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“The Blade Itself” by Joe Abercrombie Book Review

Book: The Blade Itself

Series: The First Law Book #1

Author: Joe Abercrombie

515 pages, Paperback

Published March 8, 2007 by Gollancz

Price at Amazon

About the book

Joe Abercrombie captivates with a perfect balance of humor, plot, and bloodlust. Perfectly constructed characters you’re sure not to forget.

“The Blade Itself” is the first book in the First Law series.

About the plot

Abercrombie’s plot features people from all nations and of different social standing. Each of the characters Joe Abercrombie chooses is always emotionally or physically crippled in some way. You will meet several characters in the book and you will certainly remember their fates because Abercrombie is a master at this. Our first encounter is with Logen. He’s from the northern kingdom and they call him the Bloody Nine because of his brutal reputation as a killer. In stark contrast to the unlikable northerner is Jezal, who is the handsome man lying on his noble lineage, and who is used to getting everything.

My favorite is Inquisitor Glokta. There’s hardly a more pissed off character, both physically and mentally, but he is somehow a fascinating and memorable character. Bayaz is the first magus and with his appearance the magical part of the plot is revealed, which I believe will be revealed more in the second book. Ferro, on the other hand, is the lady of the company who is in no way inferior in cruelty to Logen. All of these characters are introduced to us independently in separate chapters. That they hail from different parts of Abercrombie’s world is his way of introducing us to it without unnecessary descriptions. And the world of “The First Law” is a truly colorful one, populated by interesting peoples.

The story interweaves said characters into a war that is ostensibly between neighboring nations, but I suspect there is something deeper and more magical lurking. The sides in this war are also interesting. On one side is the Alliance, which represents civilization. Think of it as Angland during the Middle Ages, when honor and blue blood were of the utmost importance. The North is the second side. There life is harsh, and gives birth to warriors. If when you hear North you imagine scarred ugly men, huge as rocks and covered with skins, and you would not be wrong. Gurkhul is a desert country ruled by a cruel emperor, and where to be made a slave is the cruelest fate. The author skillfully and without unnecessary stretching introduces us to these countries in the course of history. As we read of Glokta’s stay in the Emperor’s prison we learn of the cruelty of the Gurkhuls.

The Blade Itself

The first book in a series is always more descriptive and aims to introduce the reader to the world and characters. This in no way hindered my reading of The Blade Itself. Masterfully all the descriptions of the countries and landscape were interwoven into the stories of the characters and their journey themselves. The book is dynamic and full of action. Each chapter aims to add to our overall view of the world of Abercrombie and the peoples who inhabit it. His characters are opposites and I am very interested to see how he decides to develop them. My first encounter with the author was with his “The Shattered Sea” series and there I was impressed with the development the main character underwent, so I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Joe Abercrombie also captivates with his dose of dark humor. You can laugh while reading one of his most violent scenes. For me, his writing style is recognizable and memorable. It is mentioned in the annotation that he will rank worthy alongside authors like J. Р. Р. Martin, Stephen Erickson, and Brandon Sanderson, and indeed it is. With the First Law series, Abercrombie forever ranks among my favorite authors.

“Before They Are Hanged” Book #2

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