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Joe Abercrombie: The Collected Works (and in what order to read them) SPOILERS

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The thing about the Glokta story is, it isn't a story. It's a vignette: a scene. A character portrait, at best. It feels insubstantial, and so was slightly disappointing.

I also kind of disliked the Logen/Bethod story. I feel like Joe's gone way too far with the 'Logen was the bad one all along' angle. Logen's gone from a guy who was kidding himself about the hard truth, to straight-up unambiguously insane. To get from the guy in that last story to the guy in the original trilogy, he'd have to be either delusional to a high degree (like, barely functional) or suffering from amnesia.

So for me, the bookends aren't great, but every other story is pretty damn good. :)

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2 hours ago, mormont said:

I also kind of disliked the Logen/Bethod story. I feel like Joe's gone way too far with the 'Logen was the bad one all along' angle. Logen's gone from a guy who was kidding himself about the hard truth, to straight-up unambiguously insane. To get from the guy in that last story to the guy in the original trilogy, he'd have to be either delusional to a high degree (like, barely functional) or suffering from amnesia.

To be fair, Logen himself admitted in the trilogy that things got so bad during the war that at some points he didn't even know who he was. He talked about how Bethod and everyone else was afraid of him, and even he didn't know what he was going to do next. Logen also gets sick when he realizes who Shivvers was, which, considering the things that we'd seen him stomach up to that point, is a pretty big indicator that whatever he did to Rattleneck's other son was bad. Maybe we didn't want to believe it, but I think the implication of what Logen was is there in the trilogy.

If you read all of the First Law stories in publication order, then it does seem like the tone of Logen's character takes a drastic turn downwards. We start with his own POVs which, him being such a self-rationalizer, make him seem like a good man. Then we read what other people think about him in Best Served Cold and The Heroes. And perhaps more significantly, we also see another perspective on Bethod. By the time Red Country happens, Logen has pretty much accepted his own nature, and we see a much more grim version of him than what there was in the trilogy. Finishing all of that off with Made a Monster does indeed seem like Abercrombie is hammering the idea of Logen being a villain harder and harder with each book.

However, reading the stories chronologically, rather than in order of publication, it seems to me that Logen's arc is a little bit different. He wants to be a good man, but he passes over every opportunity to do so. The point of Red Country, to me, is that Logen finally learned his lesson about settling old scores, and accepts who and what he is. In doing this and recognizing his nature, he's able to make better decisions than he was in the past. We know from Shy's POVs that he was able to live a peaceful life for a very long time. And when violence comes into that life again, he admits to what he is rather than trying to justify what he's doing. Recall what Black Dow said, that what makes Logen so dangerous is that he thinks he's a hero.

The old Logen would have pretended that everything he did was unpleasant, but in some way necessary. Lamb admits to Shy that the first thing that he felt when he saw the farm in ashes was joy, because he knew what he's have to do. The old Logen would have probably stayed with Shy and the others in the end, or more likely fought Shivers, then gone north to kill Scale on some pretext of protecting his family or settling old scores. But he covers up the stump of his missing finger and tells Shivers that the Bloody Nine is dead. Then he leaves, to protect the children as much from himself as from those that might come after him.

Riding off into the sunset at the end is, I think, as close as we're ever going to get to closure from Logen. Ditto Shivers letting go of his grudge. Neither of them are heroes, but they each made the right decision in the end.

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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2 minutes ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

To be fair, Logen himself admitted in the trilogy that things got so bad during the war that at some points he didn't even know who he was. He talked about how Bethod and everyone else was afraid of him, and even he didn't know what he was going to do next. Logen also gets sick when he realizes who Shivvers was, which, considering the things that we'd seen him stomach up to that point, is a pretty big indicator that whatever he did to Rattleneck's other son was bad. Maybe we didn't want to believe it, but I think the implication of what Logen was is there in the trilogy.

