Latest News and Blog Posts
Posted on July 16th, 2014 in announcements, appearances, news
Greetings American cousins, my new book Half a King should now be available across the nation in hardcover, electronic, and audio formats. But that’s not all, for on the 22nd July I shall be flying out to be present in your country in my actual person. The main event is San Diego Comic Con, so I’m afraid there’s a West Coast flavour to my visits this time around but, fear not, I’ll hopefully be fitting in some east coast action early next year with the release of the sequel, Half the World.
Here’s the full itinerary, including my panels and signings at Comic Con:
Wednesday, July 23 – SEATTLE, WA
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
July 24 – July 27 – SAN DIEGO, CA
Thursday July 24, 4:00-5:00pm
PANEL: Putting the Epic in Epic Fantasy
Panelists: Robin Hobb, Raymond Feist, Django Wexler, Morgan Rhodes, Sam Sykes, Patrick Rothfuss, Brent Weeks
*Signing to immediately follow in Autograph Area
Friday, July 25, 11:00am-12:00Noon
SIGNING, Random House booth #1514
Saturday, July 26, 11:00am-12:00pm
SIGNING, Orbit booth #1116
Saturday, July 26, 3:00-4:00pm
SIGNING, Random House booth #1514
Saturday, July 26, 4:15-5:15pm
PANEL: Rulers of the Realm
Panelists: George R. R. Martin, Diana Gabaldon, Lev Grossman, Patrick Rothfuss
Sunday, July 27 – SAN DIEGO, CA
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
Monday, July 28 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA
866 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Tuesday, July 29 – TORRANCE, CA
Barnes & Noble
21500 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance, CA 90503
Wednesday, July 30 – SANTA FE, NM
Jean Cocteau Cinema
418 Montezuma Ave
Santa Fe, NM 87501
*event with George Martin and Cherie Priest
And THEN it’s straight on to Celsius 232 in Aviles, Spain, along with Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson, among others, with further details in due course. I shall hope to see some of you at these events…
Posted on July 15th, 2014 in announcements, news
Yes, celebrate, my cousins across the pond, for Half a King is published throughout the Land of the Free today. It’s the Sunday Times no. 3 Hardcover Bestseller that GRRM called, ‘A fast paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page one and refused to let go,’ while Robin Hobb found it, ‘Enthralling. An up-all-night read,’ and Rick Riordan said it had, ‘eye-popping twists and rollicking good action.’ I could go on, but I already have, over here. Take a look if you fancy seeing a trailer, reading an extract or further reviews or, I don’t know, maybe finding some buying options…
Posted on July 7th, 2014 in appearances
I have returned from a week of events for the UK publication of Half a King, and they went very well, I must say. On previous tours there have always been a couple of great events but a couple of … less great ones, especially with the daytime events where you’re not talking or reading, just signing. This time around the rooms were pretty much full throughout, which makes the whole business a pleasure. You’re largely reliant on the staff of the bookshop to publicise it and get people in the door, a good bookseller really making all the difference, so thanks to all the staff who helped to make the events happen, and to all the readers who turned out, not to mention my long-suffering publicist Jaime, whose unenviable task it was to get me from A to B.
HOWEVER, if you were unable to make any of last week’s events but STILL BURN TO SEE ME IN THE FLESH, I’ve got a few appearances coming up over the next couple of weeks in London, Bath and Derby:
Friday 11th July
6.00pm – Signing at Forbidden Planet London, 179 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8JR. For more information contact the store on: 020 7420 3666
Saturday 12th July
10.30am – Talk and reading at YA Lit Con/London Film and Comic Con, on the book zone main stage, followed by a signing.
Wednesday 16th July
7.30 for 8.00pm – Talk at Toppings Bath, The Paragon, Somerset BA1 5LS. Tickets are £6 and available in store or on 01225 428111
Saturday 19th July
Edge Lit festival Derby - For further details check here.
3.00pm – Panel: Are We Entering a New Era of Fantasy Fiction? Graham Edwards, Janet Edwards, Freda Warrington, Joe Abercrombie in Cinema 2
4.00pm – Guest of Honour Interview/Q&A in The Box
I’ll also be sit-down signing at some point in the day, impromptu signing at any point in the day, AND, I believe, later on, I will be presenting the Raffle. That’s right. Can’t say I ever expected to present a raffle. But it’s happening.
