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Posted on July 27th, 2015 in film and tv

Sons of Anarchy Season 7: Sons of Anarchy has been a frustratingly mixed bag for me right from the start.  At its best it’s been tough and twisty as a mean rattler with some great characters and jaw dropping shocks.  At its worst it’s been nonsensical, melodramatic, and really quite silly.  Without Ron Perlman’s gravelly presence to counterbalance idealistic Charlie Hunnam there’s a sense that the Harleys may be running on empty as this final season commences. The engines do start to rev after a while, and it builds up to a suitably Hamlet-like bloodbath in the penultimate episode, but just when you’re thinking they might end in a gritty fireball, it retreats into a disappointingly sentimental swan song. Compared to the savage and uncompromising ending of The Shield, with which it shares a lot of great writers and actors, Sons of Anarchy ends up looking decidedly lightweight.

Sense8 Season 1: The Wachowskis have been responsible for some brilliant stuff (1st Matrix) and some risible stuff (other Matrixes (Matrices?)) so let’s say I didn’t have particularly high hopes for their foray onto Netflix. To begin with it seemed more risible than brilliant, but after a couple of episodes I was curious, and after eight or nine I must admit I was loving it despite myself. The science-fictional premise, of groups of super-evolved humans able to communicate and share skills over vast distances is kinda nonsense, but the wonderfully diverse characters and human dramas are (mostly) great. Don’t know how it’ll develop, as I’m really not that arsed about them teaming up to fight an evil governmental telepathic mega-corporation, but, much to my surprise, I could sit and watch them comfort, advise, and develop deep feelings for one another all day…

Vikings Season 3: Yes, yes, and thrice yes. The scale increases as history’s shiftiest and most piercing-eyed barbarians lay siege to Paris while the even shiftier King Egbert tightens his grip on Saxon England.  Treachery, violence and great antiheroic characters abound, tempered by historical detail though not too much historical detail, strong visual style and some nice takes on spirituality. It’s great.

Black Sails Season 2: After a very mixed first season it feels as though the producers hauled this one into dry dock and gave it a thorough going over, tossing out the weak and focussing on the strengths to very positive effect.  Things move at breakneck pace now, with shocking twists, explosive deaths, alliances that shift on the wind, a lot more sea based action, and a general focus on shit blowing up. Yaaaarrrr me hearties.

Peaky Blinders Seasons 1 and 2: Stone the crows but this series about Brummy gangsters just come back from fighting in the 1st World War and with big plans to found a criminal empire across Her Majesty’s not so green and pleasant land is a bit of alright.  Excellent performances all around, including a ruthless, calculating Cillian Murphy, a ruthless, sanctimonious Sam Neill and a ruthless, lunatic Tom Hardy. Punctilious period detail is combined with a  modern soundtrack and visual style to produce something thoroughly original and arresting, and with only six episodes a season it keeps the forward drive and never outstays its welcome. Recommended.

Hell on Wheels Season 4: I enjoyed the first couple of seasons of this tough western following gritty railroad man cum confederate survivor Cullen Bohannen as he struggles to keep the Union Pacific headed west while looking handsome yet grizzled and maintaining the right balance of threat and nobility.  I thought the 3rd season lost its way, to be honest, but this fourth one gets things back on the right track.  It starts a little slowly, with Cullen captured by Mormons, but before you know it there are megalomaniac carpetbaggers turning up from Washington, Irish gangsters arriving from New York, and southern psychopaths tracking up from Mexico, culminating in some of the most grimdark few episodes of TV I can remember seeing. This shit is bleak. Like, people-sitting-on-coffins-screaming-out-their-mindless-hatred-of-an-uncaring-god-that-made-the-world-this-way bleak.  Bleak.  But actually very good, and promising a cracking finale in the next season…

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…

SFX on Half a War

Posted on June 23rd, 2015 in reviews

SFX, the world’s biggest SF&F magazine, have spoken on the forthcoming Half a War, and they have spoken 5 starrily:

“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.”

As it happens, SciFi Now also have an early review, and they quite liked it too…

“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.”

Less than a month to go now … Half a War is out in the UK on 16th July and the US on 28th July. Further details, an extract, and preorder information over here…

Bloodborne

Posted on June 13th, 2015 in games

Yes indeed, more hard to understand and even harder to play but nonetheless unique and rewarding dark fantasy roleplaying action from From Software, the guys who crushed my heart with Demons Souls, Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 (I actually managed to complete that, one of my proudest achievements).