I think that's hindsight bias, honestly. I don't think we were supposed to pick up that Logen (when not being the Bloody-Nine) was that bad: I'd be prepared to bet that at the point the trilogy was being written, Joe hadn't decided that he was that bad (though he clearly intended that he should be worse than we knew).

2 minutes ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

If you read all of the First Law stories in publication order, then it does seem like the tone of Logen's character takes a drastic turn downwards. We start with his own POVs which, him being such a self-rationalizer, make him seem like a good man. Then we read what other people think about him in Best Served Cold and The Heroes. And perhaps more significantly, we also see another perspective on Bethod.

That's the other angle: I think that Logen being terrible shouldn't mean Bethod not being so bad. There's less of that, though, and I still find it believable that Bethod is the same guy from a different perspective. But overall, I find it a lot easier to head-canon the idea that the whole Made a Monster story is Bethod exaggerating Logen's barbarity and excusing a lot of his own bad decisions.

2 minutes ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

 Recall what Black Dow said, that what makes Logen so dangerous is that he thinks he's a hero.

That's my basic point, yes. I can buy that Logen might think that letting the Bloody-Nine out in battle is an unpleasant necessity that a hero might have to shoulder for the greater good. Even that conquering the North was the same, and that cultivating a terrible reputation by making an example of people might be part of that.

But the guy in Made a Monster can't possibly think of himself as a hero doing what's necessary, particularly not in his final act. That would be actually impossible, even for a madman - and trilogy-Logen is not that. And there's no way the likes of Threetrees or Tul Duru would still feel genuine loyalty to the character that does that, even after his apparent death. At least, not for me. 

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22 minutes ago, mormont said:

That's my basic point, yes. I can buy that Logen might think that letting the Bloody-Nine out in battle is an unpleasant necessity that a hero might have to shoulder for the greater good. Even that conquering the North was the same, and that cultivating a terrible reputation by making an example of people might be part of that.

But the guy in Made a Monster can't possibly think of himself as a hero doing what's necessary, particularly not in his final act. That would be actually impossible, even for a madman - and trilogy-Logen is not that. And there's no way the likes of Threetrees or Tul Duru would still feel genuine loyalty to the character that does that, even after his apparent death. At least, not for me. 

Well I don't think that Logen ever tried to justify what he did when he was fighting for Bethod. If anything it's the opposite, he seems disgusted with himself whenever he thinks or talks about those days.

"Blood gets you nothing but more blood. It follows me now, always, like my shadow, and like my shadow I can never be free of it. I should never be free of it. I’ve earned it. I’ve deserved it. I’ve sought it out. Such is my punishment."

"They were all shitting themselves, even Bethod, and no one was more scared of me than I was."

I agree that it's odd that Threetrees would follow somebody like that. But I would think of that kind of like Barristan Selmy serving Mad Aerys. It goes back to Craw's mentality about "the right thing" and sticking by your chief. Black Dow had done things just ad bad as what Logen did to Rattleneck's son (though perhaps not quite with as much enthusiasm). Remember Craw was on the other side of the battle in the high places when Dow took people that had surrendered and burned them alive, and he still chose his chief over the man that he thought of as a son.

Let me ask you something I've been wondering about with that story. Did you take what Logen did as the Bloody Nine bleeding across into Logen and becoming the dominant personality, as Bethod's wife suggested, or did you think he did what he did in a deliberate attempt to prolong the fighting?

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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6 hours ago, mormont said:

The thing about the Glokta story is, it isn't a story. It's a vignette: a scene. A character portrait, at best. It feels insubstantial, and so was slightly disappointing.

 

 I also found the scene a little unnecessary. Part of the genius of the trilogy was how much of your imagination went into the back story of all these characters. Abercormbie had already laid that scene out perfectly without describing it in detail. I didn't need it again.

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9 hours ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

Well I don't think that Logen ever tried to justify what he did when he was fighting for Bethod. If anything it's the opposite, he seems disgusted with himself whenever he thinks or talks about those days.

