Category Archive for ‘news’

Two’s Company

Posted on January 12th, 2016 in announcements, news

Tor.com have put a brand new never before published story by me, Two’s Company. You can read it right now, over there, for free.

This is one of five stories from my forthcoming collection Sharp Ends that feature my female Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser style thief and warrior odd couple, Shevedieh and Javre, and that form a kind of spine to the whole thing around which the other stories are arranged.

So read it, don’t read it, enjoy it, don’t enjoy it, maybe even preorder the collection. The choice is yours. What a time to be alive!

2015 in Review

Posted on December 31st, 2015 in announcements, film and tv, games, news, process, whisky deathmatch

New Year’s Eve, and you know what that means?  Happy birthday to me. Yes, indeed, I am 41 years old today and this is my 7th yearly review post. Time marches only one way, my friends…

I’ve been hugely blog-lazy this year.  There are still many authors blogging very effectively, but it’s not quite the standard tool of authorial public relations that it was at one time.  A lot of my day to day activity has now moved to twitter, I’ve gone over the various stages of the publishing process in the past and have little to add, and I’m less inclined to vomit my opinions at length onto the internet, having done so enough in the past and been surprised and outraged not to see the world change too much as a result. I still follow the various controversies that spring up but when it comes to contributing, I dunno, it seems like there are better things to do with my time. I’ll certainly keep the blogging going for significant announcements and the occasional review, but it’ll probably only bubble away for the foreseeable future.  We’ll see…

A YEAR IN BOOKSELLING – The First Law and its sequels roll inexorably on, it would appear, and I’m told the 6 books have now sold over 3 million copies in all languages and formats, though hard data is always surprisingly hard to come by.  Meanwhile I released not 1 but 2 books in a year for the first (and probably last) time, and both Half the World and Half a War made the top 5 on the Sunday Times Bestseller list.  I did a load of travelling, touring and events, including visits to Australia, America, Russia, Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, and a week’s touring in the UK.  Some was great, some probably less worthwhile, and I’ll definitely be scaling the events back next year in a bid to get more work done.  I actually won some awards this year, would you believe – A Locus award for Best YA Novel for Half a King, and another for best Novelette for Tough Times All Over, as well as the Schwabischer Lindwyrm for, well, showing up, I guess.  That one comes with a very comely 5 kg bronze statuette, though it did trigger a security alert at Stuttgart Airport.

A YEAR IN BOOK WRITING – What with the releases and the touring it’s been a slightly strange, piecemeal year on the writing front.  Jan and Feb were spent finishing off Half a War, which needed a lot of editing (much of it done on the road in Australia).  Then I had a lot of trips and travelling around the two book releases, in between which I was writing the last four or five stories to complete my collection Sharp Ends.  Then, over the last few months, I’ve been working up ideas for a new trilogy in the world of the First Law, and starting to experiment with the first few chapters, which is showing some promise in between my traditional and entirely predictable slumps into pessimistic despondency.  It’s a strange thing – no matter how many books you write you never really feel fully equipped for the one you’re writing.

TV and FILM – Once again I’ve watched a metric shed-load of TV, most of it good to some degree. I think this year has been notable for my personal method of consumption shifting from part DVD to almost exclusively streaming via Netflix and Amazon Prime, with quite a lot of what I’ve watched being Netflix or Amazon originals.  The landscape shifts, indeed it does.  An eclectic set of personal favourites have included The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, Black Sails, Vikings, Sense8, Peaky Blinders, Attack on Titan, The Bridge (original obvs), The Good Wife, Suits, Fargo, Narcos, Gomorrah, Gotham.

