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
I really feel that this book/series is what Game of Thrones could have been. It has all of the elements I enjoyed from George Martin's series, with none of the things that made me want to never read a book again as long as I live.
Joe Abercrombie does a stellar job of getting you interested in a vibrant world full of colorful characters. None of them are perfect, and all of them are as easy to detest as to love.
If you enjoyed Game of Thrones, or like me you wanted to and just couldn't, then this is the book for you.
The characters are so rich, with so much depth that feel like I know them. This is a great story, even the bad guys are loveable!
Glocktor - but he only came to life through Steven Pacey's outstanding narration of his character.
He has so many different voices, he can even inject personality into them. He is outstanding.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves ongoing saga's I can't wait to listen to the second book. Download this book, you will not be disapointed
Some years after reading the paper versions I have found these Audio productions. The story is excellent anyway, but what takes this audio experience to even greater heights is the reader.
Steven Pacey has mined all the nuance and meaning of the characters and somehow put them into their voices. So much more enjoyable than the written word when delivered in this amazing and thoughtful way.
If you don't like fantasy or have never tried it - this is the story set to change your opinion. However, be warned, it doesn't get any better than this...
The Blade Itself is a good start to The First Law series. There are lots of interesting characters and plenty of interesting story elements. The narrator does a fantastic job. He creates a voice and attitude for each charactor. He is very versatile and makes it a very enjoable listen.
Hard Sci-Fi Connoiseur.
Honestly this rating is probably too high based on overall literary quality but after plenty of Alastair Reynolds, George RR Martin and Peter Hamilton this felt like a palette cleanser. Much as I love the incredible detail of Game of Thrones, The Great North Road, and the Revelation Space universe, sometimes simple, swashbuckling adventure is more enjoyable. Yes, sci-fi / fantasy that challenges is great - but I really enjoyed the fun, light style of this book ... all you need is purpose and some good steel. Don't like the situation? Well nothing a barbed arrow won't solve! Narration is excellent btw. Steven Pacey really captures the spirit of the novel.
When reviewing books I try to be fair; I appreciate that not everyone will be looking for the same things in a book.
I read this on recommendation by Rick Riordan, one of my favourite young adult writers. I listened to it partly in audiobook and then gave up and read it on Kindle. I don’t believe it was a fault of the narrator; he did a good job, but I just couldn’t get into it very easily. On the positive side, I see that Amazon has enabled Whispersync for Voice for purchases on the Canadian store. It worked perfectly on this book. However, they do not yet offer the price reduction for both items, but maybe that will come.
The Blade Itself is very similar to George R.R, Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire in that character development is more important than plot progression. That is all very well, but Ambercrombie can’t compare to the depth of characterization that Martin has reached. None of the characters grabbed me in the manner of Tyrion, Jaime or Arya. In all fairness, Martin has had five books to develop his characters, while I have only read the first one of The First Law series. What I have read though doesn’t encourage me to read the next two in the series.
I did enjoy Ambercrombie’s writing style though. I found it entertaining, amusing and very immediate. The narration in the audiobook certainly helped with that. There were some excellent points where the reader wonders how the characters are going to get out of that particular situation. The world building too, was excellent.
At other points I felt Ambercrombie created some excellent dramatic tension – then allowed it to go nowhere. An example of this is the brilliantly executed confrontation in council. The clash was beautifully set up – the betrayal was foreshadowed and the characterization of the Council made it understandable why they were totally oblivious to the danger right up to the last moment. However, this storyline never went anywhere. The characters all seemed to continue doing what they were doing before.
I gave The Blade Itself three and a half stars out of five
This series leaves a bad taste in the mouth because it is so dark and depressing. None of the characters are very likable. The more you listen the less you like (or care about) any of time. The writing is very good, and the reader is very good. However the story is really not very satifying. The closest I can compare it to is Game of Thrones. (Game of Thrones was more of a soap opera though).
12-16 year old fantasy fans. While the characters aren't fantasy norms, they all seem to come off as plastic caricatures, albeit of a dark variety.
Sadly yes. After running through a song of ice and fire as well as the malazan books, I had hopes that this would be another series to entertain me. Unfortunately that isn't so.