"Blood gets you nothing but more blood. It follows me now, always, like my shadow, and like my shadow I can never be free of it. I should never be free of it. I’ve earned it. I’ve deserved it. I’ve sought it out. Such is my punishment."

"They were all shitting themselves, even Bethod, and no one was more scared of me than I was."

Yeah, but that all suggests someone who realises what he was doing was wrong. That isn't congruent with the character in Made a Monster. That character is way over the line between someone doing something he would later realise was wrong, and someone who is actually psychotic.

9 hours ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

I agree that it's odd that Threetrees would follow somebody like that. But I would think of that kind of like Barristan Selmy serving Mad Aerys.

Except that we know it isn't. That's not how the relationship is portrayed in the original trilogy at all. It's one of personal loyalty, even affection, not of duty and doing the right thing.

9 hours ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

Black Dow had done things just ad bad as what Logen did to Rattleneck's son (though perhaps not quite with as much enthusiasm).

True.

9 hours ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

Let me ask you something I've been wondering about with that story. Did you take what Logen did as the Bloody Nine bleeding across into Logen and becoming the dominant personality, as Bethod's wife suggested, or did you think he did what he did in a deliberate attempt to prolong the fighting?

I'm not sure how to take it, to be honest. But it wasn't a rational act.

4 hours ago, Howdyphillip said:

 I also found the scene a little unnecessary. Part of the genius of the trilogy was how much of your imagination went into the back story of all these characters. Abercormbie had already laid that scene out perfectly without describing it in detail. I didn't need it again.

I enjoyed it a good deal, and I'm not saying it was unnecessary. It just wasn't really a story.

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Is this the thread to talk about the Shattered Sea trilogy as well?  I'm nearly done...would like to get some thoughts once I finished.

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46 minutes ago, HokieStone said:

Is this the thread to talk about the Shattered Sea trilogy as well?  I'm nearly done...would like to get some thoughts once I finished.

I think we're down to one JA thread. I was considering starting one for FLT dream-casting.

Edited by Writhen

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22 hours ago, mormont said:

Yeah, but that all suggests someone who realises what he was doing was wrong. That isn't congruent with the character in Made a Monster. That character is way over the line between someone doing something he would later realise was wrong, and someone who is actually psychotic.

Yeah but he admits during the trilogy, and again during RC, that he lost his mind during Bethod's war of conquest. Tbh what he did isn't even that unusual. Shivers and Calder both killed unarmed prisoners on a whim too, and it didn't raise too many eyebrows. I think what was so disturbing was the way he laughed and played with the body afterwards. Though, sick as it was, even that wasn't as unusual as it sounds. Soldiers pose with or mutilate dead bodies in every war. Not the majority of them, but it happens.

Quote

Except that we know it isn't. That's not how the relationship is portrayed in the original trilogy at all. It's one of personal loyalty, even affection, not of duty and doing the right thing.

I honestly cannot remember Threetrees's attitude towards Logen in the trilogy. Logen certainly had a great deal of respect and admiration towards Threetrees, but did Threetrees talk about him all that much? I also seem to recall Logen being pretty unsure of the kind of welcome that he'd receive when he came back to his old crew.

Quote

I'm not sure how to take it, to be honest. But it wasn't a rational act.

Something interesting I noticed is that characters in the story kept asking Bethod what was going to happen to the Bloody Nine when all the fighting was done, saying that some swords can't just be hung up. And when they spoke in Logen's tent (which btw, was one of the creepiest scenes Abercrombie has ever written), I got the impression that Logen was clinging to his role as Bethod's killer like it was a life raft, like blood was the only thing he had left. Me thinks that Bethod telling him that the wars would go on forever if Rattleneck didn't get his son back was a mistake. To me it seems like what Logen did may have been a calculated act, even if he wasn't necessarily aware of it.

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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7 hours ago, HokieStone said:

Is this the thread to talk about the Shattered Sea trilogy as well?  I'm nearly done...would like to get some thoughts once I finished.

