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
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).
Well worth the credit and the time. Fair warning the characters are dark and there are some disturbing scenes. Keep away from younger ears.
Very good writing. I really enjoy a writer that allows characters to use actual curses rather than childish fake ones. I'm looking at you Mr Sanderson.
Brilliant narration too.
Narrator shows incredible dedication and talent. This is a great, fast-moving fantasy story with very well-drawn characters and vivid combat sequences, but the performance was out of this world.
Love to read for work - Religion, leadership, understanding the mind and human behavior, arts & design, history; for play - science fiction & fantasy, biographies, thrillers, historical fiction, but not mystery or romance please!
I was hesitant because I didn't think I would like so much swordplay, but the a tory was very entertaining. Hoping for some expansion of the women's roles - very good! British pronunciations threw me a bit, but I figured them out.
I feel like I'm going to have two reviews for this book; one now, when I've only finished the first in the series and the second when I've completed the series. It seems this book is just building up for the next two books by creating a lot of plots and just starting to tie them somewhat together by the end. Almost like Joe wrote the whole series as one book and the editors cut into three... but they don't do that!
With that said, I am looking forward to books two and three.
Also there is language in this book that some might not appreciate.
I haven't listened to many fantasy books - I downloaded this on the strength of the reviews and have not been disappointed. It did take me a while to get in to, but I soon couldn't stop listening. Excellent narration - I will certainly have to listen to the next two books of the trilogy.
"Fantastic writing I had to share with everyone."
Blood curdling gripping
When Glocter is in extreme pain just walking down stairs and then makes his way to his torture room to slowly cut off someone's fingers slice by tiny slice.
A warmth and depth to the book that always makes listening feel like returning to a friend.
I wish I could but I don't think I could manage to stay up that long. I do like the unabridged versions of books and this one is over 24 hours.
While this book gives an impression of magic and fantasy at the start it does not continue this way. It is very real and set in a solid world. I was a little disappointed there was no more magic for about 5 minutes and then I was so gripped I completely forgot about it.
"The First Law-Brilliant Series"
I absolutely loved this series. Joe Abercrombie creates a seriously clever, intricate and believable alternative world, where vile politics compete with bloody deeds and where all the characters are well-drawn and three dimensional. The story rocks along so well that before long I had finished all three of the books in the series and even wanted to start again. Huge credit to the reader !
"A Great Story Made.... Awesome! - By....."
A great story made awesome by Steven Pacey his narration is truly exceptional.
Steven Pacey brings the well written story and characters to life and sweeps you away into the heart of the story. I've listened to books one and two in about 10 days and I'm just about to get book 3 so - I'm hooked if there were 10 stars available I'd give this series 12 :D
It's a very long time since I've enjoyed a fantasy series so much it has everything darkness, grit, humour, magic, battles and brilliant characters each with their own twists and turns inside the main plot line. (As a sidenote I wish the author would give Glokta his own series!)
I'm no critic but genuinely hate looking for new books because of the rubbish packaged prettily on websites & in bookshops. Why oh why can't they just say "this is disappointing but we haven't found anything better to offer"? It would save so much time if they did. 5 star reviews for up its own arse gibberish written specifically for the low of wit.
This most recent search ended with my selecting the First Law Series... nervous that I'd be disappointed again.. i sat down... switched it on... then couldn't switch it off. The narrator Steven Pacey is the most talented I've ever heard. I love the way he goes through the various characters and has thrown himself into it wholeheartedly. Is there an award for really good narration? Steven Pacey for the Oscar equivalent. I have never had such a good time with an audiobook....only part of that was because of the writing. Check out his Morgan Freeman impression!
The story is good. Not the best I've come across but I never once thought "that wouldn't happen...." or "who the hell would say that? " as I have done on so many stories in the past ten years. It is so difficult to write for realistic people and Mr Abercrombie has obviously given his plot design a good deal of careful thought. Another thing is; this is a solid first book in an obviously promising series. Not as gritty as some but certainly down to earth, beautifully written and very descriptive. I cannot wait to hear more.
Buy this audiobook!! It is for intelligent people who love good stories.
Thoroughly enjoyed it and very excited to listen to the rest of the series. Having read a lot of David Gemmell and David Edding's work I was really happy to find that Joe Abercrombie's style of writing was very similar - fast paced for the most part, enthralling and believable characters and an interesting world. What more could you ask for?
For me there are three essential ingredients for a good audio book. 1st it has to have a story that has believable characters and plot even if it is obviously fiction. 2nd the writing must be good, and flow. 3rd, a decent actor/narrator who be consistent in his characterisation, and flows with the story.
This book achieves all three for me compared to the Game Of Thrones audiobooks, which have everything sadly but the actors consistency of characterisation- all though that guy was a good narrator his chopping and changing of accents and voices for the same charracter is horrendous-, The Michael Sullivans books lacked a tiny little bit believabillity especially in his turgid romantic scenes,
but THE BLADE ITSELF appears to be good through out.. a great plot, flowing and interesting story, and excellent narration and characterisation
Buy this audiobook
"Awesome fantasy series."
Awesome fantasy series, well written and well read! Once you start it you won't want to put it down.
"More than just a Good Yarn"
Gripping and addictive. Apart from the adventures, fighting and magic you get pretty deep insights into psychology, politics and philosophy ...
"So much better than Game of Thrones."
The reader is prity good and helps make this story clip along fairly quickly. The story is interesting and not just a list of charicters walking across a landscape. Much better than Game of Thrones.
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