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message 1: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
So I was having a discussion with someone yesterday about Grimdark and it occurred to me that I may not have actually ever read a grimdark. It leads me to ask: what makes a grimdark novel and which ones are the best in the genre?

Books I thought were grimdark (that I've read):
Red Sister
Traitor's Blade
Way of Shadows

Thanks :)


message 2: by Lena (new)

Lena I’m not sure I have either which is why I want to check out Grimdark Magazine and try, please let me find TBR time, to read Evil is a Matter of Perspective: An Anthology of Antagonists.


message 3: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Ooh that one looks good. :)

It feels like a subject we've hashed to death, but for some reason I'm questioning everything. I know Abercrombie and Lawrence's King of thorns fit the bill I'm just not convinced I've actually read any lol.


message 4: by Margret, Caladan Brood Face (new)

Margret | 3170 comments Mod
First Law is definitely GrimDark as well as Manifest Delusions. ASOIAF i think at the very least borders on GrimDark


message 5: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Margret wrote: "First Law is definitely GrimDark as well as Manifest Delusions. ASOIAF i think at the very least borders on GrimDark"

I could see ASOIAF fitting into my paradigm of grimdark (oh good I actually have read one). I haven't read the other two yet.


message 6: by Yanique, Thread Master (new)

Yanique Gillana | 1013 comments Mod
Malazan definitely counts.


Saar The Book owl | 2058 comments I thought the books of 'The Demon Cycle' were also grimdark, but I'm not sure.


message 8: by Barry (new)

Barry (boprawira) | 1184 comments I’ve read a few that are considered as grimdark, but I’ve never been sure of what can be considered as one or not. Will be interested to know the actual definition.


message 9: by Ahdam (new)

Ahdam (snowlocke) | 2429 comments Yeah grimdark is a tricky one I’ve read the blade itself which is very grimdark and I’m on the fence with the painted man and desert spear because there are moments it goes there but I don’t think it is entirely grimdark even the author says he doesn’t consider his book grimdark

I think it’s a thing with genres where it may have things that make it dark but isn’t fully dark I don’t know

Fun fact the term grimdark originated from the war hammer books as all the books start with the phrase in the grim darkness


message 10: by Sedat (new)

Sedat Yıldız | 263 comments Mano wrote: "For me the term 'Grimdark' stands for fantasy novels that don't sugar-coat or glaze over the harsh and "Grim" worlds the characters live in.
If there is slavery, rape, murder, genocide etc etc.. in..."


I'm with you on this. When someone mentions Grimdark I consider rape, slavery and other dark elements too though I haven't read much books that counts as Grimdark. ASOIAF is definitely grimdark in my eyes.

Abercrombie and Lawrence's books are on my radar but I didn't know they have dark elements, now that I'm lacking in this category I want to start them more :)

@Yanique, @Saar didn't know Malazan and Demon Cycle counts too. I guess I have some grimdark in my tbr then :)


message 11: by Mayim (new)

Mayim de Vries | 2948 comments I thought Abercrombie is dark and grim but then I read Morgan (A Land Fit for Heroes) and I sprouted darkness for days after reading it. (Still, I don't recommend). I reckon the Black Company was a good species in this genre.


message 12: by Meagan (last edited May 14, 2018 06:52AM) (new)

Meagan For me, the Demon Cycle doesn't count as grimdark. It doesn't have the same feel as other grimdark books I have read (which is by no means a lot). The portions of the books that deal with the Krasians could be loosely considered grimdark, but even those parts never go quite far enough. Arlen is more of a traditional hero and Grimdark tends to be filled more with anti-heroes, despair, bleak settings and extremely harsh circumstances. Godblind by Anna Stephens is an amazing grimdark book!


Diana Stormblessed (dashichka) | 3909 comments Which Lawrence books are Grimdark? I read Prince of Fools and it's def not.


message 14: by Beste (new)

Beste | 1163 comments Diana Stormblessed wrote: "Which Lawrence books are Grimdark? I read Prince of Fools and it's def not."

I think the Prince of Thorns is.


message 15: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1818 comments Mark Lawrence made a survey for his blog readers to decide the grimdark level of many popular books: http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.co.id...

