Joe Abercrombie biography and books reviewed

Joe Abercrombie was born in the famous English town of Lancaster, England, on the 31st of December 1974. He was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School before studying Psychology at Manchester University. He then moved to London, finding work at a TV Post-Production company. Two years later he left to become a freelance film editor, and worked documentaries, awards shows, music videos, and concerts for artists ranging from Barry White to Coldplay.

In 2002 Joe Abercrombie began the writing of a fantasy trilogy based around the adventures of Logan Ninefingers. Completed with the help and the support of his family in 2004, and after initial rejections, The First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings) was taken onboard by Gillian Redfearn at Gollancz in 2005.

Joe now lives in North London with his wife, Lou, and his daughter, Grace. He splits his time between film editing and writing fantasy novels.

"I think the world of publishing, let alone genre publishing, is a great deal less glamorous than most people imagine. Of course the names that spring to mind are your Rowlings, Pullmans and Pratchetts, but they’re very much the exceptions. For your average sf/f release 5,000 sales might be considered a good run. Thanks to the fates, my excellent editor and publisher, and my family’s unstinting support, I’ve done a good deal better than that, and the trilogy has steadily gained ground with each book, but even so it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve even been able to consider writing as my main occupation, and I’m in a lucky minority to be able to do so."
Joe Abercrombie when interviewed by us in 2009

"Dark, deeply ironic and full of character gems that will appeal to your cynical side." SFRevu

"Delightfully twisted and evil" Guardian

November 15th 2012 interview with Joe Abercrombie

This week Josh interviews Joe Abercrombie, author of the highly acclaimed First Law trilogy. They talk about Joe's new book Red Country, darkness in modern fantasy, and what Joe is doing on tour in Australia.Photo by [...]

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March 6th 2009 interview with Joe Abercrombie

In 2002 Joe Abercrombie began the writing of a fantasy trilogy based around the adventures of Logan Ninefingers. The First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings) has since been published in eight countries, seven langu [...]

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Joe Abercrombie reviews

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Monza is a cut throat heartless commander general of the Thousand Swords; a lethal group of mercenaries. That is until her gainful employer Grand Duke Orso decides to murder her and her brother. Throw Monza's body from his mountain terrace to the forest floor below before confirming that she was indeed dead proves a mistake Duke Orso will live to regret. Broken to pieces Monzcarro Murcatto surprisingly does not die and is put back together in quite good fashion by a mysterious bone thief. Once she has her wits back about her and body in semi decent working order there is only one thing that burns in Monza's mind.

"Cruel, original and brilliant characters. A true master."

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The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

So honestly, I am glad I’ve read it. This story is a great read. It’s fast, exciting and brutal. The characters are clear and realistic even when they are psychopathic, axe wielding generals. If you want something totally different in this genre, you should read it, but if you expect the ‘usual Heroic Fantasy’ you’ll get a surprise on you plate.

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Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

They burned her home. They stole her brother and sister. But vengeance is following. Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she'll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she's not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old stepfather Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb's buried a bloody past of his own, and out in the lawless Far Country, the past never stays buried. Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts. Even worse, it will force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust... The past never stays buried...

"If you can’t stand - or don’t like your kids - to read a story in which there is plenty of, gritty violent scenes, swearing, questionable characters and sexual relationships then this isn't your book. Abercrombie’s style is to write a fantasy story in which the characters react like realistic people. You’ll never see a ‘teenage-prodigy’, heroes are non-existent or in for the cash, and there are plenty of crooked and corrupt characters, just like the real world." Brian Herstig, Fantasy Book Review

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Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie

The Union army may be full of bastards, but there's only one who thinks he can save the day single-handed when the Gurkish come calling: the incomparable Colonel Sand dan Glokta. Curnden Craw and his dozen are out to recover a mysterious item from beyond the Crinna. Only one small problem: no one seems to know what the item is. Shevedieh, the self-styled best thief in Styria, lurches from disaster to catastrophe alongside her best friend and greatest enemy, Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp. And after years of bloodshed, the idealistic chieftain Bethod is desperate to bring peace to the North. There's only one obstacle left - his own lunatic champion, the most feared man in the North: the Bloody-Nine... Sharp Ends combines previously published, award-winning tales with exclusive new short stories. Violence explodes, treachery abounds, and the words are as deadly as the weapons in this rogue's gallery of side-shows, back-stories, and sharp endings from the world of the First Law.