Once again you are a nameless individual dropped ignorant into the midst of a gloomy world in terminal decay following a hinted-at catastrophe that has left civilisation in tatters, humanity a few last mutated lunatics surrounded by monsters. Stylings have shifted from classic medieval-ish with a twist to more Victorian gothic with a smear of eldritch, the classic fantasy  dialled down and the horror considerably up, but you’re still pretty much one lone outcast struggling desperately to survive in a world there can be no saving.

Gameplay is, once again, horribly unforgiving and requires superhuman persistence, but where Dark Souls encouraged iron caution and care, Bloodborne rewards a more agile and aggressive approach which makes things perhaps a little less gruelling.  I say a little, because this is still among the hardest game experiences out there.  The sense of crushing gloom and the frustration of repeated death can be tough to get through, but it does give a real sense of achievement when you navigate a difficult section to open up a vital shortcut or finally overcome a troublesome boss.  Several times I was tempted to cast my joypad aside, but each time I was dragged back in by the great design and the way the game unfolds itself.  You couldn’t say it has a narrative in any traditional sense, but the way offhand hints build up a vague sense of the background is intriguing. An object lesson in less is more world building – it’s about the notes you don’t play, as Miles Davis had it. We begin in relatively familiar survival horror Resident Evil style territory, in a city besieged by zombified infected, but as we pass through beautifully imagined ruined temples, haunted forests and abandoned universities of the dark sciences, things get stranger and stranger until we’re in full-on Lovecraftian nihilistic cosmos territory.

More casual gamers are going to find this a baffling and frustrating experience, but the patient will be rewarded by a dark and fascinating vision of a world gone mad…

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

Go Vote

Posted on June 3rd, 2015 in announcements

Yes, I will admit, it’s a little late to encourage you to exercise your democratic right in the UK General Election, especially if you happen not to be a British citizen, but wherever you are in the world (or the wider cosmos, for that matter), you can still have your say in the winner of this year’s David Gemmell Legend Award, for the lengthy longlists have been narrowed down to shortlists of five contenders in each category:

Legend (Novel)
  • Half a King by Joe Abercrombie (HarperCollins)
  • Valour by John Gwynne (Pan Macmillan/Tor UK)
  • Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence (HarperCollins)
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)
  • The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks (Orbit)
Morningstar (Debut)
  • Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot)
  • The Godless by Ben Peek (Pan Macmillan/Tor UK)
  • The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley (Pan Macmillan/Tor UK)
  • Age of Iron by Angus Watson (Orbit)
Ravenheart (Cover)
  • Laura Brett for The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Gollancz)
  • Mike Bryan for Half a King (HarperCollins)
  • Jason Chan for Prince of Fools (HarperCollins)
  • Sam Green for Words of Radiance (Gollancz)
  • Jackie Morris for The Fool’s Assassin (HarperCollins)

Some good books on there and some great authors, with the obvious exception of Brent Weeks who all right-thinking people know to be the devil in human shape.  The Gemmell is still getting established and relies on getting as wide a public vote as possible, so do go vote.  You could vote for Half a King if you wanted.  You could vote for something else.  I think you’re crazy, but you could.  You could maybe even read some of the books in question and compare them one with another on what ever criteria should please you.  Jared from Pornokitsch is going to be doing that very thing over the coming weeks and he usually talks a lot of sense, so you could always just go see what he thinks about it.

But, in any case, VOTE.

Konigsschwur and German Events

Posted on May 27th, 2015 in appearances

I’m going to be visiting Germany for the first time (other than a lightning overnight visit to the Frankfurt book fair last year) in June.  Only a couple of events in Berlin and Stuttgart this time around, I’m afraid, at the Otherland Bookstore in Berlin and at the Dragon Days Festival in Stuttgart, but I will be in Germany

Wednesday 17th June

7.30PM – Reading, Talk and Signing (probably in English), with Otherland Buchhandlung, Tel: 030-69505117, www.otherland-berlin.de, at DTK-Wasserturm, Kopischstraße 7, 10965 Berlin-Kreuzberg

Thursday 18th June

8.00PM – Dragon Days Festival award ceremony, with Reading, Talk and Signing (probably in German and English), Literaturhaus Stuttgart, Großer Saal, Breitscheidstraße 4, 70174 Stuttgart, http://www.dragondays.de/

