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Joe Abercrombie: The Collected Works 2 (A new trilogy on the horizon)

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4 hours ago, Pilusmagnus said:

Orientalism doesn't mean that the Eastern-type regions are presented as worse than the Western-type ones. It just means they are built around the harmful erroneous representations that allowed Europeans to assert their moral superiority over colonized lands.

I failed to see that. Could you provide an example? I saw some clichés, but I don't remember any "harmful" cliché.

Ghurkul is a ruthless expansionist empire, but so is the Union. They are puppets of an external force, but so is the Union. They employ torture, but so does the Union...

 

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Them being a nation of free-will-deprived slaves submitted to the aura of an all-powerful God-Emperor, that are contrasted against the individualistic rationalistic mindset of the pseudo-democratic pseudo-Enlightened Union doesn't make it clear enough?

And again, I'm not saying that the Gurkhish are set up as worse than the Union. That's beside the point. Nor do I consider orientalism to be an unforgivable crime. GRRM does it too, and I still like the Essos chapters. I'm not exactly reading Abercrombie to avoid clichés. To subvert them, you first have to use them, right?

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Pilusmagnus said:

Them being a nation of free-will-deprived slaves submitted to the aura of an all-powerful God-Emperor, that are contrasted against the individualistic rationalistic mindset of the pseudo-democratic pseudo-Enlightened Union doesn't make it clear enough?

I can see how you could get this view, since our only POV from Kanta is Ferro. But she was not Gurkish, but from a conquered land. We would also perceive the Union as a "nation of free-will-deprived slaves" if our only window to it had been some of the defeated rebels from Starikland. And similarly, we may have gotten a much better impression of the Gurkish if we had POVs among their elite. Surely they also have brilliant intellectuals, theologists and artists that can rival anyone from the Union.

I may be misremembering (it's been years since my last read), but I don't think we never had any actual insight the inner workings of the Empire or the rights of their citizens. So I'm not sure if we can assert with any actual basis whether they are more or less individualistic, rational, democratic, or enlightened than their Union counterparts.

Edited by The hairy bear

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6 hours ago, SeanF said:

I've always thought of orientalism as involving a kind of patronising contempt for supposedly more backward countries, trapped in superstition and sensuality.

That's not really the impression I get of Gurkhul..  People fear them.  They comment about how well-organised they are, and how formidable their armies are.  The people who underrate them are stupid.

 

 

Not necessarily. Orientalism is a way of presenting eastern societies that reverts to inaccurate stereotypes developed by outsiders- in the Western tradition, this goes back to Herodotus, who as Greek historians go, was relatively willing to praise other cultures, including Persian ones. You don't need contempt to engage with Orientalism. And I don't think anyone is saying that Abercrombie is trying to instill contempt, just that his depiction of the Gurkhish relies on Orientalising stereotypes, and this makes them a relatively uninteresting society to explore, in the same way that Essos is much less interesting than Westeros.

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17 hours ago, Pilusmagnus said:

Them being a nation of free-will-deprived slaves submitted to the aura of an all-powerful God-Emperor, that are contrasted against the individualistic rationalistic mindset of the pseudo-democratic pseudo-Enlightened Union doesn't make it clear enough?

And again, I'm not saying that the Gurkhish are set up as worse than the Union. That's beside the point. Nor do I consider orientalism to be an unforgivable crime. GRRM does it too, and I still like the Essos chapters. I'm not exactly reading Abercrombie to avoid clichés. To subvert them, you first have to use them, right?

That is how the leaders of the Union like to see their respective societies, but it's  belied by the facts.  The Union's university is a joke, they're behind Gurkhul in terms of military technology,  and the Gurkish treat the natives of Dagoska with more humanity than the Union ever did.

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14 hours ago, Caligula_K3 said:

Not necessarily. Orientalism is a way of presenting eastern societies that reverts to inaccurate stereotypes developed by outsiders- in the Western tradition, this goes back to Herodotus, who as Greek historians go, was relatively willing to praise other cultures, including Persian ones. You don't need contempt to engage with Orientalism. And I don't think anyone is saying that Abercrombie is trying to instill contempt, just that his depiction of the Gurkhish relies on Orientalising stereotypes, and this makes them a relatively uninteresting society to explore, in the same way that Essos is much less interesting than Westeros.

Joe’s depiction of how Ferro and Union leadership perceive the Gurkhish relies on Orientalism.  Which is not quite the same as what you’re asserting and the lost nuance is important. One might argue that Joe’s depiction is actually a comment on the Union itself and how Western societies viewed Eastern societies, and how that western view is ultimately flawed. 

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4 hours ago, unJon said:

Joe’s depiction of how Ferro and Union leadership perceive the Gurkhish relies on Orientalism.  Which is not quite the same as what you’re asserting and the lost nuance is important. One might argue that Joe’s depiction is actually a comment on the Union itself and how Western societies viewed Eastern societies, and how that western view is ultimately flawed. 

Which asserts my view that Gurkhul is a subverted and self-conscious orientalist cliché, but an orientalist cliché nonetheless.

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56 minutes ago, Pilusmagnus said:

Which asserts my view that Gurkhul is a subverted and self-conscious orientalist cliché, but an orientalist cliché nonetheless.

