What THEY are saying

September 1st, 2007

A little round up of my obsessive trawling of the internet for the slightest nugget of opinion about myself. Will I be delighted or horrified? Will it be heaven or hell? We shall find out …

Jessica Strider from The World’s Biggest Bookstore has given The Blade Itself the once over. Fair news or foul?

“Abercrombie makes you imagine all sorts of strange, yet oddly compelling things. This book is great if you want a more realistic view of ‘barbarian’ life meets civilization. Here are ‘heroes’ whose arrows sometimes miss and who get injured during swordfights, outnumbered or not … this book will leave you asking for more.”

Which is nice, though she did take a little exception to the amount of swearing in the book. Sorry ’bout my potty mouth, Strider. Actually, having re-read The Blade Itself recently as part of a review of the whole trilogy to try and make sure I’d made no clanging errors, I think I somewhat agree with her. A little bit scatter-gun with the profanity, perhaps. I could have concentrated it more with certain characters and certain situations for greater effect, a balance which I learned to strike better as the series went on, maybe. Ah, well, one for the second edition …

The mysteriously titled Fool of Gold meanwhile, has been reading Before They are Hanged:

“Once again, Abercrombie does not open any doors in the realm of fantasy, he just expands on the framework that most people love and find enjoyable in a fantasy book. Great heroes, ill tempered and mutated enemies, laughable situations, palpable characters, and all in all, an immensely fun story.”

Which is particularly nice, since he wasn’t necessarily bowled over by the first book. Bob Lock, a writer himself no less, has ploughed through both and had this to say:

“it was a joy reading these two books and I have a feeling that Joe might have delved into the D&D; & MMORPG worlds now and then too.”

Guilty as charged on the first count. On the second, I played Guildwars for a couple of weeks and found the whole thing a bit … soul-destroying.
“Excuse me kind sir, would you happen to know the way to-”
“n00b mofo I’m gonna pwn your ass! n00b! f***ing n00b!”
“Ah. But I thought we were all here to, you know, have fun together and-“
“f******* n0000000000b!!!!!”
Make new friends on the internet? Not really. But I digress. Bob adds:

“Both books are of the non-stop page turning variety … even if you are not a fantasy genre reader I’d still say give these stories a try, you may become converted!”

Amen to that, Bob. Amen to that.

Posted in reviews by Joe Abercrombie on September 1st, 2007. Tags:

11 comments so far

  • Aidan Moher says:

    Your account of MMORPG’s is frighteningly accurate, Joe…

    A Dribble of Ink

  • Graeme Flory says:

    So it was you who wanted to know the way to the Alchemist’s Parlour. Sorry…

  • My account springs from bitter personal experience of being screamed at by impatient thirteen-year olds who probably had long ago acquired REALLY GOOD ARMOUR. If you’ve got a bunch of like-minded mates I’m sure it’s great, but on your own in the big wide world you just end up thinking – can I really be arsed to spend a hundred man hours getting REALLY GOOD ARMOUR myself, just so I can scream n00b! at some poor idiot who has a normal real-world life?

  • Graeme Flory says:

    I get bored with it really quickly and always end up killing members of my own party. Actually, I usually end up doing that whatever I’m playing…

  • Aidan Moher says:


    If you’re ever interesting in getting together for some gaming…

    I’m actually a pretty nice guy and use proper grammar in-game. You might actually like playing with me!

    A Dribble of Ink

  • On the off chance that you look at past comments… I don’t google myself very often so I only noticed this yesterday.

    I wanted to comment on your ‘swearing in fantasy’ blog, but I was moving at the time and when my internet was finally hooked up it seemed a bit redundant.

    So, let me just say that your writing must be good if the only ‘criticism’ people can find is that you swear too much. It’s completely subjective. I only mentioned it because, as a bookseller, I feel it’s necessary to warn people of things they might find disagreeable (though often people just look at me as if I were crazy and buy the book anyway. I’m reminded of a man who wanted to buy Battle Royale for his 16 year old daughter. When I asked if he knew what the book was about he said ‘no’. I explained a bit of the premise, that it was about high school students sent to an island and told to kill each other, but that didn’t seem to bother him any.) Makes me wonder sometimes why I bother…

    Anyway, I remember a grand old time about 10-15 years ago when it was almost impossible to find gratuitous violence, sex or swearing in fantasy books. I even remember counting the swear words in “Spellfire” by Ed Greenwood. There were 6. It was a lot. Personally I think it’s sad how fantasy has ‘modernized’, but I understand why people use swearing. “Shades” doesn’t pack the same punch.

    And I don’t think anyone will forget Mrs. Weasley at the end of book 7 in Harry Potter, giving the only and only swear word for the series. It really can work wonders for a book.

    So, the point of this comment is to say that I loved both your books and I hope the third is just as good (or better).

  • Jessica,
    Hey, thanks for stopping by. I Google myself with considerably more frequency than you, I think it’s safe to say. Very glad you enjoyed the books, and thanks for the review.

    I think you’ve a fair point about the swearing – and clearly there are quite a few people who won’t like it out there. I fear that the third book won’t be any more to their tastes, alas, but hey, you can’t please all the people all the time and all that. Hopefully I can please you with the last book, at least…

  • Oh, I don’t think that will be a problem.

    I was wondering though, my store’s in Canada, which means we get the British editions of books when they originate in, well, Britain. But as I ‘know’ someone at PYR, we’ve also gotten in the American edition of The Blade Itself. I was wondering if the American edition was changed, and if so, how much? Were the changes minor like ‘boot’ for ‘trunk’ or ‘torch’ for ‘flashlight’ (I’m trying to think of words that would appear in a fantasy novel and can’t…) Or were there large passages that were dropped, etc?

  • Jessica,

    The US and the UK editions have slightly different covers, are printed on slightly different paper, and are set differently, but in terms of the text are identical. The spelling’s not even americanised. Lou Anders, at Pyr, wouldn’t want his editions to deviate from the author’s own preferred text. English author, English spelling. Axe, through, and colour all the way. English swearing too, for that matter.

  • Glad to hear it. I still can’t believe they changed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I don’t think we give people enough credit for intelligence sometimes. So it’s nice to hear that your books weren’t bastardized in any way.

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