Review: Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie



Sharp Ends

by Joe Abercrombie

Fantasy | 287 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2016


| Rating |


| TL;DR |

Sharp Ends is an anthology of thirteen stories set in the world of The First Law. With brilliantly dark humour, action packed battles, and frequent blood-lettings throughout, this is a collection which delights in introducing new faces amongst familiar friends and enemies, and is nothing short of a thrill ride from beginning to end.

| Synopsis |

The Union army may be full of bastards, but there’s only one who thinks he can save the day single-handed when the Gurkish come calling: the incomparable Colonel Sand dan Glokta.

Curnden Craw and his dozen are out to recover a mysterious item from beyond the Crinna. Only one small problem: no one seems to know what the item is.

Shevedieh, the self-styled best thief in Styria, lurches from disaster to catastrophe alongside her best friend and greatest enemy, Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp.

And after years of bloodshed, the idealistic chieftain Bethod is desperate to bring peace to the North. There’s only one obstacle left – his own lunatic champion, the most feared man in the North: the Bloody-Nine…

Sharp Ends combines previously published, award-winning tales with exclusive new short stories. Violence explodes, treachery abounds, and the words are as deadly as the weapons in this rogue’s gallery of side-shows, back-stories, and sharp endings from the world of the First Law.

| Review |

Introducing characters old and new, Sharp Ends is a chronological set of short stories that mark events both significant and insignificant, told and untold, from the world of The First Law.

Exciting and darkly humorous throughout, this collection displays Abercrombie’s wit, clever writing style and skilful characterisation as he forges links throughout the Circle of the World. And whilst knowledge of the other novels is not essential, overall enjoyment is likely to be increased by an understanding of the overarching events, backstories and familiar names and faces that comprise much of this anthology.

With a theme of two new central characters running throughout this collection, in Small Kindnesses, Skipping Town, Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd and Tough Times All Over, Shev and Javre prove a brilliant and engaging comedic duo who are thoroughly deserved of a series of their own. And with other favourites including A Beautiful Bastard and Made a Monster, which bring us face to face with familiar and long loved characters, this is an anthology which truly does have a story for all fans.

A Beautiful Bastard

[ Kadir, Spring 566 ]

A Beautiful Bastard takes us to a time before The First Law, when Sand dan Glokta was a swaggering cavalier whose skill was only outweighed by his ego. Told from the perspective of a blubbering and gushing Salem Rews, or Superior Pike as we now know him, this is a brilliant tale of Glokta’s magnificence before his destruction at the hands of the Gurkish. A thoroughly enjoyable and amusing tale, this short story is made all the more brilliant by the knowledge of Glokta’s and Rews’ futures and also features a cameo by Corporal Tunny.

Made a Monster

[ Carleon, Summer 570 ]

Logen Ninefingers returns to Sharp Ends in Made a Monster; a wonderfully brutal tale which showcases his bloody, brutal violence and features almost none of his redeeming qualities. Told from the perspective of Bethod, with more than a few glimpses of Scale, Calder, The Dogman and Curnden Craw, we see the Bloody Nine in all his fearsome glory from the side of those who dread the edge of his sword. A brilliantly bloody tale, Made a Monster provides a glimpse of Bethod’s determination to right his terrible wrong in creating the Bloody Nine.

Small Kindnesses

[ Westport, Autumn 573 ]

Small Kindnesses introduces us to Shevedieh, the best thief in Westport, as her life on the straight and narrow is brought to an abrupt end when a large, red-headed woman washes up on her doorstep. Accompanied by Severard – yes, that’s Practical Severard of Inquisition fame – her life is turned upside down by a job gone wrong, with her small act of kindness ending up her saving grace. This introduction to our recurring characters, Shev and Javre the Lioness of Hoskopp, is a funny, bloody and somewhat grim beginning that paves the way for a strange and wonderful relationship.

The Fool Jobs

[ East of the Crinna, Autumn 574 ]

The Fool Jobs tells the tale of Curden Craw and his dozen as they accept a contract to retrieve a mysterious item of value – a thing, let’s say – from the village of Fox Clan prior to the events of The Heroes. With nostalgic cameos from Wonderful, Whirrun of Bligh, Jolly Yon Cumber, Brack-i-Dayn and Scorry Tiptoe, The Fool Jobs is a funny snatch and grab tale that’s equal parts messy, bloody and hilarious.

