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.
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'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.
I got bored halfway through the book when nothing significant had happened yet and only 1 character had shown any development at all. It seems like it might get good... eventually.
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).
Hello, My name is Levi Brousseau. I'm on a life long mission to find stories that blow my mind.
Yes. this story was full of action.
This was a good story about the struggles of life. lots of action. some betrayal. i liked it. check it out.
This book doesn't start out as strong as the trilogy ends. This trilogy and series is definitely worth reading. It gets way better from here.
I loved how the lives of the very different characters eventually came together. You also get a good mix of a little bit of everything from magic, to deception, to sword fighting, and even a little bit of romance (just a bit).
Inquisitor Glokta and Logen are such complex individuals that I couldn't get enough of.
He brought this book to life. Pacey was able to capture the essence of each character and easily allowed me to visualize the entire story. I especially love his Inquisitor Glokta voice. Simply magnificent!
The most moving part of the story was when Ardee spoke about the men in her life. I don't want to give any spoilers!
Brilliant read! I can't wait to read the next book!
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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"...
This is an exciting story with many twists. The characters are beautifully written and totally engrossing.
The reading is perfect.
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.
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).
"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...
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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