Hope to see some of you at one or other of these…
Posted on July 4th, 2014 in Uncategorized
Subterranean Press have produced some beautiful editions of my six First Law books already, but they’re cooking up something more than a little bit special for Half a King and its sequels, an oversize 7×10 inch hardcover printed in two colours on 80# Finch (that’s really, really good paper to the layman) and with cover and two full colour internal illustrations by Jon McCoy. Here’s the cover:
Much though I like the graphic covers on the standard UK and US editions, it’s always a thrill to see some quality representative artwork for a book as well. Jon has been a real dream to work with, some fantastic mood, movement and atmosphere in his art and I can tell you the two internal illustrations are just as good.
There are going to be 400 of the numbered hardcover and 52 of a lettered edition leather-bound in a custom tray case, and the plan is to offer a special slipcase for the three books in the trilogy once they’re completed. They’re available for preorder over here, with the typography on the cover just a guide for the time being…
Posted on July 3rd, 2014 in announcements, reviews
I am delighted to announce that the UK edition of Half a King is published today: in Hardcover, Ebook, and unabridged audiobook read by Ben Elliot.
“Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain his throne.
First he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.
The deceived will become the deceiver.
Born a weakling in the eyes of the world, Yarvi cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.
The Betrayed will become the betrayer.
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could.
Will the usurped become the usurper?
Even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, and traps and the death of a king…”
A few kind words about the book from critics and peers…
“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.”
- George RR Martin, author of A Game of Thrones
“Half a King is a remarkable achievement — thrilling, enthralling, and relentless. The action is frenetic, the characters are as sharp as the blades they wield, and the humour is biting.”
- Derek Landy, author of the Skulduggery Pleasant novels
“Abercrombie’s stellar prose style and clever plot twists will be sure to please both adult and teen readers.”
- Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Enthralling. An up-all-night read.”
- Robin Hobb, author of the Farseer novels
“I got all the grit that I love in Abercrombie, and the craft, and the character…but it never got so far as being bleak. Simply said, I think this is my favorite Abercrombie book yet. And that’s really saying something.”
- Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind
“Gripping as a bear hug, warming as a bear skin.”
- The Daily Mail
“Friends turn out to be enemies, enemies turn out to be friends; the line between good and evil is murky indeed; and nothing goes quite as we expect … With eye-popping plot twists and rollicking good action, Half a King is definitely a full adventure.”
- Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson books
“Classic Abercrombie, and yet also something unexpected — grimdark fantasy for people who aren’t necessarily very young.”
- SFX, 5 star review
And here’s the book trailer:
I’ve already done five great events on tour and there are plenty more to go, including a signing in Central London this afternoon (3rd July) from 4.30 at the wonderful Goldsboro Books, Covent Garden, where the first 100 in line will get numbered 1st Editions from a limited run of 250. But if you can’t make a signing, worry not, Waterstones up and down the country have signed stock and Amazon are offering the hardcover for a cutting-our-own-throats £5 and the kindle for £4.35. Sound good to you? You’ll find some buying options, further information and a considerable extract over here.
Posted on June 28th, 2014 in appearances, news
I leave tomorrow for a tour of the UK, and in due course the US, for the release of Half a King. Bad news if you’re a devotee of this blog. Great news if you’re a resident of Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham, London, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Bristol, Yeovil, Bath, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Santa Fe OR if you’ve got any plans to attend the YA Lit Con/London Film and Comic Con, Edge Lit Derby, San Diego Comic Con, Celsius 232 Festival in Aviles Spain or Worldcon London. Phew. I’m going to be knackered.
Further details on the UK events HERE (with a quick note that the Edinburgh event has moved from the Pleasance Theatre to Blackwells store) and on the US events HERE. Hope to see some of you out there…
Posted on June 24th, 2014 in progress
Time sure does fly.
Fair bit of progress the past couple of months, and other than a little continuing work on the secret project I can’t tell you about and probably never will be able to tell you about hence shouldn’t have mentioned, work in May and June has all been on Half a King and sequels, which are now otherwise being called the Shattered Sea books. In reverse order:
The third book, Half a War: first part of four drafted, second part planned in detail, a pretty solid rough plan for the other two parts. Hoping to get the second part drafted over July and August around the many events and touring commitments I’ve got going on for Half a King, though I know from experience it can be tough to get much done as far as writing new stuff goes while on the road. Still, if I can get most of the second part squared away by the end of August, that gives me September, October, November largely free to concentrate on getting parts 3 and 4 drafted, with a view to having a solid 2nd draft by the end of the year. That should work for a July 2015 publication date. Pretty happy with how this book’s going, generally, though it’s still early. Subsequent books in a series are usually that bit easier as you’ve got a lot of the story lines up and running and the setting defined, but these books are slightly different from what I’ve done before in that each book introduces different point of view characters. We shall see…
The second book, Half the World: Written and edited. Still needs a final pass through to consider the detail of the language before it goes for copy edit, but I should be able to get that done while on the trains around the UK at the start of July, and I’m reaching the point now where I’m very pleased with how this one has turned out. Half the World is more or less certain for a Feb 2015 release, though I don’t quite have a specific date yet.
