With The First Law Trilogy Joe Abercrombie drags epic fantasy into a dark alley and kicks it in the nuts.
The trilogy is composed of three novels, The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged, and Last Argument of Kings, but they are really all pieces of a bigger work—Abercrombie makes no effort to bring the reader up to speed with what has happened in the earlier novels, just dives right in to the action, so you have to start from the beginning.
The trilogy contains enough epic fantasy tropes to feel comfortable—we have the mysterious mage, the barbarian warrior, the epic quest, etc., but they are all twisted around enough to feel fresh and new.
Like Glen Cook’s marvelous Black Company series, Abercrombie’s world is full of flawed, human characters who are doing their best to muddle through the difficult situations in which they find themselves, but where Cook writes in an almost offhand manner, Abercrombie’s writing is cinematic and energetic, especially in the battle scenes which leap off the page and grab the reader by the throat.
And the characters! Wow, what an assortment Abercrombie’s created. The one that stuck with me the most was Sand Dan Glokta, former dashing hero of the Union who after two years of unspeakable torture as a POW is a ruined shell of a man and has taken a position as a torturer for the Inquisition himself.
To sum it up, The First Law has a complex plot, interesting characters, a lived-in world, and is fueled by strong, graphic writing.
Note though, that it is a very graphic series, both in terms of stomach-churning violence and sex.
Can’t recommend it highly enough.
Posted Wednesday, 12 November, 2008 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.