Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.
Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain and shallow, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men. And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all - ideally by running away from it.
But as he's discovering, old habits die hard....especially when Bayaz gets involved. An 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 Glokta, Jezal, and Logen a whole lot more difficult....
©2010 Joe Abercrombie (P)2010 Orion Publishing Group
A fan of epic fantasy...the darker the better!
I cannot say enough about this series...except I want more! I am a big fan of Robert Jordan and GRRM and was beginning to despair that the rest were all for "young adults." Joe Abercrombie doesn't hold back. I was swept up in a world that was realistic and fantastic at the same time. Some people complain about the language but the use of "foul language" keeps you rooted in the world. This is a dark and gritty tale meant for adults. This is a must read for GRRM fans! You'll find yourself loving and hating characters at the same time much like you do in A Song of Ice and Fire! Narration was excellent!
This is just a great book and an excellent begining to a promising triology. All the elements are here...excellently written, superb narration, multidimensional characters, a large world, magic, violence, romance, war, and politics. Sometimes funny, always engaging and thoroughly enjoyable…sucks you in and pins you there as you ride along with the story. Easily on par with Mistborn, A Song of Fire and Ice and The Wheel of Time. Can't wait to hear books 2 and 3.
I'm not sure what the negative review was about, this book is certainly gritty and dark but the characters are interesting and much more believable than the norm for a fiction book. I have read fiction from everyone for many years now running the gambit from sci-fi/fantasy to thrillers and this is an entertaining story how ever definitely for adults not young readers. If you like a good story with engaging characters then you will probably like this book. If you are offended by harsh language or violence this book is not for you. The greatest endorsement I can give it is that I bought the second book instead of waiting for credits for three more days! Enough said!
Steven Pacey really makes the story and especially the characters come alive with his many voices. Joe Abercrombie is definitely a talented writer having created memorable and personally engaging people that would make me curse but also laugh out loud. I highly recommend this series. Having also just finished George R.R. Martin's master work, I was left with a fantasy-epic void, but alas, it was solidly and immensely satisfied with Abercrombie's First Law series.
I tried this audiobook because of the reviews and the sample clip, and it exceeded my expectations. I especially liked the narrator, Steven Pacey - his Glokta voice reminded me of Boris Karloff with a lisp - whose narration is simply superb! I enjoyed this book so much that I bought the other two in the series and am now listening to the second book. I am also buying the hard copy so I can see the spelling of people and places. I really appreciate the audible reader feedback and the sample clips. This series was well worth the money and the listening time!
This author is well known to have no real good guys or bad guys but real people. I enjoy all his books.
Audiobooks are my workaround to the pesky laws forbidding reading while driving. And I'm pretty sure my dog likes them too.
... say he knows how to write a villain.
I almost did not finish this book. I shocked myself when I devoured the entire trilogy and still wanted more.
Joe Abercrombie's style is gritty, unabashed, and vivid. I knew this going into the series, and yet, it still shocked me. The shock was so severe, I almost stopped listening about an hour into the first book. But I like a challenge, and I don't like to give up, so I plowed forward. The other motivator was Abercrombie's wit. His humor is dry and sharp and subtle (though sometimes less-so).
My first impressions were also tarnished by the voice given to Glokta. He lisps. It makes sense why ... but I found him difficult to understand and annoyed that a main character would be such a challenge to listen to. But as other characters were introduced, and Glokta's personality became clearer, I appreciated his lisp. It gave his character an extraordinary amount of depth that would have been missing based on the writing alone.
This book (and the entire series) is character-driven. There isn't a clear plot or goal established by the end of the first book, and even after completing the series, I'd describe the plot as thin. But, oh, these characters. They are villains. All of them. There is no clear delineation of who can be trusted and who cannot, except that it seems pretty clear letting your guard down around any of them will get you killed. I found myself loving and hating each of these characters. I was intrigued by them, annoyed by them, disgusted by them and utterly fascinated to the very end.
Some scenes were difficult to listen to. The torture scenes were tough while driving to work in the morning and I found myself cringing or closing my eyes at inopportune moments. But the battle scenes are epic and the gory details make them exciting and suspenseful.
It's hard to give a full review of just this book, without taking into account the entire series. But, I'll say this. Many themes are started in this book that are carried throughout the series. And the humor, suspense, and action of the first novel only improve as the series continues. I think Glokta's character is the best-written and has the most depth, but they all lend something unique to the story.
Be prepared for grittiness, irreverence, cursing, and violence. Joe Abercrombie pulls no punches and censors his characters for no man. And it would be an utter shame if he did. Anyone who appreciates multi-dimensional characters that themselves carry the story even in the absence of clear plot direction, will love The Blade Itself.
This very well-written book was exhausting to listen to. I kept expecting a ray of hope or goodness, a character I could like, or a little contrast to the constant, sometimes egregious violence and cynicism. I never found any, except maybe in the excellence of the narrator.
I think it is a long lead-in for the next book, rather than a stand-alone novel. Unfortunately, I won't be participating in the next one. It's a little like Chinese food, where one chops, slices, dices and crushes ingredients for an hour, only to fast-fry them in 5 minutes. I've had too much of the chopping, slicing, dicing and crushing, and am no longer interested in the meal.
This is a fantasy genre tale but I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys fiction with grit and gravitas. The plot conflicts are engaging. The characters are diverse, with intricate motivations and personality traits. Nothing about them is cliched and the author doesn't expect you take anything at face value. This is one of those rare 'in media res' stories that perfectly combines forward progression of plot with discoveries of history that date further and further back in time.
In addition, the prose is rich.
