The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie – Review

Series rating: 4.25/5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, grimdark

Author: Joe Abercrombie

Synopsis Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.


This was my first Joe Abercrombie series and as you can tell, I really liked it. This series is the paragon of grimdark, so if you’re looking for any shred of redemption or happy ending, look elsewhere. But if you’re up for some grimness and some darkness, look no further.

My favourite book in the series was the first one. The other two were a bit too long and got boring at times. I feel like there were some scenes that could have been cut out without any damage to the story and would have streamlined it a little. But they were still 4/5 star reads. My main complaint with the series overall is that by the end of it, we don’t understand much more about the world and magic system than when we begin. And within the narrative, that makes sense. None of the POV characters had any reason or opportunity to learn much about it. But I just wish we got more, because I really love magic systems and I would have liked to understand this one more. Especially that so much was hinted at. We do learn some things, but not nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity.

The characters were all pretty horrible people. I can’t really think of any one of them that could count as decent. Except for Jezal, who actually becomes half decent by the end of the series. But the rest of them either stay the same, or become even worse. Having said that, they are thoroughly enjoyable characters. I was absolutely invested in their lives and what happens to them and horrible as they are, I was actually rooting for them. Glokta is my favourite. His narrative is just the funniest. He’s got a bone dry wit that’s just so entertaining to read. He’s also probably the most obviously despicable of the lot, since he often tortures people he knows to be innocent.

As I said before, I thought the world was really interesting, but I do wish it had been explored more. There are some things that are mentioned or briefly glossed over which sound so interesting. I’d have loved to see more of them. But I know that they wouldn’t have served to drive this story forward. It’s not necessary to understand them for the purposes of this story. I also really liked the plot itself. It’s definitely more political than it is martial, so I can’t really call it action packed, but that’s not to say we don’t get to see our fair share of battles. I think the second book is the most action-y of them. But as I said, the series focuses more on the politicking and power dynamics of war than on the actual sword-slashy bit. Which for me is very enjoyable because I do like political plots. But it’s something to bear in mind while reading it, because I know some people prefer their fantasy more action-y.

The ending was adequately grim. It almost felt like it took all the classical happy-endings we’re used to seeing and put a nasty twist on them. Which is exactly what I was expecting and anything less would frankly have been disappointing. So all in all, I really liked this series, but it is bleak, violent and full of awful, irredeemable characters. So I don’t think it’s for everyone, but if those kinds of stories seem up your alley, then this is definitely a good series for you.

Top 10 sequels I read in 2018

It may come as no surprise to you that I am pretty bad about reading sequels. But actually in 2018, I did quite well on that front. So much so that talking about all of the sequels I read would be too much. Therefore, here is a top 10 list of sequels I read last year.


10. Golden Son by Pierce Brown

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I started this series in 2018 and got as far as the second book. I put this series off for years and I shouldn’t have, because I ended up really enjoying it. I listened to both of them on audio and I think they work really well as audiobooks. I enjoyed the narration. This series is so action packed and it keeps you constantly on your toes. But anyway, to talk specifically about this book, I felt like it’s not as good as the first one. I think the pacing for it is a bit off, so while there’s still so much going on, it feels slow at times. But it was still a thoroughly enjoyable book, and I fully intend to continue on with this series.

9. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. I read Cinder I think in 2015, so quite some time ago and I really enjoyed it. But then I just never continued with the series. I was a little bit worried going into this that I had outgrown the series. I just found myself reaching less for YA and more for adult books recently. So I was a bit worried. But what do you know, I ended up loving it even more than the first book. I like Scarlet more than I like Cinder and I definitely liked the love interest more than the one in Cinder. It was also a lot more fun I feel like. Cinder followed the main story-line of Cinderella very closely, but this kinda took Little Red Riding Hood in an unexpected direction and I really enjoyed that. I think I actually got around to reviewing this, so if you want to read more of my thoughts, check that out.

8. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

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I started this series in 2017 and immediately picked up the second book. However, it took me quite some time to get through this book and not just because it’s massive. I picked it up at a time when I wasn’t really in the mood for it. Despite that, I still really love this series. I loved some of the new characters we were introduced to. There were pirates and cons and friendship and it’s just such a great series guys. I did feel like this particular installment could have been better paced. There was a bit in the middle where it kind of lagged, but overall, a fantastic book. I’ve also reviewed this one, so check that out for more of my thoughts.

