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The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)by Joe Abercrombie
I will freely admit that I love dark fantasy, and this is dark fantasy. If you're looking for a series that isn't G-rated like so may fantasy stories are, this is it. The usual fantasy character types are present, but how they play their roles is very different. From the first magi who isn't a nice doddering old man, to the northern barbarian who is actually a barbarian, to the nobleman hero who acts like a self-centered nobleman, the characters actually act like real people. All the characters are as flawed as anyone. The story isn't what you would expect. The action is fast paced and realistic, and gives you a feeling that the author may have actually been in a fight or at the very least studied a martial path. The book is well written and gives the impression that deep thought went into the moral dilemmas faced by characters. I can't wait to read more by Joe Abercrombie. I would recommend The Blade Itself to any fantasy fan, especially those who like Steven Erikson or George R. R. Martin.
Synopses & Reviews
Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught up in one feud too many, he's on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian, leaving nothing behind but some bad songs, a few 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 jar. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendships. 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.
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 fantasy with a real cutting edge.
"British newcomer Abercrombie fills his muddled sword-and-sorcery series opener with black humor and reluctant heroes. Logen Ninefingers, a barbarian on the run from an ex-employer who's now king of the North, finds his loyalties complicated when he switches sides and becomes a valuable source of intel to the beleaguered Union. Glokta, a torture victim turned torturer, gets roped into securing the Union's position against both the invading Northmen and the incompetent Union king and council, and ruthlessly wields his skills in attempts to weed out traitors. Foppish Jezal, a preternaturally excellent swordsman, manages to win the contest to become the Union champion, thanks to a little help from Bayaz, a mage with his own agenda. The workmanlike plot, marred by repetitive writing and an excess of torture and pain, is given over to introducing the mostly unlikable characters, only to send them off on separate paths in preparation for the next volume's adventures. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Delightfully twisted and evil...for once the novel comes close to living up to its publisher's hype." The Guardian (U.K.)
"An admirably hard, fast and unpretentious read...packs a mean punch in the bloodthirsty mayhem and mystery departments." SFX
"You'd never guess that The Blade Itself is Joe Abercrombie's debut novel. He writes like a natural. There are great characters, sparky dialogue, an action-packed plot...a cheeky, vivid, exhilarating ride." Starburst
"The Blade Itself is a page-turner powered by a combination of gritty, fast-paced action and juicy doses of cynicism." Edge Magazine
"Fans of character-driven epics who are willing to take their heroes with a grain of moral ambiguity should add this novel to their 'must read' list....[A] smartly-written, sophisticated debut with compelling characters, a complex plot, and style to burn." Strange Horizons
"An extremely impressive debut...and in Joe Abercrombie it brings us a writer who oozes promise. This is surely a novel as sharp as its title." SFRevu
"In addition to excellent characterizations and fascinating world-building, Abercrombie also writes the best fight scenes I have read in ages. I'm glad the whole package is good, but I could happily recommend The Blade Itself for the fight scenes alone." SFSite
Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is noir fantasy with a real cutting edge.
About the Author
Joe Abercrombie (Lancaster, England) is a freelance film editor, working mostly on documentaries and live music events. He lives and works in London. He is the author of The First Law.
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