This year, as both my regular readers already know, I went through the First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, a fantasy series that not only belongs to the so-called grimdark subgenre, but that seems to perfectly exemplify its tropes and its spirit. As I reviewed each book of the trilogy, I often found myself having thoughts that went beyond my appreciation or criticim of the single novels, instead extending to the very premises and characteristics of grimdark more in general.
Summer Frost – by Blake Crouch
Summer Frost is the last story I’ve read from the Forward series (coincidentally, I realised just now from goodreads that they were supposed to go in a different order… Not that it matters since they aren’t interconnected in any way). My other experiences with the series had been quite mixed, and I confess I only knew Blake Crouch by his reputation, so my expectations were once again very vague and open-ended. If last pick had been a major letdown, however, this time I was pleasantly surprised.
You Have Arrived At Your Destination – by Amor Towles
Okay, time to talk about yet another short story from the Forward collection. Once again, I dove into it with no idea what to expect, and mainly because on my list of Things To Complete within the end of the year. So without any further ado, let’s talk about…
Last Argument Of Kings – by Joe Abercrombie
Last Argument Of Kings is the third and final novel of the already famous (or notorious) First Law trilogy – and while there are several other books set in the same universe, I think I have seen enough of it, at least for a while. But, before I move on to something else, here I am sharing my thoughts on this final installment of the series.
Tigana – by Guy Gavriel Kay
Tigana, in my experience, has always been surrounded by a significant amount of hype, since I kept on seeing it recommended as The Ultimate Example of high quality, well written fantasy. Which intrigued me, but also set some fairly high expectations, not so easy to live up to. After actually reading the book, here’s my take on it.
A Master Of Djinn – by P. Djèlí Clark
If you follow this blog, the Dead Djinn Universe needs no introduction at this point. After talking about the shorter works set in its world, we now get to its longest and most famous piece, that is to say A Master Of Djinn. I was really excited to go back once again to P. Djèlí Clark’s enchanted Cairo, and even more so to see a more extensive exploration of its themes.
Ark – by Veronica Roth
Here we go again, another story from the Forward collection – I mean, the end of the year is approaching and I must Finish Things Up, otherwise… nothing will happen, but still. Okay, so let’s talk about Ark by Veronica Roth, whose name of course I knew because who hasn’t heard about Divergent, but whose work I had never actually read before.
The Death Of Vivek Oji – by Akwaeke Emezi
Here I am, once again back to the realm of highly anticipated reads. Already familiar with Emezi’s astonishing debut Freshwater, I was nothing less than excited to read their second book, that once again deals with themes of gender, identity, sexuality in the context of Nigerian culture. I was very eager to read it, and at the same time ready to get hurt; in both senses I was not disappointed.
The Last Conversation – by Paul Tremblay
As promised, here I am once again, commenting on another piece of the Forward collection – this time, The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay. I picked it up randomly from the stories I had left, without any specific expectation either on its quality or vibe. So let’s talk about what I have found.
Before They Are Hanged – by Joe Abercrombie
After surviving The Blade Itself, I was tempted to abandon the First Law series for good – but no, who am I kidding, I had to go back and see how it developed. So, does it get any better? Well, as I said the series wasn’t bad in the first place, just very frustrating for my tastes. The second book doesn’t depart too much from what we already know, but it does effectively build on its established foundation. To what end? Well, let’s see…