Hot Young Fantasists

Posted on April 11th, 2014 in reviews

Delighted to say that I got a quote for Half a King from some George RR Martin guy. Not familiar with his work myself but apparently he wrote some Game of Thrones thing which is quite popular at the moment…

“Joe Abercrombie does it again. Half a King is another page-turner from Britain’s hottest young fantasist, a fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page one and refused to let go.”

In all seriousness, it’s always great to get a quote from a popular author, but George is one of very few living writers that I think had a big impact on the way that I write.  When I first read A Game of Thrones back in the 90s (oh God, can it really be nearly 20 years ago?), I saw summed up in that book a lot of things I felt had been missing in commercial fantasy – the shocks, the grit, the vivid characters, the moral ambiguity, the brutal disregard for convention.  Seeing that you could write a book like that and still stay firmly within epic fantasy was a big inspiration to me, and without A Game of Thrones I don’t think the First Law would have been as it is, if it happened at all. Admiration is always great, but admiration from people you admire is that much greaterer, so I’ll hope you’ll allow me this moment of insufferable smugness.

Should you hold George’s opinion in as high esteem as I do, you might consider preordering Half a King, or if you’re still undecided reading a considerable extract over here…

On another note, I love that I’m in a profession where at 39 you can be considered young and exciting. Ryan Giggs is considered a freakish old man for continuing to play football past 40…

19 Comments So Far... (join in)


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  1. I am waiting with anticipation. Speaking of, are you still planning on doing the whiskey death match?

  2. Nice. But… that quote does not have any GRRMing sting in it. The whole sentence is hilariously typical bestseller back cover platitude. Are you absolutely sure it wasn’t really written by your own agent or publicist? Or some random marketing guy of a large bookstore chain you made a devil’s deal with? Hm? Hm?

  3. Such a recommendation certainly can’t hurt the sales. I’ve read the extract and frustratingly am sucked in you git, so yes I’ll pre-order damn your eyes.

    I’d also say that no the smugness is not forgiven, after all do you learn nothing from writing about Gloka???? I’m more of a fan of Bayaz’s approach – knowing superiority is the way to go here I think.

  4. Personally I think smugness is more than allowed under such circumstances. In fact, taking out full page ads in every national newspaper with the quote emblazoned on them in luminous gold ink wouldn’t be disproportionate. Neither would hiring a bunch of those sky writing planes to display the quote above every major city. Except Manchester, they’re all booked up for Moyes related messages.

    I also think you should send Mr Martin a thank you note which reads thus;

    Humbled by your lovely comment George, now stop reading other books and finish your own you lazy git. And don’t even think about using my ideas to break through your writers block or I’ll go all litigal on you, bitch.

    Or words to that effect.

  5. Well done, Joe. You should be deservedly proud of that. Why not kick back and grab some whiskey to celebrate, whiskey at 3.30 in the afternoon is ok right?

  6. George writes an epic fantasy series, gets praise from critics, and then gets an epic meme-inducing TV show. Joe writes an epic fantasy series, gets praise from George himself, and then…?

    Seriously Mr. Abercrombie, GoT tragically has to end one day, and they’ll need another gritty fantasy to fill the void. You got to be realistic about these things.

  7. Nice, but “now you are the master” (to paraphrase Darth (we’re on a first name basis)). Everything you’ve put out in the last 10 years is heads and shoulders above what GRRM has put out during the same period.

  8. I agree with Timo, it sounds awfully like those platitudes you see everywhere…. but you know what, I’m not sure it matters. Maybe GRRM didn’t take the time to write something original, but I’m sure it’s heartfelt and he wouldn’t praise something that didn’t completely deserve it. Congrats! :)

  9. Slogra, I wouldn’t worry about that. I’m pretty sure Joe’s next trilogy will be completed by the time Winds of Winter actually comes out.

  10. Praise indeed, Mr Abercrombie. You deserve to bask in the glow of such a eulogy. I do not doubt that there are some young (or perhaps not quite so young ) fantasists out there who would feel the same with your name adorning a review of their own work. I have to admit that it still makes me smile that someone like you takes the time to comment on blogs by the man on the street.

