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Sharp Ends (2016)

by Joe Abercrombie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: First Law World (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7001733,435 (3.96)10
"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..."-- Page 2 of cover.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
That last chapter was a gem!! It was really nice to have a glimpse of the kind of man and father Bethod used to be.
And Logen.... Dnt even know what to say! ( )
  NG_YbL | Jul 12, 2023 |
Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie is a collection of short stories that are all set in the fantasy world that he created in his First Law World series. Featuring a rogues gallery of characters, some of which we have met before while others are completely new, they dispense violence and treachery as they travel this unique world. There are 13 stories in all, and, as is usual in short story collections, some appealed to me more than others but overall I was left with a feeling of wanting more.

It was a nice surprise to meet some familiar characters but there were a couple of new ones that I would love to see expanded into their own book, in particular Shevedieh and Javre, Lioness of Hoskipp who appear in five of the stories. If you are familiar with Abercrombie’s style of grim-dark fantasy then you will love this collection, but if you are new to this author, I would suggest starting at the beginning of his First Law World as this author is excellent at world building, character development and intricate and interwoven plots that show to advantage in the longer books.

The First Law World series is one of my favorite fantasy series and I was thrilled to be able to return there with this collection. Yes, they are extremely violent and bloody but the author wisely offsets this with dark humor and by giving his audience characters that you grow to care about. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sharp Ends and look forward to more from this author. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Mar 16, 2023 |
Amazing book. It can be read alone, but works better if you have previously read all the previous books in this world.
I'm going to mention two of the last stories, maybe because they are fresh in my mind. The one with the historian writing about Nicomo Cosca is absolutely hilarious, very good, but only for those that have read Best Served Cold. And the last one, Made a monster, is also very good, but not like I had imagined things happened. It really changed my mind about some things in the story. ( )
  NachoSeco | Oct 10, 2022 |
I ended up reading this one before finishing "Red Country" because I was liking it more. I liked some short stories more than others as it always happens in this kind of books.

Ratings of every short story:
(I follow the goodreads descriptions and that means that 2 stars is "ok")

A Beautiful Bastard - 3/5
Small Kindnesses - 4/5
The Fool Jobs - 2/5
Skipping Town - 3/5
Hell - 3/5
Two’s Company - 4/5
Wrong Place, Wrong Time - 4/5
Some Desperado - 3/5
Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden… - 3/5
Three’s a Crowd - 4/5
Freedom! - 2/5
Tough Times All Over - 3/5
Made a Monster - 5/5

The last story was definitely the best one in this book. It was the perfect lenght and I liked to get to know a little more about Bethod and how Ninefingers used to be. I also liked to see Calder again because he was one of the few things I liked about "The Heroes". It was fantastic!

One of the best surprises in this book is how much I loved Shev and Javre. Those stories were the second best thing. I really liked their interactions and I would love to see them again in future books.
"Tough Times All Over" had a lot of unecessary characters and scenes. I would have liked it much better if it was just Carcolf, Shev, Javre, Friendly and Pombrine. It should have been shorter.

I wasn't the biggest fan of "The Heroes" and when I read the name Craw I started to yawn. Whirrun was the only one from that group that I cared about and that is why "The Fool Jobs" was one of the stories I liked the least. It had a good ending though.

I was expecting much more out of the Glokta story. It was fine, but it ended too soon. I wanted to see the battle and the moment after that, when Glokta got captured. It would also have been interesting to see Glokta change from how he was here to how he was in the first trilogy. This could have been as excellent as "Made A Monster" but as it is I felt a bit disappointed. ( )
  elderlingfae | Aug 11, 2022 |
If you’ve read all the First Law material, trilogy and standalones alike, and are hungry for more, then you certainly can’t go wrong with Sharp Ends, a short story anthology about the world of the First Law that fills in some historical details and also has some stories that take place in the trilogy and standalones.

The book’s off to a smashing start with “A Beautiful Bastard”, which gives us a small glimpse of Glokta’s military career right before his fateful leg injury through the eyes of Salem Rews, who’s just as ineffectual now as he was during The Blade Itself. It turns out that the rumours were true; Glokta truly was an even bigger asshole when he had functional legs than he ever was in the trilogy, and it’s great fun to see him be an utter dick to everyone. Also, Tunny’s here; Jesus Christ, just how long has that man been Corporal?