Top 10 (rating means level of grimdarkness)
Beyond Redemption - by Michael R Fletcher, Grimdark Rating 4.71
The Darkness That Comes Before - by R. Scott Bakker, Grimdark Rating 4.49
Prince of Thorns - by Mark Lawrence, Grimdark Rating 4.45
The Court of Broken Knives - by Anna Spark Smith, Grimdark Rating 4.23 (*)
Godblind - by Anna Stephens, Grimdark Rating 4.20 (*)
Heroes Die - by Matthew Woodring Stover, Grimdark Rating 4.09 (*)
The Steel Remains - by Richard K. Morgan, Grimdark Rating 4.00
The Black Company - by Glen Cook, Grimdark Rating 3.84
The Blade Itself - by Joe Abercrombie, Grimdark Rating 3.84
Low Town - by Daniel Polansky, Grimdark Rating 3.72 (*)


Lena wrote: "I’m not sure I have either which is why I want to check out Grimdark Magazine and try, please let me find TBR time, to read [book:Evil is a Matter of Perspective: An Anthology of Antagonists|306365..."

There will be buddy read for that book on June 15


message 16: by Lena (new)

Lena I signed up.


message 17: by Meagan (new)

Meagan Red sister is grimdark, from my understanding.


message 18: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Thanks everyone - this was exactly what I was hoping to find out. I have read some. ^_^


message 19: by Chris (last edited May 14, 2018 10:07AM) (new)

Chris  (haughtc) | 1769 comments I think The Grey Bastards is supposed to be GD, but haven't started it yet.

I'm actually reading 3 that definitely count right now:

Emperor of Thorns
Ghosts of Tomorrow
Knee-Deep in Grit: Two Bloody Years of Grimdark Fiction

The second is more SF than fantasy. The third is a collection of stories taken from Grimdark Magazine.

GDM is a great resource. They also put out the Evil Perspective book mentioned above. Adrian Collins is the founder/editor, and he's a real down to earth guy that communicates very well with readers. He has a Facebook group which connects lots of GD authors with readers, and they're very active. I think Lawrence's survey above was actually posted there.

There is also this group on GR: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

It's not as active as the FB group, but still pretty cool and has many of the same membership. I think that's where I actually found the connection to the FB group.


message 20: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Excellent resource - thank you Chris! I'm still hounding for Grey Bastards. :)


message 21: by Narilka (new)

Narilka | 3360 comments I found an interesting article on Tor.com about the subject: https://www.tor.com/2015/11/02/is-it-...

Grimdark seems to be one of those categories that varies from person to person. For example, I've heard some people call Kings of the Wyld grimdark. It has some graphic violence but there is so much humor and fun that it didn't seem too grim or too dark IMO. I think it really comes down to a person's own definition of what grimdark is.


message 22: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Narilka wrote: "I found an interesting article on Tor.com about the subject: https://www.tor.com/2015/11/02/is-it-...

Grimdark seems to be one of those categories that varies from person to ..."


Thank Narilka! That's a good way to look at it. I wouldn't call Kings of the Wyld grimdark either, but I can see the essence there. I know some things I would've labeled as grimdark others are going "really? You ain't seen nothing yet." Lol


message 23: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Also, that article was super helpful!


message 24: by Scott , Karsa Orlong (new)

Scott  Hitchcock (lostinthewarrenofchaos) | 8082 comments Mod
Chris wrote: "Ghosts of tomorrow."

While dark is more sci-fi.

I think as a general rule GD is epic fantasy where the heroes aren't perfect, events are not just bad but graphic in nature and the endings are white picket fences.

I really like the idea of Lawrence's scale and I participated in that poll. Some people would consider Locke Lamora GD. It certainly has some aspects. You compare that to Beyond Redemption and it's laughable. It's all in scale.


message 25: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Scott wrote: "Chris wrote: "Ghosts of tomorrow."

While dark is more sci-fi.

I think as a general rule GD is epic fantasy where the heroes aren't perfect, events are not just bad but graphic in nature and the ..."


Where would you put Way of Shadows?


message 26: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Scott wrote: "Chris wrote: "Ghosts of tomorrow."

While dark is more sci-fi.

I think as a general rule GD is epic fantasy where the heroes aren't perfect, events are not just bad but graphic in nature and the ..."


Also, based on that I think I've only read the more milder ones.


message 27: by Scott , Karsa Orlong (new)

Scott  Hitchcock (lostinthewarrenofchaos) | 8082 comments Mod
Niki Hawkes wrote: "Where would you put Way of Shadows?."

