the predominant visual fantasy influence – Xena, warrior princess. A ha ha. I joke. I mean Lord of the Rings. That's epic, sure, but there's much more dirt in it than you get from Tolkien's writing, and rendering the action visually instantly makes it much more visceral, nasty, and action-packed. Dare one say it's a slightly S&S; interpretation of LoTR?

    I'll remind you. Just one book, for now, but a pretty chunky one – about 150,000 words, I believe.

    Swearing, swearing, I sigh me a river.

    William Dunigan,
    Er, whatever. I'll let that one stand because it kind of amuses me. But no more please.

    If you look up the wikipedia for "low fantasy" you may see something that's not far from your idea of minimal, and would include the big names in S&S;, like Leiber and Howard.

    Indeed, in a sense fantasy is only following a (relatively) recent trend across the board for more cynical, morally ambiguous, perhaps "realistic" material in books and TV series.

    My story is the last one, in fact.

    I don't know that they were ever clear lines, and to further complicate matters everyone has slightly different definitions. But I don't think that means one can't pick out trends and features that push a book more into one camp than another, or situate it, as you have with Erikson, somehwere between many.

  • I'm not sure you write sword & sorcery, but that's about as close a label as I've been able to put on your books, They are closer in spirit to Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber than to Tolkien and his followers. A lot of S&S; fans liken sword & sorcery's place in the fantasy field to the hardboiled detective's in mystery fiction. More Dashiell Hammett than Agatha Christie. Grim and gritty. In my review of best served cold, I said that I thought Robert E. Howard would have enjoyed Best Served Cold, so if you're not working the same room, you're at least in the neighborhood.

  • Am I the only one who is going to tear the cover off this book after I purchase it? That thing is hideous! It would be embarrassing to have on my shelf next to the beautiful covers of First Law and the UK BSC.

    Damn Joe, you need to get better cover art designers, they gotta be costing you hundreds of dollars.

  • von Darkmoor says:

    DRFP – Goodkind. You're referencing Terry Goodkind.

    As for the antho – agreed, cover is found to be much lacking. However, contents found much desirable. I have read many of the authors, unfortunately not yourself, Mr. Abercrombie, but I most certainly look forward to doing so.

  • Writing says:

    Loved the article. As a fellow author (dark fantasy)I wish you the best with this work, and just to say no worries about the cover, despite what everyone tells you. I will certainly try to buy it if I find it Mr. Abercrombie.

  • oteckre says:

    ha, when i decided to buy your first book (i liked the cover) the shopman told me:" ah yes, solid sword and sorcery". I was about to put your book back in the shelf, but i remebered the guy told me some bullshit about another book some time ago. So I bought it and always wanted to tell the guy that he is wrong, this isn't simply sword and sorcery, it mocks it.

    Sadly i moved in another city before i got to it…

  • Anonymous says:

    Why do people feel the need to label everything?

    I work in mental health, with convicted psychiatric patients its like label city!

    People ask 'whats Joes writing like?' I reply 'Heres a copy of best served cold see what you think'.

    I've read many many fantasy/scifi novels and i have to say the realism of your characters and the blurring of good/evil is spot on.

    As i said earlier i work with convicted psychiatric patients I have for quite some years. I think I can safely say i know how people can be. Good people that have done bad things, Bad people that have done good things and all that goes inbetween. Your books are fantastic and whether they are refered to as S&S; or epic or toilet paper! I will read them and cherish them all.

    Thanks for writing them Joe they're great.


  • Anonymous says:

    Joe – How on earth could you leave out The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Donaldson? Talk about dark and brooding…you HAVE read these I hope? I know it's a love/hate series by fans, but your characters share a lot of the same self-loathing that Covenant did. I loved Eddings as well, but it's pretty light reading.


  • jsinisi says:

    I think your choice of pictures, covers etc…, need to remain like your words, just like in your series with its original covers. Dont change for commercial reasons. Dont listen to the marketing idiots. I discovered your series recently because it DIDN'T have the standard ridiculous fantasy covers on the books. When that original brilliantly simple cover of yours caught my eye and I opened it the words inside were true to the cover. Exquisitely vulgar, refeshingly original, darkly humorous and surprisingly unpredictable. Dont change. I read your entire series and it was over way too soon. I was thinking today as I finished the last book, "I need to tell this guy he is the best." I rate your style and content above Tolkein and others because it is so refeshingly honest in its vulgarity and brutality. The others all TRY to describe war, social conflict, oppression, …reality in the guise of fantasy. Only YOU J.A. have truly succeeded. You received only lukewarm praise and feeble endorsements (from what I saw in your books) that did not reflect your worth at all. I'm glad I ignored it since it proved to be as wrong as I suspected. I suspect they dont honor you enough because they know your work is truly BETTER than the rest but they have already kissed too many other mediocre authors unworthy asses to admit it so they give you less than you deserve…

