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've probably listened to 150 audiobooks and this one is one of the very best. Like others have said, this is fantasy in the same league as George RR Martin, both in quality and in terms of real-world building and gray characters. The writing is great and the last couple of hours of the book are just spellbinding. The Bloody Nine is just one of the best fantasy characters ever devised.
I have to also spare a comment for the narrator, whom I had never listened to before this book. He. Is. Outstanding. He does a range of characters and does them all very well. Pacey adds so much to the novel.
Say one thing about this series, say it's a buzz-kill.
I feel that I should put this review here, before the series begins, as a bit of a warning. I fairly enjoyed the first two books in this series. I think the comparisons to Jim Butcher and G.R.R.Martin are a bit over blown... Butcher is much funnier and more clever with his words, and Martin's characters are much better rounded. Even his "bad guys" are likable. (you either like them, or love to hate them, that is)
I found Abercrombie's characters here to be somewhat flat, but with good potential. His plot was interesting and you get a good idea where he's leading you. (Life is hell, and not all heroes are nice guys) His settings... meh. Unbelievable and bland.
That said, I really was enjoying this series. It wasn't a favorite, but the plot and a few of the characters, Logen and Glokta in particular, I found very intriguing. They really carried the first two books. I wanted to read more about them and couldn't wait to get to the third.
Oh, how I wish I had left off at the first two. All of the development and growth in his characters, all of the plot lines, they all collapse in on themselves. And before you think it was a failing on the author's ability, let me assure you, he did it deliberately. By the end of the series you wonder what, exactly, was the point to all of it?
As with the other reviewers here I found this an excellent value and even though it is almost 25hours long I was left wanting more. Buying the other two books now. If you like George R.R. Martin or other gritty Fantasy series then this is definately for you. Wonderful fight descriptions and the world is well imagined.
I loved this book. The 1st 6 hours of book one was slow and at times it really droned on for me but after that I couldn't stop listening until the end of book 3. Loved the characters and the fact that when you thought you knew them something would happen and change your perspective again and again.
I feel compelled to express how impressed I am with Abercrombie. He is a great author and I intend to hear/read all he offers. However, I feel it even more important to give props to Mr. Pacey, the narrator.
I have attempted to listen to books that I know are good or even great, only to stop in frustration at bad narration. I will only put myself through so much of that. The narration hear is truly amazing. Character voices distinct and unique without going over the top. Inflection and pacing is perfect. Best example is his rendering of the character Glokta. It almost makes the novel. I could be wrong, but I don't remember in the text of the book that Glokta had a lisp. Missing teeth, yes, but I don't remember the mention of a lisp. The narrator decided to add/include this to the character. Brilliant.
Don't get me wrong. The author is incredible too. Just hear the books. Do yourself a favor.
I am a long time customer of Audible This is the first book where, after listening to the first part, I can not tell you what the plot of the book is.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I was in the mood for some "gritty" fantasy after finishing Season 2 of A Game of Thrones, and Abercrombie seems to have made a name for himself in that department, so I thought I'd check him out. Yes, this is definitely a book that borrows from writers like George R.R. Martin and Glen Cook, eschewing traditional heroic archetypes for flawed anti-heroes. In fact, one of the central characters is a torturer, a man who serves the crown in this role after himself having been crippled by torture in an enemy prison.
Unfortunately, Inquisitor Glokta, whose dark complexity I found delightful, might have been Abercrombie's only really good idea. Everything else in the novel is pretty lightweight, a collection of well-worn fantasy tropes, clichéd characters, predictable plot turns, and forced drama. Luckily, the author doesn't seem to take himself too seriously, so the mediocrity was bearable for a while.
Still, I'm not impressed. Where George R.R. Martin (mostly) made his characters feel like real people, however decent, despicable, or in between, Abercrombie's portrayal of human psychology is unconvincing and shallow. A warrior accepts a mission from a wizard without bothering to ask why, simply because (we're told) he's tired of having to think for himself. The same wizard sends a demonstrably incompetent apprentice on a risky solo journey that nearly gets the kid killed. We're supposed to be surprised when a "barbarian" character reveals the prejudice of stuck-up city folk and everybody learns a valuable lesson. A primary female character is supposed to be "interesting" simply because she's a plainspoken commoner who’s stuck with the boring nobility and whinges about how nobody seems to notice her (which seems understandable, given her lack of any other compelling features). And, as for the story itself, I lost interest around the 2/3 mark, when it became clear that the plot was mostly setup for future books.
I'm usually not this negative, but I've read too many good books to put up with one that's the literary equivalent of a bland Taco Bell burrito. I've heard that the series gets better. I've also heard that it gets worse. Either way, I didn’t finish this one, and am not going further.
The audiobook narrator wasn't bad, but I thought his plummy voice was better suited to different kind of book (e.g. Harry Potter).
I've really been trying. I'm just soooooooo bored. I don't get the glowing reviews. I see reviews by a few that felt the first 5-6 hours were a snooze, and I whole heartedly agree. I just don't think I can hang in there to get past the dribble. It's hard to believe there could be anything very exciting in the future. A good writer MUST bait and pull a reader along in a story. Abercrombie is certainly not doing that for me!
