BOOK REVIEW: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

REVIEW SUMMARY: The world-building is not as deep as Best Served Cold and The First Law trilogy, and there is a bit of a quick twist at the end but Half a King is a fast paced enjoyable read.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Yarvi, second son of a King, born with only a partial arm, is heading for the ministry when both his father and older brother are killed. As King, he is quickly betrayed, and must survive on his wits as he plots his vengeance.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Fast paced, with Abercrombie’s expected action and bleak world.
CONS: Not much new in the setting as the world is similar to Abercrombie’s other novels; ending has a convenient twist; could have been an awesome fantasy.
BOTTOM LINE: The world feels familiar, the revenge theme is present again, the ending a bit rushed…but if you enjoyed the worlds of Best Served Cold and The First Law trilogy, you’ll enjoy Half a King, the first novel in the Shattered Sea trilogy as well.

Joe Abercrombie’s world’s are harsh. There is no middle class, only Royalty and those associated with Royalty and the poor, the slaves, the wretched, living in the mud (many of them going “back to the mud”).

So what can Abercrombie do to make one of his world’s worse? He makes one of his lead characters handicapped. Not “Nine Fingers” handicapped but half an arm, unable to hold a shield, in the usual harsh Abercrombie-esque world where warriors rule. Then he makes him a King, and then a slave.

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Right now you can get The Blade Itself, the first book of Joe Abercrombie’s series The First Law, for only $1.99!

Here’s the book description:

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body – not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers. Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men. And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up in a hole in the snow with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all – ideally by running away from it. But as he’s discovering, old habits die really, really hard indeed. . . especially when Bayaz gets involved. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Glotka, Jezal and Logen a whole lot more difficult…

get it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever you purchase your ebooks. (As of this writing, the iTunes prioce is $12.99.)

Gandalf Get Your Gun – Targeting Military Fantasy

What defines military fantasy as a subgenre? Is it, as the post title suggests, a wizard wielding a fireball in one hand and a shotgun in the other, drawling “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Well…maybe in some versions of the world. In others, it may be more an army marching in rank, overseen by magician-generals, with dragons as air corps and elves in the cavalry (and most likely archery ranks).

Many fantasies–especially epic fantasies–have enormous battles as part of the over-arching story, often as a backdrop to the hero or band of heroes and the main quest. However, for some, the battle takes center stage and the military tactics are just as important, if not more so, than the clever ways in which the plucky band will outwit the Dark Lord. Let’s form ranks, then, and march through several novels where the military maneuvers are on the front lines of the plot and your ability to lead a trained squad may be just as crucial as your ability to understand esoteric prophecies and wield magical talismans.
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BOOK REVIEW: Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

REVIEW SUMMARY: Gritty mash-up of Western themes and Fantasy setting as only Abercrombie could do it.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Shy South’s home has been burned to the ground, her brother and sister stolen. To get them back Shy will have to brave the lawless frontier and all the savages that inhabit it.

MY REVIEW:
PROS:
Great prose, Western themes mesh perfectly, return of beloved characters.
CONS:
Slightly drawn out, less interesting protagonists.
BOTTOM LINE:
There are few things I look forward to more than the release of a new Abercrombie novel and Red Country does not disappoint.

“The losers are always the villains, Sworbreck. Only winners can be heroes.”

The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie is the very reason I got back into the fantasy genre after a five year hiatus of sticking strictly to science fiction. The First Law taught me that fantasy can be gritty and bloody and none too happily-ever-after. As a result I’ve spent the past several years sinking my teeth into any and all titles of the Sword & Sorcery sub-genre, and I still have not found an author quite so engaging as Abercrombie. Red Country is a minor departure from the series; it still occupies the same overall setting but is layered with Western themes. I’ve never been huge into Westerns but I was eager to see how this would translate.

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MIND MELD: Genre Resolutions for 2012

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

It’s the beginning of 2012, a time for new beginnings, new vistas, and new resolutions to make the next year a good one.  Resolutions can come in many forms.

So I asked this week’s panelists:

Q: What are your resolutions with respect to genre in 2012?

Here is what they said:

Joe Abercrombie
UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, as well as the standalone fantasies Best Served Cold and The Heroes.

‘My genre resolutions are the same as every year – read more, write more.

Oh, and spend less time on the internet.

Having a bit of trouble sticking to that last one…’
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