We've learnt a fair bit from the success of Game of Thrones. We've learnt that even the most challenging behind-the-scenes technical demands can be overcome. We've learnt that the show's production schedule is a masterclass in efficiency. We even learnt that the beautiful Emilia Clarke wasn't the original casting choice for Daenerys Targaryen
But these are all mere details. Surely the true spirit of what we've learnt is twofold; we've learnt that fantasy, after all, is not just for fantasists or for geek. And we've learnt that we can't wait for the next big fantasy fix.
There's a new drug out there that could satiate this fix. If it ever gets made. For the next big fantasy production, look no further than Joe Abercrombie's The First Law. This superb trilogy (which also has off-shoot, inter-connected books beyond the central three) is eminently placed to both fill in the void of any Game of Thrones withdrawal, and also compliment fantasy television's growing fanbase.
Just as bloody as Game of Thrones, The First Law even has a few advantages over Martin's epic saga. It's shorter, more self-contained, more character-studied, more intelligent and more gripping. Like Game of Thrones, The First Law embodies a sense of real-world antagonisms, where each character's moral compass is realistically dependent on situations and very terrestrial necessities.Most characters subsist, survive, even prevail, in the novel's opaque moral grey areas.
Even more refreshing, is the trilogy's sparing reliance on magical elements and other-worldly components. Bayaz's spells, for example, are scarcely used in The Blade Itself, and when they are they only compliment already well-paved plot developments. In many ways the natural successor to Martin's books, if the public are thirsty for more fantasy, The First Law is the place to quench.
And to moisten the most arid of lips there is a certain character in The First Law, one Inquisitor Glokta- as congenial Tywin Lannister, as approachable as the Hound, as forgiving as Stannis Baratheon as morally upstanding as Tyrion. Glokta is a truly delectable character who will make you laugh and cry as you get to know his little quirks.
The crippled, self-questioning,aft-philosophizing executioner has a rather sour outlook on life. Once a brilliant fencer, who even won the Contest, (The First Law's pugilistic version of the Olympics 100 metre final) Glokta now reserves his energies to seek out espionage and treachery in the land- a land which is held together by a fragile union breaking up into separate kingdoms. Here's an insight into his fresh and rosy countenance Sand Dan Glokta has;
Every man has his excuses, and the more vile the man becomes, the more touching the story has to be. What is my story now, I wonder?
News that Neil Gaiman's American Gods is definitively hitting our screens is most welcome. News that Stephen King's Dark Tower may be set for a HBO adaptation has been greeted with some scepticism but even more optimism. Still, The First Law is the first and last place to look for a new fantasy king.