Lots of Reviews

Posted on February 21st, 2013 in reviews

No sane writer takes individual amazon reviews too seriously.  After all, you do get some strange ones.

Of course, most writers are far from entirely sane.  But the general pattern is often interesting, even to the mostly rational, and there’s an interesting pattern to amazon reviews of Red Country both in the US and the UK, namely that aside from The Blade Itself, which as my first you’d expect to get most attention, it’s already my most reviewed book.

In the UK, The Blade Itself has 184 reviews, Before They are Hanged 66, Last Argument of Kings 82, Best Served Cold 86, The Heroes 83, and Red Country has just racked up its 100th review.

In the US, The Blade Itself has 393, Before They are Hanged 147, Last Argument of Kings 170, Best Served Cold 166, The Heroes 152, and Red Country 177.

In both US and UK, Best Served Cold is my worst rated book, on average (I know, I really like it too, but hey, your mileage may vary).  But in the UK, Red Country is tied with the Blade Itself in fourth position.  In the US, Red Country is my best rated book, with not a single one star review (that’s not an invitation).

What is the meaning of all this?

I’ve no idea.

But I’m fully prepared to obsessively monitor the situation.

91 Comments So Far... (join in)


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  1. Well, Red Country had a very American West feel to it which would seem a good bet why it is so popular in the U.S.

    Maybe you could answer a question for me as well? Did you draw heavily on the Deadwood theme for the setting of the second half of the book? I felt like the setting and the fight between the two legends in the arena(trying to avoid big spoilers) had a very Dan Doherty against Hearst’s man sort of feel.

    The First Law series never fails to entertain! Thanks for that.

  2. That Amazon review made my day. I LOL-ed heartily.

    And phooey on anyone who doesn’t like BEST SERVED COLD. They don’t know what’s good for them.

  3. Hi Joe
    Interesting thing … Best Served Cold is my favourite of your books – does this make me weird???
    The ‘bank job’ part in it was brilliant, maybe your next standalone should be a heist book. Just an idea. I know your busy for the next decade or so. However, if your going to bow to the wishes of just one fan – why not me???
    On a more serious note – love your work!
    By the way, get over to Ireland sometime, would love to see you in person.
    All the best

  4. I don’t know why Best Served Cold doesn’t get more love. That was my favorite of your books, although I enjoyed them all. And I did write a 5 star review for Red Country.

    And I’m maybe a bit overweight these days, but that amazon review you linked had me rolling my eyes so hard they just about fell out.

  5. Wow, it’s interesting that the Americans like Red Country more than us UKians… I really wonder why that is…

    I love Best Served Cold the most too. People are such strange creatures.

  6. I prefer the blade itself ( trilogy )to your other books also enjoyed the Heroes more than Red Country, as i said before wasnt happy with Shivers and Lamb (cop out too strong a criticism) lack of closure. And in Heroes you killed one of my faves (Black Dow) off but still enjoyed it. Best Served Cold started really good but i felt it sagged a wee bit. I wonder how much negative reviews affect your writing plans for the future ?

  7. I LOVE EVERYTHING YOU WRITE!!!!! don’t stop

    Ever…!

  8. Kirk…. **Some Spoilers for R.C.**

    Your critic of the Shivers/Lamb relationship is not agreeable, I found it refreshing to have something other then a brawl to the death to settle things. I also think Shivers really didn’t desire to kill Lamb as much as it was a excuse to extradite himself from his old life and troubles and used Lamb as a vessel to poor his anger into. In the end when he sees Lamb’s adopted family and recognizing the dichotomy in his fellow Northmen he lets it go….

    I actually feared that it would be another fight to the death which truly gets redundant for a reader who wants to see some versatility in his characters and the author. Adverse to your opinion it would be a cop out just to dust one of them in the end.

    Cheers to Joe for adding depth.

  9. critique….ahhhhhh!

  10. Oh no, Joe’s point about sockpuppets has sent me off on a tangent that could become a tragic new way of wasting time:
    – go to Amazon
    – Select all 1 star reviews (or any star for that matter)
    – Pick a reviewer, then select ‘see all my reviews’
    – Unscientifically extrapolate lifestyle through purchase history

    One of your detractors has lightbulb fetish issues…

  11. Best Served Cold was the best I’ve read so far (I haven’t yet read The Heroes of Red Country…..but they are on my shelf, honest), but frankly, it did drag on a bit. For a simple revenge thing, I reckon you could have lost 100 pages and still have a great story. However, it’s not a deal-breaker, it was still pretty fricking good.

