Dark fantasy meets unforgiving western in the standalone tale of one woman’s epic journey across the wilderness in search of her kidnapped brother and sister, set in the world of The First Law.
“Abercrombie rings the changes with his sixth novel, tipping his hat to the Western genre but continuing his mission to drag fantasy, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century with his characteristic mix of gritty realism, complex characterisation, set-piece scenes of stomach-churning violence and villains who are as fully rounded as his flawed heroes … Abercrombie writes fantasy like no one else.”
—Eric Brown, The Guardian
Dark fantasy meets sharp-edged war story in the standalone tale of a single great battle for control of the North, set in the world of The First Law. Taking place over three days, it follows the misadventures of six varied people on both sides of the conflict and at all levels of command, their stories played out against an epic backdrop of intrigue, ambition, betrayal and, of course, a lot of edged weapons used in anger.
“It’s a magnificent, richly entertaining account of a single three-day battle – complete with balletic Kurosawan violence – that leaves behind no heroes, only survivors.”
—Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians, in Time Magazine
Dark fantasy meets hard-boiled thriller in a standalone tale of revenge, set in the world of The First Law.
“Joe Abercrombie’s BEST SERVED COLD is a bloody and relentless epic of vengeance and obsession in the grand tradition, a kind of splatterpunk sword ‘n sorcery COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, Dumas by way of Moorcock. His cast features tyrants and torturers, a pair of poisoners, a serial killer, a treacherous drunk, a red-handed warrior and a blood-soaked mercenary captain. And those are the good guys … The battles are vivid and visceral, the action brutal, the pace headlong, and Abercrombie piles the betrayals, reversals, and plot twists one atop another to keep us guessing how it will all come out. This is his best book yet.”
—George RR Martin, author of A Game of Thrones
The First Law Trilogy
“The books are good, really good. They pulled me in. Well-developed world. Unique, compelling characters. I like them so much that when I got to the end of the second book and found out the third book wasn’t going to be out in the US for another three months, I experienced a fit of rage, then a fit of depression, then I ate some lunch and had a bit of a lay down.”
—Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind
Epic fantasy. Its all the same, no?
There’s a grumpy wizard, a deadly barbarian, a jumped-up nobleman and some feisty girl, more than likely. They’re all engaged in a mysterious quest to bring that from there, and they’re all made out of cardboard. Probably there’s a dark lord of some kind involved. They talk like extras from a bad soap opera. They fight like extras from a bad cop show. Probably there’s a prophecy, and a farmboy with mysterious parentage, and if not a magic tower, then certainly a strange tall building of some kind. There’ll be battles, there’ll be intrigue, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a magic sword came up somewhere along the way.
I don’t need to read that again.
I want to read a fantasy with all the grit, and cruelty, and humour of real life. Where good and evil are a matter of where you stand, just like in the real world. I want dialogue that actually sounds like people talking, and action that actually feels like people fighting. I want magic and adventure, sure, but I want it to hurt. I want blood, sweat, and tears, and plenty of them. I want to read about characters as selfish, as flawed, as complicated, and as unpredictable as real people. I want a fantasy that can shock and surprise, amuse and horrify, delight and excite me, all at once.
I spent a long time looking, and I couldn’t find a set of books quite like that. So I thought I’d write some.
You like your fantasy with the edges left on?
Try The First Law.
Short Stories & Anthologies
Swords and Dark Magic
Edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders
An anthology of seventeen original tales of sword and sorcery penned by masters old and new, stories of small stakes but high action, grim humour mixed with gritty violence, fierce monsters and fabulous treasures and, of course, swordplay. It includes Joe Abercrombie’s story, “The Fool Jobs”, featuring characters from The Heroes, as well as stories by CJ Cherryh, Glen Cook, James Enge, Steven Erikson, Greg Keyes, Caitlin R Kiernan, Tim Lebbon, Tanith Lee, Scott Lynch, Michael Moorcock, Garth Nix, KJ Parker, Michael Shea, Robert Silverberg, Bill Willingham, and Gene Wolfe.