Thursday, November 15, 2018

Book Review: Sharp Ends, by Joe Abercrombie

Sharp Ends is a dozen short stories of the sword and sorcery variety (more sword, less sorcery), set in a bleak, dark ages type setting. The stories are bleak and brutal, but the writing is beautiful. I found, however, that the action generally unfolds very slowly. The scenes are painted exquisitely, but there is not a lot of urgency to the stories. This book was my first introduction to Abercrombie’s work; it may be that having read his novels would yield context that would make the stories more enjoyable. As a standalone work, some stories are tied together by the recurrence of several characters, the most memorable of which are Javre and Shev, a gritty modern feminist version of Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser.

Despite the excellent wordcraft, I did not find the plots particularly gripping, or the characters particularly compelling, or the fantasy particularly illuminating. Perhaps if I had read the novels first I would feel differently, but I’m not a huge grimdark fan to begin with, and without the supersonic pace of a Harry Connolly yarn or the grand vision of G.R.R. Martin I found the florid prose tended to drag.

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