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Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law Paperback – March 14, 2017
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"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
About the Author
- Publisher : Orbit; Reprint edition (March 14, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316390828
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316390828
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.38 x 0.88 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #60,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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I'd rate two-thirds of the stories (especially the ones with the thief and the warrior-priestess) as good to excellent. The remaining third are just okay. There's a fair amount of humor in most of these stories, but some are just grimdark and one, in particular (the courtesan in the Best Served Cold intersection) is just sad, sad, sad.
I think that this is a must-read for Abercrombie fans, but don't expect too much. Some of these stories were never intended to be seriously published (appearing in fanzines and the like) and it shows. The best of them, though, are as good as Abercrombie gets.
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…
Some of the stories were better than others, which is always the case with anthologies. I'd been excited to read the first story, about Salem Rews and Sand dan Glokta several years before The Blade Itself was set. It turned out to be more of a snapshot than much of a story, though. It was clear that it was about to lead into the events that turned Glokta into the man he would become, but it wasn't about that. It was just a look at what kind of person Glokta was before. Interesting, but I wanted more.
I enjoyed the introduction of Whirrun of Bligh, before anyone knew much about him. He's a fun character, and the end of that story was one of those really perfect endings.
The story of Nicomo Cosca through rose colored glasses was amusing at first, but ultimately it didn't work for me. He was one of my favorite characters to read, throughout the series, one of the more complicated, interesting characters. Reading such a delusional, deceptive view of him was funny, at first, but then it quickly just became tiresome and I found myself bored.
My favorite stories were the ones about Shev and Javre. I felt he put most of his character development effort in there. There was humor and there was introspection, and everything about them was really enjoyable. Their friendship was the best thing about the book. My one complaint is the placement in the timeline of "Tough Times All Over," which didn't make a lot of sense to me. I felt that the events in "Three's a Crowd" would've worked much better if they'd come after "Tough Times All Over," chronologically. It almost looks like a mistake, although where Abercrombie is concerned I assume that what he does is usually intentional, so maybe he meant to show the lack of character development as a comment on their personal flaws. I'm not sure how I feel about it.
I would absolutely recommend this book to any fan of the First Law setting. I would not suggest it as an introduction to his work, though. Read some of the First Law books first, and then come to this if you enjoy that.
Top reviews from other countries
It is with much regret that I can say this book is a blatant cash-grab. A bunch of disjointed stories over the course of many years of specific moments of characters we know, or of new characters that are hard to care about. Clearly the Abercrombie "soul" is there, but it's a bunch of short stories that I believe were edited out of previous books and someone told Mr. Abercrombie he could turn them to profit.
Avoid, even if you're a fan.
I'm 75% through the book, and I'm struggling with the disjointed nature of it. I know they are a collection of short stories, but I was hoping for a little more interaction and cross over between stories. One story line even covers 15 years.
I have tried to accept and value each little story on their own, but I don't have enough time to invest emotionally in the characters to care about what happens to them.
It has been entertaining to hear about some characters from the original series.
I don't hate this but any means, I'm Just disappointed. If you loved the First Law series, I'm sure you'll enjoy this.