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Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law Paperback – March 14, 2017
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"Pointed, driven, and sharp."―Locus on Red Country
"Terrific fight scenes, compelling characters (some familiar, some new), and sardonic, vivid prose show Abercrombie at the top of his game."―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on Red Country
"Magnificent, richly entertaining"―Time on The Heroes
"Imagine The Lord of the Rings as directed by Kurosawa."―Lev Grossman, Wall Street Journal on The Heroes
"[Abercrombie has] begun breaking his own rules. And succeeding wildly at it. ... [R]arely has Abercrombie had so much fun while rollicking through his colorful cast's foibles and witty dialogue - and rarely has he dished out so much straight-for-the-heart poignancy."―The A.V. Club
"New, fresh, and exciting."―The Independent (UK)
"Exhilarating... Abercrombie's knack for wit and grit holds your attention throughout, and his eye for character means that there's heart as well as muscle."―SFX (UK)
"Abercrombie writes fantasy like no one else."―Guardian
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Joe Abercrombie, the self-styled “Lord Grimdark” took the fantasy world by storm in the mid-2000s with his First Law trilogy. Part epic fantasy, part satirical deconstruction of Lord of the Rings, and part black comedy, the trilogy introduced us to Abercrombie’s snarky, endearing, and at times utterly horrific menagerie of characters. It will make you laugh, it will make you blanch, and in the end it will leave you with complete emotional exhaustion.
The term “grimdark” is a tricky phrase. It means different things to different people. Abercrombie writes a dark world, true, but the moments of genuine beauty and the goodness that human beings are capable of shine through that much brighter for all the muck and grit that covers things. The Circle of the World is a place where being a good man or woman is very hard. But people still try. Sometimes they fair, sometimes they succeed, but the struggle is what makes you root for them. Words like “good” and “evil” often have no place as value judgments in Abercrombie’s world. To paraphrase Logen Ninefingers, sometimes it’s just a matter of where you’re standing.
In addition to the First Law trilogy, Abercrombie wrote three stand-alone novels set in the same world, bringing his unique Tolkien-meets-Tarantino flavor to the revenge story, war story, and frontier western genres. Sharp Ends is a collection of short stories that’s pans across his entire First Law timeline, the first coming before the beginning of The Blade Itself, and the last taking place after the end of Red Country. We see some old familiar faces, and are introduced to some new ones as well. These stories have the same combination of comedy, tragedy, violence, and brutality that makes Abercrombie’s other work so brilliant. The cast of characters is diverse, and real in such a profound way that I honestly don’t know how he manages to keep pumping them out.
Sharp Ends is the best fantasy collection that I’ve read since George R.R. Martin’s cross-genre anthology, Rogues (which also featured Abercrombie’s Nebula Award winning story, Tough Times All Over). In addition to Tough Times All Over I also have to praise A Beautiful Bastard, Made a Monster, and Some Desperado, though all of these stories are worth the price, and all of them have their own sharp ends…
Hoping for more in this world in between First Law and Heroes. Feels like a lot happened that we are missing.
As expected, solid effort and high reward.
As always, well written, utterly enjoyable and leaves me thirsty for more!