Skipping Town

[ The Near Country, Summer 575 ]

In Skipping Town we return to Shev and Javre as they complete a job for Tumnor at The Weeping Slaver. Only there’s something not quite right, the job is more than likely a double cross and it’s high time they skip town. This action-packed and blood thirsty addition is brilliantly brutal and develops the powerful. warrior-like character of Javre as she is pursued by a mysterious and dangerous order from which she has fled.

Hell

[ Dagoska, Spring 576 ]

Hell tells the tale of the Siege of Dagoska from the perspective of Temple, who later features in Red Country alongside Shy South. A brutal, fiery and chaotic tale, Hell captures the dangerous atmosphere of a city under siege and the terrifying arrival of the Eaters.

Two’s Company

[ Somewhere in the North, Summer 576 ]

Two’s Company rejoins Shev and Javre as they meet Whirrun of Bligh on a flimsy bridge over a remote canyon. In a humorous and brutal bout between warriors, the Lioness of Hoskopp and Cracknut Whirrun find themselves treading over familiar, sword swinging ground as they are pursued by both Bethod and the Fifteen. Two’s Company is a funny, engaging and brilliantly bloody tale that could easily hold its own outside of this anthology. 

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

[ Styria, 580 ]

Wrong Place, Wrong Time tells the tale of three somewhat innocent bystanders who find themselves swept up in the wholesale destruction wrought by Monzcarro Murcatto as she enacts her revenge in Best Served Cold. From the Banking House of Valint and Balk, to Cardotti’s House of Leisure and the battlefields of Ospria, no one walks away untouched by The Snake of Talins’ vengeance. Wrong Place, Wrong Time is an exciting and bloodthirsty tale that showcases three brilliant alternative perspectives in the ensuing torrent of chaos, flames and blood.

Some Desperado

[ The Near Country, Summer 584 ]

Some Desperado tells the tale of Shy South before the events of Red Country. As she flees from three bounty hunters armed with nothing but a bag of gold and the clothes on her back, she must use all her cunning to fight, trick and escape her pursuers before she ends up hanging from the gallows. Some Desperado is an action packed, gritty tale which is a wonderful return to a familiar favourite.

Yesterday Near a Village Called Barden

[ Near Barden, Autumn 584 ]

In Yesterday Near a Village Called Barden, Pale-as-Snow is preparing an ambush against a troop of Union soldiers accompanied by Bremer dan Gorst in his position as Royal Observer – a position he’s been forced into after the disaster at Cardotti’s House of Leisure (which appears in Wrong Place, Wrong Time). Written during the events of The Heroes, this story is an action-packed and bloody skirmish told from numerous perspectives and proves that there’s nowhere safe when the swords start swinging.

Three’s a Crowd

[ Talins, Autumn 587 ]

Shev and Javre return in Three’s a Crowd after Shev’s lover, Carcolf, is abducted by Horald the Finger as a consequence of the events in Small Kindnesses. In a story laden with familiar faces – Vitari, Lieutenant Forest, Corporal Tunny and Lance Corporal Yolk to name but a few – Shev and Javre must embark on a rescue mission which unveils some uncomfortable truths for the Lioness of Hoskopp.

Freedom!

[ Averstock, Summer 590 ]

Freedom is an extract from Nicomo Cosca’s biography written by Spillion Sworbreck as he accompanies the Company of the Gracious Hand during the events of Red Country. A exaggerated, farcical and glorified narrative ensues which paints Cosca in hilariously flowery and heroic language as his company sack (nay, save!) the hillside town of Averstock. Freedom is a ridiculously funny tale which reads as though Cosca had written it himself.

Tough Times All Over

[ Sipani, Sping 592 ]

Tough Times All Over tells the tale of a mysterious package, which could well be the thing from The Fool Jobs, as it changes hands across the city of Sipani. The narrative is exciting and well written with the POV changing character each time the package is picked up, handed over or pilfered in its journey across the city. Joined by faces both old and new, Tough Times All Over is a fitting end to a brilliant anthology.


 

Darkly humorous with brilliant characterisation throughout, Sharp Ends is a wonderfully witty, nostalgic and exciting look at the stories between stories, alternative perspectives and unrecorded events that make up the Circle of the World.

I highly recommend reading this collection whilst already immersed in the universe of The First Law as each story weaves subtle links and ties through almost every other Abercrombie novel and discovering new connections heightened my enjoyment throughout. Consequently, this literary device may be lost on new readers or those who haven’t returned to Abercrombie’s writing in some time.

Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Teaser Tuesdays: The Court of Broken Knives


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: August 25 |

The Court of Broken Knives

Book One of Empires of Dust

by Anna Smith Spark

Fantasy | 470 Pages | Published by Harper Voyager in 2017


“We live and we die. Not one without the other. Death is as natural as life, we say, and as great a blessing. No light without darkness. No joy without pain. Life is a glory. Death is a sweet release.

~ Chapter 18 | Page 141 | The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark


| Synopsis |

They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.

In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.

Amazon Book Depository | Goodreads


| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 

Friday Firsts: The Court of Broken Knives


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. First paragraphs. First impressions. A new favourite?


| Friday Firsts: August 21 |

The Court of Broken Knives

Book One of Empires of Dust

by Anna Smith Spark

Fantasy | 470 Pages | Published by Harper Voyager in 2017


| First Paragraphs |

Knives.

Knives everywhere. Coming down like rain.

Down to close work like that, men wrestling in the mud, jabbing at each other, too tired to care anymore. Just die and get it over with. Half of them fighting with their guts hanging out of their stomachs, stinking of shit, oozing pink and red and white. Half-dead men lying in the filth. Screaming. A whole lot of things screaming.

Impossible to tell who’s who anymore. Mud and blood and shadows and that’s it. Kill them! Kill them all! Keep killing until we’re all dead. The knife twists and jabs and the man he’s fighting falls sideways, all the breath going out of him with a sigh of relief. Another there behind. Gods, his arms ache. His head aches. Blood in his eyes. He twists the knife again and thrusts with a broken-off sword and that man too dies. Fire explodes somewhere to the left. White as maggots. Silent as maggots. Then shrieks as men burn.

Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads


| First Impressions |

The Court of Broken Knives has been on my TBR ever since it came out in 2017 and, after several inordinately busy years, I have finally gotten around to reading it.

Lyrical, beautiful, bloody, grim and battle weary through and through, it will come as no surprise to those who visit my blog regularly that this style of writing is exactly my cup of tea. And, after those evocative, visceral opening paragraphs, I can’t quite believe I waited this long!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Waiting on Wednesday: The Trouble With Peace


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: July 08 |

The Trouble With Peace

Book Two of The Age of Madness Trilogy

by Joe Abercrombie


Conspiracy. Betrayal. Rebellion.
Peace is just another kind of battlefield . . .

Savine dan Glokta, once Adua’s most powerful investor, finds her judgement, fortune and reputation in tatters. But she still has all her ambitions, and no scruple will be permitted to stand in her way.

For heroes like Leo dan Brock and Stour Nightfall, only happy with swords drawn, peace is an ordeal to end as soon as possible. But grievances must be nursed, power seized and allies gathered first, while Rikke must master the power of the Long Eye . . . before it kills her.

Unrest worms into every layer of society. The Breakers still lurk in the shadows, plotting to free the common man from his shackles, while noblemen bicker for their own advantage. Orso struggles to find a safe path through the maze of knives that is politics, only for his enemies, and his debts, to multiply.

The old ways are swept aside, and the old leaders with them, but those who would seize the reins of power will find no alliance, no friendship, and no peace, lasts forever.


To be published by Gollancz on 15th September 2020

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books On My Spring TBR


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Books On My Spring TBR |

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday! This Spring I intend to make headway into my vast, vast to-be-read pile, a huge and ever-growing thing that only ever seems to get bigger the moment I look away. This week’s Top Ten is just the tip of that literary iceberg, but encompasses the ten books I am most excited to read. heart

| 1. |

The Ninth Rain

Book One of The Winnowing Flame Trilogy

by Jen Williams

heart

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall… heart

| 2. |

The Providence of Fire

Book Two of the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne

by Brian Staveleyheart

The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.

Having learned the identity of her father’s assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.

Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire’s most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.

Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.
heart

| 3. |

The Air War

Book Eight of the Shadows of the Apt

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

heart

An empress demands her birthright . . .

All is in turmoil as the world moves towards war. In Solarno, the spies watch each other and ready their knives, while Myna sees the troops muster at its border and emotions run high as it vows never to be enslaved again. In Collegium, the students argue politics, too late to turn the tide.

In the heart of the Empire, new pilots have completed their secretive training, generals are being recalled to service and armies are ready to march. Their Empress, the heir to two worlds, intends to claim her birthright. And nothing – either within the Empire or beyond it – will stand in her way.

