Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fantasy Rewind 2: The First Law Trilogy, Joe Abercrombie

The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie is a set of three novels adhered together to create a single, epic tale. Just like every other fantasy trilogy, I hear you shout from the sidelines. No, it is not just like every other fantasy trilogy. The novels act as progression points in developing a violent, sophisticated and politicalised world - yes, politics!

The Blade Itself is the first novel, followed by Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings. Don't be deceived: you cannot judge these books by their covers. I quickly discovered the titles have nothing to do with the story. Though if you look carefully, you'll be able to discover the roots of these quotes and garner an appreciation of just how well-constructed these novels are. Each novel is broken into three parts, each with a quote attached as an introduction. I found that I was looking forward to the next section of the novel for both a new quote and the next stage of the tale.

In my own opinion, the First Law Trilogy is the most well-rounded and satisfying series of novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Each character is interesting and believable, likeable and dislikable. The political world is intertwined with murder, violence and torture: themes that have come to define Joe Abercrombie as a serious, fantasy author. The story is not particularly exciting and jam-packed with action, but it pans out as an interesting tale that draws you in with each page turn.

I cannot relate Joe Abercrombie to any other author I have read, or rather any other author that pulls off unjustifiable violence so well. The First Law Trilogy is a series that surprised me more often than not. I finished Last Argument of Kings with a deep sigh of satisfaction. Not surprisingly, Joe Abercrombie went on to write two more novels, Best Served Cold and The Heroes, both of which surpassed all my expectations. Abercrombie has also been commissioned to write another stand-alone novel and trilogy, set in the same world.

The story follows three main characters and three semi-main characters. Abercrombie does well in always keeping your attention and not dawdling on one character for too long. You come to care about each character's ambitions and fears, a rare experience in a literary world competing for their reader's attention. Fantasy sells from a fan-base and Abercrombie does well in generating one.

If you're in for a good tale of intrigue, betrayal and violence, Abercrombie is a sure bet. Happy reading!

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