Here is a Shattered Sea specific thread 

 

 

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11 hours ago, HokieStone said:

Is this the thread to talk about the Shattered Sea trilogy as well?  I'm nearly done...would like to get some thoughts once I finished.

There is a Shattered Sea thread.  I'd welcome your opinions.

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4 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Here is a Shattered Sea specific thread 

 

 

 

36 minutes ago, SeanF said:

There is a Shattered Sea thread.  I'd welcome your opinions.

 

Thanks very much...I'll likely finish the books this weekend, and then dive into that thread!

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On ‎5‎/‎26‎/‎2016 at 7:01 AM, HokieStone said:

Thanks very much...I'll likely finish the books this weekend, and then dive into that thread!

 

I stand corrected. Enjoy.

 

I finished BTAH. Great ending ... working on LAOK.

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4 minutes ago, Andrew Gilfellon said:

Wait. Ferro was mentioned in BSC? Where? When? How?

IIRC Ishiri/East Wind mentions an Eater having been killed by a mad women back home. The assumption is the killer was Ferro..

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2 hours ago, Mick of House Guinness said:

IIRC Ishiri/East Wind mentions an Eater having been killed by a mad women back home. The assumption is the killer was Ferro..

Ah. I must've missed that bit. I read the series when it first came out.  I got the LAOK with the missing pages. Recently listened to them on Audible again and I still missed that. Hah. Thanks.

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3 hours ago, Mick of House Guinness said:

IIRC Ishiri/East Wind mentions an Eater having been killed by a mad women back home. The assumption is the killer was Ferro..

Yep, that's the one. I think she says a woman looking for revenge, rather than a mad woman though. 

The Audible books are really very good, I've been listening to them since I got some free credit and all the voices used are great

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4 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Yep, that's the one. I think she says a woman looking for revenge, rather than a mad woman though. 

The Audible books are really very good, I've been listening to them since I got some free credit and all the voices used are great

I tried listening to one of The Shattered Sea trilogy on Audible and although I agree that it is very good, It just didn't resonate with me. The reason is every time I read Joe Abercrombie, I hear the characters in an American accent. This is really strange because the author is British, but it is how I hear them. 

On the other hand I read GRRM in a British accent, and he is American.

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I enjoyed Sharp ends in that there were enough excellent segments to justify the less awesome ones. I'm not a huge fan of short stories in that I'm very particular about them. I was initially intrigued at how shev and javre appeared to have a novella within an anthology but their stories were more like snapshots and unless I failed to connect the dots left a lot of moments unresolved. I really hope we get to see the two of them down the road. Carcolf I'm not so bothered about but I agree with others that there seemed to be intentional hints that her father was someone we should know. No idea who though.

"Made a Monster" was chilling but like others have said it raises a ton of questions regarding Logen and his band of brothers. How and when did Logen return to the character we love? Because Dogman and co really shouldn't have much respect for him. I also felt bad for Bethod as it did seem he was speaking the truth in LAOK when he said he was a victim of Logen's machinations. Of course, we don't know (or I've forgotten) what Bethod did to make the monster and if we did he may seem less a victim again.

My hazy recollections has definitely comitted me to doing a re-read of the series just before the next trilogy lands. I'll certainly do the short stories again to as I think I'll get more out of it when more famiiar with the whole thing. I don't usually do rereads but there are enough twists and revelations in the series to make the experience a different one the second time through in that I can keep a closer eye on everything Logen and Bayaz do. Same with Bethod and many others.

I've started Mark Lawrence's "Wheel of Osheim" book. I only mention this because I used to draw similarities between the two (still do in terms of type of story) but it's really clear going straight from one to the other that their writing styles are very different. It could be their styles have both evolved over the years or I was maybe letting the story brush over the style.

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Had to return LAOK. I'll come back to the FLT before the flicks come out, hopefully.

 

 

Maybe I'll find the other two standalones first.

Edited by Writhen

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