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

The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One) (edition 2007)

by Joe Abercrombie

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3,6231291,456 (4.07)132
Title:The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)
Authors:Joe Abercrombie
Info:Pyr (2007), Paperback, 531 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:2013, 2012 Aussie Readers Summer Challenge, Epic Fantasy, Favourites

Work details

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

  1. 224
    A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (MyriadBooks, Navarone, martlet)
  2. 20
    The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (ghilbrae)
  3. 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.
  4. 10
    The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (KittyFiend)
  5. 11
    Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson (majkia)
    majkia: an equally dark landscape with complex characters
  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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Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
Not sure yet if I like it but I'll probably read more... Review at some point. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
Le prime 300-350 sono pesanti, avevo quasi voglia di abbandonarlo ma poi migliora e diventa davvero bello. Un consiglio non abbandonatelo a metà ( anche se la tentazione viene). ( )
  Angela.Me | Nov 9, 2015 |
"The Blade Itself incites to deeds of violence." - Homer

The Blade Itself is the first book in The First Law trilogy and is the first book by Joe Abercrombie. And quite an entrance! This book has a little bit of everything a fantasy novel could ask for: a multi faceted plot, well developed characters, intrigue, excellent fight scenes, magic and some minor romance.

First, the characters. I never would have imagined someone could have written a sympathetic torturer but somehow Abercrombie did it. There is a stereotypical spoiled young noble who is starting to learn that the world doesn't revolve around him and is stranger than he ever imagined. Mysterious Magi with questionable motives appear to be having an argument within their brotherhood that will change the fate of the world. An infamous barbarian trying to escape his past and seemingly unable to do so. An escaped slave of unusual heritage and with unusual skills, though she doesn't quite know it. And side characters aplenty! The dialog between is well written. Everyone's voice has their own tone and cadence. We are also given some insight into the character's thought processes which is helpful w

Joe Abercrombie knows how to write action sequences. Most of them, especially the ones towards the end, I kept wishing someone would turn the books into a series so i could watch them play out on the big screen. They have that cinematic feel to them. The book is worth reading for the action sequences alone.

The world itself has been a slow reveal. We're given a few insights into the peoples and a couple locations and very little else. It's just enough world building to get the idea of the locations the characters are at and leaves the rest of a the world to be explored, which by the end of the novel we appear to be set up to do.

The magic system is also left deliberately mysterious. Magic is used a few times. It is more brutal than flashy and somewhat disturbing. I hope more is revealed about this in the next two books.

The story is also a slow one in the beginning. It takes a while to set up the characters before the main plot starts to move. I found it interesting and both a good and necessary set up, just a little slow to read. The ending is the exact opposite. Hang on and enjoy the ride once it starts!

Over all this was a great start to a series and one I plan to continue reading. ( )
  Narilka | Sep 19, 2015 |
Normally I try to include some brief, spoiler-free information explaining at least the basic premise of a book for the benefit of people who are unfamiliar with it, but sometimes it’s difficult to do that for epic fantasy books. This book draws you into a well-developed world, following a variety of characters, with a variety of separate events slowly building up to a larger picture. If I tried to explain what it was about, I’d spoil the fun for any potential readers of seeing that larger picture develop for themselves. I’ll just describe the setting a bit generically, and not attempt to explain much about the story itself at all. Since this is a very character-driven book, I’ll talk more about the characters and my reactions to them than anything else.

The story takes place in a fictional world with different countries populated by different human cultures. The story focuses primarily on people living in or visiting the country in the middle of the known world, sandwiched between enemies to the north and the south. Meanwhile, they have plenty of internal problems and political intrigue with people vying for power and trying to accomplish their own agendas. Magic exists in this book, but it’s pretty rare. There are also brief hints of the paranormal, but no fantastical creatures so far.

This is more of a gritty, realistic-type of fantasy story. The world-building is done very well. I feel like I have a good picture of the world, and at no point did I get bogged down in details. There is plenty of violence, and our main characters are flawed individuals. Some of them are very flawed! We primarily follow three characters, but we occasionally read from other perspectives and of course there are a variety of additional supporting characters. The characters were all pretty distinctive and easy to keep straight. They weren’t all very likeable, but they were all interesting to read about.

