Just completed a six-book series, and it has reminded me of a time that I wasn’t sure could ever be reborn in quite that meaningful of a way.
I remember reading the Dragonlance Chronicles, then Dragonlance Legends, and being completely immersed, enamored, and thoroughly nostalgic throughout the series. Characters made legend in the early books, then those legends solidifying their place in history in the following books. Every death. Every surprise appearance. Every bit of character creation, leading to those pivotal choices. Those sacrifices.
Those betrayals …
But it has happened again. Perhaps the great oak borne from seeds of inspiration, I’m not sure, but Joe Abercrombie has done it. His debut as a Fantasy author was the First Law Trilogy, immediately followed by three stand-alone novels–but it’s wrong to think of them as stand-alone novels. They are very much linear extensions of the first trilogy, meant to be read in order, and are extremely good.
Abercrombie brings to life the original cast of characters with imagination, grit, witty banter, laugh-out-loud humor (albeit, a little dark), and point-of-view style writing that I’ve never encountered before. Each POV change has a distinct voice, and without breaking a stride, you’re in their heads. And this is where the brilliance shines. You get in the heads of characters that you later watch through the eyes of other characters. You get to hear songs, and tales, and stories of legend, but you know the truth, you see through to its core, because you’ve been in their head. It is such an intimate and meaningful connection. It’s hard to describe.
The First Law series takes an ensemble cast of characters through an epic journey, with colossal stakes, in a strikingly real way in a very bleak, grotesque, and merciless world. You meet so many interesting characters and customs along the way. And then you read the following three books: Best Served Cold, The Heroes, and Red Country; and you meet new characters, but what’s better, is you run into second-string characters and they become the focus. They craft their own way. They become legend.
And every once in a while, a legend-of-old makes a showing. And by god its amazing, every time.
If you enjoy the medieval fantasy genre, and you haven’t read these six books, you are not doing it right. You’re not. I’ve read Wies and Hickman, Rothfuss, and Martin, and they’re all giants in the field. But now they have to make room, because Abercrombie is here, and he’s here in a big, big way. Easily shoulder-to-shoulder with the greats.
Read the books in their proper order:
(1) The Blade Itself
(2) Before They Are Hanged
(3) The Last Argument of Kings
(4) Best Served Cold
(5) The Heroes
(6) Red Country
Thanks for tagging along! Go. Read. These. Books.