The first book, Half a King, meanwhile, is printed, distributed, and will be released on the 3rd July in the UK, 15th July on the US. I might take the opportunity to say it’s available for pre-order on amazon at a 62% reduced cutting-my-own-throat discount price of £5 for the hardcover and £4.35 for the Kindle edition. Seems like only yesterday I was meeting with publishers to discuss the possibility of this series and now, suddenly, here it is, greeting the public. Early signs are really good, but that never stops a writer crapping their pants, of course, especially since this book is with new publishers both sides of the pond and aimed at a (slightly) different audience. Promotional work has been grinding into gear over the last couple of months – I signed 3,000 copies a few weeks back for Waterstones and other retailers, and I’ve got a fair bit more stock to sign for Goldsboro Books and others over the next couple of weeks. Few interviews and blogs been done as well, along with some talking to bookseller style events, and the UK tour kicks off on 29th June with Edinburgh and will then wend its way around England. Further details here. I’ll then be in and around the west coast of the US from the 22nd June. Further Details here. And I’ll be at Celsius 232 festival along with Brandon Sanderson and Pat Rothfuss in Aviles, Spain 1st-3rd August.
That is your progress report for June…
Posted on June 18th, 2014 in announcements, artwork
So Harper Collins have put up their book trailer for Half a King, and I think it’s really rather excellent…
I’m generally a wee bit ambivalent on Book Trailers – I think reach often exceeds grasp and you end up with slightly embarrassing live action efforts where a lot of resources have clearly been expended to make something that looks like a rubbish version of a scene from Gladiator. But Ben North and his team have done a brilliant and very canny job here, I think, going for something simple and stark and applying a lot of thought and craftsmanship to achieve a really powerful result. You might even call it a brand.
Posted on June 17th, 2014 in announcements, artwork, interviews, news
GRRM and Gardner Dozois’ latest cross-genre mega-anthology ROGUES has published in the US today, featuring stories from GRRM himself, Gillian Flynn, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Pat Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Paul Cornell, Cherie Priest and little old me, among many others. My contribution is a hefty 12,000 word novelette, as it goes, following an eventful night in the life of a whole series of disreputable inhabitants of Sipani, a few old friends among them…
In other news, Half a King is out in just two and a half weeks in the UK on the 3rd of July (bites nails) and a week and a half later in the US on the 15th of July (bites them again). I’ve got a piece up on the Waterstones blog about the genesis of the book AND there’s an interview with me at Den of Geek about writing for the (slightly) younger audience.
Hardcover copies of both are now in my possession. They definitely do exist…
UK in white, US in black, both looking rather beautiful, I would say, with silky, foil, and spot gloss finishes and all and they’re a pair of handsome hardcovers without the dust jackets too…
Posted on June 12th, 2014 in interviews
Just did an interview with Sergio Vivaldi at Italian website Portal of Dreams. You can find the italian translation over here, but Sergio came up with some really interesting and insightful questions so I thought I’d post the English version over here too. There’s been a slightly odd publication order in Italy, starting with the Heroes, then the First Law, and most recently Best Served Cold, with Red Country due soon and Half a King coming out later in the year, so the interview focuses on Best Served Cold…
SV: You built a complex society in Styria, especially when compared with the relative simplicity ofThe First Law or The Heroes. The inspiration for the social and political situation you created is renaissance Italy, and I can’t think of a better world for a bloody and gruesome revenge tale. Are there any other source of inspiration for it? And what did you change to make it fit into the same world ofThe First Law?
JA: I tended to base the cultures in The First Law loosely around some real-world historical analogue, partly to make things a little easier for me, and partly because I think it gives readers a shorthand to imagine the places and people we’re talking about. So Styria is a land of feuding city-states much like renaissance Italy, and Styrians had featured quite centrally in The First Law in various roles, though the action never went there. Nicomo Cosca was a mercenary general very much like the Condottieri Francesco Sforza or Sir John Hawkwood who held much of Italy to ransom at one time. I guess I’ve always been fascinated by the diversity of Italy during the renaissance, and the combination of simultaneous bloody upheaval and fantastic creativity in the arts, in science, in finance, in governance. Given the rich tradition of Italianate revenge stories it seemed the ideal setting for Best Served Cold. The different cities each give a slightly different feel to each part of the book, and the central quest for revenge gradually expands and is drawn into the background of Machiavellian warfare and political squabbling.