The most annoying main character was Jezal. He’s a young noble who generally sees himself as superior to everyone around him. The way he looked at and treated other people really got on my nerves sometimes, but there were occasional hints that he’s capable of more depth and I expect he has some eye-opening adventures in store for him. Inquisitor Glokta was another main character who wasn’t particularly likeable. Before the beginning of the book, he had been through a lot of hardships and physical torture and he’s very bitter and jaded. Sometimes I found him a sympathetic character and other times I wanted to shake him.

Logen was my favorite of the main characters. He has a violent past, and he’s certainly no angel, but I saw him as the more rational and good-hearted of the main characters. The chapters that focused on his part of the story were the ones I enjoyed the most. He had some funny scenes with a minor character named Malacus Quai, and I would have enjoyed more of that. Quai seemed like he was going to be an interesting character at first, but he kind of faded into the background. I’d like to see him play a larger role in the next book.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned any women. There really aren’t that many so, if you need your books to have strong female characters, this might not be a good choice for you. Maybe that will change later in the series. There are a couple female characters though, one of whom shows up more often as we approach the end of the book and I expect we’ll see far more of her in the next book. Both of them are strong in some ways, and weak in others, but neither of them seemed that capable of making well-considered, rational decisions. To me, that is an important requirement before I’ll call anybody, female or otherwise, truly “strong”.

I really liked the author’s writing style. Although this book had a primarily darker tone, there was also some humor sprinkled throughout and there were several times that I laughed out loud. I wouldn’t call this a fast-paced book exactly, and there are plenty of moments of character development and introspection, but it has its share of action and I can’t think of a single moment when I felt bored or anxious for the pace to pick up. The main reason I’m not rating this higher is simply because it didn’t take over my life. :) I cared what happened, but not to the point where it became terribly important to me. I enjoyed the story and I looked forward to reading more of it when I was doing other things, but I also found it easy enough to put down.

The book didn’t end with any major cliff hangers, but it definitely was not an ending. None of the main threads were wrapped up. I would love to jump directly into the second book in the series, and normally I would, but first I need to read an unrelated library book that finally came in yesterday. ( )
  YouKneeK | Sep 6, 2015 |
"This is the first of Abercrombie that I've ever read. The Blade Itself is the first novel in The First Law trilogy and his debut novel. It follows the various misadventures of three interlocking story lines - that of Logen Ninefingers, a Named Man and barbarian; Jezal dan Luthar, a self-absorbed young soldier; and Inquisitor Glokta, cripple soldier turned torturer. Bubbling away in the background is a war against the Northmen, the reappearance of the very mysterious Shanka, and the return of the First of the Magi: Bayaz. There is not a great deal of magic in this novel - although there is the potential for much, much more in the rest of the trilogy, I'm sure - and the characters come to the fore, swearing and fighting their way through the minimal plot.

Reading the first half of The First Law was a really slow process. I wouldn't call it boring, because it was actually interesting; it's just that there was really a bunch of details. But that's normal, I guess, for a first installment on a series. The author has to explain the background story and everything, and that takes some time. Nothing to worry about, though, if you have already experienced Martin, Tolkien or Rothfuss.

The prose is straight forwards and pragmatic. It sometimes suffers from repetition, and is a little self-consciously clever at times. It never reaches the heights of authors like Knut Hamsun or Patrick Rothfuss, but it is serviceable and flows. I found the pacing of the novel was a little uneven. Sometimes I found myself turning the pages feverishly; at other points I reached almost a standstill, because of the slightly dull descriptive passages, especially the ones about politics. In my opinion, Abercrombie is at his fiery best when describing battles - one on one combat; ambushes; midnight flights and fights through the city. All of these were splendid!