What with the kids and everything the cinema doesn’t happen too often.  I felt The Force Awakens walked a very fine line between all kinds of conflicting demands to deliver a hugely entertaining film that actually felt like Star Wars again even if, at times, it perhaps felt a little too much like Star Wars.  But my film of the year had to be the gobsmacking Mad Max: Fury Road, a tour de force of action and design which somehow managed to be edge-of-the-seat involving without really having a plot, performances or even a script.  Very much looking forward to the Hateful Eight and the Revenant in the new year, though.  I’ve always loved me a good western…

GAMES – Blog laziness has meant that I’ve failed to review much of what I’ve played, but it’s been a decent year, particularly strong in the open-world roleplaying department.  I actually thought the game version of Mad Max, though a little repetitive and Assassin’s Creed-y, was a nice effort with some great visuals and atmosphere .  Also Assassin’s Creed-y was Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the first Assassin’s Creed I’ve played since the rather horrible Assassin’s Creed 3.  They really do make too many of these, but Syndicate was a big improvement – a nice imagining of Victorian London and a choice of more interesting central characters (including, gasp, a woman) giving it a bit more zip, even if the framing story still seems more of a lame-ing story and the use of historical characters like crime-fighting  Darwin and investigative reporting Dickens rather set the teeth on edge.  There was plenty to like about Metal Gear Solid V, the latest from  famous  maverick video game auteur Hideo Kojima – with some awesome visuals by ace Hideo Kojima,  genuinely rewarding and varied tactical espionage action worked out by genius Hideo Kojima, and several of expert Hideo Kojima’s best ultra-dramatic set piece dramatic sequences that you don’t play but just watch, mostly. Unfortunately Kojima’s incomprehensible plotting, Kojima’s intensely tiresome adolescent focus on sweaty boobs, and Kojima’s endless trumpeting of his own name dampened my enthusiasm considerably. My third best of the year has got to be Bloodborne, which successfully took the ultra-challenging Dark Souls formula into cosmic horror territory with some tweaks that improved playability and atmosphere without losing the ultra-difficulty and sense of crushing darkness we all so enjoy.  My second best would be Fallout 4a cynical post-apocalyptic setting I’ve always loved and Bethesda’s most detailed world yet.  Bags of content and hugely enjoyable in the early and middle games, it was somewhat let down by a lacklustre and limited central plot and an endgame that rather artlessly revealed its own total lack of choices.  Which leaves, as you may well already have guessed, drum roll please, The Witcher 3 as my game of the year.  I didn’t even review it at the time I was so busy with other stuff, and I played it too long ago to have a huge amount to say now, but I think it may be the best effort I’ve ever seen at combining open world and free will for the player with convincing characters and central narrative.  I found the actual gameplay a little limited, after a while it became way too easy, but those criticisms aside it was flipping brilliant.  A truly vast world but packed with detail, and with the kind of meaningful coherence you rarely see in a video game (maybe as a result of it being a literary world adapted, rather than a world devised purely for a game).  It also featured some amazing, expressive character designs and some clever plotting with real moments of high drama. You also have to admire the developer’s cottage industry ethos and fan-friendly attitude. Two thumbs up.

WHISKY – Been a bit of a year for blends, with Taketsuru 12, Hibiki 12 and 17, and Ballantine’s 21 all scratching that smooth, light, easy-drinking itch while still retaining plenty of character.  Ardbeg always works for me though this year’s Perpetuum wasn’t a patch on previous special releases like Supernova or Ardbog.  Bruichladdich Black Art also hit the spot in a big way for a big, complicated, relatively lightly peated Islay.

