Nasty Fantasy

Mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about the genre, although I should perhaps call it “gritty” since that’s the word thrown around of late. I recently finished Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself which sparked this post. I hope he doesn’t mind me lumping it in the same category as Game of Thrones and suchlike. What do I mean? I’m talking about novels where the characters aren’t so much paladins with freshly ironed underwear as scum you wouldn’t urinate on if they were being toasted by dragon fire.

I’m certainly behind the times in seeing (well, commenting on) this shift of popularity toward gritty novels but you can blame that on my favourite authors who keep churning out great stories. We’ve seen a thousand farmboy heroes, blacksmiths turned warriors and rebellious nobles but now we are seeing torturers, woman-beaters and cold-blooded murderers. Talk about relating to the characters! In many ways, it’s a fresh look at a long-established genre and with it comes a different approach to language. The likes of Joe Abercrombie and George Martin certainly have a flair for the colourful when it comes to language. There are scenes in The Blade Itself which made me blink and had me thinking: “Did he just say that?” I don’t mind the odd f-bomb, provided it is relevant to the situation and character but gratuitous expletives will make me abandon a book and never read from that author again (it’s happened). These gritty novels walk that fine line.

I would read another from Joe Abercrombie–The Blade Itself really is very good–but I stopped reading Game of Thrones after the first book. Maybe I’m too much of a goodie-goodie and get too attached to characters. That said, I’ll happily watch the TV series, but then, novel formal always gets you closer to the characters. I’d be interested for someone to prove me wrong on that. For me, there’s more to a novel than the immediate story. Characters are role models, particularly if the readership is growing up, and a generation inspired by Sam Gamgee or Rand al Thor is a more comforting prospect than one inspired by a Lannister!


Like the post? Sometimes I say things on Twitter. Sometimes they’re interesting.

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