Archive for First Law trilogy

a little hatred [book review]

Posted in Books, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2020 by xi'an

While the last books of Joe Abercrombie [I read] were not as exhilarating as the earliest ones, this first volume of a new trilogy brings back memories of the excitement of reading a radically new form of fantasy. Of realistic fantasy if both terms can be twinned together!

“Why folk insisted on singing about great warriors all the time, Rikke couldn’t have said. Why not sing about really good fishermen, or bakers, or roofers, or some other folk who actually left the world a better place, rather than heaping up corpses and setting fire to things?”

A little hatred (an obvious understatement!) takes place one to two generations later than the First Law trilogy. Meaning that the anti-heroes from the previous books have by now either died (a fairly common occurrence in Abercrombie’s universe) or aged a lot (more uncommon, except for magii—whose role is rather unclear in this story) and lost in influence for most of them. The new central characters are thus children or grand-children of these ancient characters as the clannish and feudal power structures of this universe do not allow for much social upheaval, except when workers unite and turn Luddites! The society has indeed evolved towards a sort of industrial revolution with landowners expelling farmers and turning them (as well as former soldiers) into cheap labour for emerging factories, just as in the historical England of the 19th Century… The rebellion of the workers in one of the factory towns is the main event of A little hatred and Abercrombie’s description of the event is fantastic (and ghastly). Much more than the millionth battle between the North and the Union, which ends up in a macho duel. And shows the clear superiority of female characters in that story.  I thus hope the sequel will keep up with this renewed creativity of the author!

sharp ends [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on September 2, 2018 by xi'an

A chance encounter with an itinerant bookstore at the market of Tofino, Van Isle, BC, led me to buy this collection of short stories by Joe Abercrombie, called Sharp Ends. All set in the same universe as the great series of novels he wrote in the past ten years, involving second, third and fourth rate characters, with a few major ones popping in on the side. Including my favourite, Ninefinger. These short stories have appeared here and there across the years, but reading them together (for the first time) within a few days (of vacation) was utterly pleasant, with some threads running through most and some enjoyable recurrent characters. I remembered enough of the original First Law books to settle back in their universe, ten years later! And short stories are quite suited to Abercrombie’s style of stories, the dark and grim ending occurring always too quickly for the main character! Now this set me wondering as to why there was no recent book by this author, except for the disappointing young adult Half something trilogy. Which  read I did not complete. Reading his blog for the first time in many years, I learned that a new trilogy is in the making, set in the same universe (and avoiding mixing dark fantasy with western!). Looking forward this new series!!!

The Heroes

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by xi'an

This is the title of the last book by Joe Abercrombie. As the four previous books, it takes place in the same universe and with mostly the same characters. Then, why bother (reading it or reviewing it)?! First, the style and humor are also the same as before, which means The Heroes is rather well written, with witty dialogues. (Here is a sample.) Moreover, while the First Law trilogy had a great collection of anti-heroes, this book sets the bar higher, with no single redeemable character! The setting is much closer to classical tragedy (in the theatrical meaning of the term) than the previous books, with a unity of time (3 days), place (The Heroes) and action (a battle). While there are many characters, most of whom were involved in the earlier books (which means it reads better as a sequel to the other books), three stand above the others, with personal viewpoints.

The backcover concludes with an prophetic “No heroes” and the only heroes found in the novel are standing stones (or menhirs or cromlechs) set on top of a hill central to the battle. There is much cynicism in this allegory: only frozen stones can be heroes in such an hopeless world where courage, honour, valiance have no meaning left! The premises of The Heroes are thus quite exciting and unusual, even though I understand some readers have read more than enough of those witty dialogues and gritty descriptions, as shown by this hilarious pastiche on amazon.

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