A conflict is coming, the like of which the insect-kinden have never seen.heart

| 4. |

Wrath

Book Four of The Faithful and the Fallen

by John Gwynne

heart

Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasures are in his possession. And together with Calidus and his ally Queen Rhin, Nathair will do anything to obtain the remaining Treasures. With all seven under his command, he can open a portal to the Otherworld. Then Asroth and his demon-horde will finally break into the Banished Lands and become flesh.

Meanwhile Corban has been taken prisoner by the Jotun, warrior giants who ride their enormous bears into battle. His warband scattered, Corban must make new allies if he hopes to survive. But can he bond with competing factions of warlike giants? Somehow he must, if he’s to counter the threat Nathair represents.

His life hangs in the balance – and with it, the fate of the Banished Lands.
heart

| 5. |

The Silver Tide

Book Three of The Copper Cat Trilogy

by Jen Williams
heart

Tales of the Black Feather Three and their exploits abound far and wide, and Wydrin of Crosshaven, Lord Aaron Frith and Sir Sebastian have become sell swords in demand. Having foiled powerful mages and evil magic, they now face a challenge unlike any before – in the form of Wydrin’s mother.

Devinia the Red, notorious pirate and captain of the Poison Chalice, is intent on finding the fabled treasure hidden within the jungles of the cursed island of Euriale. She needs the skills of her daughter Wydrin and her companions to get there, and our heroes cannot resist the lure of coin and adventure. But no explorer has returned from the heart of the island, and it’s not long before the Three find themselves in the clutches of peril. Deep within the island of the gods, there are remnants of forces best left undisturbed…
heart

| 6. |

Shadowblack

Book Two of Spellslinger

by Sebastien de Castell

heart

It’s a few months since Kellen left his people behind. Now aged sixteen, Kellen is an outlaw, relying on his wits to keep him alive in the land of the Seven Sands. He misses home, he misses family and more than anything, he misses Nephenia, the girl he left behind.

Then he meets Seneira, a blindfolded girl who isn’t blind, and who carries a secret that’s all too familiar to Kellen. Kellen and Ferius resolve to help – but the stakes are far higher than they realise. A Shadowblack plague is taking hold – and Kellen can’t help but suspect his own people may even be behind it. 
heart

| 7. |

Half a War

Book Three of the Shattered Sea

by Joe Abercrombie
heart

Words are weapons

Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.

Only half a war is fought with swords

The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.

Sometimes one must fight evil with evil

Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.
heart

| 8. |

A Time of Dread

Book One of the Of Blood and Bone Series

by John Gwynne
heart

The Ben-Elim, a fierce race of warrior-angels, burst into the Banished Lands over a hundred and thirty years ago. They were in pursuit of their eternal enemy, the Kadoshim demon-horde. On that day a great battle was fought, the Ben-Elim and Kadoshim joined by allies from the races of both men and giants, and a great victory was won.

Now much of the Banished Lands is ruled by the Ben-Elim, who have made this world their home, extending their influence and power as they swallow ancient kingdoms into the protective grasp of their ever-extending borders. But peace is fragile within the realm and the Kadoshim that remain are now amassing on the edges of the empire….

Threats long in the shadows are about to strike. 
heart

| 9. |

The Court of Broken Knives

Book One of the Empires of Dust

by Anna Smith Spark

heart

They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.

In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.

heart

| 10. |

Age of Assassins

Book One of The Wounded Kingdom

by R. J. Barkerheart

To catch an assassin, use an assassin…

Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.

In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom.
heart

What books are you looking forward to reading this Spring? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to ThatArtsyReaderGirl and sign up!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 

Teaser Tuesdays: February 13


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: February 13 |

Half the World

Book Two of the Shattered Sea

by Joe Abercrombie

Fantasy | 484 Pages | Published by Harper Voyager in 2015


Thick neck darted towards her and she blocked his sword with hers, steel clashing, chopped at him and struck splinters from his shield, stepped away, trying to give herself room to think of something, slipped on fallen fruit in darkness and lurched against the table. A sword chopped into her leg.

~ Chapter: Rage | Page 303 | Half the World by Joe Abercrombie


| Synopsis |

Thorn Bathu was born to fight. But when she kills a boy in the training square she finds herself named a murderer.

Fate places her life in the hands of the deep-cunning Father Yarvi as he sets out to cross half the world in search of allies against the ruthless High King. Beside her is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill. A failure in her eyes and his own, the voyage is his last chance at redemption.

But warriors can be weapons, and weapons are made for one purpose. Will Thorn always be a tool in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path? Is there a place outside of legend for a woman with a blade?