"That isn’t to say that this is a bad anthology – on the contrary, the majority of it is as amusing, bloody and fast-paced as Abercrombie’s other works. You may just need to forgive him on a couple of the stories. I would recommend reading his First Law trilogy first however."


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Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge. Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could. But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, and traps and tragedy...

"There is little, nay nothing, that I can find negative with this book. Abercrombie is certainly a master at work, and I eagerly look forward to the next instalment in the series." Jo Fitzpatrick, Fantasy Book Review

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Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

Sometimes a girl is touched by mother war. Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named murderer by the very man who trained her to kill. Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior. Fate traps her in the schemes - and on the ship - of the deep-cunning minister Father Yarvi. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit. Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon. Beside her on her gruelling journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill. A failure in his eyes and hers, he has one chance at redemption. And weapons are made for one purpose. Will Thorn forever be a tool in the hands of the powerful or can she carve her own path? Is there a place beyond legend for a woman with a blade?

"Half the World is a fantastic book that clearly demonstrates Abercrombie's proficiency in the fantasy genre. Half a War cannot come soon enough."

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Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

WORDS ARE WEAPONS. Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright. ONLY HALF A WAR IS FOUGHT WITH SWORDS. The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head - a man who worships only Death. SOMETIMES ONE MUST FIGHT EVIL WITH EVIL. Some - like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith - are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others - like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver - would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness...

"What makes Half a War a fantastic read is how often Abercrombie subverts your expectations. You think you know where the story is heading, and suddenly it’ll all get turned on its head. It’s this that keeps you hooked throughout, never knowing where the story might go."

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A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie

Sometimes you find that perfect book, the one that hits you at the exact right moment. Everything aligns. The writing, the characters & the world-building just makes your soul sing. A Little Hatred is that for me. It's beautifully, authentically First Law. Joe Abercrombie has done it again. Goddamn.

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The Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie

This one has it all. The Trouble with Peace is a quintessential Abercrombie story that draws pieces from all seven First Law novels before it. It features all your returning favorites: trademark humor, horrifying violence, grim wisdom, and an ending that will leave you craving for more. At this point, would you expect anything less?

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The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie

'The Wisdom of Crowds' is Abercrombie's most political book to date - some of it subtle, some of it banged over your head with the flat of a blade before it guts you with sharp commentary. 'The Trouble with Peace' ended on the cusp of The Great Change, and I thought 'Wisdom' would take some time before the Change itself became the centerpiece to the story. But there was no time wasted, as the big battle was gotten out of the way early. I was surprised to see a lengthy 'Little People' section (a consistent favorite of mine) occurred so early in chapter 2 when the narrative hopped around POVs during the madness of a battle. It was at that point in time when I realized that the book wasn't going to focus on the war itself, like his standalone, 'The Heroes,' but rather the aftermath of it, while attempting to answer the question on everyone's mind -- what now?

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The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The First Law trilogy was a real game changer for the fantasy genre. It worked in shades of grey. It makes the reader like characters they should possibly, really dislike. And dislike characters they should possibly, really like. The dialogue is witty and often the cause of out-loud laughter. It’s a captivating read and has everything a fantasy fan could wish for. Any books that can add humour to torture scenes has something special going on.

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Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

Bitter and merciless war is coming to the frozen north. It's bloody and dangerous and the Union army, split by politics and hamstrung by incompetence, is utterly unprepared for the slaughter that's coming. Lacking experience, training, and in some cases even weapons the army is scarcely equipped to repel Bethod's scouts, let alone the cream of his forces. In the heat-ravaged south the Gurkish are massing to assault the city of Dagoska, defended by Inquisitor Glokta. The city is braced for the inevitable defeat and massacre to come, preparations are made to make the Gurkish pay for every inch of land... but a plot is festering to hand the city to its beseigers without a fight, and the previous Inquisitor of Dagoska vanished without trace. Threatened from within and without the city, Glokta needs answers, and he needs them soon.  And to the east a small band of malefactors travel to the edge of the world to reclaim a device from history - a Seed, hidden for generations - with tremendous destructive potential. A device which could put a end to war, to the army of Eaters in the South, to the invasion of Shanka from the North - but only if it can be found, and only if its power can be controlled...

"Gripping, thrilling, gritty and pretty damn awesome."

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Last Argument Of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

In this much anticipated and last instalment of the First Law trilogy from Joe Abercrombie we find the answers to all our questions and some we didn’t even realise existed!

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