The main change? No pope. And an immortal sorcerer who gains his power by eating the flesh of men, of course…
SV: Monza Murcatto is the main character, she is a mercenary leader that you described as “ruthless, intelligent, dedicated and single-minded”. She is very complex and has a very peculiar voice, unique among all characters in your other books, at least those already published in Italy. Which side of her personality was the harder to write?
JA: Monza was a difficult character to write for many reasons, maybe the hardest time I’ve ever had with a character. Even while finishing The First Law I was conscious that it was a very male set of books set in a very male-dominated world so I was keen to try my hand at a woman in the central role. But I think, for a male writer, writing a woman does add a certain level of difficulty, as there are elements of the female experience you’re slightly guessing at, you probably have a lot of experience with how groups of men behave together but not groups of women, and that can somewhat undermine your confidence. So it’s something I’ve had to work at and continue to work at.
The First Law was also an ensemble piece, with three central characters sharing the spotlight, whereas Monza is very much the central character of Best Served Cold, and the driving force of the plot, with a lot of the story being told from her point of view, so there was a lot riding on getting her right. Plus she’s a character who comes across as very cold and hard initially, and is perhaps humanized and made more relatable as you learn more about her. That’s a more difficult trajectory to work with, I think, than an initially sympathetic character you later start to question (like Logen had been in The First Law).
So there were a whole set of factors making Monza a difficult character to write. Some of the minor, much more simple characters, like Friendly or Morveer, pretty much sprang on to the page as fully formed as they needed to be. Monza was far more complex and multi-layered, and it wasn’t until I finished a first draft that I really got a sense of how she needed to be, then it was a question of doing a lot of revision and cutting down to really get her working.
SV: Shivers is the other main character of the book, and he seems to have a lot in common with Monza at the beginning. He claims that he wants to do the right thing, become a better man, a purpose similar to Monza’s when she was planning her life once she left Orso’s service. We know what becomes of him in The Heroes since it was your first book published in Italy, but would you say that Shivers is a younger version of Monza, despite the background of the characters? Did you write Shivers with that idea in mind when you started to work on Best Served Cold?
JA: I suppose you could say that Shivers is following a similar path to the one Monza has followed – starting off optimistic and becoming gradually more cynical in a world at war. But within the book they are in some ways opposites, and follow opposite trajectories. Shivers is a man who professes to want to do good, but finds himself all too often making the easy, wrong choices and, without too many spoilers, ends up on a dark road indeed. Monza, on the other hand, is someone who has learned to present an extremely hard face to the outside world, has a truly evil reputation, but we learn over time that though she certainly can be ruthless and single minded, there is also a softer, more hidden side to her, that many of the dark acts of the past for which she is blamed were not entirely her fault, and that she is perhaps not beyond redemption.
SV: The protagonists of your novels are all anti-heroes, they are often broken in their bodies, I’m thinking of Monza and Glokta, or engaged in a race for power like Bayaz, or any other flaw you intentionally built within your characters. It is a way of reversing the most common fantasy clichés, but I wonder if the idea of crafting a more classic hero and then dropping him or her in a race for power ever crossed your mind. You started doing something like that with Jezal, but it was clear the plan was to make a parody of it from the very beginning. I have to admit a hero in one of your books would be the ultimate surprise.
JA: The fantasy I read as a kid was often full of very heroic heroes, flawless in mind and body, who have heroic motives, perform heroic actions, and achieve heroic outcomes. Who fight the good fight with absolute commitment (and often immense violence) andemerge mentally and physically unscathed. That didn’t seem to me either a particularly realistic or interesting portrayal. So I’ve always been much more interested in the flawed, the damaged, the ambiguous. My feeling is that no one is heroic in every way and in every situation, but that everyone is capable of being noble, selfless, admirable, at the right time and under the right circumstances. Heroism is all a matter of where you stand.
The Heroes was really a long meditation on exactly that notion, and presented all kinds of variations on the theme – Gorst was a peerless warrior who could turn a battle with his own prowess, but he was also a self-hating coward who could hardly bring himself to speak on behalf of his friends. Calder was a physical coward and a double-dealing rat, but he also loved his wife and his family and was able to bring about peace. Who is the hero, then? In Best Served Cold, Monza is seen as a villain by most, a figure of hatred and fear, nicknamed the Snake of Talins and the Butcher of Caprile, but in learning more about her we see many admirable qualities: loyalty, commitment, bravery, intelligence. These are the kind of heroes that interest me.
