Worth the paper

The library continues to provide us with a rotating stack of very solid fantasy hardcovers. Doorstops, the lot of them. Huge books, and heavy — just ask poor Jak, who decided to get some exercise by making the last library trek on foot, and had to lug five of the buggers home.

And then there’s this one shabby trade paperback, pages bent and battered, cover barely attached. Poor thing won’t make it through another three pairs of hands before falling utterly to shreds. The one series out of dozens thus far that didn’t rate the more expensive hardcover treatment from its publisher, which turns out to be the newcomer Pyr, rather than one of the usual suspects.

I’m sure you can guess where this is going, because we all enjoy irony here, yes? That trade paperback series is the only one thus far that I’d consider worthy of a hardcover printing.

Like GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire, Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law series eschews absolute good and evil for a cast of complex, morally grey characters. It’s fantasy-of-the-trenches, eased along by wry humor, with nary a cliché in sight.

I am at present only halfway through the second book of three, so there’s always the possibility that the author’s talents don’t extend to crafting a satisfactory conclusion … but I’d be surprised. The Blade Itself is the first book, if you’re inclined to chance it. I’ll let you know when I get to the end.


  1. 1 Jun 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Oh, yes. Seconding this VERY much. I’m waiting for Kyla to finish up the second book so I can get a crack at it because I enjoyed the first so much.

    We’re amused (and a bit chagrined) at the quality of the cover paper as well. Poor thing’s only been through our two pair of hands and it’s already looking years older than it ought.

  2. 1 Jun 2009 at 11:21 pm

    You know, you people who are reading this are welcome to recommend good fantasy to our attention …

  3. 2 Jun 2009 at 2:00 pm

    If I’d come across anything else good so far this year, I’d gladly let you know… *sigh* When is Rothfuss’ new book due out, again?

    (Oddly enough, I think I’m one of those freakish weirdos who doesn’t like GRRM’s “Ice And Fire” books. There’s gritty, then there’s depressingly grim.)

  4. 3 Jun 2009 at 7:01 am

    If I recommend anything it is your eliquently cute and endearing “musings”. They put a smile on my face whenever time allows me to take a peak.

  5. 3 Jun 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Karel: Name of the Wind is in our yet-to-be-read stack. Do I read the above as an endorsement?

    Also, how far into Song of Ice and Fire did you get?

    Susan: :) thank you.

  6. 3 Jun 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I may spend part of my Seattle vacation mooching your copy of A Game of Thrones and giving it a whirl. I *really* don’t much like fantasy … but I’ve also heard it so highly raved about …

    (Gene Wolfe’s New Sun is the other Thing I’m likely to crack soon and try.)

  7. 4 Jun 2009 at 6:53 am

    Name of the Wind? Wholly endorsed. It’s high up in my re-read queue, once I get far enough ahead on comics to get some reading time in again (and once I get through Cherryh’s Deliverer, which I admit I’m putting off because that series can be rather tedious, but I need to get it back to Kyla at some point).

    I picked up A Game of Thrones because of all the raves, slogged through it, wondered if things picked up from there, then made the bright move of researching the subsequent books online only to find that, no, things get worse. Gritty? Fine. Morally ambiguous? Groovy. Unrelentingly grim? Thanks, but no thanks.

  8. 4 Jun 2009 at 6:54 am


    Stuck in the office today. Need a ray of Karawynn sunlight to break through the drudgery. :)

  9. 4 Jun 2009 at 6:55 am

    (razzafraggin… okay, I think I’ve tried ‘i’ and ’em’ tags, both of them are no-go. so much for italicizing book titles or anything else…)

  10. 4 Jun 2009 at 7:27 am

    Karel: ’em’ tags work. I added them into your previous post for you. :)

    I recently reread the first 3 books of SoIaF. Clash of Kings (book 2) is actually pretty relentless in its downward spiral, but imho both Game of Thrones and Storm of Swords are nicely balanced on the hope/despair continuum. (I haven’t read book 4; have been deliberately waiting for book 5 to be published, as GRRM intended them to be a single volume).

    Susan: here, have a sunflower while I make some tea and try to think of something clever to say …

  11. 4 Jun 2009 at 7:55 am

    It is very lovely. Thank you. :)

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