Joe Abercrombie is the best-selling British writer behind the epic First Law fantasy series. But that’s not all; this prolific author also has a whole host of other works set in the same universe to explore.
If you love gritty fantasy sagas with morally questionable characters and mind-bending plot lines, you’ll love Joe Abercrombie’s books. So, let’s dive in and explore his fascinating bibliography.
Joe Abercrombie’s Books in Order
Joe Abercrombie has multiple bestselling series to explore, but knowing where to begin can be challenging. So, in this post, I’ll give you a full rundown of every book the author has written to date. I’ll also give you an overview of each series and discuss the best reading order for each one.
|Sr. No.||Title||Publication Date||Print Length||Publisher||Where to Buy|
|1||The Blade Itself||September 8, 2015||560 pages||Del ReyOrbit||Amazon|
|2||Best Served Cold||July 24, 2012||672 pages||Orbit||Amazon|
|3||A Little Hatred||August 25, 2020||512 pages||Orbit||Amazon|
|4||Half a King||July 15, 2014||352 pages||Del Rey||Amazon|
The First Law Trilogy
The First Law is the series that put Joe Abercrombie on the literary map. The stories are set in a fictional universe that harks back to the days of the early Renaissance era.
Here in this world, the ancient legend of a half-human, half-demon named Euz lives on, and the magic he once possessed is still in use. However, those who wish to practice this magic must connect to the home of the Demons, known as the Other Side. And according to Euz’s First Law, “It is forbidden to touch the Other Side direct.”
The First Law Books in Reading and Publication Order
The First Law series refers to the three original books in the trilogy, which are listed below. However, after the success of these novels, Joe Abercrombie went on to pen three standalone titles set in the same universe, another trilogy, and thirteen related short stories. All of these works link together to create the wider First Law series.
Later in this post, I’ll chronologically list the wider First Law series. However, you can also begin your reading journey by following the publication order of the original trilogy listed below.
1. The Blade Itself (2006)
Notorious barbarian Logen Ninefingers has a long line of enemies, and his winning streak in battle is finally about to run out.
Meanwhile, selfish nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar is enjoying his usual antics of cheating at cards and dreaming of fencing glory. But a war is brewing in the frozen North, and he’ll soon be forced to fight on the bloodiest of battlefields against the most ruthless leaders known to man.
His arch-enemy Inquisitor Glokta is desperate to bring down Jezal once and for all. But amidst the chaos and carnage of old rivalries, deadly conspiracies are seeping up to the surface and threatening even the most powerful heroes and villains.
The World of the First Law Books
These standalone titles are set in the First Law universe, but they feature a whole new cast of characters. However, some of the original heroes and villains from the first trilogy also appear in these books.
The World of the First Law Books in Reading and Publication Order
The three titles in the World of the First Law series act as standalones. So, you can read them in any order you choose.
1. Best Served Cold (2009)
After nineteen years of bloodshed, the embittered Grand Duke Orso is still engaged in battle with the fractured League of Eight. Their conflicts have left a trail of death and destruction across Styria. Armies march their deadly path as cities are engulfed in flames. And all the while, dark and powerful forces hide behind the scenes as they move their chess pieces across a blood-soaked board to decide who will be crowned the next king.
The Age of Madness Books
The Age of Madness books are set in the same fictional universe as the original First Law trilogy and the World of the First Law standalone titles. However, these stories take place during a chaotic industrial revolution, around 25 years after the events in the novel Last Argument of Kings.
War is still constantly raging, however, the atmosphere of the First Law world has shifted. Social and political upheaval has transformed society from its old medieval ambiance into a new, more Victorian mindset. Machines are taking over, the industry is on the rise, and a new, unknown age of danger and discovery is about to begin.
Author Joe Abercrombie received criticism for the lack of female representation in his original series. So, these stories feature many more strong female characters, including the protagonist, Savine dan Glokta.
The Age of Madness Books in Reading and Publication Order
Just like the original First Law Trilogy, you have two choices when it comes to reading these books. You can follow them in the chronological order of the wider First Law series, which includes short stories, standalone novels, and the first three books. You can also read this series as one single set, in the publication order listed below.
1. A Little Hatred (2019)
Towering chimneys of industry are ascending over the skylines of Adua, and a brand new world of opportunity is rising from the ashes of old wars.
And meanwhile, Leo dan Brock is on a quest to prove his worth. As the son of Lady Finree of Angland and Harod dan Brock, he is determined to defeat Black Calder’s own son, Stour Nightfall, on the battlefield. But the one man he was depending on, Prince Orso, may not be there to back him up.
The First Law Short Stories
Alongside the series and standalone novels of the First Law saga, author Joe Abercrombie has also written thirteen short stories set in the same universe. Some of these are still available to purchase as separates, but the entire collection can be read in the 2016 compendium Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law.
Here are the separate stories in reading order.
A Beautiful Bastard
The Union army is made up entirely of bastards, but the biggest one of all is Colonel Sand dan Glokta, who is determined to save the day all by himself.
- Made a Monster
- Small Kindnesses
- The Fool Jobs
- Skipping Town
- Two’s Company
- Wrong Place, Wrong Time
- Some Desperado
- Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden
- Three’s a Crowd
- Tough Times All Over
The Entire First Law Series in Chronological Order
Joe Abercrombie’s epic First Law series comprises the original trilogy, three standalone novels, The Age of Madness books, and the short stories compiled in Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law.
While many readers prefer to approach these subsections separately, you can also read the full series chronologically.
This is a new and unique way to approach the First Law books and a major advantage of being a latecomer to Joe Abercrombie’s work. However, if you’ve already read most of his work, this reading order provides a great opportunity to revisit the novels and short stories and see this fictional universe from a whole new perspective.
So, without further ado, here’s the full list of all the works in the First Law universe in chronological order.
- Made a Monster (short story)
- A Beautiful Bastard (short story)
- Small Kindnesses (short story)
- The Fool Jobs (short story)
- Skipping Town (short story)
- The Blade Itself
- Before They Are Hanged
- Hell (short story)
- Two’s Company (short story)
- Last Argument of Kings
- Best Served Cold
- Wrong Place, Wrong Time (short story)
- Some Desperado (short story)
- Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden (short story)
- The Heroes
- Three’s a Crowd (short story)
- Freedom! (short story)
- Red Country
- Tough Times All Over (short story)
- The Thread (short story)
- A Little Hatred
- The Trouble With Peace
- The Wisdom of Crowds
The Shattered Sea Books
This Viking-inspired fantasy trilogy is written with a young adult audience in mind, but fully grown adults and fans of Abercrombie’s earlier works also adore the series.
It tells the tale of a ruthless king’s youngest son, Yarvi. Yarvi never imagined he would ever take the throne. After all, his older brother is first in line, and his crippled hand and scrawny physical stature mean he’s far too weak to ever enter a battle and make his father proud.
But fate has other plans. Yarvi is propelled into a kingship he never dared believe would come.
The Shattered Sea Books in Reading and Publication Order
The Shattered Sea books are interconnected, and the characters and their lives intertwine from book to book. So, to get the most out of the series, it’s best to follow the publication order listed below.
1. Half a King (2014)
Yarvi’s physical condition means he’ll never be able to swing an ax or grip a sword like his father and brother could. But none of that matters now that they’re both dead. And so, he must sharpen the only weapon he can control; his mind.
Joe Abercrombie has become one of the biggest names in fantasy fiction, and the epic series listed above have delighted readers around the globe.
But this prolific author has more exciting work up his sleeve, as last year, he announced an upcoming new series entitled ‘The Devils.’ The current release date is set for 2025, giving you plenty of time to read the rest of Abercrombie’s work so that you can be ready for his new offerings.
Are you already a Joe Abercrombie fan? If so, I’d love to hear your reviews and recommendations. Drop me a comment in the box below!