I am self-publishing a book soon, so will be talking about that quite a lot. You can see all the details of that venture here, but to mix things up, I thought I’d recommend someone else’s books in this post.
To be specific: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, aka The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. It’s a fantasy trilogy, revolving around the politics, prejudices and (eventually) magic in a world not quite our own and it’s really good. I was recommended it whilst in the midst of Thrones-fever, fancying something else in the fantasy arena, and it really hit the spot – smart, character driven action with the fantastical elements playing around the edges, sometimes screaming into the forefront.
So since those who started reading the A Song Of Ice And Fire series with the TV show are probably finishing soon, I figured I’d point this out as a next step.
In fact, The First Law might even be a better bet for readers who enjoyed the Thrones TV series than the George R.R. Martin books themselves – it’s a short, accessible, witty read and with a conclusion that already exists.Although it is potentially even more depressing than Thrones at times – Abercrombie is LordGrimdark on Twitter, after all.
Anyway. It has a large, memorable cast tied together through clear threads, including the obligatory love-to-hate character in Inquisitor Glokta. He does all the worst things yet gets the best lines, as always. Although, to be honest, there are a few reluctant favourites to go around – I’d take another Logen Ninefingers book in a heartbeat.
There’s a little of the inevitable mid-trilogy sag in book two, but the big set-pieces in that book are so impressive that it hardly bothers you. Great work as a whole, hits the right balance of epic sweep whilst remaining rooted in character, and manages a three-dimensional universe without bogging down in detail. Abercrombie also writes a great fast, meaty fight scene.
And even better, there are three standalone books in the same setting to read next. Sadly, though, they seem to centre on characters outside of the primary ones from The First Law, and I loved those folks. Still be reading them though.
Oh, and Abercrombie also just released Half A King, the well-reviewed first chapter in a whole new series. Excellent.