A dear friend of mine recommended The First Law trilogy, so passionately, that I would have been a fool to refuse her. And boy oh boy, those instincts were proven right.
It was, by far, my favorite read of the year. Author, Joe Abercrombie’s way with words is a welcomed fresh of breath air. He is descriptive, yet not overly wordy. Eloquent or raw, crisp or gritty; he switches writing styles, back and forth between characters, with ease.
The story is high fantasy, with characters similar to those found in Game of Thrones, but it’s a faster and simpler read than George R.R. Martin’s epic masterpiece. And that isn’t a bad thing. GOT is a COMMITMENT. Ask anyone who’s read one, because once you have, you just HAVE to read them all...That’s 6 MASSIVE novels, a mere 5,000+ pages, and very VERY dense language. With only 3 normal-sized novels, only about 1,000 pages, and simple, easy to read text, The First Law trilogy is accessible.
Not to mention, the story and characters are really great too. The narrative switches back and forth between the perspectives of about six different characters, one being female. We follow them all over Abercrombie’s fictional world, from the frozen landscapes of the North, to the hot and humid city of Dagoska in the south, hoping they’ll stop the Ghurkish and the Eaters. Sometimes they’re together, and sometimes they aren’t...but each character is pivotal to the development, and resolution, of the story.
The characters themselves are dynamic, highly flawed, and endearing. Technically speaking, they all have excellently developed arcs that are surprising and interesting. They learn sensible lessons, and the endings aren’t really happy...they’re realistic. But that’s what’s so great about this book! It’s no-nonsense entertainment that really drives its points home.
I can’t recommend this trilogy enough. I read so much science fiction these days that I don’t have much time for high fantasy...and how sad would it have been if I had skipped this recommendation?! The story is cleverly written, fast-paced (for the most part, maybe 1-2 scenes were a little slow), and especially entertaining. Read it as soon as you can. It won’t take you that long.
(PS - A comparison to Game of Thrones had to be done because The First Law trilogy reminded me so much of MY FAVORITE SERIES OF ALL TIME. Yes, The First Law is that good.)
Joe Abercrombie is on the rise. Not only did he create the highly successful The First Law trilogy, but his most recent book, Half a King, book one of his new Shattered Sea series, won the 2015 Locus Award for best Young Adult novel. He started off in the film industry, publishing his first novel, The Blade Itself, book one of The First Law trilogy, in 2004.