  12. I noticed this review for red country the other day,
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R5J9E91COXFHB/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0575095822&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=
    These sentences are particularly prominent, “I saw just before coming to write this review that there is now another author’s name on the cover along with Abercrombie’s. If that person is the cause of all this I hope they never collaborate again. It was a disaster.”
    Time for the truth Joe, who actually wrote Red Country? The people need to know! That bastard “Sunday Times bestseller” seems to be collaborating on a lot of books recently.

  13. EdC,
    Dave Senior drew the map. I’ve no idea why they’ve credited him as a co-author. It’s certainly not on the cover (well, the map is, but not his name).

  14. Joe, fear not, I enjoyed Best Served Cold enormously.

  15. I’m assuming the person who wrote the review has real trouble with the whole concept of reading, hence finding a random name listed somewhere in the book and reaching the conclusion that they co-authored the book.

  16. If you ask me about Best Served Cold, it is a four amongst fivers. I was almost sade to report this to my much Abercrombie loving friends, I even wrote half a page explaining my views. In short I can only say that you reached such a high level of competence in writing that you get down graded by your own high standard. I’m sorry, you are good at this, that is my benchmark.

    +Friendly made it a 4+ :)

  17. “Best Served Cold” is the book I always recommend people start with. :)

  18. Best Served Cold is my favorite too

    But it’s like choosing a favorite pet I love them all really.

  19. I just finished Red Country two hours ago. That book perhaps had more heart than the rest makes it stand out. And Lamb…. Can’t wait to see where that ol’ coward pops up next. Loved it, thanks Joe.

  20. The message:

    In the UK we like fiction about real people. That’s people who can be capable of promiscuity and violence and still be sympathetic.

    In the US they have this big thing with religion (I could say more about that – my degree, 15 back, was half Theology). Suddenly if you sleep around and you kill people (in an unheroic way) you’re just BAD, hardly a “person” at all. (Apologies to Americans, I know this is huge generalisation – spelt with an “s”, hurrah – territory).

    The Red Country, being “tame” in Abercrombie terms, naturally appeals to the Yanks. A limy Brit myself, I naturally err towards Best Served Cold and The Heroes. Give me more moral ambiguity, show me more characters who (much like me, maybe even more so than me) can be shitty and scared and very occasionally brave and all in all very human.

    WP.

  21. Do you read every review on Amazon and do you have a view on how the standards differ from ‘professional’ reviews?

  22. I really enjoyed Red Country but after reading the 1 and 2 star reviews I’ve changed my mind. I reckons most on here will do likewise, if they’ve a modicum of sense.

  23. Loved best served cold. If you’re going onto Amazon to read reviews, I suggest look at the veet reviews, hilarious.

  24. Best Served Cold is by far your best book. Most people couldn’t handle Not reading about Logan or Glokta. I say to them “Eat a Big Fat Turd you Scum” Some of the Darkest Shit I ever read was in that book, keep them coming. Damn Pastries!!!

  25. What is truely amusing about the mindset of that review, is the hypocrisy it reveals. Hypocrisy is the worst fault of the human race imho, and while men a guilty of it also, women certainly have the inside running.

    What woman would not pour scorn and hatred on a fat, unfit man who aspired to date a model?. Which of them would criticise the model for saying “She couldn’t afford to be seen walking with a fat guy on her arm. It could ruin her reputation”. Yet every woman in the world would scream and rant to hear a male who had restrained his appetite, and exercised, saying he didn’t want to be seen walking with a fat moll.

  26. WOW!!!! I just checked out the Subterranean Press website and saw the new cover for “The Heroes”and it is Bad To the Bone!! I would say it is my favorite cover for Joe’s work by far and it happens to be my favorite book of his as well… You guys gotta check it out, fantastic!

  27. Its 12.36 am, I am in bed, and I have just spent the last 36 minutes reading lots of 1 star reviews of various Abercrombie books. Oh God.

  28. Best Served Cold was excellent, and I loved that the protagonist was a woman. It was a definite shift in tone though (not nearly as much snarkiness as in previous books), and I wonder if fans found that jarring.

    I LOVE the way Shivers developed over the course of the series, and I really sympathized with Gorst. I miss Logan the most. Characters that wish for something better amidst the shit and awfulness that they deal with are really relatable. Their frustrations ring true.