About the characters, I liked most of them. Actually, at the first 25% of the book or so, the only thing that was really appealing to me on the whole story was the relationship between Logen and Quai. I always have fun watching knights trying to interact with intellectuals. Not that Logen is not intelligent or something. On the contrary, he is quite the thinking barbarian. It was fun seeing him muttering 'I am still alive, I am still alive' after every battle; his wry amusement at the fact he more frightens than attracts the ladies; and the mystery of his altar-ego Ninefingers, hinted at late on in the novel.

Another really great character is Inquisitor Glokta. At first I really hated him and every chapter which presented him as the POV would be a pain for me to read. As the story went on, though, I learned to appreciate his grumpiness, his sarcastic and lugubrious way of going through life. The way the author lets us know what he is really thinking during his interactions with other characters made me snort with laughter on a number of occasions, despite him being a heartless government jerk. The end of the book took me by surprise, regarding Glokta and I am sure I will like him a lot more on the next ones.

Regarding the story line dedicated to Jezal dn Ardee, I really liked it too. Every story needs a little bit of romance and theirs was very sweet. I couldn't have imagined that the arrogant young nobleman, Jezal, would react to love in such an innocent and jumpy way. However, the thing I like the most about him is his inability to go though social events as a normal person would; it seems that Jezal has a very short fuse when it comes to effusive people: ""Jezal wished they didn't have to celebrate quite so much. It was becoming embarrassing."" I do feel his pain... Anyway, I like Ardee a lot too. I always liked strong women in literature, they always bring a special touch to the story with their independence and, sometimes, hatred towards men. After finding out some facts about Ardee's past, I was really surprised at how normal she acted towards Jezal, to be honest. Not every woman that pass through what she did still see men with the same eyes.

About the plot... there are a few black spots in my ind when it comes to the plot... it's not very clear yet. The thing I know is: we sort of have a war bubbling away in the background. We have a sudden quest - for what, we still have little concrete idea. However, the bulk of this book is introducing the various characters and their motivations, which seemed a little bit one-dimensional to me. Glokta is motivated by his pain and humiliation of being a cripple. Jezal is motivated by arrogance and not wanting to be beaten. Logen is motivated by the need to stay alive. Past this, I don't have much of an idea about who they are and why they do what they do. Abercrombie's work was not well developed on this point. The thing that is really motivating me to grab the second book and read it is the development of Glokta's and Ferro's story lines; plus, I am really curious to see what is the real purpose of Bayaz.

All in all, it as a sufficiently interesting story with flaws that can be overlooked. I enjoyed the sharp-tongued characters and the unfettered joy of the battle prose. In conclusion, I will definitely be reading more Abercrombie.

Interesting quotes that I didn't include in the review:
But some things have to be done. It's better to do them, than to live with the fear of them.
There is always something dark about a man with money.
The best steel doesn't always shine the brightest.
Life-the way it really is-is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse.
Some things have to be done. It's better to do them than to live with the fear of them.
A man doesn't put on a mask unless he's got some dark work in mind.

The Last Passage
Glokta snorted. Well, forthright at least. 'Shall we go?'
She looked down at his cane. 'Don't suppose you've got one of those spare, have you?'
'I'm afraid not. I only have the one, and I can't walk without it.'
'I know how you feel.'
Not quite. Glokta turned and began to limp away from the Arch Lector's office. Not quite. He could hear the woman hobbling along behind. Strangely invigorating to have someone trying to keep up with me. He upped the pace, and it hurt him. But it hurts her more.
Back to the South, then. He licked at his empty gums. Hardly a place of happy memories. To fight the Gurkish, after what it cost me last time. To root out disloyalty in a city where no one can be trusted, especially those sent to help me. To struggle in the heat and the dust, at a thankless task almost certain to end in failure. And failure, more than likely, will mean death.
He felt his cheek twitch, his eyelid flicker. At the hands of the Gurkish? At the hands of plotters against the crown? At the hands of his Eminence, or his agents? Or simply to vanish, as my predecessor did? Has one man ever had such a range of deaths to choose from? The corner of his mouth twitched up. I can hardly wait to get started.
That same question came into his head, over and over, and he still had no answer.
Why do I do this?
" ( )
  AdemilsonM | Sep 2, 2015 |
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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)

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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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