What THEY Said Over the Last Month

August 15th, 2008

High time for my periodic self-indulgent sado-massochistic trawl through the dark corners of the interweb. I can’t help it. It’s an addiction. So without further ado … Writer Bill Ward had a look at The Blade Itself:

“at heart it’s a High Fantasy with a hardboiled, Sword & Sorcery attitude. The pace, the command of voice and dialog, and the strong characterization all make this a series to watch.”

He followed it up with a main course of Before They are Hanged:

“Questions are answered and new ones raised, characters push and pull against one another, glimpses of plots are dangled with skill before the reader, and the whole conspires to keep the pages greedily turning – in short, everything is done well and will have fans rushing to get their hands on Last Argument of Kings, the concluding volume of The First Law.”

Dread Pirate Terje was one among that very rush. I’m not sure if he’s really a pirate, or what dark acts have earned him the prefix ‘dread’ or not, but you have to appreciate his Marxist analysis of The First Law:

“In Marxist terms, the superstructure is transformed, while the base remains the same. Or, perhaps more precisely, the base remains the same, as does the superstructure, but the relation between these become apparent to the main characters, and thus to the readers – the illusion of ideology (the Marxist term refering to the ideas and philosophies that legitimize and shroud that the system is, ultimately, based on power – according to Marxist theory, democracy and liberalism are part of the ideology of capitalism) is shed and shredded. In the end Last Argument of Kings, while magnificently brutal, morbidly fun, recklessly fascinating, and at times awesomely inspiring, was too fucken dark for my taste, so I dock it about half a point or so for that. 9.0/10.”

9/10 even after the half point deduction? I reckon I can live with that. Just. An insightful look at the whole trilogy from occasional visitor here, Elena at 500 pages and a bottle of wine:

“For every genre staple/cliche that is included, another is pissed upon. There is a near-constant undermining of expectation, both by the standards of fantasy epics and those of literature in general. Another way to summarize the trilogy – mine, in fact – would be: Reservoir Dogs + “Dr Heidegger’s Experiment” + The Empire Strikes Back, dropped into post-apocalyptic Middle Earth. As I mentioned initially, this book speaks in the cant of a 21st-century 20-something, hence the inclusion of a Tarantino movie. Well-written, witty, and full of violently poetic descriptions and snarky one-liners, if also littered with more comma splices than bodies (and that’s an awful lot, girl).”

I believe it was the Emperor Sigismund who said, “I am the King of Rome, and above grammar.” Don’t try to limit my genius with your dusty rules, commar fascist! Though it’s worth noting she had something of the same ‘intellectual admiration yet emotional disappointment’ reaction to the ending that I did with No Country for Old Men a couple of weeks back. Thomas L. Martin, meanwhile, reveiewed the book for SFCrowsnest, and the only real problem he had with the 240,000 word monster was that it was just too damn short. Well, alright, rushed and with uneven pacing, but, you know:

“A fourth book to extend the battles and keep the pacing more dramatic may have truly completed the ‘First Law’ sequence but even as it is they stand as fantastic examples of the best heroic fantasy. In his first three novels, Joe Abercrombie has shown that the road travelled by so many tired and cliched quest novels has not been exhausted. There are other ways to do it without re-treading the old formulae and by populating his complex world with dynamic, immensely imperfect characters Abercrombie has produced a reinvigoration of the genre.”

Reinvigorate THAT, motherf*ckers. And finally, kind words on the trilogy as a whole from no lesser light than the star of Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog, would you believe, Felicia Day:

“And boy did this series finish! After reading the third book in the trilogy, I definitely have to say that this is one of my top 10 favorite series of all time. It’s that good. The finale pays off all the genre-bending plot twists and crazy left turns that occurred in books one and two, and in a way that will leave you gasping. I could not have looked up from the last 100 pages if you had paid me!”

Who would pay you to do that? Not me, that’s for SURE.

Posted in reviews by Joe Abercrombie on August 15th, 2008. Tags:

10 comments so far

  • Geordie says:

    I just finished the last of your delightfully bloody trilogy… No really, I just read the last word and slid it into the book return slot at my local library (interlibrary loan, I was surprised that Aspen, Colorado could steal a book from England so readily).


    Not since finishing King’s dark tower series have I felt so sad that I may never meet those literary characters again… especially Logan. Makes me want to watch Conan the Destroyer again.

    Thanks for writing.

  • Elena says:

    “Commar fascist?”

    I can’t even understand this insult because I don’t know what you mean. Sheesh.

    Comma fascist…I can live with it. You have your style; I have mine. You’d have used a comma there, and that’s fine. I’m just going to mock it. Endlessly. 🙂

  • michael says:

    I’m totally enthralled with your new series. I finished vol. 2 last night and plan to buy vol. 3 tomorrow afternoon. I love the storyline, character development, the . . . well . . . everything about it!!! I wish you all best with your career.
    Michael, Ohio, USA

  • Elena says:

    Also, and perhaps ironically, I loved No Country and had no issue whatsoever with the end…

  • Geordie, Michael,
    Awwwwww, thanks fellas.

    I am the King of Rome, and above spelling.

    Your problem with my trilogy but lack of problem with No Country for Old Men only further serves to underline my hypothesis that you are insane.

  • Elena says:

    Wow, I comment on here way too often if you’ve developed a hypothesis about me…


  • Mark, Ohio, USA says:

    I just finished the 2nd book last night – was amped to read your blog post about the 3rd coming available here in the States soon.
    Loved it, great characters, etc., etc.
    One specific complement I’d like to give you though… I’ve noticed with a lot of Fantasy writers who work several story threads at once (like Jordan and Martin for example), I find myself groaning when I reach the end of a chapter and find that the next chapter is about some character/storyline I don’t give a shit about. “Ugg! Daenerys again!!”
    Not so with your stuff. Whether it’s Glokta, Logen, Dogman, West… I love each character’s voice and story line.
    Well done!!

  • Dear Joe,
    I emailed you a while back when I was halfway through “The Blade Itself” I am now halfway through “The Last Argument of Kings”

    Take this as a threat, direct and not implied, but meant in the nicest way possible. If you ever stop writing I will fucking kill you.

    Well done, mate, truly well done!

  • I got the impression you were kinda mocking me, there, but with that half-arsed quasi-Marxist analysis, I can’t say I didn’t deserve it.

    Anyhoo, looking forward to whatever your next project might be.

  • Elena,
    It’s more of a hunch, really.


    Cheers. Please don’t kill me.

    Dread P.T,
    No, not mocking, really. When you read forty reviews of a book it’s always interesting when someone has a different spin on something, so I was genuinely intrigued. I’ll be equally interested in your opinion on the next project…

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