I'd also like to give a special hat tip to the narrator. His cadence and timbre are incredible, his acting is genuine, and his range is phenomenal. I had trouble believing the entire production was voiced by one person, he'd created distinct character voices that well.
Finally, I'll mention that this book is the first in a long series, making it quite the bargain.
Highly highly recommended.
I bought this audiobook based solely on the good reviews. As you all know, this can be a risky proposition- but in this case, it totally paid off! Not only has The Blade Itself been an intriguing and well-written fantasy so far- just enough magic to keep it interesting, a good political plot, well-drawn characters and a master wizard who seems to be gently poking fun at the whole concept of master wizards in fantasy novels.
I also have to give major props to the narrator, Steven Pacey. This is the first book I have heard him read and I would definitely be willing to look for others, based only on his excellent narrative skills. His voices are all distinctive for each character and I am particularly impressed with his voice for the character of Glokta- a man who has lost most of his teeth. Too many narrators seem to try a little too hard for 'unique' voices, especially if the character is supposed to be old, or have a lisp, etc. and it can lead to them being difficult to understand. But Steven Pacey makes this voice distinctive and cringe-worthy, with each sentence reminding me of what happened to the character- but always completely understandable.
Check out The Blade Itself- you won't be disappointed! My next membership credit is going towards book 2!
"If you like Game of Thrones..."
Wow, hadn’t heard of Joe Abercrombie much before purchasing this book, but he has quickly become my new favorite author
Story – 5/5
Some may say this story is a little slow going, as it takes it’s time developing the characters rather than moving through the over-arcing story. Personally I preferred this approach as JA’s writing is far superior to most fantasy authors, and he can pull it off. I actually prefer this to Game of Thrones.
JA’s writing is very clever; he somehow develops a likeable torturer and a barbarian champion killer who doesn’t like killing people, and makes them believable. His whit is also as sharp as a knife. Very dark comedy that had me laughing out loud at times (which rarely happens with books)
For those who like the action though, there is still plenty of it, along with some quite gruesome scenes – much like other gritty fantasy books. JA has taken the standard epic fantasy structure and put his own spin on it. A very solid debut
Performance – 5/5
When I listened to the sample, I wasn’t too sure about Steven Pacey, I didn’t like how he described an action scenes. I realised after purchasing the audio book though that he is in fact one of the very best narrators out there – I just wasn’t used to him.
His character acting was flawless, each having a distinctive and believable voice. His narration enhanced the dark comedy and whit that Joe Abercrombie was clearly trying to portray
Music/sound effects between scenes/chapters was a nice touch as well
Overall – 5/5
The book is great, that goes without saying, but it's the narrator I wish to praise here. He is by far the best narrator I have ever listened too, every character is given a distinct and unique voice, so much so that it is sometimes hard to believe it is all the same man speaking. He understands the tone and humour of the books perfectly and delivers each line exactly as the author intended. Inquisitor Glokta is delivered near perfectly, talking with a lisp but thinking in his old voice, brilliant.
"A slow Burner that end Well"
This book is a good multi character, multi plot book that has great story and character development.
Logan saying when threatened. "kill me? I do the killing here!".
the Inquisitor Glocter, no idea why but I like the twisted Man a lot.
A definite adrenaline rush in the last rage filled fight seen.
Yes a few, I don't know if this is just me (I live in the UK) But I pronounce (and have heard it spoken as) Grimace as Grimm-iss and grimaced in the past tenses grimm-issed, the narrator pronounces it Grim-aced. like Grimm and then Aced like aced a test. I don't know if this is American English not matching with English English. or me being an uncouth heathen. but this happen over quite a few different words and makes me twitch in annoyance over the course of the audio book.
"Say one thing for Abercrombie; say he can write"
For a sword and sorcery book, this story is remarkably engaging. The world Abercrombie created is intriguing, filled with half answered questions and mysteries that make you want to read on. Further to that, the characters he created are truly sublime. Each one is riveting. One constantly feels a medley of emotions, all out of place with the characters to which they belong and all weaving amongst each other chapter to chapter, forcing you to read and be thoroughly entertained. The world is interesting, multi-faceted and deep enough to pin the characters and their various struggles. Nothing in this book feels out of place. Crafted with true mastery.
A stellar read, unconventionally brilliant.
great accents, and character variation. have not previously read the books, but very much enjoying the audio so far.
"A story well told"
Very engaging story with good characters. It was hard to put down. I had become bored with the standard tripe doled out in the Fantasy genre and this was like a breath of fresh air. I have downloaded all his other books due to the impression this book had on me. Waiting with anticipation on this next offering and few authors make me feel like that anymore.
"A fantastic first book of the series"
This book combines a great story, excellent characterisation and some genuinely black humour reminiscent of Mervyn Peakes 'Gormenghast' trilogy. It is intelligently written with believable characters and dry humour and I will definitely be reading the remaining two in the series. As other reviewers have pointed out, the narration by Stephen Pacey is truly excellent.
"Slow to get going but surprisingly gripping"
It took me a little while to get into this story. But once I was hooked it was good listening! I've had to restrict my audio time because of little ears around, but sneaking in time to listen with headphones in was a winner.
This is a cleverly crafted story , it draws you in from the opening to this fascinating and violent world of politics and war so well you almost feel the cold and the mud clinging to you. The characters are well fleshed out and you almost feel like one of their number. Steven Pacey is superb and brings the whole to life. The best way to describe his performance is a movie for your ears. A 10 star listen
If you like fantasy with true anti Hero's that are fish out of water than this is for you!.
the story takes a little bit to build up but it's worth it. rather than describing "epic" scenes , this story is up close with the protagonist especially during fight scenes - these were the best I have ever read.
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