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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

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Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

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Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

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Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

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Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

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Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
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Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

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Places I've lived: High View, WV

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Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

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Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

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Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
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Monday, 20 May 2013

Book Review: The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie



The First Law TrilogyThe First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie



My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Blade Itself 2006 IBSN 9780575079793
Before They Are Hanged 2007 ISBN 9780575082014
The Last Argument of Kings 2008 ISBN 9780575077898
All published by Gollancz

This review originally appeared on The Specusphere, a now-defunct webzine, in 2008

In The First Law, UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie has produced one of the most impressive first trilogies ever to hit the market. It is remarkable not only because of its brilliantly complex plot and characters, but also because of its fearless investigation of the dark labyrinths of the human condition. Here be no dragons, and hardly a mage or a McGuffin is in sight, either. Instead, we have a blood, sweat and tears tale of the first water, incorporating, as the author puts in on his web site 'all the grit, and cruelty, and humour of real life'. Good and evil depend on who’s talking. Good actions are not necessarily rewarded and neither do the bad guys always get their comeuppance. In fact, there are no real 'bad guys': rather, we see the skilful and unskilful behaviours of which we’re all capable held up to us as in a dark mirror of gut-wrenching veracity.

Abercrombie doesn’t write dialogue: he writes characters, and they speak to us. They speak of our own foibles and failures, sins and successes. What’s more, he writes fight scenes where valour and chivalry are in very short supply and love scenes that are heart-aching because we see all too clearly that nothing, not even the flawed emotion we call love, can save us from our own blindness. Technically, Abercrombie achieves this through his deep understanding of the close third point-of-view. Immersion in Abercrombie’s invented world is not optional.

The trilogy is centred on a man the author calls the 'thinking man's barbarian', one Logen Ninefingers. For the most part, Logen does what he has to do and does it well, with as much—and as little—exertion as is needed. Yet in battle he can be a berserker, when his alter ego, The Bloody Nine, takes over and he is as likely to slaughter friend as foe. The story is not only Logen’s: other point-of-view characters include Collum West, a career soldier; his friend, the spoilt aristocrat Jezal Luthar; Glokta, a war hero turned Inquisitor – and Ferro, a runaway slave whose only interest in life is vengeance. Each one has friends and foes and as they interact with each other’s milieus we begin to understand the politics of their world as well as their interpersonal relationships. We meet Bayaz, First of the Magi, and his hapless assistant Quai; Ardee West, Collum’s wayward sister; Brother Longfoot, who will steer a team led by Bayaz on a quest to find the magic stone that will destroy all the enemies of Bayaz, and an assortment of self-seeking politicians and military personnel. But be warned: none of these apparently stock characters turns out to be what they appear.

In book one, The Blade Itself, war is in the air and many look to the return of Bayaz to save them. We see Bayaz gathering his team together and realise the conflicting interests his presence arouses. Book two, Before They Are Hanged, shows the struggle of the poorly-trained and equipped Midderlands army against the Northmen who have invaded their province of Angland. It also deals with the quest of Bayaz, and has the most surprising ending that any quest story could possibly have. Book three, The Last Argument of Kings, deals with the war’s climax: an army of religious fanatics led by flesh-eating priests is attacking Midderlands, but their army is still in Angland and the king, newly elected and disastrously married, must hold out until the fighting force returns.

And 'The First Law'? The expression refers to the injunction against using magic from the Other Side. What are the consequences when that law is broken?

Abercrombie can only be compared to George R.R. Martin, but he is, thankfully, rather more succinct, having managed to squash his story into the customary three volumes. And you must read all three books, in order, as close together as possible, if you are to get the most out of this epic. Although each book is well-rounded and skilfully crafted, none truly stands alone. It matters not: once you embark on this tale you will not want it to end.

If you like your fantasy harsh and gritty, can stand a great deal of death and destruction, and if you don’t want everything tied up in neat packages with 'happy ever after' stamped on them, you must read this trilogy.

View all my Goodreads reviews

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