The Heroes By Joe Abercombie Review (No-Spoilers)

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This week’s novel is The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie. This is a standalone novel that takes place in the same world and with the same characters as his First Law Trilogy. I’ve said before that that trilogy was the catalyst that made me want to start writing and is my favourite book series of all time.

That being said, The Heroes is my favourite novel by Mr. Aberombie. It incorporates all of the elements that I love about his books. Gritty, interesting characters, intense action, a fast moving plot, all wrapped up in humour.

Like all of his standalone novels, this book brings back some characters from previous books. Shivers, Bayaz, Gorst, Prince Calder, and a few others. Shivers in particular is one of my favourite characters from the universe, just in the sheer depth of his development as human. As usual there is a number of new entries, all large than life figures.

At it’s very core this book is a war story about how useless and horrible war and battle is. This theme is one that I think is very much becoming sewn into the fabric of modern fantasy novels. Gone are the days of glorifying combat and war as noble and exciting. The characters is this book suffer and we see way more death that is comfortable. Abercrombie really makes efforts to show the absurdity of war, and how it destroys those around them.

There are other interesting themes also sprinkled in too. Redemption, friendship, loneliness, fear, Abercombie folds all of these into the story. I don’t really want to go too far into the nitty and gritty of the book because it’s best to go in fresh. The Heroes is an experience, a 600 page thrill ride.

The big question to answer is should you read this if you haven’t read the First Law Trilogy? Personally I would recommend Best Served Cold instead, though you won’t be lost if you pick this book up either. It will just make it a richer experience, as you’ll see characters from the other side of the page. Overall, The Heroes is an amazing novel, one of my personal favourites, so you should pick it up if you like gritty, action filled, fantasy.

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Building a Fantasy Franken-Author

There are no perfect authors. No one can be the best at every aspect of writing a novel. For a while I’ve been kicking around the idea of creating the best possible fantasy author, Frankenstein style. My ground rules are no more than four authors. Five seemed to many and three too few. Also each author can only bring one aspect of their game. Without further ado here are my picks.

The Humour of Terry Pratchett: I think this is the least controversial of all of my picks. Terry Pratchett’s books are a goldmine of stellar jokes and gags. His novels are jam-packed them. The ability to write jokes on a page and not have it come off as too corny or out of place is rare, and that’s why Sir Terry gets a place on my list. 

The Characters of Joe Abercrombie: It’s no secret that Joe Abercrombie is my favourite author of all time. He was going to be on this list, no matter what. However that doesn’t mean that his place is undeserved. Abercrombie’s character building is my favourite aspect of his game. He manages to write character that are both larger than life but also believable and relatable. In my opinion, it’s this that makes his stellar First Law Trilogy as good as it is. Due to this, Joe Abercrombie gets the second place on my list.

The Prose of Mark Lawrence: I hear a sound. It’s the cry of thousands of Patrick Rothfuss fans crying out in rage. I get it. He writes good. I just prefer Mark Lawrence. His writing is gritty yet beautiful. Poetic and grounded, prose that pulls you in and holds you tight. This was the hardest category for me to chose but I feel confident in my pick. Lawrence gets the nod due to his strong, consistent prose.

The Worldbuilding of J.K. Rowling: First Rothfuss fans and now the Sanderson army. At first it seemed like Sanderson’s category to win but in the end I had to give it to Rowling. Sanderson’s world-building is almost too deep, so much so that I feel it would dominate the novel. Rowling however, brings an amazing balance of whimsy and magic with well thought out worldbuilding. Some may argue this, say that there are elements that don’t make total sense. *Cough* Time Turners. *Cough* The rules of Quidditch don’t make sense. But to those haters I say phooey. The world of Harry Potter is magical and real all at once. I feel I could do no better than the biggest, most important writer of my childhood and so I choose J.K. Rowling to round out the last spot of my FrankeAuthor.

What do you think? Do you agree? Of course you don’t! What would your picks be? Let me know!

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Sharp Ends

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This week’s novel was Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie. Sharp Ends is a collection of short stories that are set in the world of the First Law Trilogy and it’s standalones.

Joe Abercrombie is my personal favourite author and the First Law Trilogy is my favourite all time series. In fact, those books were what originally made me want to start writing fantasy. I harbour a deep love for the trilogy and the standalones, and all the characters that live inside the world.

So if you were looking for an unbiased review you probably came to the wrong place for this one.

Sharp Ends jumps around the well worn world of the First Law books, jumping all around it time. Some stories give the reader alternative viewpoints of events that are shown in the books, while others provide completely new tales.

However, all the stories feel familiar and well fitted in the world that Abercrombie has already established. The characters are particularly memorable, though some are only with the reader for a short time.

My favourite part though was seeing certain characters before we meet them in the original books, most specifically Logan and Glokta. Though there was a smattering of familiar faces, all of which were enjoyable to meet again.

The writing is typical Abercrombie, his masterful use of repetition out in full force throughout. In fact, I would say that some of my favourite of his writing takes place within these stories.

  Overall, I felt that Sharp Ends could be read by someone with no knowledge of past works and they would find it extremely enjoyable. However, this book is likely best enjoyed by readers who have at least some familiarity with the novels that came before. I found that it scratched my First Law itch as well as adding even more depth to the world which Abercrombie has created.