His performance was very good, and he does a good job of voicing the different characters.
Logain and Jezal
The narrator does a great job elevating this from a decent fantasy story to a good, enjoyable audio experience.
Most of these characters are relatively flat, but also realize that this is part of a series where the characters get more expanded upon in the following novels.
This is among one of the best that I have listened to. The others would be The Dresden series.
I love the part where they all travel into the west to find...nothing. But I do like how Jezal becomes a better man and Logen tries to become someone else than "The Bloody Nine" Overall, hands down though my favorite character is Glockta. Damaged goods? Yes. But funny.
He is a master reader.
It is epic story with lotsa swords and blood but also funny and insightful.
"Excellent book, superbly narrated"
I very much enjoyed this book.
I dont read such Mediaeval fantasy series as a rule. I would guess that the fantasy backdrop, the structure of the plot and the nature of the characters are not that original.
But this book has three splendid things going for it. First it is very well written - sharp, pacy prose, very well drawn characters, and clever and interesting dialogue, all spiced with plenty of sardonic humour; second, although there is some pretty good action the narrative is very much plot and character driven, - lots of threads to a satisfyingly complicated plot, and you want to know what happens to the people in the story, both goodies and baddies; and third and most important is the narrator Stephen Pacey. I listened to the (free) Audible podcast where he explained that he liked reading audiobooks as he got to play all the characters! Well, he certainly earns his money on this book; expertly paced and varied narration and the huge range of characters is brilliantly drawn and brought to convincing life. He turns what is already a very good book into a great one. If there was an Oscar for narrators he should definitely be on the short list.
This is part 1 of a trilogy and I am looking forward to parts 2 and 3 - also narrated by Stephen Pacey.
A five star listen without a doubt.
"Possibly My Favourite Listen So Far..."
After "Name of the Wind" and "Wise Man's Fear" I thought I'd possibly heard the best I could in the Fantasy genre (so towards the end of WMF I started to get a little sad about what would come next.)
Having since listened to a lot of other good audiobooks - this trilogy (I am nearly at the end of the third book) is brilliant. The story (stories really) are involved and detailed, the characters flawed but engaging - and often very funny. It's such a pleasure to read (listen) to books where I don't find myself questioning the things that happen ("how would he manage that?" "she'd never say that" "how could that work") - the story just unfolds, the characters stay true to their short comings - even as they grow in places. Events are portrayed effortlessly.
All of this is made twice as good by a fantastic performance from Steven Pacey. His reading is such a pleasure to listen to. A large cast, each with distinctive (and similar where appropriate) voices that completely bring the characters to life.
As I come towards the end of the third book (Last Argument of Kings) I am starting to wonder what comes next in my "audiobook life"...
"Be warned... herein lies addiction..."
and the purchasing of all three books in quick succession.
I was browsing round for something new to listen to and I was intrigued by the glowing reviews.
One download and 30 minutes later I was hooked. Two weeks later I'm downloading book three.
An excellent story, well written and superbly narrated. I cannot fault Steven Pacey in his work. A fantastic job of bringing the characters to life.
"A slow start, but it gets better...."
I need to review this trilogy in a oner....
Initially, I found the first book too slow. Too much scene setting and character building for me - I needed more action and kept waiting for it all to come together. However, having completed the trilogy, I now understand why the first book was like it was - and it certainly has its place.
Great second book - all good action and great pace.
Third book, I think, is the best of the trilogy - plenty of pace and the story peaks, as expected, BUT, it ends with too many loose ends. Whilst I get why it ended like it did, I needed more.....I was left feeling as though there needs to be a 4th book where the wrongs can be righted and the bad get their come-uppance.
I'm a massive fan of epic fantasies, and this is just that. It's got loads of action, lots of battle scenes, and plenty of blood and swearing. Not really a "girlie" book (although I have to caveat that with an "I'm a girl and thoroughly enjoyed it" statement). All the characters are well developed, and fairly complex. Interesting how my feelings towards each of them changed as the story progressed and I got to know them better. Is it bizarre that my favourite characters turned out be a torturer and a schizophrenic killer???
