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  1. #1

    The First Law (Looking for books like Abercombie's trilogy)

    Just got done reading this series, and WOW! I haven't enjoyed a series this much, since A Song of Fire and Ice(plus a bonus for being complete).

    Anyone know any others like it? I read all the Malazan Books, and currently on Book 4(Shadow Games) of the Black Company.

    I've found that I love these types of books. I'm not sure what genre they fit into, but they all have to do with the military/mercenary side of life. I also love how the characters seems to have real plausible emotions.

  2. #2
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Wow. You've already mentioned the authors I've read so far that deal with the soldier's POV. All I have left to offer is R. Scott Bakker. He's not exactly what you describe, but for some reason people tend to group Martin, Erikson, and Bakker together and I don't think it's just cause they're the most popular. There is something that connects them all but I can't put my finger on it. They're all noticeably different in style, but there's something about each that reminds you of the other two.

    Read Bakker. Hope you enjoy.

  4. #4
    Card Carrying Cynic Blackfish's Avatar
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    This is really irritating me. After all the praise for these books, I have begun reading The First Law. I am 200+ pages into it, and the book is just doing absolutely nothing for me. I am a huge Martin/Jordan/Lynch/Kay fan, and it seems that everyone who enjoyed Martin at least is recommending these books, but I'm just not getting it. The characters are wooden, the plot is weak, the writing is sometimes really poor (the way the author frequently writes out the character's exact thoughts as if they are speaking makes me cringe...example: Luthar) most of all is the lack of details/backfill and motivation...why are these characters doing what they're doing? Where is the story? Where is the drama? I'm torn between putting it down and staying with it because people say its good. I need to know if it gets better, or if its more of the same. Does the plot thicken? Will I start to actually care about the characters at some point?

    Oh, and let this serve as notice to any new fantasy author...put a damn map in your book. I don't care if it looks like it was drawn by a 4th grader, just give me something to visualize so I can have a general idea where things are located relative to other things. Otherwise, every time you mention a place, I have to stop and wonder where it is and what that means to the story. Saying "Its North of the mountains" tells me absolutely nothing. Its not that hard. Just draw a map. Please.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackfish View Post
    This is really irritating me. After all the praise for these books, I have begun reading The First Law. I am 200+ pages into it, and the book is just doing absolutely nothing for me. I am a huge Martin/Jordan/Lynch/Kay fan, and it seems that everyone who enjoyed Martin at least is recommending these books, but I'm just not getting it. The characters are wooden, the plot is weak, the writing is sometimes really poor (the way the author frequently writes out the character's exact thoughts as if they are speaking makes me cringe...example: Luthar) most of all is the lack of details/backfill and motivation...why are these characters doing what they're doing? Where is the story? Where is the drama? I'm torn between putting it down and staying with it because people say its good. I need to know if it gets better, or if its more of the same. Does the plot thicken? Will I start to actually care about the characters at some point?

    Oh, and let this serve as notice to any new fantasy author...put a damn map in your book. I don't care if it looks like it was drawn by a 4th grader, just give me something to visualize so I can have a general idea where things are located relative to other things. Otherwise, every time you mention a place, I have to stop and wonder where it is and what that means to the story. Saying "Its North of the mountains" tells me absolutely nothing. Its not that hard. Just draw a map. Please.
    i know where you're coming from regarding the map. i believe a reader made his own map and it was posted here somewhere....

    as to the books: it will pick up speed, but you're probably not going to 'like' any of the characters since all of them are flawed one way or another. strangely enough, though, i think you will care for some of them when the story unfolds. I recommend you finish the first book and if you don't have the feeling of really wanting to pick up the second one right away, then i guess it'll be safe to say 'First Law' is not your cup of tea...

  6. #6
    I want to be a princess sic's mom's Avatar
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    I got a coworker to read these books, and even though he is still on the first one he is so far really enjoying them. He read the tales of the Black Company not to long ago and enjoyed them, but had no desire to read any of the others.
    And we were just talking this morning about the lack of map in the First Law books. We both would like to have one, but I think Joe had the final say on that, so what can you do?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackfish View Post
    I need to know if it gets better, or if its more of the same. Does the plot thicken? Will I start to actually care about the characters at some point?
    I was left rather blah while reading the 1st book as well, and it was also my 2nd attempt at it. Even AFTER finishing the first book I wasn't impressed.

    I put it down and switched to another series I had lined up and read those and when I was done there I looked at the 2nd and 3rd book sitting on my bookcase already bought and paid for, so I picked up the 2nd book and started it.

    Now I'm not sure when it happened in the 2nd book but it was somewhere in the first half, and I found myself thinking, wow this is a good story. I liked where it was going and how as learned more about each main character my perception of them was constantly changing. Then there was foreshadowing that I just knew was not going where it blatantly appeared to be going.

