Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.
Nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.
Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.
Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult.
Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.
“Every man has his excuses, and the more vile the man becomes, the more touching the story has to be. What is my story now, I wonder?“The Blade Itself, Joe Abercrombie
I went in on The Blade Itself with very little knowledge about it, and was just heavily relying on a friend’s strong recommendation and other fantasy readers’ highly suggested titles. And oh, boy I was so confused yet satisfied at the same time, and it’s leaving me wanting to reach out to read the next book already. Please also note that this entire series is heavy grimdark, so expect a lot of content warnings, gore-ish themes, and even awful gritty characters, which may put off some readers.
All I can say is that this first installment was a very character-focused story. It was just one big set-up for what is more to potentially happen in the next books. This is the book wherein plot hardly matters, but the amount of information about all the characters you get is astounding. It gives the readers the chance to know all the characters’ very dirty and awful ins and outs. Everyone is just basically assholes and very terrible people, but there were some shining and unexpected reprieves that makes them more fleshed out and human. It’s actually very helpful to expect nothing from anyone, because they will surprise you to a lot of unpredictable ways. You will immediately get invested in everyone – for both the good and bad.
As I’ve mentioned above, the very little plot in this book wasn’t the big focus, but it opens up all possibilities for the story to grow further in the next books. I was so confused about majority of the time because nothing concrete was sticking in terms of plot, but at least some of my questions were slowly getting solved while others were still left hanging and unanswered. The world-building and magic system were very contained and focused on a specific location. I am so used to a very vivid and fleshed out world in my fantasy books, so I initially felt very restricted with the world and magic system in this one. However, the descriptions were more than enough to know how dark, gritty, and very dirty yet also very real this world is. And there was no map! I would have LOVED to have a map here, just to make sense of where everything is.
I could understand that this book might appeal some readers (like me) to continue on with the series, but I could also know why it might turn off others, hence I’m reserving my over-all judgment to the trilogy until after I’m done. I can’t really say anything more, but just know that this book definitely made me more curious and excited to see if it follows through in the next books.
About The Author
Joe Abercrombie was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Manchester University, where he studied psychology. He moved into television production before taking up a career as a freelance film editor. During a break between jobs he began writing The Blade Itself in 2002, completing it in 2004. It was published by Gollancz in 2006 and was followed by two other books in The First Law trilogy, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings. He currently lives and works in London with his wife and daughter. In early 2008 Joe Abercrombie was one of the contributors to the BBC Worlds of Fantasy series, alongside other contributors such as Michael Moorcock, Terry Pratchett and China Mieville.