In the don't read it was awful GD or not category. :)

I tried both Lightbringer and Night Angel and didn't like either. I did only do the prequel for NA but I find Week's work cheesy. I didn't find it GD but I guess it had elements to be considered in the lower range of the scale.


message 28: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Scott wrote: "Niki Hawkes wrote: "Where would you put Way of Shadows?."

In the don't read it was awful GD or not category. :)

I tried both Lightbringer and Night Angel and didn't like either. I did only do the..."


Hahaha fair enough. :)


message 29: by Meagan (new)

Meagan Grimdark seems to be one of those categories that varies from person to ..."


I completely agree! I saw some people labeling Mistborn as grimdark. I can see that some elements are present and Vin can be gruesome at times and the world was harsh and bleak but it doesn't qualify as grimdark for me.


message 30: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Meagan wrote: "Grimdark seems to be one of those categories that varies from person to ..."


I completely agree! I saw some people labeling Mistborn as grimdark. I can see that some elements are present and Vin ..."


Oh wow. Yeah Mistborn is downright fluffy compared to some of these others haha.


message 31: by Meagan (new)

Meagan Child of a Mad God is supposed to be grimdark as well. I only read half of it, but it seemed to fit the bill IMO.


message 32: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new)

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7557 comments Mod
Meagan wrote: "Child of a Mad God is supposed to be grimdark as well. I only read half of it, but it seemed to fit the bill IMO."

Oh yeah - I forgot about that one. Good call it definitely fits the bill.


Saul the Heir of Isauldur (krinnok) | 209 comments Grimdark is a genre of fantasy that attempts to reach a darker and more realistic tone, focusing on the grimmer and rougher aspects of life with little idealization and/or romanticism. Unlike urban fantasy, however, grimdark takes place in a made-up world with little magic or fantastical aspects.

Some of the more well-known grimdark books (that I've read or attempted) are:
A Game of Thrones
The Black Company
Arguably, The Last Wish
The Blade Itself
Gardens of the Moon
and Prince of Thorns


message 34: by Dave (last edited Oct 29, 2018 08:49AM) (new)

Dave McMahon | 31 comments I think everyone has their own take on what Grim Dark is, as it's based heavily on ones own opinion on the genre.

For me, The Way of Shadows is Grim Dark. I'm only a 1/3 of the way through. But if underage homosexual rape and beating the shit out of a 6 year old girl and cutting her face isn't Grim Dark, then I don't want to know what it is!

It's also a great book with an awesome storyline, the characters are cool and the style of writing in interesting! To bring this back to perspective, I found the Blade Itself wasn't Grim Dark even though it had some messy scenes. So yeah, a book considered Grim Dark by someone might be considered a walk in the park by others.


message 35: by Ahdam (new)

Ahdam (snowlocke) | 2429 comments I’m not sure I agree with that since I read the beginning of the way of shadows and it didn’t feel real at all the characters didn’t feel real and the stuff like the rape scene just felt stupid and out of place I could barely take it seriously

I agree that the blade itself wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be but I think the setting was really interesting since it reminds me a lot about English weather that it’s mostly shit

I think the issue with grimdark for me is there are way to many try hard and feel they need to embellish it with stuff like rape which puts me off because it does feel most of these writers use it to show a shitty world

As a film lover I think films can do grimdark really well since you have the crazy experimentalists who just want to provoke a reaction from you

And then there’s the social realist films which to me is what o consider grimdark for film while it isn’t fantasy I think films about the working class has a lot of elements I would consider grimdark because there very bleak and gritty films that puts you in the shoes of characters who know they have nowhere to go and sure it’s rarely about violence gore betrayals and all that but if a fantasy book can do something like that then I would be very impressed

I hope that made sense


message 36: by Dave (last edited Oct 29, 2018 11:13AM) (new)

Dave McMahon | 31 comments Which proves my point that everyone has an opinion on what Grim Dark is based on their own thoughts. And everyone definitely won't like storylines that other people like.

I liked those scenes in TWOS (not typing the full name anymore). For me they added depth to the story and appended hatred to the character Rat. Movies have the benefit of visual and special effects, books rely on the readers imagination which makes it more amazing when they accomplish what they set out to do.


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