    Put simply, yes it gets much better. If you REALLY want to like this series then you may have to start in on the 2nd book before you're hooked.

  8. #8
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    You'll be happy to know that Joe has put a map in his new novel. But you know, maps didn't used to be a requirement of a secondary world fantasy. Terry Pratchett makes a very good point about not having one at all. And it's not like Abercrombie's world is terribly complicated to follow. Viking-like guys to the North, which is cold and mountainous, African-like people in the South which is hot and sandy, a really big city like London or Rome, an island here and there. It's not that hard to keep track of. Or maybe I'm just jaded because I do not have a deep need for a dotted line showing me exactly where a road goes.

    As for whether it gets better as you read in, I'm afraid that's up to you. I don't find the characters wooden or the plot weak or slow. I find Abercrombie's use of pov very much in the same vein as Martin's, but with more satire and that very British voice that the British authors have -- can't quite explain what I mean, but you know it when you encounter it. The characters' inner turmoil is the heart of the book. And Abercrombie's use of language is a good deal more deft than many other writers for me.

    I can tell you that the first book is something of a clockwork -- everyone gets manipulated into place. There are heavy action fight scenes, but if you're looking for massive epic battles, that's mostly in the second book. But if you don't think the early battles of the Northmen are interesting, if you don't find them interesting, well, then you may just not like this series.

    But I gots me book 3 over the holiday here and I'm happy.
    Last edited by KatG; December 3rd, 2008 at 09:27 PM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    . . . maps didn't used to be a requirement of a secondary world fantasy.
    But they're so pretty!

    I like Abercrombie a lot, but his characters are a little vexing. When I pick up a novel, I want to follow the trials and triumphs (or glorious failures) of a lovable character, but I didn't love any of Abercrombie's, although I guess Logen came close. This problem forced itself to the forefront of my thoughts as I plowed through Bakker's stuff; by the end of the trilogy I was clinging to my dear Achamian and hoping to God that he would
    Spoiler:
    tie up Kellhus, put him in a sack, drop him in a trebuchet, and launch him off a very high cliff.

    As for recommendations, I suggest Brust (yup, KatG, you've converted me, you sneak), who doesn't use exactly the same style as Abercrombie but coats much/most of his writing in sarcastic humor. The protagonist is morally ambiguous, but I find the fellow much more likable than, say, Jezal dan Luthar. And I second Scott Lynch (also very funny) and Bakker (best fantasy since Tolkien, IMO).

  10. #10
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    You're not supposed to like Jezal, at least not at first. And yes, I sympathize about Bakker, but isn't it fascinating how he does that?

    Brust and Abercrombie do have some common points, as does Glen Cook, but different styles. Lynch is related. I'd also suggest John Barclay and maybe Robert Silverberg. I'm trying to think of writers stylistically like Abercrombie. Hmm, I'm not very good at this pair em up game. I usually just say, here's a list of twenty people, go see what you like.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    You're not supposed to like Jezal, at least not at first. And yes, I sympathize about Bakker, but isn't it fascinating how he does that?
    Oh, I'm not displeased with what Bakker has done. That's just an example of me clinging to one decent protagonist swimming in an ocean of unsympathetic characters. And I know I'm not supposed to like Jezal, but I then I really feel connected to anyone else either.

    Anywhoz, I'm not trying to drag down Abercrombie. I like his stuff a lot.

  12. #12
    I'd say that Abercrombie spent three books making sure his readers didn't fully like any of his characters.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Dyloot View Post
    I'd say that Abercrombie spent three books making sure his readers didn't fully like any of his characters.
    Right. I'm not disputing that point. I'm just obnoxiously inserting my opinion.

  14. #14
    Registered User Blog_the_troll's Avatar
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    How can anyone not like Glokta? He's a wonderful character.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Blog_the_troll View Post
    How can anyone not like Glokta? He's a wonderful character.
    Well, my problem stems more from my issue with Abercrombie's writing style. I felt that Glokta's inner dialogue was really contrived -- manufactured. I guess the exhaustive description of his thoughts rubbed me the wrong way. But some of his scenes are really well written, and I definitely appreciate his character because I can imagine what it's like to fall from grace. Flawed characters like Glokta can be very intriguing, but a whole cast of them is a bit wearisome for me. I have to remain emotionally detached -- to varying degrees -- to fully appreciate the atmosphere they create.

    I'm starting to think I cracked down too hard on Abercrombie in previous posts. I think I'm troubled more by the direction that the genre is heading than what Abercrombie in particular has outputted.

    I do like The First Law, after all. (I'm reiterating that as frequently as possible to save face. )
    Last edited by Mock; December 4th, 2008 at 07:32 PM.

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