Joe Abercrombie

Half A King – Joe Abercrombie

Half-a-King-Quotes-StaggeredJust received my copy of Half A King by Joe Abercrombie. I’ve been waiting for it to arrive for months and now can’t wait to read it. This is Abercrombie’s first foray into the YA market—a market that I feel will devour his work and hound him for more.

At World Fantasy Con in Brighton last year, I listened with rapt attention as Abercrombie read the opening chapter of Half A King. It contained the now familiar—and much loved—accents of tension and gritty violence.

One audience member asked wryly: I thought you said this was YA?

Abercrombie replied with his usual humour: What? I can’t say ‘fuck’?

Humour aside, as Abercrombie explained in a recent (June) interview with Locus magazine, this novel is aimed at the ‘top end’ of the YA market. The book is shorter than his previous offerings, a modest 80k, and my only concern is romping to the end and being left panting for more. The sequel is planned for February 2015, and the final part of the trilogy in the autumn of that same year. Looks like he’s going to be VERY busy!

If you haven’t read any of Abercrombie’s work, there is plenty out there for adults:
The First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself; Before They Are Hanged; Last Argument of Kings).
Plus three stand-alone stories set in the same world (Best Served Cold; Heroes; Red Country)

I started with the stand-alone books, become totally hooked and worked my way back to the First Law Trilogy. ‘Gritty’ is a word that is often used to describe Abercrombie’s work; his writing is also vivid, engaging and intense. Plus, he tells a bloody good story!

World Fantasy Con 2013

The Hilton Metropole, Brighton. October 31st to November 3rd 2013.

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This was my first World Convention, and by golly was it crammed with great, the good and the very, very interesting! In fact, there was so much going on that I’ve decided to split my posts between what were, for me at least, the key areas.

Let’s start with: Author Readings

There were over 75 separate author readings scheduled over the four-day programme; with such a packed programme of panels and interviews, I had to agonise between competing interests to get the most out of each day. Author readings are my favourite part of a convention. I love listening to authors reading their own work, especially when it’s new and the writer is genuinely interested in the questions and ideas of their listeners.

Joe Abercrombie, fun and entertaining as always, read from his upcoming YA novel. Yes, YA, now that’s a surprise! His foray into the young adult market will hopefully garner new readers into the fold, and yet still appeal to his solid adult readership. The piece had that same gritty, in-the-face quality that makes Abercrombie’s writing so compelling. When asked if he’d really toned his writing down for younger readers, he replied: well, there are a lot less ‘fucks’. The book, which will be out next year, is the first in a trilogy.

James Barclay read a piece that in his own words was a ‘very, very early draft’ of a new book due out in 2015. The premise was new and interesting, featuring the uneasy relationship between Drakes (a dragon-like life-form developed from alien DNA) and their pilots/riders. As always the depiction of battle, in this case an aerial one between rival ‘drakes’, was well paced, keeping us all on the edge of our seats. James was keen to elicit the opinions of the group, and talk about the background and ideas that inspired this latest book. I can’t wait to see this book in print.

I was very excited to attend my first ever reading by Peter F. Hamilton. He gave us all a real treat—starting with a new Paula Mayo piece (one of my favourite characters!), followed up by a sample from his new children’s book Queen of Dreams. This book includes his daughter, Sophie, as sky dancer princess (not a faery, he said, as that would make him a faery king). Hamilton finished the reading with another cracking story, which was cut short as time was called by one of the ever vigilant ‘red coats’. With just two pages to go, he offered to finish reading the story outside the Reading room. Most of us gathered happily around a table to listen to the concluding section—it was well worth it!

Apart from scheduling-in my favourites, I attended a few readings from authors that were new to me. One such, Lawrence C. Connolly, was of the old-world storyteller mould. He told three stories, from memory, in a vivid and captivating manner. An enjoyable and unforgettable experience. At the end he posed a number of riddles to the audience, and gave away copies of his books to the first to shout out the right answer (I wasn’t quick enough (sigh)). Lawrence C. Connolly is one to follow, and I will be hunting down his collection of short stories, This Way to Egress, as soon as I’ve finished this post.

Review: Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Red Country is the third of Abercrombie’s stand-alone books, after Best Served Cold and The Heroes. While all three books can be read in isolation they are based in the same world as The First Law trilogy and feature some well-loved characters.

Abercrombie draws, in part, on his experience as a film editor when writing and he has likened Best Served Cold to a gangster/revenge movie set in something like a Machiavellian renaissance Italy, and The Heroes to a big-picture war film like Waterloo or A Bridge Too Far. His new book, Red Country, with its air of ‘narrowed eyes’ and ‘clenched jaws’, is firmly set in the fantasy equivalent of a good western.

FANTASYCON 2012

Brighton Pier

This year’s British Fantasy Society convention took place in Brighton at the end of September—three days of workshops, panel discussions, author readings, interviews, and of course, fun. It wasn’t easy to settle on a navigable route through all the events, as so many would have been both valuable and interesting to attend. After filling the pocket programme with enthusiastic ticks, circles and asterisks against all the events I really wanted to attend, I finally whittled the choice down to what was feasible in the linear time frame available.

One definite area of focus for me this year was blogging: how, why and is it really worth it?

The convention offered two approaches: a Master Class on how and why to blog, and a panel discussion looking at the importance of blogs. The ‘Ask the Editor’ panel also touched on the benefits of engaging with social media.

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