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads



The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy | 306 Pages | Published by HarperCollins in 1995


To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf’s hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a mile or more.

Very puffed he was, when he got to Bywater just on the stroke of eleven, and found he had come without a pocket-handkerchief!

~ Chapter II: Roast Mutton | Page 29 | The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


| Synopsis |

The Hobbit is a tale of high adventure, undertaken by a company of dwarves in search of dragon-guarded gold. A reluctant partner in this perilous quest is Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving unambitious hobbit, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a burglar.

Encounters with trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves and giant spiders, conversations with the dragon, Smaug, and a rather unwilling presence at the Battle of Five Armies are just some of the adventures that befall Bilbo.

Bilbo Baggins has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of children’s fiction. Written by Professor Tolkien for his own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Friday Face-Off: Renewed Shall Be Blade That Was Broken


Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.


The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie


Welcome to this week’s Friday Face-Off – and apologies for the lack of posts, it’s been a crazy few weeks! This Friday we’re looking at covers which feature the word ‘blade’ in their title.

And there’s one book which immediately came to mind! The Blade Itself, the first book in the First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, is a firm fantasy favourite. Published by Gollancz, this week I’m taking a look at the two wonderful UK covers (as the US edition is incredibly similar to the original UK cover!) Take a look and see which one gets your vote.


Gollancz – UK Cover #1

Artwork by Laura Brett

Gollancz – UK Cover #2

Artwork by Chris McGrath


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

Chris McGrath’s artwork for the Dresden Files has made me a fan of his for life – and his work on the recent covers for The First Law Trilogy is unquestionably stunning. Atmospheric and full of character, this simplistic but gritty cover for The Blade Itself is an excellent addition to Abercrombie’s ever expanding repertoire. However, though the balance almost swings in McGrath’s favour, I can’t help but love the Laura Brett covers for this trilogy – every time I see the burnt parchment and blood spatters I’m reminded of the first time I opened this book and began my love affair with this bloody and brilliant world. So two wonderful covers but this week I have to reminisce – Gollancz #1, this week’s heart-shaped-trophy-thing goes to you!

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Post LinksNext week’s theme is: In The Beginning There Was Nothing, Which Exploded

A cover which features an explosion

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes


| Links |

Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek – Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books  – Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

S J Higbee @ Brainfluff – The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron

DJ @ MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape – A Dance of Blades by David Dalglish

Nick V. Reys @ ThePaperDragon – Heirs of the Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Review: Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan



Promise of Blood

Book One of the Powder Mage Trilogy

by Brian McClellan

Fantasy | 561 Pages | Published by Hatchette in 2013


| Rating |


Every once in a while a book – and its accompanying author – crosses your path and completely turns your world upside down. Addictive, absorbing and ridiculously thrilling, these are the books which grip you from their opening pages and refuse to let you go even after they’ve come to an end. My addiction is Promise of Blood – a book so good that it’s acquired its own rating.

Promise of Blood is a tour de force; an unyielding whirlwind of explosive action; an unflinching portrayal of a world, in some ways not unlike our own, where magic, chaos and blood threaten to choke the populace as it vies for freedom, equality and glorious revolution. The first novel in the Powder Mage Trilogy is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read in a long time. Masterfully written. Persistently exhilarating. Bloody brilliant.

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king… Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved… Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets? PROMISE OF BLOOD is the start of a new epic fantasy series from Brian McClellan.

Promise of Blood opens with a society on the brink of revolution; taxes are high, living standards are low, and the whole of Adro is about to be sold out to the Kez by their incompetent King and his royal cabal. With the palace in the throes of a military coup, the Kez threatening the borders, and the populace in the death grip of starvation and poverty, establishing a new government following the rebellion will be no small task.

But the rebellion controls the power of the powder mages, an elite force of soldiers who can use and magically manipulate gunpowder to their own ends, and one of their most renowned number is leading the revolution. Field Marshal Tamas, a skilled tactician and military leader, will stop at nothing to forge a new society out of the dregs of Adro and will wage bloody war on the streets of Adopest to do so.

As assassins, spies and traitors vie to stop the revolution in its tracks, and powder mages and Privileged, a group of powerful sorcerers loyal to the King, execute one another with deadly efficiency, the list of revolutionary allies begins to wear thin. The narrative follows Tamas, his son Taniel and Adamat, a retired police inspector, in converging storylines as they struggle to outmanoeuvre their enemies both on the battlefield and within their own camp. No easy feat when the gods become involved.

