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The Blade Itself: The First Law: Book One | [Joe Abercrombie]

The Blade Itself: The First Law: Book One

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

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  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 11-09-10
    David Houston, TX, United States 11-09-10 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thrilling ordeal"

    Abercrombie uses this book to assemble his cast of characters, and a fascinating and irresistible crew they are. Flawed, idiosyncratic, dangerous and often quite funny when they least mean to be, they have been dragged kicking and screaming into his tale and, by the end of the book, he has them all moving reluctantly in the same direction. The wonder is that, while we know the "real" story has not even begun yet, he has already ushered us through a harrowing and thrilling ordeal filled with brilliant detail. Simultaneously, along the way, he has introduced us to a fully imagined world which is remarkably convincing. And as several other reviewers have remarked, not the least of the attraction is that the characters we meet are complex and unlikely heroes.
    I bought this audiobook because I so enjoyed "Best Served Cold," by the same author. I was slightly apprehensive because a part of the attraction of that book was the narrator, Michael Page, who did a superb job. I was a bit sad that he was not the narrator for this one as well. To my amazement I found that Steven Pacey was at least Page's equal and perhaps even a demi-shade better. This is a wonderful marriage of great writing and great reading.
    I am going to have to delay reading the second and third books in this series because I am loathe to have the whole thing end. Anticipation will heighten the experience, I think. In any event, Abercrombie is now among my very favorite authors of this genre.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson 01-30-13
    Jefferson 01-30-13 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    "Violent, Ironic, and Absorbing Epic Fantasy Noir"

    In Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself (2006), swords, knives, axes, maces, spears, staves, bows, crossbows, tongs, chisels, lumber, fists, feet, arms, legs, teeth, and magical force all are put to bloody use during scenes of cinematic graphic violence ranging in scale from arrests and interrogations to ambushes and skirmishes (full scale battles are sure to come in the second or third novels in Abercrombie's epic fantasy noir First Law trilogy). But good as Abercrombie is with a blade, he really excels at character development, irony, and humor.

    The Blade Itself focuses on the troubles of the Union: the king is senile, his callow sons are unfit to lead after him, squabbling factions weaken the government, the over-taxed peasants are restive, the Northmen have invaded from the north, and the Gurkhul Empire is preparing to attack from the south. Into this situation Joe Abercrombie introduces three main point of view characters, each of whom is darkly delightful to follow.

    --Logen Ninefingers, the most feared warrior of the North, is a killer who has come to regret his bloodthirsty youthful exploits. Surprisingly for a "barbarian," he is philosophical and open-minded--but look out if his Mr. Hyde berserker alter-ego the Bloody Nine surfaces! Acting on advice from spirits, Logen heads south to meet a mage who's seeking him. What will he make of civilization and it of him?

    --Sand dan Glokta sourly remembers his glory days as the champion swordsman and star noble of the Union, which ended during the last war against the Gurkhul Empire when he was captured and tortured for two years. Now thirty-five, he is an ostracized, cynical cripple, limping around in constant pain as an Inquisitor for the Inquisition. Glokta regularly asks himself why he's doing what he does, even as he tortures confessions out of small fry "traitors" like plump merchants. Will he ever uncover the true enemies of the state?

    --And Captain Jezal dan Luthar is a vain, snobbish, and lazily ambitious nobleman, expert in winning his fellow officers' money in cards and leading them in drunken debauchery. Does he have the desire required to train seriously enough to win the Union's annual swordsmanship competition? Will he ever fall in love or mature?

    Abercrombie writes interesting supporting characters, too, among them Major Callem West, a farmer's son who rose through the ranks by dint of hard work and courage; Ardee West, Callem's intelligent and frustrated sister, who chafes at being limited to a woman's role; the Dogman, the scout for a band of Northern outlaws who believe their chief, Logen, is dead; Ferro, a black-skinned, yellow-eyed, snarling female ex-slave criminal warrior who lives for revenge; and Bayaz, the centuries-old, legendary First of the Magi who thinks that world affairs could use a little wizardly aid again. The Blade Itself is great fun when its characters--each with different cultures, backgrounds, personalities, prejudices, and agendas--spend time together.

