Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

First Laws First

This weekend, I have… a few things to do. I need to write a short story. (I am telling myself I will keep it short. 3K-5K words. Brevity is not my strength, but I am going to try.) I also need to get some momentum going on this novel that’s due in August, as so far I’ve just been plinking away at it in a distracted way. It has a pretty extensive outline, at least, so I should be able to get a goodly number of words down. I’ve been absorbed in reading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy in every spare moment, so I haven’t been writing as much as I should. But I finished reading that last night, and now I can devote my full attention to my own fictional world. (Or rather, my contribution to the fictional world of the Pathfinder Tales.)

Speaking of the First Law: wow, is that a bleak series. There’s some nice camaraderie among the protagonists (not, mostly, “heroes”) earlier, especially in the second book, but those rays of sunshine largely vanish in book three, and things get harsh. I mean, George Martin is famous for ruthlessly murdering characters you care about, but Abercrombie doesn’t even always give his characters the sweet release of death — they just get trapped in horrible ongoing situations that they can only bear by going to great lengths of self-deception. (Then again, they’re better off than all the little people who just get shot with arrows or eaten by cannibals or crushed by falling rocks.) That’s not to say I didn’t like the series — I did, immensely — but wow. Nice guys finish last and evil guys don’t do much better.

I especially like Abercrombie’s inversion of the “wise old wizard” trope. Powerful immortals would almost certainly be vicious uncaring bastards, after all. And he really plays with notions of “good” and “evil,” especially in the follow-up standalone Best Served Cold (which I read first, though I don’t recommend doing so, as it provides some spoilers for the trilogy, being set a few years afterward). The powerful oppositional figures pulling the strings in his world aren’t “good” and “bad,” any more than two chess players are. But it sure sucks to be a pawn… Nothing left to read now but The Heroes, then I’ll be stuck like everyone who’s been reading him from the beginning, waiting 18 months between books. Long may he write.

Sunday is Mother’s Day, so I won’t be working too much then. I’ll take my wife to get some brunch and then we’ll do something fun as a family (as per my wife’s request). It’ll be a nice break from writing about my own crew of vicious fantasy bastards. (Actually, only one is really vicious. Another is a self-absorbed know-it-all, and the last has a certain flexible morality.)

3 Responses to “First Laws First”

  1. travelinjack Says:

    *Insert generic happy mothers day* which seems kind of redundant.
    I randomly picked up a copy of Little Gods while I was out at Fort Detrick. I finished it somewhere between Tennessee and Colorado on my way to Monterey. Finding time to read a few pages in Hart and Boot or reading a passage out of If there were wolves has been one of the only things keeping Korean linguist training from turning me into a gibbering idiot. My wife gets the majority of the credit, but reading definetly helps.

  2. Cherry Mischievous Says:

    Is there a list of books written by T. A. Pratt according to reading order?

  3. admin Says:

    Sure! The Marla Mason novels go like this: Blood Engines, Poison Sleep, Dead Reign, Spell Games, Broken Mirrors. Then there’s Bone Shop, which is a prequel and can be read any time, though I think it works best after Dead Reign, as it casts some new light on events in that book particularly.

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