    I wonder if I was in your position whether I would take the time (hope I would) to reply so often to your fans’ comments. You and Steve Erikson have plowed a furrow-writers who raise the bar and still take the time to bother with those who read and love their work. Long may it continue. Hope the new book is a cracker.

  11. George R.R. Martin
    Ryan Giggs
    Joe Abercrombie

    3 of my personal heroes mentioned in less than 20 rows of text.

    Brilliant.

    Good for you and well deserved.
    Glory glory Man United!

  12. @Chad. I love Abercrombie beyond what is reasonable, but in terms of sheer scope, worldbuilding, realism, and character depth I don’t think anyone truly comes close to GRRM. Rothfuss or Sanderson, but I have yet to see another author get us to actually like and feel sorry for a character whose introduction consists of him having sex with his sister and crippling a young boy.

  13. @ Khaldun I don’t like OR feel sorry for him. I might sympathise with him a trifle, but EVEN when he does “right”, like going back for Brienne, he does it for the wrong reasons, and then spoils any respect he ought to have earnt by his behaviour.

    That isn’t to say that what I do feel isn’t a tribute to great, non-cliché writing though.

    Rothfuss is the better writer though. Not even a close contest.

  14. @AntMac.
    Rothfuss is a clever writer with an incredible style that can make a character sitting around a campfire eating a piece of bread for an entire chapter be intriguing. He is definitely more poetic, but their styles are dissimilar. I’m not sure I can even compare Rothfuss and GRRM as their writing styles and content are so, so different. Both are inhumanly good writers, though I don’t agree that Rothfuss is ‘clearly’ better. No author, ever, has garnered the same emotional responses as GRRM has. I can’t put a Rothfuss novel down to save my life, and they are in my top 5 (along with Mr. Abercrombie here), but if I had to choose between Winds of Winter and Doors of Stone being completed tomorrow, I’d choose Winds of Winter without blinking. Perhaps that is due to the nature of it being ‘epic’ fantasy and the fact that I am interested in the plotlines of so many characters, but still…

    I’m also curious as to why you think Jamie coming back for Brienne was done for the wrong reasons, though hijacking Joe’s post is not the place for the discussion :)

    Congrats Joe on getting the GRRM endorsement. Hopefully the book sales fill your coffers to the brim.

  15. Khaldun, everything you say about GRRM applies to the first three books. The last two–produced in the last 10 years–aren’t even close to Abercrombie or Rothfuss. I’d definitely take Rothfuss’ next book sooner than WINDS given GRRM’s quality of late.

    Of course, I’m really dying to find out what happens to the Discarded Knight and all of the characters he’s introduced that no one cares about. *sarcasm* 14 years after STORM OF SWORDS the plot hasn’t advanced at all. The story’s gotten away from him. It’s a terrible shame. Thank goodness for Abercrombie, Rothfuss and Sanderson. I’ll always love the first three ASOIF books though.

  16. GRRM is at best workman-like, if you compare him to Rothfuss.

    It isn’t to say that he doesn’t write an entertaining book, and after all, so MANY more of them . . .

    But Rothfuss really is the better writer, taken on any representative page of writing.

  17. I agree with Chad. I fell out with GRRM because of the lack of plot advance – Like the Crossroads Motel with daggers!
    I’ve been singing your praises Mr. Abercrombie as to how a gritty fantasy novel can also include humor and plot progression mixed in with the grit. Sorry if that sounds like a recipe for kitty litter. So it’s odd that GRRM is allowed to give you praise. Just because he came first and provided a little inspiration and has a successful TV series, doesn’t mean that he’s better.

    After saying that Rothfuss has a lot of loose ends to tie up with the last book in his series. Have a word with him please.

  18. Masrock, that is going to be the exciting, awesome thing about the next book, I think. He obviously juggles complex plotlines perfectly well, considering the first two books.

    I am half going “It can’t be done” but I really do expect him to do it, and I am so excited to get my hands on the final book.

    I don’t care* what happens, actually, love the writing so much.

    * This is a lie. I will be really angry if the book doesn’t contain a scene where Cinder has to try to hold in his guts, chokes, and finds he also needs a hand to try to hold his throat closed.

  19. …and only a couple weeks later, now Ryan Giggs is a young and exciting manager.

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