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The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)…

The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)

by Joe Abercrombie

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,7151621,488 (4.05)156
  1. 224
    A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (MyriadBooks, Navarone, martlet)
  2. 30
    The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (ghilbrae)
  3. 20
    The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (KittyFiend)
  4. 21
    Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson (majkia)
    majkia: an equally dark landscape with complex characters
  5. 10
    Ships from the West by Paul Kearney (caimanjosh)
    caimanjosh: Both of these series feature great characterization, good writing, and a bare-knuckle, realistic approach to fantasy, as opposed to much of the high fantasy work out there.
  6. 11
    Devices and Desires by K. J. Parker (Sedorner)
    Sedorner: While The Engineer Trilogy is nowhere near as bloody as The First Law trilogy, it's just as dark, deep and "realistic".

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Read about 20 pages or so, not enough to give a rating, but enough to know that the characters didn't grab me -or even poke at me a little bit. Felt a little cartoony to me.
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Everything frightens me, and it's well that it does. Fear is a good friend to the hunted, it's kept me alive this long. The dead are fearless, and I don't care to join them.

Consider this part of my break, a hiatus--one necessitated by a hard boil on the work front. This volume didn't elicit much thought on poetry or politics. The novel isn't poorly constructed, it actually shines in terms of dialogue and inner monologue. While it fails the Bechdel test The Blade Itself is an even handed approach to a medieval type world. There's a gathering of races and regional powers on a collision course. There's also an ancient evil which sounds like a Game of Thrones beyond the pale of settlement. I applaud Abercrombie for his use of a Brodsky quote eschewing a good agon evil dynamic instead of the more realistic bad and worse opposition.

I will likely continue reading these novels for a few weeks until I have completed my occupational stations of the cross. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This is well written the audio book narration is amazing. Think of this book as the first chapter setting up the characters. I particularly liked Glokter who's job is to torture people. He really is the best character in the series.

This book in only 3 stars though because it is just setting up the world and the characters. The following book gets better. Still not 5 stars though, but good. ( )
  schlista | Feb 18, 2019 |
Something is brewing in the Union and on its borderlands. Too bad you don't find out what in this book.

The northmen are rising and threatening to retake an ancient land, now province of the Union. In the south, the Gurkish are involved in subterfuge and have their eyes set on the outlying province of Dagoska. Meanwhile, Logen is trying to survive an invasion of flat-heads by heading south with Bayaz, the First of Magi, into Adua, the Union capital, where Captain Luthar is preparing for a fencing competition and Inquisitor Glokta is trying to sort out what is going on in the Merchant Guild.

The stories of the individual characters are interesting, but Abercrombie fails to tie them together. You don't really learn what drives the characters and why things are happening the way they are. The book is clearly too much of a set up for the sequel rather than being a well-rounded story on its own. Because of this and occasionally awkward writing, though an enjoyable read overall, I cannot give The Blade Itself more than three stars. It's probably more like three and a half, compared to other fantasy stars out there. ( )
  matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
While this book is clearly 95% setup for the trilogy, the characters are intriguing and the world is engrossing.

I especially appreciate the realistic depiction of the characters' reactions to events that happen in the world. Too often, in fantasy novels, all the characters seem to absorb fantastical happenings as commonplace. In this book, the characters react realistically according to their described traits. That is, a spiteful, jaded torturer sees magic happen and goes about searching for logical answers for how it was done. A brutal, battered warrior sees that same magic and thinks about how he can avoid it or survive it. None of them simply accept it as a normal occurrence or as some indication of mystical destiny. They continue to try to live their lives.

That's the great strength of this book. It provides an interesting setting which the reader can simply inhabit, along with an interesting array of characters, and watch as a story unfolds as characters are variously witnesses, protagonists, or antagonists in an ever-changing rotation. It's a fascinating structure that belies much more depth than your typical fantasy novel.

Abercrombie is a strong writer with an eye for action and cinematic descriptions. Given his other job as a freelance film editor, it makes sense that this novel is able to be both epic and personal in way that film can be. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series. ( )
  alexezell | Nov 14, 2018 |
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"The blade itself incites to deeds of violence" - Homer
For the Four Readers

You know who you are
First words
Logen plunged through the trees, bare feet slipping and sliding on the wet earth, the slush, the wet pine needles, breath rasping in his chest, blood thumping in his head. He stumbled and sprawled onto his side, nearly cut his chest open with his own axe, lay there panting, peering through the shadowy forest.
‘Has it ever occurred to you, Master Ninefingers, that a sword is different from other weapons? Axes and maces and so forth are lethal enough: but they hang on the belt like dumb brutes.' He ran an eye over the hilt, plain cold metal scored with faint grooves for a good grip, glinting in the torchlight. 'But a sword ... a sword has a voice.'


'Sheathed it has little to say, to be sure, but you need only put your hand on the hilt and it begins to whisper in your enemy's ear.' He wrapped his fingers tightly round the grip. 'A gentle warning. A word of caution: Do you hear it?'

Logen nodded slowly. 'Now,' murmured Bayaz, 'compare it to the sword half drawn.' A foot length of metal hissed out of the sheath, a single silver letter shining near the hilt. The blade itself was dull, but its edge had a cold and frosty glint. 'It speaks louder, does it not? It hisses a dire threat. It makes a deadly promise. Do you hear it?'

Logen nodded again, his 'eye fastened on that glittering edge. ‘Now compare it to the sword full drawn.' Bayaz whipped the long blade from its sheath with a faint ringing sound, brought it up so that the point hovered inches from Logen's face. 'It shouts now, does it not? It screams defiance! It bellows a challenge! Do you hear it?’
'Mmm,' said Logen; leaning back and staring slightly cross-eyed at the shining point of the' sword.

Bayaz let it drop and slid it gently back into its scabbard, something to Logen's relief. 'Yes, a sword has a voice. Axes and maces and so forth are lethal enough, but a sword is a subtle weapon, and suited to a subtle man. …’ p. 144

Men don’t fence for their King, or for their families, of for the exercise either … They fence for the recognition, for the glory. They fence for their own advancement. They fence for themselves. p. 174
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159102594X, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Longen 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.

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