Monday 25 April saw Joe Abercrombie begin a week-long tour to promote his first collection of short stories, Sharp Ends, in Blackwells in Holborn. If you weren’t one of the lucky few to be able to get your mitts on a ticket, don’t despair! Geek Syndicate is proud to have attended in the capacity as Gollancz partner and as ever, we’re happy to report back, because we’re just nice like that.
Sharp Ends began life about seven or eight years ago, when Abercrombie was desperately trying to write a short story he’d promised would be part of an anthology. It’s set in the same world as his First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings) but you don’t need to have read any of the other First Law books to enjoy Sharp Ends. It features a lot of new characters and is in fact an ideal jumping on point if you’re keen to see what all the excitement is about but are feeling a bit commitment shy about investing in a trilogy.
If you’re not familiar with Abercrombie’s work, you should probably know that it’s not for nothing that his Twitter handle is @LordGrimdark. The First Law world is a gruesome, bloody but also (crucially, for me) often very funny one, which forges what appear to be heroes, only then to show them for the humans they really are, before quite often breaking and killing them in extremely inventive and frequently amusing ways. The reading Abercrombie chose to do at Blackwells for instance, was a scene which consisted mostly of two sets of characters arguing about where to fight, with plenty of imaginative cursing and innuendo, (two of my favourite things) and had the initially slightly starstruck crowd in stitches.
Abercrombie explains that he was initially inspired by a lot of straight fantasy such as Lord of the Rings but being a fan of thrillers he wanted to write a fantasy which was faster, funnier and held more surprises for readers. Game of Thrones was a big influence, as until then the idea of the hero who doesn’t save the world had never been done.
If you’re a fan of battle and banter but not so keen on the sausage-fests such stories often are, then step right this way because Abercrombie is happy to assure us that Sharp Ends features lots of badass women (for more of the same, I can also highly recommend his stand-alone novel Best Served Cold, which was pitched to me as a Kill Bill fantasy mash-up, and is brilliant stuff).
For Abercrombie’s next trick, we can expect a new trilogy, also set in the First Law universe. There will be a lot of new faces, featuring cameos from plenty of established characters for the fans. Geek Syndicate can exclusively reveal that it will not be called First Law: The Next Generation, a fact which to be honest we are quite sad about.
Sharp Ends is available from Gollancz in any decent bookshop now. It’s well worth treating yourself to.
GS Blogger: Michaela Gray (@bookiesnacksize)