    With rich irony, Luthar and Glokta see the powerful mage Bayaz as an "old lunatic" or an "old fraud." The caustic thoughts of Luthar and Glokta often hilariously contradict what they say, especially when kowtowing to superiors. Logen has some great lines, too, as when Bayaz explains to him that civilized people enjoy the theater, and he says, "Stories? Some people have too much time on their hands." There are plenty of funny similes, as when Bayaz sends an obnoxious Northern prince packing with "a face as red as a slapped arse." There are plenty of pointedly comical situations, too, as when Bayaz leads his gormless apprentice and Logen into a theatrical supply shop to buy gaudy costumes with which to convincingly play their real roles. Even the action scenes have funny touches, as when Ferro and Logen are being chased over city roof tops by persistent Inquisition "Practicals," and they crash through a roof and land in a bed in a room and Logen thinks, "In bed with a woman again, at last."

    Stephen Pacey reads the novel masterfully, turning a four star work into a five star one through his use of different voices and accents for the characters from different cultures and backgrounds. He gives Glokta a gap-toothed lisp, Bayaz a John Geilgud-esque sly grandeur, Logen a Northern England accent, Ferro a feral attitude, and so on, each choice entertainingly enhancing Abercrombie's characterizations.

    The Blade Itself does have plenty of typical features of the epic fantasy genre, such as the identity-less, Orc-like Shanka overrunning the far north, the evil Prophet sending evil cannibal mages on evil missions, and the varied group of people preparing to go on a vital and dangerous quest led by an old wizard. But Abercrombie gives the genre a fresh spin with his anti-hero heroes, unpredictable plot developments, irony, and entertaining imagination.

    29 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Belmont, OH, United States 09-17-10
    Steven Belmont, OH, United States 09-17-10 Member Since 2012
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    "Steven Pacey is magnificient."

    I've listened to many audio books and in my opinion Steven Pacey is in a league of his own. The characters come to life in his voice. But even a good narrator must have something with which to work. The Blade Itself lends a wonderful story to a magnificient voice. If one loves fantasy one must own this title.

    29 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    neil FORT PIERCE, FL, United States 08-20-10
    neil FORT PIERCE, FL, United States 08-20-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Delightful"

    I have purchased and borrowed a great many fantasy titles over the years. The majority, either
    spoken or written, were rubbish...trite plots, one dimensional characterization, often, near copies of older, far better originals. In spoken versions, all too frequently, the reader(s) overdramatize, never varying the pace,and/or go well beyond their range and abilities to vocalize, perhaps to make up
    for the trash they have to read, and make a bad thing worse. This seems the case with so
    many "series" fantasy novels, that I mostly stay away from them. This one is an honest to goodness
    exception.
    I like long books. The price Audible put on "The Blade Itself" and its over 20 hour length convinced
    me to get it, all other factors included i.e. good reviews, decent preview. The book was everything
    good fantasy should be...original plot, characters who act and think like real people, violence, sex, action, intrigue all in reasonable doses and with excellent pacing and a very liberal sprinkling of
    genuine humor...a bit "black", I'll admit...throughout. I have not actually read the author before
    listening to this, so I really can't assign a percentage of credit for how well this work was done to
    the narrator, Steven Pacey. But his reading of "The Blade Itself" was pure delight...right up there
    with Jim Dale and John Lee (at his best). If the rest of the series is as good, well... one can only hope.

    61 of 67 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eugene Tucson, United States Minor Outlying Islands 08-05-10
    Eugene Tucson, United States Minor Outlying Islands 08-05-10
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    "Great Book"

    I have listened to a ton of Fantasy based novels from George RR Martian to Jim Butcher. This author in this series is as good as any of them. You will not be disappointed with this book! The reader is great and the story line is well thought out. I have to say that I am especially impressed with the characters as each one of them has there positive as well as negative attributes.

    42 of 46 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adnan Chula Vista, CA, United States 10-24-10
    Adnan Chula Vista, CA, United States 10-24-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Easily, one of the best series of fantasy books"

    Warning: It is a Rated R book. Not to be listen with kids around.

    I hope there are 10 Joe Abercrombie writing non stop that i loved how he writes. Steven Pacey is perfect as well.

    Book is simply amazing. If i dare, i would compare these books to ASOIAF in terms of entertainment value, and i would say these books come out ahead due to the fact that books are a complete set.

    Characters are ironed out to an extent that you would think they would come out of the book one day and say hello to you. The world is complex with rich history. Everyone in this book has something to answer for, and nothing is black and white (mostly). Book is smart, dark and funny. : ) the best kind of book.

    The only bad thing about these books is that series ended after only three books.

