What else THEY are saying.

September 10th, 2007

Heavens be praised! I’ve been Klausnered!

For those of you who don’t understand, Harriet Klausner is amazon.com’s no. 1 reviewer, well known for posting an AWFUL LOT of semi-comprehensible reviews (about 3 and upwards per day, in fact). Some doubt her ability to truly read and consider that many books, but no-one could truly consider themselves a serious author until Klausner has given them a review. So what did this legend have to say?

“The fascination with this Noir fantasy is the key cast members. The foursome is not epic heroes, but instead they are flawed to the point that the story line at times feels like an amusing satire of the Tolkien lite imitations. Not for everyone, THE BLADE ITSELF is carried by its deep characters, who tote more negatives than positives and may prove to cause the beginning of the end; these incredibly flawed souls make for a fresh and outstanding fantasy.”

Why, thank you, Harriet, that’s actually a rather perceptive and lucid piece of opinion. Of course, she did also say:

“However, it is the actions of Bavaz the wizard who claims to be the First of the Magi, who shakes up the realm; or at least Logen, Jezal, and Glokta with his demanding raging orders that they fear to follow as he seems more fraud than genuine yet fear not to as his bite may prove worst than his violent bark.”

Which was slightly confusing, but then she probably did have six other books to get through that day, and I never argue with anyone who gives me five stars. What’s that you say? She gives everything five stars? O … K …

Meanwhile, there’s an awful lot of Blade Itself about on various blogs of late, most of them never before dreamed of by such a person as me. Probably something to do with the US release. Lets get our fingers dirty…

The Jumbled Box contained the following review:

“For a first novel, this is an excellent tale; one of those hard to put down books that only comes around once in a while … Definitely worth reading this one and I’m off to get the sequel – Before They Are Hanged!”

Do so, my friend, do so. Pieces on Speculative Fiction meanwhile, held this opinion:

“The story is told character drivenly from the points of views of barbarian, fencer and inquisitor, who are fleshed out very well. Everything of the medieval-style world of the Union is shown through a film noir lens. The grander plot takes the backseat when the characters converge to the heart of the Union against the backdrop of impending war with the North. Very entertaining read despite some length issues.”

The first person ever to have a problem with my length. Ha ha. Other people had … other problems. There is a lengthy, erudite, and considered reaction from Calico Reaction. It begins something like:

“I will say this: if I had picked this book up in the store and read the first couple of pages, I would have never bought it.”

Uh oh. But surely my idiosyncratic writing style will win over the-

“I think it’s obvious, on a whole, that this is the writer’s debut, so I expect his style will evolve and improve with time. But as it stands now, Abercrombie’s style does not agree with my tastes.”

Not in the style, man, not in the style! Well, as long as we don’t get that old one about it being the first book in a-

“We get pages and pages and pages of world-building, of getting to know our key players, but to me, while there’s plenty of conflict in this novel, there’s no tension. There’s no real direction to anything at all, and by time you get some direction, the book is over. It’s all set-up to the next books in the trilogy … The ingredients simply didn’t mix right for me, simply because that’s all they were: ingredients. I can certainly see the potential in this book, this upcoming trilogy, but there’s not enough pulling me back to see how it all plays out. There’s stuff I liked, but not enough, you know?”


“As for recommendations, I can imagine people enjoying this. It’s epic in its own right, medieval in a way, with a splash of sword and sorcery. I didn’t get a lot out of it, though I appreciated what Abercrombie is doing, but I think readers with different tastes than I will enjoy this a lot more.”

My reaction? Well, I would try and defend myself, but, you know, that would be poor form. All one can really say is – one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Hmmmm. Poison, you say? Now there’s an idea…

Posted in reviews by Joe Abercrombie on September 10th, 2007. Tags:

4 comments so far

  • J.G.Thomas says:

    There was a thread on Klausner on sffworld a while back, though you may well have seen it already on one of your frequent sojourns there!

    I think Klausner is some poor individual locked in a dungeon somewhere and forced by her captor to devour five novels a day.

    With regards to the other reviews, I personally take issue with the comment about excessive worldbuilding – I feel your novels are driven more by the characters, and focus more on them than the actual world (which still manages to come across well).

  • Yeah, interesting about the worldbuilding, since I sometimes get criticised by the hardcore fantasy fans for not doing enough of it. I think part of the problem is that it’s a bit of an ill-defined concept.

    Some people mean by it the in-depth development of fantastical cultures, languages, weather-systems, geology etc. (often including maps and glossaries galore) which honestly is not particularly my bag, and, as you point out, I try to keep to a minimum.

    Others, as in the case of this particular critic, seem to use it in a more general sense to mean the overall ‘setting up’ as it were – the development of the characters and the settings that has to be done in any fiction. So her criticism is more along the lines of too much set-up and not enough development.

    Meat. Poison.

  • Anonymous says:

    I just found out that your new book is coming out (yeah!) – in March (ouch!). Already pre-ordered from Amazon, and look forward to being surprised and delighted when my order drops into my mailbox, the order naturally long forgotten about. Thanks for the good read!

    🙂 Trillepott

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