    I'll say this one last time because it matters. Dont change your style. You covers, the originals, were perfect (the new one on your site sucks by the way so dont go to that) and your words have proven to also be perfect. If you start making conscessions on your style, on perfection, you soon will be putting out the same predictable uninteresting worthless fantasy crap that the other authors are filling the bookstores with and we dont need any more of that crap, we need YOU. More of you just as you were in this series. We need your work just as it is.

  • Elaine says:

    I just hopped on this site cause Im almost finished with Best Served Cold and a question popped into my head: “Which character is Joe Abercrombie?” After devouring The First Law Trilogy and being almost done with this latest book, I started wondering who was Joe…I was completely set on Nicomo Casco (Who is becoming one of my favorites. Which probably means Im about to read that he gets killed.) But after visiting the website here and having a browse around…Im pretty sure Joe Abercrombie is Morveer! 😛

    Im not sure if that is a compliment or what but I thought I’d throw that out there. (Its the ceaseless rambling that reminded me the most of him :P)

    Any body else ever thought about this?

    @Brett…”I think I can safely say i know how people can be. Good people that have done bad things, Bad people that have done good things and all that goes inbetween” Great way, and yet simple, way to describe the vast majority of Joe’s characters.

    Other than that, I dont really have much to comment on much else. I generally read more towards the smutty fantasy variety but cant help myself when I read the back of a book and find the description talking about a soon to be dead barbarian, ballads, dead friends and happy enemies. And I generally find that you dont have to love/read/eat the genre to write it….have fun!

  • Dungeonmum says:

    Like Elaine, I’m getting through Best Served Cold, the audiobook. My first dip into your stuff. I have to say it certainly feels like a D&D adventure at times, only a PC doesn’t necessarily have the motives that Monsa has (apologies if I spell this incorrectly as I haven’t ever seen it written down), but I can just imagine the DM’s face when the characters make some their decisions, a picture of shock and horror. Chaotic Neutral anyone?

    Regards to your reading list of fantasy authors I have to say I felt a huge relief that it wasn’t as long as I had expected (no pun intended). Orson Scott Card lists many names in ‘Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy’and adds that you shouldn’t even think about writing unless you knew all these gods of fantasy’s work by heart. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who got to the party late.

  • Karban Doombringer says:

    I hit Basic D&D, the Superworld, Car Wars, Stormbringer, AD&D then Rolemaster before I saw MERP then WFRP.

    I wrote my first novella which was a horrific rip off of LOTR and thomas covenant before I even played my first game of roleplaying of any sort. my older brother read it and said it was good i read it recently and thought it was trash. who knows.

    i hit a patch of Call Of Cthulhu then when I started work it was all rolemaster or HARPOON (modern naval combat) which I naturally progressed into a world war 3 campaign.

    I am bi polar so thought nothing or working 7 days without sleep to paint an army or run a campaign for the next weekend.

    The biggest let down was lack of interest so I started running wargames tournamenst – 4 days including social events.

    Sooo i’d love to channel that energy into writing but as being bi polar sitting and writing for that long is a big problem.

    Then I started on your books – love them, especially the characters. Glokta is my favourite.

    Please don’t stop writing.

  • GrymJim says:

    It seems like mentioning “Sword & Sorcery” today, even amongst lovers of fantasy elicits a furrowed brow or a sneer of disgust. Like you just farted mid-conversation. There’s an assumption that S&S is a lower class of fantasy-by those who have never read it. They have an idea about what it is, but don’t realize that The First Law trilogy…is the best Sword and Sorcery there is. The irony.

    The Bloody Nine on the surface is much like Conan, but darker and far more brutal. Under the surface though there is a man broken, tired of fighting, and regretful, a survivor with hard lived experience. That’s just one character, obviously the series is full of complex characters that in fact-belong under the sword and sorcery banner. You can write anything I have no doubt, but in the case of the First Law-it’s the best modern S&S ever written. That’s no small feat. It’s one thing to try and reinvent the wheel (Most Authors fail imo) it’s another thing, and infinitely more impressive to take something familiar and give it a depth of heart, beauty, brutality, and clever humor that it’s never had before. I look forward to more Modern S&S from you.

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