Tag Archives: Joe Abercrombie

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie Audiobook

The HeroesI’m really enjoying listening to the audiobook version of Joe Abercrombie‘s The Heroes at the moment. I actually signed up for an Audible subscription as I tend to walk about an hour a day to and from work and I thought that it would be a good use of my time – that way I can probably listen to another book or two every month as well as the physical copy that I’m reading.

Seems to be working out quite well. The Heroes is about 21 hours long so quite long for an audiobook, but it’s really well narrated by Michael Page – some really good character voices really bring the story alive, although I’m sure reading it would as well, but you can’t always tell how different the experience would be.

Enough said about that, now about the book itself and why I’m liking it. Well I think partly its the humour – I have actually laughed out loud a few times while listening to it, so probably looked like a complete idiot as I was walking through the streets of London. Also it’s a great subject and probably one that Abercrombie was dying to write about I imagine as I think a lot of men do – basically here we have in great detail the story about a battle – the lead-up, the characters who will take part etc. So far I have only listened to a few hours, and it looks like we’re about to have an initial skirmish between two scouting parties. I think this is a really interesting representation of what war and battle is like – random events escalating to lead to other events, not really in the control of the opposing commanders – see War and Peace for another really good interpretation of this.

I guess this is a boy’s own book in a way – most boy’s being interested in battles after all. And for that it’s great fun and the kind of book that I’m sure a lot of boys/men would love to read or write. Me included.

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The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie: Sneak Preview and Back Cover Copy

I feel awfully late picking up on this, but there’s a new Joe Abercrombie book in the works called The Heroes. It won’t be out until January 2011, so expect lots of teaser material until then from Joe and his publishers Orion Books.

Here’s a bit to be going on with:

Firstly a sneak preview at the Orion Books site of the first chapter. While Joe himself promises a longer extract in due course.

And secondly the back cover copy:

They say Black Dow’s killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbour, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they’ve brought a lot of sharpened metal with them.

Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honour on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he’s far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Even if it’s his own.

Prince Calder isn’t interested in honour, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he’ll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Just as long as he doesn’t have to fight for it himself.
Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins any more, he just wants to do the right thing. But can he even tell what that is with the world burning down around him?

Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts, or even the strongest arms that prevail.

Three men. One battle. No Heroes.

Three men. One battle. No Heroes.

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Favourite Fantasy Fiction Characters: Logen Ninefingers (aka the Bloody Nine)

This is the start of a regular series of posts about favourite characters from fiction. First up one of the vividly realised characters at the centre of Joe Abercrombie‘s First Law Trilogy.

Logen Ninefingers (aka the Bloody Nine) is a mercenary and ex Northmen military leader. He’s a berserker with a brain, and as his name suggests is missing one of pinkies. Abercrombie seems to have a thing for physical impairment (see the next instalment in this series – answers on a postcard if you can guess who it might be!). Perhaps it’s a symbol of his characters being damaged goods psychologically as well as physically. Logen starts the trilogy as an outcast from the North and also from the mercenary band that he used to lead, but he ends up a hero and reunited with his old comrades that he used to lead. For me there are three classic Logen moments – one at the beginning of The Blade Itself, where he looks like he’s a gonner – disappearing down a muddy slope if memory serves me right, the second is a Helms Deep style affair where he and his old comrades and a small makeshift army defend a wall at the end of a mountain valley against superior numbers – very Gemmell this I think? Then lastly he fights the demonic champion of the new king of the north, and goes into a berserk killing frenzy as he does so.

I like him because he’s a classic hero – brave and strong and good at what he does. But he’s not cheesy and predictable – he is hated by his former comrades and he is very much an unwilling hero as well at the beginning of the trilogy.

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Dragon Page interview with Joe Abercrombie

An interesting interview with Joe Abercrombie (author of The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument Of Kings), over at Dragon Page.

The interview is mildly diverting, although as a fan I found it quite disappointing that at least one of the interviewers had not read the book? Where have you been? And why are you going into an interview without any knowledge of the book? If I was the author I wouldn’t be too chuffed!
Ah well, any publicity is good publicity they say.
On the plus side the style and presentation of these shows is very slick – very much like listening to a radio show in fact.

Finish Your Plotlines But Not Before They Are Hanged

One of the common issues for the second book of a trilogy is how it will keep the plot going and develop the characters ready for a good ending in the third book. Often you see the cause of good suffer a number setbacks so that the odds are really stacked against them for the end of the trilogy – think Two Towers and Empire Strikes Back for instance.
Joe Abercrombie’s Before They Are Hanged continues the plot lines established in the first book and does a good job of bridging the gap for the third book. However, I think there is a clear case that probably only one of the plotlines narrated in this book is really necessary. The other two feel like padding. The events of the narrative do more to build character, which is important, but very little actually really seems to happen that changes anything for the overall story. I’m not going to give any more detail on which plots accomplish this or don’t as that might necessitate too much description of what happens at the end of the book. I’d like to say now that this is still an immensely enjoyable read. Abercrombie again is brilliant at characterisation of his main characters and describing very tangicble and dangerous scenes for them. In the context of a trilogy I’m just not sure how strong the book is. However, I suspect that this is quite a common problem for any story that has to be wedged into the trilogy structure by unimaginative publishers.
So what plot lines are continued in this title:

Bayaz and his party venture to a new continent and across the steppe via ancient ruined cities looking for something that will defeat the rogue Magi who threatens the world. The most interesting part here is the development of the Luthar character and the relationship between Logen Ninefingers and Ferro.  Say one thing about Logen Ninefingers, say he’s a memorable character.

In Angland Union forces fight against the invasion of Bethod’s forces. This chapters featuring this plot contain some excellent battle scenes and is probably my second favourite part of the book.

But probably the best features Glotka who arrives in Daroska to find out what happened to the last Superior and get the defences sorted out in preparation for attack by the Gurkish. He does well in pulling things into shape although he annoys the ruling council in the process. All the while he is worrying about his possible fate if he fails, providing his own commentary nearly everytime he speaks to another character. “Found floating face down in the docks” is how he imagines his death being reported if he puts a foot wrong with his superior, Arch Lector Sult.

All in all a good book and a good read, but not sure if it was all really necessary in the grand scheme of things.

Orcs – No the cover looks good but the writing is awful

It’s sad when books like Orcs seem to get hyped on their covers, when the actual writing is so sub-standard. I got taken into reading the first of these books and was soooo disappointed. It shows what power publishers can have if they get the marketing right I suppose. Seemed to work as well with James Barclay – the covers look great, but the content is pretty dull fantasy formula – again similar gritty fighting stuff like Nicholls, but not very well written and boring to read plot wise – just very hackneyed. I think these writers are trying to be like the master of this sort of epic fantasy, but failing.

One guy I have just started reading, Joe Abercrombie, succeeds very well. Its not because the themes and plot are particularly dazzling though, its the immediacy of the description that really makes the characters and the atmosphere come alive. You can feel the mud seeping into your boots!