I have finished reading one of the most fantastic and beautifully written fantasy novels since Karl Edward Wagner passed. The author is an Englishman named Joe Abercrombie. This man can write. You will not find something that is so involved and so raw as yet truly fantastic and mesmerizing. The first book, "The Blade Itself" takes a bit of getting used to at first but once you are in you cannot put it down. The reason I say this is that the author weaves a tale that contains at least 6 central characters and introduces each one at a time... then he introduces more! The last time I can think of this being done successfully was by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. But once you get to know them you find yourself routing for them, laughing with them and being crushed with them. I read book one in all of a week. Book two took me four days, I could not put it down. Book three came in the mail last Thursday; I finished it Sunday morning at 2:00am. I have my wife hooked on this series and have passed it along to a friend who now beats me up for the third book as it has not yet been published here in the U.S. I had to order my second and third series via Amazon.co.uk.
There is one disappointing thing about this series. The end is one of the most anticlimactic endings I have ever read. It ranks right up there with the Children of Hurin as far as the funk it leaves you in once you have finished. But if you love fantasy you must read this series.