First Law Along #7: Sharp Ends

While I was almost too late for the live show discussion of the previous book, I finished this one well on time! The show for this book was originally scheduled for February 11, but due to the overcrowded agenda of organizer Becca it was postponed by a month to March 11. Still, I decided to read it right away at the beginning of February, but I did keep putting off writing my review. But here it is, finally, and still on time to have it posted before the discussions!

Joe Abercrombie – Sharp Ends (First Law World #7) ★★★

Genre: Grimdark Fantasy (short stories)

Sharp Ends combines previously published, award-winning tales with exclusive new short stories. Violence explodes, treachery abounds, and the words are as deadly as the weapons in this rogue’s gallery of side-shows, back)stirues, and sharp endings from the world of the First Law.

The Union army may be full of bastards, but there’s only one who thinks he can save the day single-handed when the Gurkish come calling: the incomparable Colonel Sand dan Glokta.

Curnden Craw and his dozen are out to recover a mysterious item from beyond the Crinna. Only one small problem: no one seems to know what the item is.

Shevedieh, the self-styled best thief in Styria, lurches from disaster to catastrophe alongside her best friend and greatest enemy, Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp.

And after years of bloodshed, the idealistic chieftain Bethod is desperate to bring peace to the North. There’s only one obstacle left — his own lunatic champion, the most feared man in the North: the Bloody-Nine . . .

Sharp Ends is a collection of 13 short stories within the First Law Universe.
Going into this, I expected to find stories from perspectives and characters we knew from previous books, and although there certainly was no shortage of those, I was also pleasantly surprised to discover a new cache of surprisingly well-developed characters, whose stories ultimately formed the narrative thread tying this collection together.

“But Glokta was an utter bastard. A beautiful, spiteful, masterful, horrible bastard, simultaneously the best and worst man in the Union. ”

However, the opening story, A Beautiful Bastard, was exactly the kind of story I expected to find in this book: a glimpse of everyone’s favourite torturer Glokta, before he became the bitter cynic we know from the first trilogy. So the collection was off with a very strong start.
I found this very fun to read, especially because it reminded me of some great Glokta scenes from the earlier books with a smile. Felt nostalgic. Only thing I found regrettable was the fact that it wasn’t told from Glokta’s perspective , because I would have liked to hear what he sounded like when he was younger.

“Kindness brings kindness in the long run.”

We then get a story that introduces our two new characters and this sets the pattern for the rest of the collection: A story with one or more old acquaintances, followed by a story with Shevedieh and Javre, spanning the time of their meeting until their parting 19 years later.

“I needed a man to fight for me. I needed a man who’d stop at nothing. I needed a monster.”

Overall, I quite enjoyed this collection.
Of course, there are always stories that resonate more than others, which was no different here. There were a couple that were just so-so or easy to forget, but there was always an element that made me wonder: is it related to something we have seen or foreshadowing something that is to come? This kept the whole interesting and sets it apart from other short story collections, since it really felt more of a continuation of a story, but in smaller bite-sized portions, while also forming a bridge to kick off the second trilogy!

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