If you're a fan of epics, and have a reasonably strong stomach, then this is highly recommended.
But if you start with book one, be prepared to go through all three, and then still feel like you haven't got to the end...
I bought this one in a sale on the site since I'd run out of audiobooks and it was a while until my next credit came through. I was not in the least disappointed and will definitely be getting the other books in the trilogy. Abercrombie's interesting and well-characterised world is vividly brought to life by Steven Pacey's fantastic narration. With one exception (Captain Luthar, who I disliked strongly throughout the entire book) the protagonists are all interesting, well-formed and sympathetic, and it's a skilled author indeed who can make a torturer into a complex and likeable character. If you like fantasy, check this out. You're unlikely to regret it.
"A well writen, gritty piece of Fantasy fiction."
Great piece of fiction that is strongly focused around the characters and their stories.
The Fantasy element of this story is not the focus, but does creep into the story as you progress.
I like the way the characters flaws are displayed and the internal conflicts that the main characters experience.
There is also not just one main character, but many, with interwove stories and plots. (Thus the trilogy)
This Fantasy Fiction story is also written from a fresh perspective that feels more real than fantasy, and all the violence, colourful language and intertwining plots make for an Gritty entertaining adventure....and there are 2 more books to follow! Can't wait to start the next book.
PS. The Narrator Steven Pacey is Brilliant. He really does a fantastic job with accents, and dramatization.
The reason I listen to fiction books, (apart from the hands free experience) is because of such narrators that add so much more to an great story.
This is an exciting story with many twists. The characters are beautifully written and totally engrossing.
The reading is perfect.
Superbly written and superbly narrated. A far more intelligent and witty fantasy story than the standard fare; those seeking dwarves, elves or magic rings might be wise to look elsewhere (though there is a smattering of sorcery). I can't recommend it highly enough. Great stuff.
"I am still alive!"
Imagine Dumas and Stendhal were thrown into a dungeon and told to knock out something post-Tolkien with beefed-up sordid realism and judicious dashes of cheek and swearing. Their jailers, Robert E Howard and Raymond Chandler, may add a few bon mots should they feel inclined; and, while they're at it, they should also reanimate Arthur C Clarke for a wonderfully strange segment in the middle. Fortunately we have Joe Abercrombie, so you don't have to.
To describe the plot may make it seem like many other fantasy fictions out there, but it isn't. It's not the stuff of doom and gloom either. Bayaz the affable wide boy magus, but woe betide you if you disrupt his bath time, has a cunning plan, the ramifications of which presumably play out over the trilogy. To this end he draws in diverse characters to the capital city of the Union (itself about to enter a war on two fronts). Our adventurers are already on the hop before they are drawn in, and, in some cases, beset by hazards both human and somewhat beyond. And it's the somewhat beyond that interests Bayaz. There are numerous intertwining threads beyond this though that reach out across Abercrombie's world. The characters are skillfully drawn---so much so, that the novel could be regarded as fantasy's The Wire.
Mr Abercrombie, perhaps tapping into his skills as a film editor, brings a seemingly effortless pace to proceedings. There is a sense of reality too: the protagonists seldom leave confrontations unscathed, and even use of magic has a price.
Which brings us to Steven Pacey. His narration is extraordinarily good. The book has a huge cast, and Mr Pacey imbues each and every one of it, including female characters, with a recognisable and believable voice (so much so, I began to wonder if he had smuggled Sean Locke and Pete Postlethwaite, and many more, into the recording sessions). Yes, Mr Pacey deserves an audio-Oscar (and a proper one too).
After looking at these books in countless shops in audio and print and reading about them on many to read lists and not picking them up despite all of this. I finally bit the bullet and bought the audiobooks to listen to at work, this was not a mistake! These have made it onto my top 10 favorite books list along with the song of ice and fire series and the Wheel of Time they really are that good.
The book is a story of grit and intriguetold from the point of view of the strangest characters ever. Just wait until you meet Inquisitor Glokta!
The audiobook is well read by Stephen Pacey with a lot of emotion and very recognisable characters just by tone and voice alone.
Overall a very worthwhile buy!
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