“A Fool’s Job” isn’t half bad either. It’s mostly just Curnden Craw being Curnden Craw, and it felt kind of standard for the North, but at least it was nice to see a glimpse of what lies beyond the Crinna. “Hell” is quite excellent; it shows the siege of Dagoska from the perspective of civilians through the eyes of future Red Country protagonist Temple, and after reading it it almost felt like a perspective the trilogy needed. It does a superlative job showing just how much of a threat Eaters really are, and best of all, it demonstrates the moral fiber of the Haddish Kahdia, a character I found underutilized in the trilogy. He also proves to be so beneficent that I’m actually slightly jealous of his mettle.

“Wrong Place, Wrong Time” takes place during Best Served Cold from the perspective of bystanders who end up victims of Monza Murcatto’s campaign of vengeance in various ways. It’s basically that technique in The Heroes where the perspective suddenly shifts to nobodies, a technique which I’ve always been ambivalent about because of how predictable it is (those segments more often than not end with those new characters getting killed within minutes). Even so, I can’t fault it for striving to give an idea of how the average Styrian’s life has been affected by Monza’s rampage.

I found “Some Desperado” to be easily the most boring story, and it’s a damn shame because as far as I’m concerned Shy South is probably the best female character Abercrombie’s yet written. The story doesn’t really encompass her complexity; in this story she’s preoccupied entirely with survival, and the villains don’t inspire a great deal of awe, either, they just felt par for the course for Abercrombie.

“Yesterday Near a Village Called Barden” takes place during The Heroes, following Bremer dan Gorst, a farmer, various Union soldiers, and also Pale-as-Snow. It almost feels like it could’ve actually been in The Heroes, though if it was it’d easily be one of the most boring moments because of how mundane this story is. I sense that Abercrombie probably had the most fun writing “Freedom!”, an entirely false account of the “liberation” of the town of Averstock by Nicomo Cosca by the biographer Spillion Sworbreck. The prose is far more… literary, for lack of better words, and this is arguably the closest Abercrombie’s ever gotten to writing purple prose. I quite like it, though this story might take on a slightly more horrific context when you take into consideration the grim irony of how that part of Red Country actually played out.

There’s several other stories I neglected to mention, stories which I call the Shevedieh Saga because they all feature that character. It’s the only real throughline in the book, and fun though it is, it felt more like First Law fanfiction after a certain point. Shev’s even written retroactively into Best Served Cold, and the amount of connections she has with several characters frankly strikes me as ludicrous. Still, it’s at least entertaining all the way, especially “Tough Times All Over”, about a package implied to have been stolen from Bayaz that keeps changing hands.

Lastly, there’s “Made a Monster”, the second best story about how the North fell into perpetual war (well, even more perpetual than usual) because of a single mistake made by Bethod, that mistake being trusting Logen Ninefingers. I’ve been perplexed by some people who say that Logen’s a total sweetheart when he isn’t the embodiment of murder and mindless violence that is the Bloody-Nine; that isn’t to say he isn’t incapable of kindness, but I’d direct such people to this story, it shows that his reputation for indiscriminate killing is entirely deserved. Out of all the stories, I found Bethod’s to be easily the most interesting to read, because it shows how his intentions were once entirely noble, and it also confirms that he really was as loving a father as Calder remembers him to be in The Heroes. The story also has almost a horror setup towards the end, when it looks like there might finally be peace in the North, then everyone notices with concern that the Dogman looks especially traumatized. The ending was certainly an effective reveal; it’s gory and graphic even by Abercrombie standards, and it happened just when I thought I’d seen all the atrocities the Bloody-Nine was capable of.

Though I find that Sharp Ends sadly saves the best for first and last, for the most part the stuff in between isn’t half bad either. I find “Made a Monster” and “A Beautiful Bastard” to be the strongest because they are the most (decidedly) focused, and they provide crucial details that the original trilogy neglected to describe in detail. At their best, the other stories provide fresh perspectives on both the trilogy and the standalones, and at their worst they can be quite monotonous. That being said, if you want to learn more about the Circle of the World, this book is indispensable, and at times about as entertaining as anything else Abercrombie’s written, though it might be a good idea to read the standalones first, because I got the impression that the book tacitly assumes you’ve read the trilogy and the standalones. ( )
  collapsedbuilding | Aug 10, 2022 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Abercrombieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Borchardt, KirstenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"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..."-- Page 2 of cover.

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