7. The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson

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I was not expecting this sequel. I read the first book a couple of years ago and thought it was hilarious. I had no idea there was a sequel coming out, and indeed the author hadn’t planned a sequel. But I was delighted when I walked into a Waterstones one day and saw it. I obviously picked it up and I was not disappointed. Jonas Jonasson is hilarious, his books are so up my alley. The humour is so dry and dark, but also very self aware. And somehow, his books manage to be both super fun and super informative. I just cannot recommend his books enough.

6. Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

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I started this series in the first half of the year and it’s become one of my favourite. It’s so dark. Joe Abercrombie has no mercy, pulls no punches, and has created a world and characters that are fascinating and a story so gripping that I just want to know what happens next. All of the characters are super flawed. They’re all pretty bad people, but they’re great. I love them all. I’m currently reading the third book in this series and I just can’t wait to see where it goes. I am officially a Joe Abercrombie fan now.

5. Our Dark Duet by V. E. Schwwab

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It’s no secret that I absolutely love Victoria Schwab. This series man. In all fairness, I did prefer the first book to the second one, but this was still a fantastic book. I’m not normally a huge fan of urban fantasy, but the world she’s created in this series is awesome and so unique. I loved this book because it expanded on the world and we got to see different cities where the magic was slightly different. I wish it had been expanded even more. I sincerely hope she writes more in this world, maybe with some of the side characters from this series, because there is so much that could be explored and I am here for it. You can check out my review of the series if you want to know more of my thoughts.

4. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

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This is not so much a sequel as it is a companion novella, but I want to talk about it, because it’s such a wonderful, strange little book. Auri is my little precious bean. I can relate to her probably more than to any other character in this series. I love Kvothe, I think he’s a great character, but Auri is precious. I will fight anyone who throws shade on her. This story spoke to me so much, I may have even cried. I put it off for so long because I didn’t want to not have any more Kingkiller books to read. But I finally read it. And it was everything I wanted it to be.

3. Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

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Mark Lawrence is another author I discovered in 2018 and is now one of my favourite authors. I’ve read three of his books this past year, but this series is one of the best fantasy series that I’ve read in a long time. It’s about magical assassin nuns. Just that should tell you a lot. But it’s so dark. And the characters are all flawed. I love Nona, the main character, she is so deeply flawed, but also such a loyal character. And I feel like loyalty and friendship are just not explored enough in books. And I live for that. But aside from the characters, whom I love, the world is so cool and unique; the magic system is fascinating. I just adore this series. I love everything about it and I can’t wait for the next book. Just give it to me already. I also audiobooked this series and the audiobooks are brilliant. I love the narrator.

2. Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

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I read both the second and third books in rapid succession and both possibly would have qualified for this list, but I wanted to talk about other series as well. I liked this one more than the second one, so I picked it. This was one of the best finales to a series that I have ever read. Brandon Sanderson is just amazing. I’m 100% here for all of his books after this finale. I was literally in awe at how he pulled all of the little threads together, the foreshadowing alone just blew my mind. I don’t know what I was expecting from the series, but it was not this. It constantly kept me guessing and tricked me and ugh, I cannot explain to you how much I love this series. I have a series review for this so go check that out for more of my thoughts.

1. The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

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I had to give number one to this finale because it was perfect. And it tore my heart out and shredded it to little pieces. I cried guys. I still think about this and all the feels it evoked. I am the least maternal person in the world, but I had such mum feels reading this. It moved me. This whole series is phenomenal: the characters, the world, the story, the writing, just everything. I’ve reviewed the series, I have a spoiler free review and a spoilery rave, so just read those if you want to hear all of my thoughts on the series. But this finale broke me. And I’m still not over it. It’s been like 8 months since I read it. Maybe more. Still not over it.

November-December 2018 Wrap Up

The end of 2018 was pretty tough for me. I had a lot of work and also a lot of personal things going on. So I didn’t get to read as much as I would have liked. I still managed to finish 8 books in the final two months of the year, which is not too bad.


Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

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This is the sequel to The Blade Itself which I read earlier in the year and still haven’t reviewed. I’ve been comparatively good with continuing with series this year. And I’m hoping to carry that into 2019. I’m actually currently reading the next book in this series and thoroughly enjoying it. Anyway, to talk about Before They Are Hanged, it was not as good as the first book in my opinion. It was still really good, but I did find it had a bit of a second book slump. Still, so much happened in this book. The world was expanded on, we met some new and fascinating characters and got to explore some old ones. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am now a Joe Abercrombie fan. I gave this book 4/5 stars. 

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

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In the spirit of continuing with series, I finished listening to this on audio. Once again, it was not as good as the first book. I still really enjoyed the characters and the narration. However, I did have a little issue with it because it was set in my homeland of Transylvania and liberties were taken with folklore and the language and stuff like that. Still, it was enjoyable and I do look forward to continue with this series. 3/5 stars.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

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This is by far my last favourite Schwab book. It’s probably because it’s middle grade. I don’t feel like Victoria can do middle grade as well as she does YA or adult. It had an interesting concept and it was entertaining, I liked the characters and the setting. But I just wanted more from it. 3/5 stars.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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I finally finished listening to this. It was a good book, but sadly not really my kind of book. I’m just not so much into these stories of middle class drama. It was really well written and set in Amsterdam, which was really cool to read about. But I tend to like my stakes higher in my books. This is not an epic story. It did have an interesting mystery and as I said, it’s really well written. Just not my cup of tea. I ended up giving it 3.5/5 stars, because I just had to appreciate the skill that went into writing the book.

The Wicked and the Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen

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I’d heard a lot about this graphic novel series and was intrigued so I picked up the first volume. I was not as wowed by it as I was expecting to be. I really enjoyed the art in it. It’s absolutely stunning and the concept is really cool. But the execution left something to be desired in my opinion. It was just confusing. And I usually don’t mind being dropped into the middle of a story. But the way that things happened didn’t seem to flow to me. It was kind of fragmented in a way. Like we were missing chunks in the story. Characters showed up out of nowhere. And I think it was intentional and this sort of storytelling can be very gripping. But there was just something missing. It didn’t feel smoothly done in my opinion. I’m still interested in continuing with the series though. 3.5/5 stars. 

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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I finally, FINALLY finished this book. It took me over a year to read. It was good, except that chaol was in it. If it had been someone other than Chaol, this would have been like a 4 or 4.5 star read. But because I hate Chaol so much, it was a 2/5 stars.

These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

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Sara Raasch Has cool concepts but her books always fall short for me. They’re just meh. And this one was no exception. The characters were stereotypical, the plot was predictable. It was just… meh. 2/5 stars

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

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I finished the year with a bang. I am so glad I chose this as my final read of 2018. I’ve been putting off reading Terry Pratchett for some time now, but I shouldn’t have because it was just as brilliant as everyone told me it would be. I had a blast with this book and I can’t wait to continue with the Discworld books. 5/5 stars

ABC Challenge – B

I saw this over at Thrice Read.

Previous posts: A


Remarkable Book

I’m a little torn between The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. They’re very very different books and I love them for different reasons, so it’s hard to pick. As such, I think I will call it a tie and go with both.

Book on TBR

This is going to be another tie. One of the books is Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie, which is the sequel to The Blade Itself and which I actually own, so hopefully I will get to soon. The second book is Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I don’t own this one yet, but I really enjoyed the first to books and I want to continue with this series.

 

A Huge Book Haul

I haven’t actually made a haul post since April. That’s 6 months of acquiring books. So… I don’t even know how many books there are going to be. A lot.


Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton | These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch | Angry White Pyjamas by Robert Twigger | Catwoman Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas | Origin by Dan Brown

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett | The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett | Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie | Elantris by Brandon Sanderson | A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

City of Ghosts by V. E. Schwab | Vengeful by V. E. Schwab | The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson | Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik | Down River by John Hart

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel | Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel | Lifelike by Jay Kristoff | Wild Embrace by Nikita Gill | The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

That’s it, unless I’m forgetting something. Which is entirely likely. Actually not as many as I was expecting. I was on a book buying ban for a couple of months though, so that’s probably why the total only comes up to 20. And some of these, I didn’t even buy myself!