I am fan of what is considered 'Men's Adventure' books, gritty, bloody, and violent stories told from the pulp days. That said, I feel this is a fantasy version of many of those books. If you have read any of Max Allen Collins "Quarry" series, that seems like a solid pairing to this. In any case, I highly recommend this book.
I know there are bits of these stories that deal with characters from the trilogy and clearly some of it is missed upon by me. For example, everyone and their mother loves
A handful of the stories are interesting but just snapshots of life in the nasty, horrible place, much dealing with what seems to be an ever-present war that wages throughout this world. Good, but not great, and nothing to write home about. I am assuming some of these are stories to flesh out characters found in the other novels set in this world, so that could have made their impact more profound.
Now, about a third of the stories have two characters weaving through them. Shev and Javre, and they are simply fantastic. That's them over on the left. One of the stories is available online for free here: http://www.tor.com/2016/01/12/twos-company-joe-abercrombie/ However, I almost recommend getting the book and reading it as this is not the first story with Shev and Javre in the book and you might miss out on some of the fun getting to know them as their story progresses through the book.
I loved every single one of the stories and enjoyed their silly banter as they struggle to survive this hellish place and we pick up bits and pieces from their past and the events between each of the stories (some are set more than a decade apart). I actually reread the Two’s Company story because it was that good. I would like an entire novel with these two characters please. Remind me somewhat of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser but women and my are they hilarious. Probably one of the best character pairings I have read in a long while.
Good stuff, and it did it's job, I immediately went and picked up The Blade Itself, the first book in his trilogy. I guess that means I liked it.