Why did I get it: I have been wanting to read the First Law trilogy for a long time before and after I read that somewhat irritating article by Leo Green. (This title will also count towards my Speculative Fiction Challenge for 2011.)
How I would rate it: 5 out of 5 stars.
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, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar 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 Glotka 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. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is noir fantasy with a real cutting edge.
Review: I’m not really sure what I went into this book expecting, but I had some doubts that it would live up to its hype and I figured I’d probably end up somewhat dissatisfied. I was, of course, horribly, foolishly wrong. The Blade Itself was a witty, hilarious, dark, and engaging start for an Epic Fantasy series. And I am fairly certain that I will be reading every book Joe Abercrombie has ever written.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a fan of Robert B. Parker who as not only prolific Mystery and Western writer, but also very straightforward in terms to his approach to dialogue and character development. Joe Abercrombie does something similar with Epic Fantasy. He doesn’t bother over dramatizing or complicating his story. A castle is a castle, a bad king is a bad king, and a kickass barbarian is just that.
However, that isn’t to say that the world Abercrombie writes about isn’t unique or awesome because it was both of those things. Instead of over embellishing, he relied on characterization, plot, and a lot of interesting conversations. Words cannot express how much I enjoyed this book compared to a lot of the ones I’ve been abandoning lately but the truth is I am not a big fan of romance, love triangles, dystopias, and tough characters being overbearing for no apparent reason. And honestly it can be frustrating to feel that way and still want to read. Happily, The Blade Itself doesn’t bother with any of that nonsense. Instead of a love triangle, I got action. Instead of one or two people being tough, everyone was tough. Instead of overly complicated relationships based on attraction, everyone was fairly messed up and dealing with a lot of fascinating issues that had nothing or very little to do with romance.
I don’t know where to even begin in terms of which character to gush about because by the end of the book I loved nearly every point of view character. I guess my favorites would be Logen, Glokta, Malacus Quai, West, and Bayuz. But even then I hate leaving out Jezal because he is so incredibly awful and shallow that he is somehow endearing. And Ferro is growing on me. Everyone had their own distinctive voice, and I loved following all of them around during various chapters and sections. There was also a lot of humor in this book from the character’s thoughts to their actions to their opinions of one another. I absolutely cannot wait to see what happens to everyone in the next two books!
In conclusion, I really regret not reading this series sooner, but I’m glad I finally got around to it. I think this would be a great book for Epic Fantasy fans and for readers who aren’t sure that this genre can be as edgy or compelling as Urban. And if you enjoy George R. R. Martin, but want something more fun and less depressing while you wait for A Dance of Dragons, check this book out.