Brian McClellan has created a world caught in the throes of chaos and regime change, a world where bloody battles are fought on the streets, and one which resonates with a chord from our own history. Tense, exciting and exhilarating, Adro is effortlessly fleshed out as the action unfolds. With a diverse landscape and a multitude of warring nations at her borders, Promise of Blood creates a narrative which never isolates itself, which resounds with undeniable realism – even with its fantastic elements – and which promises a clash of destructive and supremely powerful forces in the books to come.

This is a world made up of those without power, and the incredible force of those with it: the powder mages; the Privileged; and those with a knack, a single ‘talent’ or power. With the introduction of the Wardens of Kez in the latter part of the novel,  and hints of power of entirely different kind, Promise of Blood introduces a unique and captivating magic system which drives the narrative and lends more than dose of explosive action to the storyline.

But McClellan’s creative genius doesn’t stop short of incredible worldbuilding and imaginative magic systems. His cast of characters are wonderfully conflicted and imperfect creations which retain a distinctive and real quality throughout the novel. This is a society hacked into bloody existence by grizzled war leaders, sly manipulators, devious negotiators and charming dead-shots; a society where an overwhelming cast of supporting characters slot seamlessly into the plot, shaping the narrative and upping its intrigue factor tenfold.

The protagonists of this novel surprise, amaze and intrigue in equal measure and drive the story forwards at a relentless pace. Tamas is a tactical genius with a singular determination, a man who above all else believes in the right of his actions despite the often grim consequences. He is an honest man, but a deadly one, an uncompromising general carved from his own experiences who is sure to remain at the top of my list of favourite characters for years to come.

His estranged son Taniel is similarly engaging. A charismatic marksman known throughout the land as Taniel Two-Shot, a nicknamed earned for his ability to take two enemies down with one bullet, his charming and often humorous personality remains captivating throughout the narrative despite living under his father’s considerable shadow. With Adamat, the investigator working for Tamas; Ka-Poel, a mysterious and strangely powerful savage; and a whole array of mercenaries, mages and potential traitors, it is the characters and their machinations which give drive to the vast majority of this novel.

McClellan has an effortlessly engaging writing style, putting as much depth into his characters as he does his world. The narrative is a none stop thrill ride from start to finish, and McClellan doesn’t flinch from inflicting pain on his characters. Promise of Blood is an intense, exciting and relentless conflict of blood, power and politics; a novel where death is dealt out with abandon and where even the good and honest struggle to keep their hands clean. A stark portrayal of a regime in its death throes and the subsequent struggle to establish cohesive rule, Promise of Blood is nothing short of genius.Promise of Blood is bloody and brutal novel with an imaginative premise and a wonderful magic system. Brian McClellan strides to the top of my favourite new authors list with this flintlock fantasy which rides a line between the epic and the grimdark in an explosion of guns, gunpowder and grit. For those of you who haven’t yet come across Brian McClellan, there are just three words: Read – This – Book. 


Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 

Teaser Tuesdays: February 16


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by A Daily Rhythm. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: February 16 |

The Grim Company

Book One of the Grim Company Trilogy

by Luke Scull

Fantasy | 401 Pages | Published by Head of Zeus in 2013


“With lightning speed, Kayne thrust his body to the right to avoid the jab, grabbing hold of the shaft with his left hand and pulling it towards him. He glimpsed the surprised look on his attacker’s face a split second before his head shattered the man’s nose.”

~ p. 86, The Grim Company by Luke Scull


| Synopsis |

The difference between a hero and a killer lies in the ability to justify dark deeds. But this is the Age of Ruin. And there are no heroes…

Five hundred years ago, the world was destroyed in the celestial Godswar. Seeking to throw off the shackles of the deities who created them, a cabal of mages rose up and made war upon the Gods. Though they won out, it was at a great cost: the ensuing cataclysm brought forth the Age of Ruin to the world.

Five hundred years later, the world limps on, seemingly winding down to an inevitable end. Dystopian city states have arisen, each presided over by one of the Magelords who first made war.

Corrupted, near-immortal, and far too powerful, those wizards who once sought to free the world now make war upon each other, while the helpless populace limp on from day to day.

Into this blighted world, steps Davarus Cole, a boy obsessed with notions of heroism and adventuring, who burns to do great deeds. One night, in a reckless act, Cole gets himself into a brawl with the authories. He quickly finds himself sent away from the city, where the world still groans from the ancient cataclysm, and the corpses of Gods lie deep beneath the bedrock, leaking wild, uncontrolled magic into the world.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin