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A True Kaniggit

The First Law- But a Second Reread (or Third, or Fourth or Fi.....) spoilers for First Law books

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For anyone who hasn't been in the general Joe Abercrombie thread recently. We're starting a reread of the books in his First Law Universe in preparation/anticipation of his next book, A Little Hatred, which is expected to come out later this year.

The hairy bear has been kind enough to create a schedule for the start of the reread, beginning with The Blade Itself 

FEBRUARY: THE BLADE ITSELF

  • 4/Feb/19 -> Part 1 (chapters 1-9): The End, The Survivors, Questions, No Choice at All, Playing With Knives, Teeth and Fingers, The Wide and Barren North, Fencing Practice, The Morning Ritual.
  • 11/Feb/19 -> Part 1 (Chapters 10-19): First of the Magi, The Good Man, On the List, An Offer and a Gift, The King of the Northmen, A Road Between Two Dentists, Flatheads, The Course of True Love, How Dogs Are Trained, Tea and Vengeance Trained, Tea and Vengeance.
  • 18/Feb/19 -> Part 2 (Chapters 20-32): What Freedom Looks Like, The King's Justice, Means of Escape, Three Signs, The Theatrical Outfitter's, Barbarians at the Gate, Next, Better than Death, Sore Thumb, Questions, Nobility, Dark Work, Words and Dust.
  • 25/Feb/19 -> Part 2 (Chapters 33-46): The Remarkable Talents of Bro. Longfoot, Her Kind Fight Everything, She Loves Me… Not, The Seed, Never Bet Against a Magus, The Ideal Audience, The House of the Maker, Nobody's Dog, Every Man Worships Himself, Old Friends, Back to the Mud, Misery, The Bloody-Nine, The Tools We Have

Initial discussion of the first 9 chapters can start next Monday, 4 February 2019.

...... So get reading those of you who didn't know about the reread but would like to participate!

Edit: Credit to red snow for thread title.

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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Started yesterday.  Some good trends and catchphrases early and some things I already know I won’t see crop up again.

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I’m not sure I’ll reread, but I plan to read this thread avidly!

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Any chapters with foreshadowing/things linked to the new trilogy we should pay particular attention to? 

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Started last night. I expect I will fall behind at some point but look forward to some discussion with you all.

Reading Glokta chapters again is an absolute treat, I had forgotten just how entertaining he is as both a character and POV 

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I re-read the trilogy and BSC about a year ago. I need to re-read The Heroes and Red Country. I'll follow this thread, though.

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Here are my thoughts for the first nine chapters:

Things I loved:

  • It's a great read. Pure Abercrombie. Great characterizations, billiant dialogues (Jezal and Ardee first encounter is gold), playful tone, superb action scenes, lots of quotable parts ...
  • The first scenes for the three main characters are really good. In particular, Logen's prologue starting in media res at the middle of a skirmish is a great introduction, showing with only a few pages the main traits of the character: battleworn, reflexive, practical, stoical... Both Glokta and Jezal came across as characters you love to hate (In my first read I was convinced they would be Logen's antagonists)
  • In the first few chapters many great characters are already introduced or name-dropped: the Dogman, prince Ladisla, Bayaz, Bremen dan Gorst,... There's also a cameo of Sargent Forest, who Abecrombie confirmed that would have a significant appearance at ALH.

Things I didn't like:

  • In second read, I find that it's a bit out of character that Logen leaves all his companions for dead. He returns to his camp and does not find a single corpse of his old friends. One could fear that some had been killed, but I don't see why he takes for granted that all of them are dead. His band included some of the toughest names in the North. And if they really had been against impossible odds, one would expect that at least one of them would have died. A danger that even Forley the Weakest can escape from can't be that unavoidable.
  • Logen's spirit-talking and the fire-breatheing abilities are inconsistent with the later depictions of the character. I fail to see why he wouldn't look for guidance with the spirits in later situations (they provide him with real useful information, after all), or why he doesn't put some fire under his tongue before every battle. I guess it's the remnant of a previous idea of Logen that wasn't developed, but it should have been edited out. It's the anti-Chekov gun! :P

Random thoughts:

  • How do you imagine the Shanka? Perhaps because of them being called "flatheads", I imagined them very different from humans, closer to trolls, orcs or goblins (in my first read I thought that Abercrombie was doing some kind of hobbit->kender move. That is, making up a new name for something that already had one). But the comic adaptation made them very human-like, so perhaps they are just some backward tribe.
  • Thinking about it, couldn't it be that when Logen falls at the river the Bloody-Nine saves his life? Otherwise, it wouldn't seem realistic that he gets unconscious under water and wakes up some hours later on the river bank.
  • It's the first reread I make with the complete map of the Circle of the World... and so far it's useless. The High Places, "the moors to the south" or the Great Northern Library could be anywhere.
  • Why does Glokta does this? We are never told why he decided to capture and torture Salem Rews, against Superior Kalayne's instructions. After reading "A beautiful bastard", where Salem avoids to join Glokta in his sacrifice with some excuse, I wonder if it's not only a matter of tax evasion but an excuse to satisfy Glokta's vendetta.
  • Marshall Varuz mentions having an eight year old grandson. The boy will be 37 during A Little Hatred. King Jezal should have some place at court reserved for the family of his old mentor!
  • I wonder which were those Three Kingdoms that Harad and Bayaz fought to unite.
  • The plural of Magi is Magus, which seems to follow the structure of Latin's second declension (dominus, domini). A lot of other names from the Old Empire seem to come from Latin too:  Malacus, Zacharus, Aulcus, Darmium, Aostum, ... It seems that Abercrombie uses Latin as the tongue of the Old Empire. I'll have to keep an eye to see if any name can be translatable.
  • Glokta already dreams with Ardee this early in TBI! I'm eager to see how their relationship works in the new trilogy.
Edited by The hairy bear

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20 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:
  • Logen's spirit-talking and the fire-breatheing abilities are inconsistent with the later depictions of the character. I fail to see why he wouldn't look for guidance with the spirits in later situations (they provide him with real useful information, after all), or why he doesn't put some fire under his tongue before every battle. I guess it's the remnant of a previous idea of Logen that wasn't developed, but it should have been edited out. It's the anti-Chekov gun! :P

I'm not sure why it doesn't appear again, but I doubt it was a remnant of an idea that somehow stayed in accidentally. I also had a long thing years ago discussing why I thought this indicated that Logen is in some fashion descended from Bedesh, and that this somehow explains the Bloody Nine manifestation.

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Here’s Abercrombie’s Reddit AMA revealing that he left that in because it was cool.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/2ayuqn/im_joe_abercrombie_ask_me_anything/cj0dj29/?st=jasswofs&sh=75bd0197

At one point I had decided that the spirit thing was just one of the manifestations of Logan being mental and maybe they weren’t even real.  But I guess Bayaz can command them or whatever. If nothing else it provides a bit of info about one of the Magi powers.

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12 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Here are my thoughts for the first nine chapters:

 

Random thoughts:

  • How do you imagine the Shanka? Perhaps because of them being called "flatheads", I imagined them very different from humans, closer to trolls, orcs or goblins (in my first read I thought that Abercrombie was doing some kind of hobbit->kender move. That is, making up a new name for something that already had one). But the comic adaptation made them very human-like, so perhaps they are just some backward tribe.
  •  
  • The plural of Magi is Magus, which seems to follow the structure of Latin's second declension (dominus, domini). A lot of other names from the Old Empire seem to come from Latin too:  Malacus, Zacharus, Aulcus, Darmium, Aostum, ... It seems that Abercrombie uses Latin as the tongue of the Old Empire. I'll have to keep an eye to see if any name can be translatable.
  • Glokta already dreams with Ardee this early in TBI! I'm eager to see how their relationship works in the new trilogy.

I think of the Shanka as orcs.

The Old Empire is very much the Western Roman Empire, but one that didn't end in 476 AD, but just carried on with a succession of puppet emperors and warlords.

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13 hours ago, Ran said:

I'm not sure why it doesn't appear again, but I doubt it was a remnant of an idea that somehow stayed in accidentally. I also had a long thing years ago discussing why I thought this indicated that Logen is in some fashion descended from Bedesh, and that this somehow explains the Bloody Nine manifestation.

I'm fairly sure Logen's ability to talk to spirits does make another appearance.

Never thought of the Bedesh link though.

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2 hours ago, Yohn said:

I'm fairly sure Logen's ability to talk to spirits does make another appearance.

Never thought of the Bedesh link though.

He talks to them before his duel with fenris the feared, and they were something to do with him being necessary for the journey to find the seed (can't remember the specifics though). 

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I thought of the Shanka as more like Neanderthals (in terms of similarities to humans), but slightly smaller and with bald heads.  It's quite possible this is totally different from how they are actually described, but that's how I picture them. 

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On 2/4/2019 at 12:52 PM, The hairy bear said:

Jezal came across as characters you love to hate (In my first read I was convinced they would be Logen's antagonists)

It's amazing how terrible Jezal seems in his first two chapters.

We find out a lot of things that he dislikes or has no respect for very quickly: subordinates, commoners, poor people, ugly people.

I'm glad a kitten didn't wander across his path at this time,  he may have kicked it.

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5 hours ago, Maithanet said:

I thought of the Shanka as more like Neanderthals (in terms of similarities to humans), but slightly smaller and with bald heads.  It's quite possible this is totally different from how they are actually described, but that's how I picture them. 

That's something like what I was envisaging as well, but I'm terrible at actually paying attention to descriptions in books so they could well look completely different.

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1 hour ago, williamjm said:

That's something like what I was envisaging as well, but I'm terrible at actually paying attention to descriptions in books so they could well look completely different.

I have a vague recollection of Joe describing them in an interview or blog post once. I want to say their heads are dog shaped, but I may be making that up. 

I prefer to think they are sranc. #bakkake #JoeRScottTieIn

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I've only just reached the "cartwheeling Tyrion" scene of The first Law. I'll pay special attention to this scene but from the initial mention the spirits make it very clear that they are passing from this realm so there's a reason right away why they aren't prominent at later stages. However it is odd that Logen never really mentions them in later books. I also can't recall if their disappearance signifies something happening on a grander level - is this the result of Bayaz (or his siblings) meddlings?

I tend to think of shanka as looking like badly proportioned humanoids with a sense of being constructed - like a Minecraft character less rough around the edges. I think of their heads as being squashed/small probably due to their smaller brains.

I agree with others how it's nice to hear the catchphrases appear so early on. That and namedrops of characters that will become important later on. And simple things like how Logen doesn't mention Black Dow when listing those he fears are dead/mourning and only ever mentions him in negative ways.

What's fun for me reading the intro of Logen and Glokta is how instantly likeable they are. However this must be because I know where the characters are going. I was looking back on my first review of the book and I accused the characters of being fun but very generic for a fantasy setting.

I'm doing this re-read via audible. Steven Pacey is a gifted storyteller and it's particularly evident with Glokta where he establishes a different voice for Glokta's inner voice vs his external one. His external voice has a lisp/rasp (which makes sense given what happened to his mouth ) while the inner voice has more strength and sarcasm in it. I'm curious as to how he handles Jezal.

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Glokta has to pee sitting down. Does this mean he was castrated? Or just messed up in that department.

I forgot that logen could also inhale the spirit of fire to use elsewhere. Seems a handy skill to never use again. It's these mentions early in book 1 that adds weight to the bloody nine being a genuine spirit based entity, maybe the spirit of wrath/violence/chaos than just being a beserker rage.

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