Joe Abercrombie (author of The First Law series, which starts with The Blade Itself) writes books for the George R. R. Martin fan who is ready to see what happens when someone looks at Game of Thrones and says, “It’s good, but it could stand to be way darker and more violent. Also, it would be great if the characters could be achingly wonderful and human, and if really horrible things could happen to them.” If you are not a fan of the grimmer side of fantasy, then this book will not be your cup of tea. Unless you like your cup of tea to try to destroy you and everything you love on a regular basis. (And, if so, you have a really weird relationship with your tea.)
These are not books of redemption or the inevitable triumph of good over evil. And yet, they are wonderfully worthwhile. There is exhilaration in watching the characters face down their demons, both internal and external, without the usual fantasy comfort that they will find a way to win somehow. These characters often lose their battles. Or worse, win them, and find that their heart’s desire is the worst fate of all. Did I mention that they are also laugh out loud funny, when they are not ripping your guts out (and sometimes when they are)?