Disagree. It does not show Gurkhul is orientalist cliche. It shows that Ferro and Union leadership views on Gurkhul are orientalist cliche. It doesn’t actually show anything about Gurkhul than a real world Westernist orientalist views of the East shows. 

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21 hours ago, unJon said:

Disagree. It does not show Gurkhul is orientalist cliche. It shows that Ferro and Union leadership views on Gurkhul are orientalist cliche. It doesn’t actually show anything about Gurkhul than a real world Westernist orientalist views of the East shows. 

The fact that we're six books into this world and we haven't gotten past the orientalist cliches suggests that this is an aspect of the worldbuilding, and not just Ferro and the Union leaders happening to have nearly identical orientalist views of the Gurkhish despite being from different cultures and backgrounds.

Look, I love Joe's books. But he's not the first and he won't be the last fantasy author to rely on these tropes. 

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1 hour ago, Caligula_K3 said:

The fact that we're six books into this world and we haven't gotten past the orientalist cliches suggests that this is an aspect of the worldbuilding, and not just Ferro and the Union leaders happening to have nearly identical orientalist views of the Gurkhish despite being from different cultures and backgrounds.

Look, I love Joe's books. But he's not the first and he won't be the last fantasy author to rely on these tropes. 

This would be such an interesting point for @Joe Abercrombie to weigh in on. Wonder if Summon Author will work. 

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After digging into Sharp Ends I'm wondering when Joe is going to revisit Shev and Javre. Given the size of the trilogy and the amount of work it will talk (copy-editing, publicity tours, etc) I fear I am in for a long wait.  

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Posted (edited)

Re: orientalism 

I think the argument that orientalist cliches are used is strengthened by the fact that we don't get (in either first law or ASoIaF)a Ghurkish POV or an Essosi or Mereneese POV.  We get Northmen and everything else but there is still this unknown and exotic Other.  That's not really the dig at either series that it seems like; it's really just recognizing something that both texts are lacking.  

I think you could easily argue that at least from a structural perspective, both have some orientalist characteristics (fwiw I think this is much more pronounced in ASoIaF).  

Edited by larrytheimp

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15 hours ago, larrytheimp said:

Re: orientalism 

I think the argument that orientalist cliches are used is strengthened by the fact that we don't get (in either first law or ASoIaF)a Ghurkish POV or an Essosi or Mereneese POV.  We get Northmen and everything else but there is still this unknown and exotic Other.  That's not really the dig at either series that it seems like; it's really just recognizing something that both texts are lacking.  

I think you could easily argue that at least from a structural perspective, both have some orientalist characteristics (fwiw I think this is much more pronounced in ASoIaF).  

Not helped that a 'westerner' (Dany) turns up to sort out their shit

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17 hours ago, larrytheimp said:

Re: orientalism 

I think the argument that orientalist cliches are used is strengthened by the fact that we don't get (in either first law or ASoIaF)a Ghurkish POV or an Essosi or Mereneese POV.  We get Northmen and everything else but there is still this unknown and exotic Other.  That's not really the dig at either series that it seems like; it's really just recognizing something that both texts are lacking.  

I think you could easily argue that at least from a structural perspective, both have some orientalist characteristics (fwiw I think this is much more pronounced in ASoIaF).  

Agree. But it’s also possible that if we get a Ghurkish POV that it will destroy the orientalist preconceptions that the Union and Ferro POVs has. Joe has left himself that ability, which was my point up thread. We can’t yet conclude that the orientalist description of Ghurkal is accurate.

I haven’t gone back to read the end of LAOK, so wonder if anything points to orientalism being correct or not when the Ghurkal’s make an appearance. Or anything we could pick up from BTAH?

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Posted (edited)

Very interesting AMA. Some of the highlights regarding the new book are:

  • The new trilogy will have seven POVs, and five of them are the children of characters from the first trilogy. One of them will be the Dogman's daughter.
  • Other characters that will return (not as POVs) will be Glokta (in a central position), Bayaz (but not as a focal character), Isern-i-Phail (Crummock-i-phail's daughter), Gorst, and Vitari & Shenkt (briefly).
  • Shev, Javre, and Carcolf are not going to appear. Neither will Shy and Temple, although Temple's law firm will be mentioned.
  • We won't have any Gurkish POV.
  • We won't know more about Bedesh's fate, the world below or the tellers of lies.
  • He recalls writing four "mosaic sequences" in the new trilogy: a giant riot, the demonstration of an exciting new machine which goes horribly wrong, a major battle, and the fall of a great city.

The fact that one of those last scenes includes a "giant riot" combined with Abercrombie explaining that he is currently reading books about the French and Russian revolutions suggest that in the new trilogy we won't be having only an industrial revolution, but also one against the merchants and the nobility. Now I'm fearing for Jezal's head.

Edited by The hairy bear

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I'm very excited for this. Hopefully it will be a '1 book a year' trilogy.  Not one a decade like some other fantasy authors. 

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58 minutes ago, BigFatCoward said:

I'm very excited for this. Hopefully it will be a '1 book a year' trilogy.  Not one a decade like some other fantasy authors. 

He has all the books written already and will be editing them as the prior book releases to push them out.

Even without that approach, Joe has never been one to take excessive time between novels.

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