THE YEAR AHEAD – 2016 looks like a different sort of year again, with much preparation, exploration and experimentation.  Sharp Ends was finished a while back and is due out in the US and UK at the end of April.  Probably there’ll be a few UK events for that, and it looks like I’ll be returning to my familiar haunt of Aviles for Celsius Festival in July, but otherwise I’m trying to keep the overseas events to a minimum so I can concentrate on getting my new trilogy up and running.  I’ve already got some relatively solid ideas together for that, and have written an experimental first few chapters to try the characters on for size.  Rather than planning exhaustively right away I’m aiming at an approach more similar to what I did with the First Law – work up some ideas, experiment with some scenes, revise and refine the character’s voices, work up some more ideas, refine some more, live with it and see how I feel.  In an ideal world I’d like to roughly draft all three books before fine-tuning, revising and editing each for publication, as I think that’ll give me the best chance at the most complete and coherent trilogy, as well as a controlled and timely publication schedule, but I expect that’ll depend on how fast I can get this first book written, and it may be that other mysterious projects which have long been bubbling away in the background will boil over and require a certain amount of attention.  Either way, there’s going to be a fair gap between Sharp Ends and my next book, but hopefully that’ll be offset by faster publication later.  I shall keep you informed…

Happy new year, readers!

Sharp Ends

Posted on August 24th, 2015 in announcements, news

I’m delighted to announce that my collection of short stories is (nearly) complete and will be published by Gollancz in the UK and Orbit in the US in April 2016.  It shall be called Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law, and will contain 13 stories, all set in the Circle of the World over a period that starts some ten years before the beginning of The Blade Itself and ends a few years after Red Country closes, featuring a rogue’s gallery of familiar and unfamiliar characters.  Most of these have been (or will have been) published somewhere else before – in anthologies with other authors or special editions of the First Law books, but in general they haven’t been available that widely.  Several are entirely new, including one that teeters on the edge of being defined a novella.

The table of contents:

A Beautiful Bastard: The Union army may be full of bastards, but there’s only one big enough to think he can save the day single-handed when the Gurkish come calling: the incomparable Colonel Sand dan Glokta.

Made a Monster: After years of bloodshed, the idealistic chieftain Bethod is desperate to bring peace to the North. There’s only one obstacle left – his own lunatic champion.

Small Kindnesses: The hopes of Shevedieh, the best thief in Westport, to turn her back on crime, come crashing down when she finds a huge drunkard sleeping in her doorway. Doing the right thing always comes at a price…

The Fool Jobs: Curnden Craw has been sent with his dozen to recover a thing from beyond the Crinna. One small problem. No one seems to know what the thing is.

Skipping Town: Shevedieh and Javre, ill-matched adventurers, find themselves forced to flee yet another self-made disaster.

Hell: ‘I have seen hell, and it is a great city under siege.’ The fall of Dagoska through the eyes of a young acolyte.

Two’s Company: Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp, runs into Cracknut Whirrun on a bridge over a remote canyon. Can Shevedieh persuade either of these proud heroes to step aside?

Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Three not entirely innocent bystanders are sucked into the  chaos of Monzcarro Murcatto’s vengeance.

Some Desperado: There is no honour among thieves when the outlaw Smoke finds herself being hunted down by her own comrades.

Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden: Royal Observer Bremer dan Gorst reports to the king on another ugly little skirmish as summer dies in the North.

Three’s a Crowd: It’s a foolish man who steals from the best thief in Styria, and when Horald the Finger steals her lover, it’s time for Shevedieh to stop running and start fighting. For those who work in the shadows, though, few things are ever quite as they seem…

Freedom: Being an absolutely true account of the liberation of the town of Averstock from the grip of the incorrigible rebel menace by the famous Nicomo Cosca.

Tough Times all Over: All Carcolf wants is to take her package from here to there, but in the city of fogs and whispers, there are always a dozen other rogues with their own ideas.

More news, including a reveal of the cover, when I get it…

One Week until Half a War…

Posted on July 9th, 2015 in appearances, news

Half a War comes out in the UK in hardcover, e-book and audiobook in but 7 short days.  Here be its cover…

Half a War Final HB

And here be its blurb…

Words are weapons

Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.

Only half a war is fought with swords

The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.