I’ll be reading from Half a King, which is the book most recently translated into German (as Konigsschwur), but as far as question and answer goes, I’ll talk about whatever you like, and I’ll try to sign anything you bring (with the usual proviso that it’s only good manners to buy something at the shop who’s hosting the event).  Hope to see some of you there…

Half a War UK Tour

Posted on May 8th, 2015 in announcements, appearances

Half a War is out in the UK on the 16th July, and I will be a-touring in Scotland and England once again that week.  We’re trying to take in a few places we didn’t reach last time, including Preston, just down the road from Lancaster where I grew up…

Sunday 12th July

1.00PM – Signing at Waterstones, 128 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4AD. For more information please contact the store on 0131 226 2666

6.30PM – Talk at Waterstones, Glasgow Newton Mearns, 38 Avenue Centre, Newton Mearns, G77 6EYTickets are free but do need to be reserved in advance through Waterstones Newton Mearns or on 0141 6163933

Monday 13th July

1.00PM – Signing at Waterstones, Unit 1.23A, Metrocentre, Gateshead, NE11 9YG. For more information please contact the store on 0191 460 5910

7.00PM – Talk at Waterstones, 15 Coney Street, York YO1 9QL. Tickets are £3 for loyalty card holders and available in store or by telephone on 01904 620784

Tuesday 14th July

12.30PM – Signing at Waterstones 93-97 Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 5JS. For more information please contact the store on 0113 244 4588

 6.30PM – Talk with Waterstones 3-5 Fishergate, Preston, PR1 3LJ at Foster Building, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Corporation Street, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HE. Tickets are £5/£3 for loyalty card holders and available from Waterstones Preston or by telephone on 01772 555766

Wednesday 15th July

12.30PM – Signing with Waterstones, 1/5 Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham, NG1 2GR. For more information please contact the store on 0115 9470069

7.30PM – Talk with Toppings, 9 High Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4LJ at St Peters Church Ely. Tickets are £6/7  (redeemable against the book) and available in store or by telephone on 01353 645005

Thursday 16th July

12.30PM – Signing at Waterstones 12-13 High Street, Colchester, CO1 1DA. For more information please contact the store on 01206 561307

7.00PM – Talk with Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DT. For tickets and more information please contact the store on 020 7437 5660

Friday 17th July

12.30PM – Signing at Waterstones, 12 Holy Brook Mall, The Oracle, Reading, RG1 2AQ. For more information please contact the store on 0118 950 3400

6.00PM – Signing at Forbidden Planet, Clifton Heights Triangle West, Bristol, BS8 1EJ.

Sunday 19th July

The Young Adult Literature Convention, Olympia, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX

2.30PM – Writing for Stage and Screen with Joe Abercrombie

3.15PM – Book Signing at YALC

Early hardcover copies of Half a War will, of course, be available at all these events along with all my other books.  I’ll also be appearing at the YA Lit. Con at London Film and Comic Con, but I’m not sure yet exactly when.  When we do know there may also be an extra event or two, we shall see…

Lunchtime events tend to be signings of a queue up and get your book signed variety, evening events tend to be ticketed and follow a short talk, reading, Q&A style format, followed by signing.  It would be only good manners to buy something from the store that’s hosting, but if you bring other books of mine to sign I’ll do my very best to oblige you. If you bring a lot of books (typically meaning you’re a dealer and are going to sell them) or have extravagant requests above and beyond simple signing and dedication, you might have to join the back of the queue and wait for the end.  We are somewhat at the mercy of the various shops’ staffing policies, so can’t absolutely promise to get to everything, but we certainly will try.

Medio Rey (and other Spanish events)

Posted on May 6th, 2015 in Uncategorized

The Spanish edition of Half a King, Medio Rey, is published tomorrow, May 7th by Penguin Random House’s new SF&F imprint Fantascy:

CEQbyp2WIAAjcLY.jpg-largeThere’s also going to be a Catalan edition in due course, I believe. I’m going to be in Barcelona to meet bloggers and booksellers and do some interviews, and will be signing on the evening of the 20th May at the famous Gigamesh bookstore, where they already apparently have a reasonable selection of my work in translation…

CEULZEAWYAABGiH

Now that’s what I call a fantasy section. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there, but in the meantime for Spanish speakers among you there’s a translation of an interview I did with my Italian translator, Edoardo Realti, over here