Victory and Defeat

June 20th, 2010

Back from holiday down in Devon, and I failed to win the David Gemmell Legend Award the other night, which went to Graham McNeill for Empire.  Curses.  But on the upside, Best Served Cold did win for cover art, so congratulations to the artists Didier Graffet and Dave Senior and the designer Laura Brett.  Talented people, and much deserved.  The one criticism you could make of their covers for that book is that they are too far apart.  A ha ha.  If you’re interested, you can read a little more about the development of that now prize-winning cover here.

The event was a little less well-attended than last year due to an unfortunate scheduling convergance with the England-Algeria game, though judging on what I hear about that goalless shambles I’m glad I didn’t see it.  Very good to see various people from the business, and to meet the aforementioned McNeill, Pierre Pevel who won best newcomer for his book The Cardinal’s Blades (or Les Lames du Cardinal, for it is French), and particularly from my point of view Didier Graffet, the artist responsible for the sword on the UK cover of Best Served Cold, and for the equally beautiful yet dangerous axe which will grace the UK cover of The Heroes come January.

Good to see a French book on the shortlist for the main award and winning for newcomer, given there was a Polish winner last year in Sapkowski – nice to feel that there is some serious international involvement.  McNeill was something of a surprise, given the presence of the commercial juggernaut that is Wheel of Time.  For those unfamiliar, McNeill writes what might be called shared world or tie-in fiction, in his case in the Warhammer world, one which I used to gamesmaster campaigns in back in the day and have always been a big admirer of.  No doubt those who are not great fans of the whole idea of the Gemmells will see this as further evidence of the prize’s critical worthlessness/damage to the genre/undiluted evil etc. but to that I can only shrug my shoulders.  To me it just seems evidence of the importance of shared world fiction as a slice of the market (which is pretty self-evident from visiting the sf/f section of any bookshop), that Black Library are very good at making it and have developed a big and very committed audience, and for that matter that a lot of people must have bought and liked McNeill’s book(s) in particular.  No doubt the arguments about whether publicly voted awards are any use will continue, but I would note that for an award that was supposed to be pathetically predictable it has so far produced two winners out of two that no one really predicted.  I’m interested to see how it develops, and continue to support the project wholeheartedly, right up until the moment when I am no longer nominated, at which point I will decry it as a farce, sham, and danger to our beloved island.

In other, related news, I note in passing that Best Served Cold has been shortlisted in the Best Novel category at this year’s British Fantasy Awards.  I’m quite pleased about this, as the BFAs tend to have a big slant towards horror on the whole (in fact I’d say mine is the only straight ahead fantasy book on the shortlist).  Can’t honestly imagine I’ll win this one either, though…

Posted in Uncategorized by Joe Abercrombie on June 20th, 2010.

13 comments so far

  • Elena says:

    Interesting round-up of the Gemmells. Sorry you didn’t win, but, hey, at least you got dinner. And hopefully some brews. AND you had an excuse not to watch that match. win-win, even if there wasn’t a third win in the mix. 🙂

    RE McNeill, we had someone on our site review one of his other recent Warhammer books, and I believe the word “masterpiece” was thrown around. so somehow this doesn’t surprise me.


  • You were robbed.

    But I am glad the cover won-its great. The US cover is good too although I have to smirk at Monza’s swords-the Narnia one strapped to her back and she is holding Aragorn’s ranger sword in her left.

    I shouldn’t be surprised that she could steal them.

  • Brett Littleproud says:

    Sorry to hear you didn’t win Joe, But in my humble estimation (Not that it counts for much) Next to the late great Mr Gemmell your books are certainly the most enjoyable i have read to date. I’ve read rather a lot as it happens! (knew what you were thinking!)

  • The Picaroony says:

    Better luck next time Joe. So is this McNeill fella work a read? ….I’m in Spain so don’t have much of an option when it comes to book browsing …..would appreciate a few recommendations to keep me going until January.


  • Bryce says:

    Is it not hugely about publicity, I bought and read the other nominated novels for the Legend award.I will now scan the nominations for the British Fantasy awards. That sure can’t be a bad thing?

    Eh, by the way, never really been into horror, am I missing out?

  • Skout says:

    What do you want, fame and fortune already? 😉

    I’ll now how to pick up Empire, I guess.. one more something to read whilst I wait for Heroes…

  • Khan says:

    You had my vote. It was fixed, right?

  • Johnny C.L. says:

    Not surprised about the cover winning. I’ve always thought your parchment-like covers for The First Law and Best Served Cold are the most unique I’ve seen on any Fantasy novel.


  • Scott C. says:

    It’s all a popularity contest anyway. You need to start kissing more, or at least some, backside.

    Amazon just shipped a copy of Swords and Dark Magic, allegedly. I should have it soon. Too bad McNeill didn’t submit anything… 🙂

  • Dav says:

    A notation will be added in the book of Grudges for this heinous transgression…

    I do think the way ‘Empire’ deconstructs Sigmar from God to very-flawed, ruthless warrior-king the rival of Harald Hardraada is very key to his win. Joey boy deconstructed normal people. Your mileage may vary, but the impact just tends to be a bit more potent for the former.

    I think you came second-place though, so no hard feelings…
    For now.

  • […] Last Friday the David Gemmell award winners were announced: the surprise winner of the Best Novel prize was Graham McNeill with Empire, Warhammer tie-in fiction. Joe Abercrombie (also nominated) presents us his report on the David Gemmell award. […]

  • Haakon says:

    Kinda suprised that that BL book was the one that finally won something, considering the rest of the stuff they have published…

    Having a WHFRP GM and all, did you ever consider writing Warhammer tie-ins?

  • Skellan says:

    Apologies, I did vote for Empire. However I had not read your book when I did and the vote would now go to you.

    I think he had some help with the Black Library telling viewers where to vote. 😉

Add Your Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *