15The First Law Universe, by Joe Abercrombie
Joe Abercrombie is a bit like the Kmart George R.R. Martin. He almost seems designed as literary methadone for those who still hunger for the sixth novel in the A Song of Fire and Ice series. Both authors write quasi-medieval, brutally violent books featuring morally ambiguous characters. All of Abercrombie's
characters have an agenda, magic is something weird and frightening and best left alone, the good die young, the bad prosper and everything is just oh so cynical. The main difference between the two is that Abercrombie hits his deadlines.
That being said, Abercrombie's novels are fun reads, if you're in a certain temperament. The books in this universe are centered around Abercrombie's debut, The First Law Trilogy, but we would recommend starting with one of his standalone novels, like Best Served Cold, which reads a bit like Kill Bill if it were set in Westeros, or Red Country, which reads like Unforgiven set in Westeros, or The Heroes, which surprisingly does not read like a popular movie set in Westeros but instead documents a epic-but-pointless three day battle over a mound of dirt from every perspective it can, creating a collage of futility, gallows humor, propulsive action and genuine heartbreak, written in incisive prose that just may be Abercrombie's masterwork.