Joe Abercrombie is a British adult fantasy author, with bestselling series including First Law, First Law World, Shattered Sear, and Age of Madness. His books are known for his cynicism, dark humor, and violence. His debut novel, The Blade Itself, released in 2006, was initially sold for a five figure deal to Gollancz.
What order should I read Joe Abercrombie? Here are the author’s books in order of reading and publication. Personally, I do recommend you read the Joe Abercrombie books in order, especially for his First Law Universe.
New Joe Abercrombie Books
First Law Universe
The First Law Series
First Law World Series
Age of Madness
- A Little Hatred, 2019
Young Adult Series
Shattered Sea Series
Joe Abercrombie Biography
Joe Abercrombie was born in 1974, in Lancaster, Lancashire, England. He grew up reading fantasy books like Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance, the Belgariad, and Game of Thrones, so his love for fantasy was a constant companion. Joe attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School, following which he enrolled at Manchester University to study psychology.
After graduating from the university, he moved to London where he began working for a TV Post-Production company. He remained there for two years before he left the corporate world to become a freelance film editor. As such, he worked on a whole range of projects, including documentaries, awards shows, music videos, and concerts with Barry White to Coldplay, to name just a few.
In his early twenties, Joe started writing epic fantasy, but soon he realized that his writing was rather pompous, so he let that dream go for another decade.
In 2002, he once again began writing, and this time he started working on his first book in a trilogy featuring Logan Ninefingers and his adventures. He changed the tone of his books from epic adventures to a more humorous, dark but cynic style, where it showed that he took himself this time less serious than before. After two years, in 2004 he finished the first book, but he couldn’t sell it for about a year, getting rejection after rejection. When a friend in publishing sent the manuscript to Gollancz, the Hachette science-fiction and fantasy imprint picked it up and in 2005 they signed him up for an initial trilogy.
In an interview with The Guardian, he mentioned about this series
it was my take on Lord of the Rings, but bringing in all my weird preoccupations about how people work, the nature of violence. It’s a reaction against the shiny and optimistic heroic fantasy I read as a teenager. In trying to do the opposite, it becomes quite pessimistic and grim.
It took him until around 2008 for Joe Abercrombie to become a full-time writer who could support his family with his book sales. As the royalties from his book sales started coming in, he began cutting back on his TV editing work.
Over the last 15 years or so, the author wrote several additional novels, expanding the fantasy world of his initial First Law trilogy, with a new series started in 2019. He also wrote a young-adult series. His books have sold over five million copies so far. He was nominated for several awards, including the World Fantasy Awards, British Fantasy Awards, Locus Awards, David Gemmel Legend Awards, John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Compton Crook Stephen Tall Memorial Award, and The Kitschies. He also won two awards, the Locus Award for best Young Adult Novel for Half a King and the Alex Awards for Half the World.
What is the next Joe Abercrombie book? The latest book by the popular British fantasy author is A Little Hatred, the first in his new Age of Madness series, which also takes place in The First Law universe.
Currently, Joe Abercrombie lives in London with his family, where he works on his next book and does editing work in his spare time.
Joe Abercrombie and the Grimdark Fantasy
His books are classified under the grimdark fantasy subgrenre. Grimdark has its roots in the Warhammer 40k world where “in the grim darkness of the far future there is only WAR.” In fact, many readers and critics consider the author Joe Abercrombie the face of grimdark.
The subgrene is also often called “scoundrel lit,” nuanced adult fiction,” “unheroic fantasy,” and even “dark fantasy.” Based on Joe’s view, this genre needs unheroic heroes, a cynical view of the world, and a blurring between good and evil, along with a stronger focus on characters rather than the world itself.
The world itself is rather dark and bleak, and the characters are on the disreputable side. There is an often strong focus on sex and violence in these worlds. These are not worlds of heroes in shining armor and damsels in distress being saved by them. These worlds are very complex, and the stories themselves are quite complex as well. Some might say they are more realistic than the usual epic, high fantasy, although they are not, of course, much based on the real world.
The worlds are usually unforgiving, and the characters often deeply flawed, antiheroes, really, which allows the authors to create some wonderful story and character arcs in their books. Often, in this genre, you’re not sure whether good or even will prevail, and the villain is never someone you can easily forget.
Along with Joe Abercrombie, who is called the Lord of Grimdark, another great exampled of a grimdark fantasy author is G.R.R. Martin. Joe Abercrombie.
Praise for the Joe Abercrombie Books
Bloody and relentless. (George R. R. Martin on Best Served Cold)
Bold and authentically original. (Jeff VanderMeer on The Blade Itself)
Abercrombie continues to do what he does best . . . Buckle your seat belts for this one . . . . A vivid and jolting tale. (Robin Hobb)
Imagine The Lord of the Rings as directed by Kurosawa. (Lev Grossman on The Heroes)
Abercrombie writes fantasy like no one else. (The Guardian)
If you’re fond of bloodless, turgid fantasy with characters as thin as newspaper and as boring as plaster saints, Joe Abercrombie is really going to ruin your day. A long career for this guy would be a gift to our genre. (Scott Lynch)
Abercrombie has written the finest epic fantasy trilogy in recent memory. He’s one writer that no one should miss. (Junot Diaz)
The sword & sorcery trilogy that began with The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged comes to a violent, sardonic, and brilliant conclusion. (Publishers Weekly on Last Argument of Kings)
- Joe Abercrombie author website
- Author Reddit AMA
- Author interview with The Guardian
- Joe Abercrombie publisher page