I've so wanted to read something by Joe Abercrombie since I'm a big fan of GRRM, Rothfuss and Lynch but try as I might I cannot get into this one. I've gone through 12 chapters and still I don't know what's going on or even who the main protagonist is. Plus the narrator's voice inflections are grating on me. I will try another of his, but I'm giving up on this one.
I'm about halfway through this book and am finding it disappointing. I listen to a LOT of books, of all genres, but I especially enjoy fantasy and sc-fi that's well-written. I just can't get interested in this book - it's incredibly slow and there is a lot of descriptions of political debate that don't seem connected to the main story. It's funny at times and some of it is entertaining, but as a whole it doesn't seem to have much depth. I'm halfway through as I said, and I couldn't really tell you what the point of the story is.
I'm giving it three stars because the narrator is great. If I was reading this in paper format, I would have given up ages ago.
"Excellent story, perfect narration"
Gripping, exciting, detailed
A truly fantastic book. In depth characterisations and involved story line. The narration was one of the most enjoyable I have listened to.
"Good but nothing special."
Firstly I would say that the performance by Steven Pacey is very good, especially his voice of Glokta. This really gives the character an extra degree of vindictiveness and vicousness which makes it better.
What really lets it down so far is the distinct lack of driving story. I've given it time but havent really got into the swing of the book. I've not been particularly drawn to it nor do I find myself leaning to want to know more.
It took up to chapter 39 get better. There doesnt seem to be enough of a driving force in this story at all. I get the feeling that a lot of this could have been axed and nothing would have been lost. 22hr book in 15 perhaps. It really comes into its own at the end which is honestly far too long to wait.
I personally don't align with the overwhelming positive reviews perhaps showing that this isnt for everyone.
"Bloody good read"
Sharp, cutting and bloody
So many great characters to choose from – this is the strength of the novel. From the barbarian the Bloody-Nine himself to the self-obsessed young duelist Jezal dan Luthar. But it has be the crippled inquisitor Sand dan Glokta with his funny yet chilling interior monologue who best captures the tone of the novel.
Everything I've listened to by Steven Pacey is brought to vivid life. He doesn't just read the novel but performs it, bringing each character to life for the listener. This is an excellent novel and he does an excellent job with the material.
The novel was funny, exciting and at times chilling.
Definitely one for fantasy fans. General readers who enjoy the likes of The Lord of the Rings and A Game of Thrones will also enjoy this exciting and at times very funny novel.
Gripping story, wonderfull characters and the best ebook narration I have ever had the pleasure of listening too.
"Anti heroes Aplenty!"
Thoroughly enjoyable story in a classic fantasy mould but with some excellent twists in the way it's presented. All the classic tropes are here, dashing swordsmen, dour northerners, enigmatic wizards and sinister inquisitors. Classic roles they may be, but run of the mill they most certainly aren't; the dashing swordsman is a vain brat who loves himself above all things, the Northern Barbarian is self effacing, witty and quite endearing, the wizard is a wise,but often irreverent, Mage and the Inquisitor is a cripple with a savage wit and a 'why do I do this to myself?' attitude. All of them are believable and even likeable in their own ways.
The story is standard fare, multiple threats to the 'civilised' Union are arising but there's sensible reasons as to why they are and there is a healthy mix of bloody combat, magic and intrigue. It's also full of humour that never seems out of place, characters finding the ironies of the darkest situations. Of course there's also hints of a greater evil at work but there are few details as yet.
Steven Pacey narrates the story excellently, giving every character their own distinctive voice. I wasn't sure at first but he soon won me over.
All in all I loved this from the minute I started listening to the minute I finished. I hope you do too.
Ah well, onto the next instalment!
Brilliant story, fab characters incredible imagination run wild! I thought this was one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to...
"A real page turner"
This is a really good read and a real page turner.
To put it in very simple terms: you could say it's a cross between serious, hard fantasy with political plots and backstabbing like George RR Martin, and more whimsical, humorous fantasy like Terry Pratchett.
It's written in a very modern, easy to read style.
The plot itself is fairly standard. But the quality of the writing and the way the characters leap off the page and stick in your memory really makes it stand out.
"All world building with no story."
Great performance from Steven Pacey, but the story was lacking.
In my opinion a story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. In this case it just has a beginning. Presumably the plot actually gets going in the next book... And the one after that... And after that... Ad infinitum.
It just feels like a teaser for more. Lots of questions were asked but scant few were actually answered by the end. It's not actually interesting enough to make me want to buy the next one though,so that backfired.
"Superb - Forget Game of Thrones !"
Epic, real, gripping
The characters are three dimensional
Anything to do with Nine Fingers, but it's all good
Read beautifully by Steven Pacey
"no need for bad language"
slow start and jumps around a bit, but the us no need for the use of vulgar language. have got book 2 as would like to know what's going to happen.
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