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

by Joe Abercrombie

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,7521381,388 (4.06)137
Member:KimarieBee
Title:The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)
Authors:Joe Abercrombie
Info:Pyr (2007), Paperback, 531 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:****1/2
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 Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (KittyFiend)
  3. 20
    The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (ghilbrae)
  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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It’s always a pleasure to discover a new author. Of course, if I didn’t take so infernally long to get around to reading books, I would have discovered Abercrombie a few years ago… but after finally getting around to reading his first book, The First Law, I’m delighted that there are already 3 more to read!
Since the book’s been kicking around my house, I’ve heard, several times, about how ‘dark and depressing’ it is. I am pleased to report that this is not true. Yes, it is gritty, and the characters are people from a violent world who have nearly all been touched (and damaged) by violence. However, the characters are all wonderfully human, and their motivations are understandable, even when reprehensible. While there is some thoughtfulness to the work, it’s still primarily an action-adventure fantasy.
The story is told through the eyes of 3 main characters: Logen, a fighting man, a ‘barbarian’ from the North whose family and friends have been destroyed, who must strike out on his own. Inquisitor Glotka – once a shining paragon, a rising star in the military; but now a survivor of torture as a prisoner-of-war, who has become a torturer himself. And Jezal – a young aristocrat whose concerns have mainly centered around trying to impress his family by winning a fencing competition.
This is part one of a trilogy, and I still don’t have Part 2 – so finding out how things all resolve is getting a bit delayed, to my chagrin!
So far, I would recommend this to fans of Gene Wolfe, Patrick Rothfuss & George R.R. Martin.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
The blade itself is one of the better fantasy books I've read recently - and I am pleased that it is part of a trilogy, so there is more to come.

The characters are well drawn, none of them fall into the categories "too good to be true" or "absolutely evil villain" - they come in various shades of grey. The author does a good job to describe the characters, their motives, aims and problems. We have a barbarian who lost almost everything and just wants the fighting to end, an inquisitor who used to be a champion until he was caught and tortured by the enemy, an arrogant, selfish and inexperienced noble - it would take too long to describe them all in detail here. None of them would qualify as prince charming, as a person I would choose to become a friend in real life - but I got to like them over the course of the book, even (or especially) those behaving in a morally questionable way. One of the downsides is the total lack of interesting female characters. The only women here are a former slave trying to hate and distrust the whole world and the sister of an army officer, the love interest of our previously mentioned noble.

The setting is much darker, much more realistic than some of the older fantasy settings. Fights are dirty and bloody, the politic situation is unstable at best with barbarians threatening from the north and old enemies raising again in the south, many different factions try to gain advantages over the others - some are successful, others die trying.

The author manages to create a good mixture of setting describtion (not too much, just enough to make the world become a vivid place), character interaction, dirty action scenes and humorous elements. I found myself laughing out loud or grinning quite often over the course of the book. The writing style is lacking a bit - but this is a first work, I think the author has great potential. ( )
  Ellemir | Feb 1, 2016 |
The Blade Itself is unusual for the fantasy genre, it is character driven rather than plot driven. Sure there is a plot, war is looming to the north and the south and evil bad guys are gathering strength, but that is secondary to the characters created by Abercrombie. The characters created are flawed, they would likely be villains in another author's novel - the torturer for the inquisition, the northern barbarian known for his violence, the shelfish and shallow nobleman - but the author makes them real and relatable. They might live in a fantasy world, but they could easily be in ours. One example is the inquisitor's struggle going up and down stairs. Abercrombie spends quite a while describing this characters ordeal of going up the stairs in a frail and broken body, it makes him human and real despite his profession. This is the first book in a trilogy, and it feels like Abercrombie is using this book to set up the story and the characters. Not a lot happens other than getting the characters in the right position to begin the real story in the next book. I am definitely looking forward to continuing with these characters. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 17, 2016 |
The Blade Itself is unusual for the fantasy genre, it is character driven rather than plot driven. Sure there is a plot, war is looming to the north and the south and evil bad guys are gathering strength, but that is secondary to the characters created by Abercrombie. The characters created are flawed, they would likely be villains in another author's novel - the torturer for the inquisition, the northern barbarian known for his violence, the shelfish and shallow nobleman - but the author makes them real and relatable. They might live in a fantasy world, but they could easily be in ours. One example is the inquisitor's struggle going up and down stairs. Abercrombie spends quite a while describing this characters ordeal of going up the stairs in a frail and broken body, it makes him human and real despite his profession. This is the first book in a trilogy, and it feels like Abercrombie is using this book to set up the story and the characters. Not a lot happens other than getting the characters in the right position to begin the real story in the next book. I am definitely looking forward to continuing with these characters. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 13, 2016 |
The stories of Logen, Glokta, Jezal and others are separated for most of this book, but you can see where things are going. Strength of different kinds: physical, mental, magical. The spectrum of good to evil is very broad and you can tell that characters will move or be pushed along the spectrum during the story. I look forward to reading more.

Beginning line: "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." ( )
  ehousewright | Jan 11, 2016 |
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Epigraph
"The blade itself incites to deeds of violence" - Homer
Dedication
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.
Quotations
‘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.'


'Eh?'


'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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