SV: Your characters change a lot in the course of your novels, usually turning into their opposite by the end, but I think you also have a lot of fun trying to show the readers just how many opposites it is possible to come up with, or at least it seems that way. It also seems acts of violence, committed or suffered, are the key to start the change. Would it be correct to say that violence is the engine of your books, the element that brings them forward? Is violence the instrument you use to shape your characters?
JA: That’s a really interesting observation. Certainly violence has always been one of my central concerns. Epic fantasy tends to be about war, or at least have war as a background, and many of its central characters are warriors, swordsmen, men of violence of one kind or another, men who do a lot of fighting. But often there is some kind of dehumanized enemy for them to face (they’re not murdering people with all the attendant difficulties, but orcs or demons who can be dispatched without conscience) and they come through not only without lasting physical injuries, but without any real emotional damage – they can carve through hordes of enemies and still be good friends, sensitive lovers, and noble kings.
I suppose my feeling was that men who are very good at killing other men with edged weapons are unlikely to make good neighbors in peacetime. That violent men are often damaged before the violence, and end up damaged a great deal more. I was keen to look at the costs and the consequences of violence. So in some fantasy stories the violence is almost incidental. It changes nothing. My characters are definitely transformed by it, transformed physically by the damage to them, transformed emotionally by the damage they’ve done. Best Served Cold is really all about the price of violence, the cost of revenge.
SV: When you published your first books some people said you were setting a new standard for fantasy literature, but you always rejected that idea. Yet, some people consider your novels as a turning point for the genre in recent years and I myself heard someone make your name during a conversation while blaming “all these new fantasy writers who just hate Tolkien”. Do you hear this kind of comments very often? And how do you deal with them?
JA: I’ve always considered myself as trying to do something similar with fantasy to what Sergio Leone did with the classic John Ford western. Or perhaps what Clint Eastwood did with the Sergio Leone western. To take a genre that has become perhaps a little formulaic, a little predictable, and try to shake it up with a new and grittier approach. A close-up, visceral approach that focuses tightly on the characters rather than the scenery. But to me it’s a little ridiculous to say that Sergio Leone doesn’t admire John Ford – of course he does. The desire to experiment, subvert, reinterpret, hopefully breathe a new and different kind of life into a genre is born out of a huge admiration and respect for a genre and its great practitioners. In the same way I don’t see myself as terribly revolutionary – I’m interested in presenting my own take on a classic form, working with the expectations and the archetypes that have developed in that form, hoefully making people think a little bit about what they expect and why.
But no doubt Leone was often harangued by fans of the classic western for perverting and debasing their noble genre. And no doubt he shrugged his shoulders and got on with it. I try to do the same…
SV: Your next book in Italy, due next fall, is Red Country. I could not read it yet, but I know there is an old friend coming back, Logen Ninefinger, and I’m so excited about it that I’m tempted to just buy it without waiting for the Italian edition. Anything else you would like to share about Red Country?
JA: Funny that we’ve just been discussing westerns, because if Best Served Cold is an Italianate gangster revenge story, and The Heroes a war story, then Red Country is my take on the western. It’s set in the same world asThe First Law, of course, so no six shooters or stetsons, but it takes place in a lawless border area, a wilderness into which civilization is just starting to expand at the expense of the indigenous people, and it features my takes on a lot of classic western archetypes: standoffs in windswept streets, wagon trains, gold rushes, tough settlers facing the unforgiving wilderness, and, yes, used up men of violence drawn back into their bloody ways…
SV: Your next books are moving forward and leaving the world and characters you started with: this summer Half a King will be released and I heard there is another novel following it that takes place in the same world. Looking at the reviews coming from ARCs, it looks like Half a King will be another amazing book. Any plan on what’s next?
JA: Half a King is the first of a trilogy of shorter, tighter books taking place in a different, Viking-inspired world and aimed in part at younger readers, though I hope they’ll still give my established readers everything they expect from a book of mine (a little less swearing, maybe). It comes out in July in the UK and US and I’m very excited to see how it goes down. Those three will all be published within a year, then there’ll be a collection of my short fiction in the world of The First Law released hopefully in early 2016. After that, a bit of a break, I think, then it will probably be another adult trilogy set in The First Law world.
SV: Thanks for your time and good luck with your next books, I am looking forward to reading and reviewing them on my blog.
JA: Thanks a lot for your insightful questions. It’s been a pleasure…