Posts Tagged: Red Country

Cover Art for Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (UK)

Map by Dave Senior and Daggers by Didier Graffetaption

Today, Joe Abercrombie, best known for his fantasy trilogy, The First Law, announced his next novel today. It’s called Half a King, it’s unrelated to The First Law and it is aimed ‘partly at younger readers (maybe the 12-16 range).’ Abercrombie explains his decision to leave the world of The First Law and adult fiction behind (albeit temporarily):

[Half a King is] much shorter – 80,000 words compared to 175,000 for my shortest, Red Country, and 230,000 for my longest, Last Argument of Kings (though still over twice the length of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, believe it or not). It’s set in a very different world with what you might call a viking or anglo-saxon feel. It’s much more focused, with a single point of view. It’s not so overtly ‘gritty’ although it’s a long way from smooth.


I’ve published six hefty adult fantasy books in seven years. Although I’ve tried to make them all different in some ways – different structures, different settings, different points of view – they’re all pretty beefy, they’re all set in the same world, they have a similar tone, they cover some of the same ground. Though I’m very happy with and proud of the result, Red Country was a difficult book to write. I felt at times somewhat uninspired. Somewhat burned out. I really didn’t want, as I had every time in the past, to go straight on to working on the next book in the First Law world right after finishing one. I felt the need to step back, recharge the batteries, try something at least a little bit different. But at the same time I didn’t want the acorn to fall too far from the tree – I wanted it to be something that my established readers would enjoy, or perhaps even love with a flaming passion. I wanted to set up two separate lines of work that would complement each other creatively and commercially.

More than any other contemporary author, Abercrombie is known for injecting life (and, perhaps it could be argued, popularizing entirely) the fantasy’s popular movement towards ‘grimdark’ storytelling (don’t know what that it? Let Elizabeth Bear tell you), so it’s unusual (but, if you ask this guy, refreshing) to see him step away from that completely for his next series.

As much as I enjoy Abercrombie, I can only take so much of his trademark droll dialogue, self-destructive characters (despite my love for them!) and frenetic violence before I feel like the world’s about to fall out from under my feet. Abercrombie describes Half a King as ‘punchy’ rather than ‘gritty,’ and he hopes ‘to deliver a slap in the face with every page.’ The biggest issue with some of his recent books is their tendency to feel like the author was trying to ‘out-Abercrombie’ himself, to up the ante beyond what he’d done previously. So, I’m looking forward to this change of pace. It sounds like just the thing to re-energize the (self-described) burned out author.

Abercrombie’s future plans? To finish this trilogy, and then begin working on a new adult trilogy set in The First Law universe:

My plan now is that the two sequels, cautiously titled Half the World and Half a War, will be my main focus for the next year or so. I’m already a few chapters into the first draft of the second book. I hope to have those two books finished not long after the publication of Half a King in July 2014. Then I’ll start work on the adult trilogy in the First Law world. So that’s me kept pretty busy ’til … at least winter 2017, I’d say. Which is both rather nice and rather horrifying.

Half a King will be published by HarperCollins in July, 2014. The sequels, Half the World and Half a War, will follow at six-month intervals. It’s interesting to note that Abercrombie has sold more than three million books to date. That’s a hell of a lot.

Cover Art for Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (UK)

Map by Dave Senior and Daggers by Didier Graffetaption

From the horse’s mouth to your ears:

I’ve got a contract for three more books in the First Law world, and those will be a trilogy, and I have some rough ideas about what the content and characters might be.

Yippee. But, we already knew that, didn’t we? For about two years. In a recent ‘guest post’ (to use the term loosely, it was more of an open letter to his fans on his publisher’s website), Abercrombie addressed this trilogy, and some of the complications he’s been facing in writing it. He further describes those ideas about content and characters for the trilogy as ‘very rough.’ With his previous projects, Abercrombie has finished each book with a good idea of what was coming next, so that he was well into the writing of it by the time his previous book was published. He explains, however, that Red Country was a difficult book to write.

He says,

Red Country was pretty draining. Not that I’m not totally delighted with the results because, you know, brilliant book and all that, but I found it hard work. Felt burned out at times. Felt like I was having to reach a long way for new ideas, new ways of doing things. It was not, at all times, a joyous process. So now seems a good time to take a break, do some reading, do some thinking, recharge the creative batteries.

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Red Country by Joe AbercrombieRed Country by Joe Abercrombie
Red Country, Joe Abercrombie’s sixth novel, and third standalone novel, might have been delayed by a few weeks in the US, but lucky for fans (or those interested in sneak peeks, at least…), his UK publisher, Gollancz, has released an excerpt of the first three chapters of Red Country for readers to ogle.

‘I have suffered many disappointments.’ Nicomo Cosca, captain general of the Company of the Gracious Hand, leaned back stiffly upon one elbow as he spoke. ‘I suppose every great man faces them. Abandons dreams wrecked by betrayal and finds new ones to pursue.’ He frowned towards Mulkova, columns of smoke drifting from the burning city and up into the blue heavens. ‘I have abandoned very many dreams.’

‘That must have taken tremendous courage,’ said Sworbreck, eyeglasses briefly twinkling as he looked up from his notes.

‘Indeed! I lose count of the number of times my death has been prematurely declared by one optimistic enemy or another. Forty years of trials, struggles, challenges, betrayals. Live long enough . . . you see everything ruined.’ Cosca shook himself from his reverie. ‘But it hasn’t been boring, at least! What adventures along the way, eh, Temple?’

Temple winced. He had borne personal witness to five years of occasional fear, frequent tedium, intermittent diarrhoea, failure to avoid the plague, and avoiding fighting as if it was the plague. But he was not paid for the truth.

Far from it.

Once you’ve had your fill of Chapter One, Chapter Two, and Chapter Three, you can sit patiently on your hands, waiting for Red Country to release on November 13th, 2012 (if you’re in America), or you can rush to your nearest bookstore in the UK and probably find a copy now.

RED COUNTRY by Joe AbercrombieStraight from the horse’s mouth:

I’m really, really gutted to report this, especially at such a late stage, but the US publication date for Red Country is dropping back three weeks to the 13th November.

UK publication remains unaffected.

The delay is unfortunate, especially at such a late point in the game, and doubly frustrating for American readers who were finally given a chance to read an Abercrombie novel just days after their UK and Canadian brethren, rather than the weeks that usually separate the releases of his novel in the different regions. Given that Gollancz was capable of publishing and releasing the novel on time, five days before the previous US release date, which cog in the great Orbit Books engine wasn’t sufficiently oiled. Abercrombie sheds some light on the delay, but it still seems like an unfortunate incident that could likely have been avoided:

[O]nce the manuscript was turned in it gradually became apparent that there had been one or more serious miscalculations or miscommunications somewhere and there wasn’t going to be enough time for proof-reading, setting, and the various necessary file jiggery-pokery to get the books printed and distributed across the US for the 23rd October publication date.

In any case, a three week wait won’t hurt anyone, and I’m sure the book will be mighty fine, regardless of the delay. Heck, it’ll likely be better, not being rush and all.

Also of note, it was recently revealed that Abercrombie has hit 1,000,000 novels sold worldwide. Impressive numbers.

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

‘Some men just like to burn,’ said Lamb.

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Thanks to Joe himself, we have an early look at his sixth novel, a standalone called Red Country, that mixes traditional Fantasy with a Western motif. Early word is that Red Country is one of Abercrombie’s best novels, though after being lukewarm on Best Served Cold and hearing conflicting opinions on The Heroes, I’m still not sure what to think of that. Either way, the excerpt looks good.

You can read the excerpt from Red Country on Joe Abercrombie’s website.