Sometimes one must fight evil with evil

Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

And here be some early reviews…

“The final instalment in the Shattered Sea series is the perfect ending to an outstanding YA trilogy … Joe Abercrombie has long been the master of grim and gritty fantasy, but Half a War proves that he’s got all the skills of a master romance writer. The battles are bloody, the twists are shocking, and the deaths are heartbreaking.”
– SFX

“War reaches the boiling point in the impressive conclusion … Abercrombie piles on shocking betrayals and charges his characters a high price for vengeance in this powerful and fitting final volume.”
– Publishers Weekly

“The narrative, well-sprinkled with gory action and impelled by characters at this stage not just familiar, but gratifying, moves along at a brisk clip. Best of all, the relentless intrigues, plots, and schemes bubble just below the surface.”
– Kirkus

“In his Shattered Sea saga, Abercrombie has created a series that is by shades engaging, mesmerising and jaw-dropping, possessing themes and complex characters so rarely interrogated by YA fiction.”
– Sci Fi Now

Here are the times and dates for my UK events next week, with visits to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, York, Nottingham, Ely, Colchester, London, Reading, Bristol, and the YA Literature Convention…

And over here you can find further information, the first three chapters as a sample and, oh, look at that, information on where you can preorder…

The First Law Trilogy goes into Orbit

Posted on June 30th, 2015 in announcements, artwork, news

I’m delighted to announce that in September, Orbit Books are going to be re-releasing the First Law Trilogy in the US.  They’ve been publishing the standalone books since the start, and will be publishing a collection of short stories in the same world early next year, so this will put all the First Law books under one roof. We’re working on a new cover approach for all six, but in the meantime they’ll have a contemporary twist on the original cover treatment…

Abercrombie_BladeItself-TP1

E-books should be unaffected in the short term, but availability of the physical books might be patchy in the US until these new ones hit the bookstores…

Half a War Extract

Posted on June 8th, 2015 in news

Half a War, the thrilling conclusion to my Shattered Sea trilogy, is out in but a few brief weeks, would you believe – on 16th July in the UK and 28th July in the US.  You can read the first three chapters right now just over here, on my website.  Should that give you a taste for it, you should find preorder information not that far away

Half a War

Posted on April 20th, 2015 in announcements, artwork, news

Rejoice, for the UK edition of the third and (for the time being) final book in my Shattered Sea series, Half a War now has a cover and copy. Behold:

Half a War Final HB

Words are weapons

Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.

Only half a war is fought with swords

The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.

Sometimes one must fight evil with evil

Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

And I note that, should you desire, you can pre-order in electronic or hardcover formats from the retailer of your choice over here…

The Gemmell Awards

Posted on April 10th, 2015 in news, opinion

The David Gemmell Legend Awards are entering their seventh year and have a new and improved website.  I’ve talked about the Gemmells in the past – in essence I’m a strong believer in them.  In the notion of something that celebrates Gemmell’s very considerable contribution to British fantasy.  In the notion of something that aims to involve as wide a range of voters as possible.  In the notion of having an award for full-on, commercial, epic and heroic fantasy which, despite its very great popularity, does tend to get somewhat ignored by a lot of the other SF&F prizes.  I’ve no particular problem with that, incidentally, it’s totally right and proper they should all have their own emphasis, but I see no harm in having one award that aims to celebrate the core, commercial epic fantasy which is, after all, bought, read and beloved by many.

So, please, go forth and vote. Anyone can do it. There are three categories – Legend for Best Fantasy Novel, Morningstar for Best Debut, Ravenheart for Best Cover Art and there are plenty of great books and writers on there.  There’s a first round of voting to narrow down from a lengthy long list (which includes much of the epic/heroic style fantasy published this year) to a shortlist of 5, then a second round of voting to select a winner.  I’ve often said I liked the original plan of a public vote to establish a shortlist and a jury to pick a winner, but they decided to go fully open public voting all the way and, though the Gemmells have come in for a fair bit of stick for being pointless and populist, in the light of what’s gone on with the Hugo award nominations this year, it’s suddenly looking like there’s a fair bit to be said for the Gemmell approach…

I join Adam Roberts in feeling a bit uncomfortable about the old self-pimpage, but I also think the Gemmell is in its infancy and relies to a degree on authors encouraging people through the doors so, yes, I will observe that Half a King is on the long list for the Legend this year, but I’ll keep it to a mention now and a reminder when the shortlist comes out, so I can shake my head wearily when I lose and blame it on the log-rolling rabble-rousing dirty tactics of the winner…

2014 in Review

Posted on December 31st, 2014 in announcements, appearances, film and tv, games, news, reading, reviews, whisky deathmatch

New Year’s Eve, my friends, and you know what that means?  Yes, indeed, I am 40 years old today.  You would never think I used to be young.  Truly horrifyingly, this is my 6th yearly review post. I’ll have to have a review of my best yearly review posts one of these new year’s eves…

A YEAR IN BOOKSELLING – Again, in spite of all my complaints, I really can’t complain. Partly due to the ongoing success of Game of Thrones, I’m sure, The First Law books continue to chug along very, very nicely.  I had a short story in Martin and Dozois’ highly successful Rogues anthology in June.  Then Half a King came out in July and made no. 3 on the Sunday Times hardcover list, which matches the ranking of The Heroes way back in 2010 but at a much more competitive time of year.  I toured more extensively than I ever have before, with some 15 events in the UK, all of them pretty well attended, and I did a few bookshop events down the west coast of the US for the first time too and made it to Comic Con in San Diego, to Sicily, to Lucca, and a third visit to my old friends in Aviles, Spain.

A YEAR IN BOOK WRITING – The heavy touring schedule through July and August got in the way somewhat, but even so it was a good year in the writing department too, if a pretty demanding one.  I wrote the last quarter of Half the World, revised and edited it, then wrote a first draft of Half a War, and gave it a fair hammering this month to produce a second draft that I’m starting to get happy with.  I’ve a few more things to do and another pass through focusing on the secondary characters to get to a decent third draft which I can hand in to my editors mid January, but the book’s mostly there.  Seems like only yesterday I was pitching this series to publishers and now it’s nearly done…

BOOKS – I really am hardly reading at all these days, it’s a disgrace.  When I finish Half a War I desperately need to take my foot off the gas and start reading again, hoover up some ideas and inspiration, catch up on the truly massive backlog I’ve got sitting in tottering heaps all around me. But two things I read this year that I’d certainly recommend are Kameron Hurley’s God’s War, and Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. Neither the kind of thing I write, particularly, but then who wants to piss where they eat…?

TV and FILM – Boy, the cinema has barely registered this year.  I think the only film I reviewed was Fury, which was OK but ultimately a gritty wrapper around a rather traditional, sentimental war movie.  Guardians of the Galaxy was good fun but I was a little underwhelmed after all the nerdgasms I’d seen about it – seemed like more of the Marvel same in the end, if with a few more laughs.  Gone Girl was a very well-made film but seemed a bit hamstrung by a really odd casting choice in Ben Affleck – the guy just comes across as too much of a likeable lunkhead and I felt they needed someone much darker and more dangerous to really balance the central relationship and make us unsure what was going on.  Rather than equally evil couple of bastards reap the whirlwind they sow for each other, we got mildly unpleasant idiot is totally screwed over by his psychopathic wife, and that’s a lot less interesting in all kinds of ways.  For me the TV standout was the searing climax of Breaking Bad, which has to be one of the greatest pieces of TV I’ve ever seen, about as close as you’ll get to a single 5 season story arc with novelistic coherence of theme and character.  Highly honourable mentions to a bloody, strange and gritty second season of Vikings and the punishing 3rd and 4th seasons of The Walking Dead after its slightly limited 2nd season.  Justified continues to be elevated way above its rather banal set-up by great script and acting in which every character overflows with Elmore Leonard-y detail.  Orphan Black was good largely thanks to its brilliant central multiple performance.  Suits is entertaining if a little lightweight.  The Good Wife continues to be highly watchable and always that little bit darker than you expect.  Arrow was enjoyable enough superhero hokum but fell short of its gritty ambitions.  Black Sails was enjoyable enough pirate hokum, good when it put to sea but too often foundering on land.  The 1st season of House of Cards was very strong, with a great mood and super central performances from Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, but I felt the 2nd season was a lot less believable.  Hell on Wheels sadly crashed off the rails for me in its 3rd season after an action-packed 2nd.

GAMES – Last year had some splendiferous stuff in the form of The Last of Us, Bioshock, Tomb Raider, Telltale’s Walking Dead etc. as developers pushed the last generation of consoles to their limits and stretched unused storytelling muscles while doing it.  This year began on a high with Dark Souls II, more ultra dark, ultra hard Japanese/Western hybrid roleplaying but with the difficulty softened just a little this time around.  Moving over to PS4, the results have been a little more pedestrian than last year.  Destiny was pretty and compelling and did give me a hell of a lot of gaming hours but ultimately was a slightly empty experience.  Diablo III I found rather by-the-yard-y.  Far Cry 4 good, but very much like Far Cry 3.  Which leaves Dragon Age: Inquisition as my personal game of the year.  One could criticise the gameplay, the voice acting, and the somewhat vanilla plot line, but the world, characters, detail and sense of immersion were top class.

WHISKY – Lack of time meant my planned Whisky Deathmatch: Islay Bloodfeud never happened.  Well, it happened in the sense that I drunk the whisky, I just didn’t get round to writing about it. In brief, though, bottles I’ve particularly enjoyed this year: Lagavulin 12yo cask strength (smashed in the face with a sack of burned lemons), Ardbeg Supernova 2014 (Ardbeg, only more so, and with a touch of sweetness to it), Laphroaig Triple Wood (salty medicinal goodness with a sherry-wood softening), Amrut Fusion (awesome whisky distilled in India from Scottish and Himalayan barley), Talisker 30yo cask strength (full fathom five thy father lies).

CONTROVERSIES – I noted last year that after 7 or 8 years in the business I’m getting less and less interested in the cyclical nature of genre commentary.  I’ve already expressed my opinion one way or another on most issues of note, and when they come up again, I find a world weary sigh gets across most of what I feel, an attitude reflected in my post on this year’s controversial Hugo Awards.  That’s part of the reason for the greatly reduced blog presence of late, though that’s also a function of the sheer amount of stuff I’ve got going on.  I’m finding twitter (@LordGrimdark) a better medium for general conversation, and I’m tending to use the blog only for more considerable announcements and reviews.  This relatively thin level of posting may well continue next year, because…

THE YEAR AHEAD – My, oh, my, but 2015 is shaping up to be a busy one. I’ve already got visits confirmed to Detroit in Jan, Australia in Feb, Dubai in March and St. Petersburg in April. I’ve got not one but TWO books coming out: Half the World in February and Half a War in July, the first time I’ve done a publishing schedule anything like so densely packed.  Since I toured in the UK and US only a few months back there probably won’t be a lot of events for Half the World, but expect another full-on tour in July for Half a War.  Writing-wise, I’m going to be kept fully busy until the end of February with edits and revision on Half a War, then I’ve got a few short stories to write to complete a collection which will hopefully come out some time in 2016.  It’s looking as if the main part of next year may be given over to some exciting non-book projects, of which more in due course, but I also need to lay the groundwork and do some thinking for another trilogy in the First Law world, although the publication of that looks like it will be some way off…

Happy new year, readers!

Half the World Extract

Posted on December 16th, 2014 in announcements, news

Half the World, second book in my Shattered Sea series, is out in hardcover, e-book and audiobook in the UK on February 12th and US February 17th, and you can now read the first three chapters right here.

Blurb, a couple of early reviews, further information, other options for viewing and downloading the extract, and those all important preorder options over here.