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

by Joe Abercrombie

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,5731571,517 (4.05)154
Member:popslan
Title:The Blade Itself (The First Law:Book One) (The First Law, Book One)
Authors:Joe Abercrombie
Info:PYR (2007), Hardcover
Collections:2009
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

  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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English (145)  German (5)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
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 |
Great, memorable characters. Wonderful black humor. So-so plot and world development. Good fun for a plane ride. ( )
  viking2917 | Nov 4, 2018 |
The Blade Itself is a fantasy novel about … well, a host of characters and the parts they play in this tale of feuds, conspiracies, and wars. Set in a vicious world with well-established cultures and classes, magic and science, superstitions and beliefs.

The Bad Stuff: The only bad thing about this book is it comes to an end and leaves you wanting more.

The good stuff: This book has a full cast of characters from Logen Ninefingers, Bayaz and Jezal Dan Luthar, to Major Collem West, Sand dan Glokta, and Ferro. Their paths woven seamlessly into the story in a world where life is neither fun nor fair. The characters own their individual personalities, their individual traits and their individual problems, while war broods all around. Abercrombie weaves a tale of respected men who lie and scheme, barbarians who have honour and respect and strong women who kick some serious arse.

In my opinion, this is a superbly written fantasy novel with a mix of aristocratic society and down-in-the-gutter, bang-to-rights hard men. This action packed novel packs a punch and deserves a place on the shelf of any true fantasy fan. I’m giving it 5 out of 5 golden bookmarks.
( )
  AWA1 | Sep 24, 2018 |
http://tinyurl.com/yapfok76

Ah. Now I understand why people writing about this series say that it delves into very uncomfortable - bordering on inappropriate - territory, even for the fantasy genre.

Here's an example to illustrate. There is a scene in this book involving family members physically and emotionally abusing other family members. Besides the difficulty of writing about this if you're not fully aware of the psychology surrounding both victim and abuser, it's really, really difficult to read. Abercrombie has set you up to like his flawed main characters, as would any other fantasy writer, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to like this character at all any longer, no matter how Abercrombie spins it. That's pushing this to an uncomfortable place, and frankly, pushing it off the cliff (the cliff being your readers' enjoyment, the valley being when said reader throws the book in the trash bin).

Abercrombie is creating a world that is quite compelling - one that includes magic, but not so pervasive that everyone in the book believes it already. In addition, he's doing his darndest to cut across social classes, which is more difficult than it sounds in this genre. But even though this is a trilogy, if I don't get a vastly different flavor from the next book, I will be cutting bait. ( )
  khage | Aug 28, 2018 |
This was simply an amazing book, made even more so by the reading in the Audible version by Steven Pacey. His ability to change voice for each character was fascinating, and really added to the presentation of the entire story. I had no problem differentiating between the main characters, and the supporting characters, as well. It was amazing to hear him switch between all of the accents necessary for the characters and where they were from. While this is set in a fantasy world, depending upon the character, I heard at least Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Cockney, "proper" British, Russian, Indian, as well as male and female voicing, among the accents used in the story. Even if you've already read the book, I'd highly recommend getting the Audible version.

The story itself was very good, and right out of the gate captures the reader's attention. The author is very adept at switching scenes, switching emotions, and switching storylines, and in such a way that the reader doesn't get lost. The characters are very well-developed, and each has his/her own personality and viewpoints. I especially like the interaction between Inquisitor Glokta and Major West near the end of the book: it revealed quite a bit about both.

The other thing I liked about this book was the development. It wasn't simply a story of a disparate group of individuals/races coming together to defeat a common foe. Instead, the story developed over the course of many, many scene changes, with characters coming and going, interacting with each other in many different ways. Really so much more than the simple fantasy quest-type of book.

As expected, this ended on a cliff-hanger, well, really a double-cliff-hanger. Looking forward to the next book! ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 7, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
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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)

(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.

(summary from another edition)

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