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The First Law Books in Order: How to read Joe Abercrombie’s fantasy series?

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 Discover the grimdark world of Joe Abercrombie.

What is The First Law series about?

Written by British author Joe Abercrombie, The First Law is a fantasy series consisting of two trilogy, three stand-alone novels, and a number of short stories set in the same world.

The First Law series is set in an epic fantasy world at war, reminiscent of medieval-era Europe and the greater Mediterranean world, called the Circle of the World. In the North, The Union (which contains multiple provinces) is at war with The Northmen, a rough alliance of several northern tribes.

In the South, the Union and the Gurkish Empire are in a conflict for the control of the Union City of Dagoska. The story follows the fortunes and misfortunes of characters inhabiting this world and navigating through these and other conflicts.

How to Read The First Law Books in Order?

The First Law series is composed of multiple trilogies and standalone novels. First, we take a look at the publication order for the series, then at the chronological order.

The First Law Trilogy


  1. The Blade Itself — Inquisitor Glokta is a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire. Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. And Logen Ninefingers is an infamous warrior with a bloody past. Their lives are about to be a whole lot more difficult, because of Bayaz, a bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, who could be the First of the Magi or a spectacular fraud…
  2. Before They Are Hanged — Bitter and merciless war is coming to the frozen north. In the heat-ravaged south, the Gurkish are massing to assault the city of Dagoska, defended by Inquisitor Glokta. And to the east, a small band of malefactors travels to the edge of the world to reclaim a device from history with tremendous destructive potential. A device which could put an end to war, to the army of Eaters in the South, to the invasion of Shanka from the North—but only if it can be found, and only if its power can be controlled…
  3. Last Argument of Kings — The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war.A secret struggle in which no one is safe, and no one can be trusted. Jezal dan Luthar discovers love can be painful too, and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it. And The First of the Magi has a plan to save the world, as he always does. But there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, after all, than to break the First Law…

Joe Abercrombie First Law Series Books in order

Joe Abercrombie First Law Series 3 Books Collection Set

A Book Collection Set for The First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged, Last Argument Of Kings).

A 6 books collection set also exist (with Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country).

First Law universe standalone novels


  1. Best Served Cold — War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money. Her victories have made her popular—too popular for her employer’s taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain, and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.
  2. The Heroes — They say Black Dow’s killed more men than winter and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbor, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they’ve brought a lot of sharpened metal with them.


  1. Red Country — They burned her home. They stole her brother and sister. But vengeance is following. Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she’ll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she’s not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old stepfather Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb’s buried a bloody past of his own. And out in the lawless Far Country the past never stays buried.
  2. Sharp Ends — anthologies of short stories.

The Age of Madness Trilogy

This new trilogy begins fifteen years after the events in Red Country, twenty-eight years after the end of the original trilogy.

  1. A Little Hatred — The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another…
  2. The Trouble With Peace — The old ways are swept aside, and the old leaders with them, but those who would seize the reins of power will find no alliance, no friendship, and no peace, lasts forever. For heroes like Leo dan Brock and Stour Nightfall, only happy with swords drawn, peace is an ordeal to end as soon as possible. But grievances must be nursed, power seized and allies gathered first, while Rikke must master the power of the Long Eye … before it kills her.
  3. The Wisdom of Crowds — With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies . . . while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance. 

The First Law World Series in Chronological Order:

As always, it is advised to read The First Law in published order for a better appreciation of the series. If you want to go the chronological order, here it is, following Adam Whitehead’s guide from The Wertzone :

  1. Made a Monster — Short Story
  2. A Beautiful Bastard — Short Story
  3. Small Kindnesses — Short Story
  4. The Fool Jobs — Short Story
  5. Skipping Town — Short Story
  6. The Blade Itself
  7. Before They Are Hanged
  8. Hell—Short Story
  9. Two’s Company — Short Story
  10. Last Argument of Kings
  11. Best Served Cold
  12. Wrong Place, Wrong Time — Short Story
  13. Some Desperado — Short Story
  14. Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden — Short Story
  15. The Heroes
  16. Three’s a Crowd — Short Story
  17. Freedom! — Short Story
  18. Red Country
  19. Tough Times All Over — Short Story
  20. The Thread
  21. A Little Hatred


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This article was last updated on December 16, 2022.