  29. To Hammer,
    Not sure i recommended a “fight to the death” for Shivers and Lamb, i just wanted more closure. as it is theres little to stop Shivers coming back for a dust up next week once the mood takes him. As for the adopted family i would suggest that their involvement in Lamb/Logens tale is over the bloody nine has been let loose again and isnt the blood letting and vicious put downs what we ( as readers ) love about these books.Plus versatility? in an individual character is not desirable , its poor writing, Less lamb and more Ninefingers please

  30. Joe, in case Logen appears in any future book, I would love to have a third person view of the Bloody-Nine fighting.
    And after the fight is over, a conversation between Logen and this third party person would be awesome.

  31. BSC was soo good.I don’t know how it got poorer reviews than the others. Also I’m not sure what it says about me that my two favorite Abercrombie characters are Monza and Glokta…

  32. Hei Joe,

    I’ve just finished Red Country. I’m not going to write a review here, but yeah, this is my top 5 list of your books: 1 Best Served Cold, 2 The Blade Itself, 3 The Heroes, 4 Red Country, 5 (ex aequo) Before They are Hanged, Last Argument of Kings.

    Overall, I enjoyed reading Red Country, a brave attempt to write a Fantasy-Western! (not an easy task for anyone…)

  33. To Kirk,
    Lamb/Shivers “duel” and its outcome is brilliant:
    Shivers thought he was following the Bloody-Nine footsteps in life. Was trying to be a better man, but he failed, just like Logen. He came after him to the Near Country, and saw that there is redemption after all -Lamb has a family, so he has finally succeded in becoming a better man. Maybe there is hope for Shivers too?
    Shivers is smiling at the end, because he just realised that its never to late. He will not be coming back.

    And -fighting Lamb, whatever the outcome (really, Sivers is not in the same league with the Bloody-Nine) is a fail: killing father in front of his family is going further to the dark side, and letting the Bloody-Nine tear Shivers to pieces in front of his family is no better.

  34. I loved all your books, but to me the stand out was “The Hero’s”. Gorst ranks right up there with Logain/Lamb as one of my favorite literary charactors of all time. Still I have really enjoyed all your books, so please keep on writing them.

  35. Looking thru the 1 star reviews (US), I finally figured out what was missing from Joe’s works. Goosebumps. Needs more Goosebumps.

    Best Served Cold is probably still my favourite.

  36. Just finished red country good to see some favorites back to old tricks. Was worried might be throwing some charters in for no good reason but it fell together nicely I feel. on the whole deadwood comparison I did get that feel to but no bad thing as its a good show with great dialog if you don’t mind the odd expletive. Not sure bout these machines and modern bits n bots that are turning up but that’s a personal thing bit of a hang up of mine maybe on the whole a great read only wish it was longer.

    p.s. back to the North for me, more brutal barbarity the better may have to go back to read the series again in the mean time.

  37. Not to be infantile… oh, who am I kidding? Not to be completely infantile, infantile, yes, but there is a bit of juvenile mixed in. Why oh why couldn’t that fat girl sentence appeared on page 69? Had to be 68.

    Oh how the unrealized laughter haunts me. Keeps me up at night.

    Joe I really think you fell down on this one. Could’ve thrown in just a few more sentences, just another paragraph or two, and all would be right with the world again. But no. Had to be all slim and precise. Well defined, that is. Had to trim the fat, as they say. You know, now that I think about it, maybe you do have a problem with fat. That’s prejudice, Joe, prejudice.

  38. BSC > Trilogy > Heroes >>>> Red Country. I just could not care about the central characters aside from Lamb, and even he felt flatter this time around. Maybe it’s a consequence of the Western style.

    But the other five books are the cream of the genre.

  39. I have read all six books and thoroughly enjoyed them. The violence and comedy in these books is top notch, so many parts have made me laugh such as – “ugh!” Grim through his sword on the ground as if he had suddenly realised he was holding a turd –

    There is a great fondness for the word turd throughout the books which I’ve noticed and also that every child involved in the story is always about 14 years old –
    boy with the bow Logan kills
    The eater girl in dagoska
    The both boys black Dow kills
    And a boy shenkt kills

    And maybe more , great stuff though cant wait to read more turd metaphors and 14 year old slayings

  40. Yo, @Kirk, spoiler for some of us who haven’t read all the books?! Jeez! Next time mark spoiler alert!

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