    I highly recommend this series.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauri san antonio, TX, United States 09-05-10
    Lauri san antonio, TX, United States 09-05-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Potential, but Book One Doesn't Stand Alone"

    Book one is well written, has interesting characters and is very well read. It serves to build the characters, twine them together and set the stage for a great epic resolution. Just as the reader is prepared for great battles and great twists of fate that will surely bring all the characters together again - book one ends leaving only questions and no resolutions.

    This book is not a waste of your time or your credit, but you'll be disappointed if you don't have book two and possibly book three to step into.

    28 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Somonauk, Illinois, United States 08-12-10
    Tom Somonauk, Illinois, United States 08-12-10 Member Since 2014
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    "Great Listen!!"

    What a Great book!. The Story is very smooth. The Characters are well developed and likable. Its got all you want in a fantasy book. Blood, guts, magic, heroes and villains. its got alot of action and some good humor blended in. The narrator does a great job. cant wait to listen to the next two books. And im sure if your a Geaorge RR Martain fan..you will enjoy this too.

    28 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 03-02-13
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 03-02-13 Member Since 2008

    Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great listen! Perfect combo of author & narrator."

    Joe Abercrombie has created a cast of characters that just ooze personality and Steven Pacey has brought them to life with a wide array of engaging voices. This is the first book I have listened to involving either Joe or Steven but it certainly won't be the last!

    There are 3 main point-of-view characters in the Blade Itself:

    The first is Logen Ninefingers, a Northman known as "The Bloody-Nine." The nickname comes from the wake of corpses he has left in his past as well as the fact that he is missing one of his fingers. Logen has a surprisingly easy going personality for someone with his bloody history and is often surprised by the fact that he is "still alive" whenever he survives yet another life threatening encounter.

    Inquisitor Glokta is a bitter, crippled torturer who would like nothing more than to torture whoever it was that invented stairs, which are the bane of his existence. He learned how to torture and break people first hand when he was a prisoner of war and it was done to him. He bears many permanent handicaps including the fact that half his teeth were removed in such a way that his remaining upper and lower teeth never overlap and he cannot chew solid food.

    And finally, Jezal dan Luthar, is an arrogant, self-centered nobleman who has every advantage in life and takes it all for granted. He is a promising swordsman who really doesn't want to work hard to realize his true potential. His father's wealth has provided him an entry into the Contest, the most prestigious fencing tournament in the Union, and he seems determined to embarrass his family name and throw this opportunity away.

    What really amazed me about the book is none of these 3 main characters is all that likeable and their stereotypes are somewhat cliché in the fantasy genre. They have many undesirable traits, they act in unethical ways, and there is really no reason to like any of them, but I loved them all! It was the perfect combination of Joe Abercrombie's writing with Steven Pacey's reading that made we want to spend more time with each of them, learn more about their pasts, and find out what happens to them in the future.

    Once Bayaz, the First of the Magi, entered into the picture things were building up to something special. Bayaz acts as a catalyst that turns everyone else's life upside down and he assembles many of the characters into an incompatible group of personalities for a purpose only he knows. I found myself ready to go on a grand adventure with this unlikely collection of individuals and then the book was over. This is the only reason I do not give this book a 5 star rating overall. It set the stage nicely, but then it just ended.

    If you are looking for a single book experience then I must caution you against this book; however, if you want to be entertained and you are willing to commit to more than one book, then this is a credit well spent.


    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tango Texas 04-10-12
    Tango Texas 04-10-12

    Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really good listen!"
    Would you listen to The Blade Itself again? Why?

    I would listen to this book again even though it isn't the type of book I would normally re-read because the narration is absolutely wonderful. I suspect Steven Pacey actually makes this book better to hear than to read. The man has a rare gift.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I don't think I could pick a favorite but I can say that the characters were all a pleasant surprise - I don't think this type of adventure fantasy normally has the type of rich characterizations that The Blade Itself has. And, it is even rarer to find well written, highly developed women characters in this type of book set in a medieval type culture, but there are a couple of very cool women in this novel. I really loved and appreciated that almost all the characters were


    Have you listened to any of Steven Pacey’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't heard Steven Pacey before, but I will certainly look for his performances again. I found him to be one of the best narrators I've listened to.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the reviews I read warned that this book although entertaining and exciting, doesn't stand alone and you will be forced to buy the 2nd book in the series right away. That reviewer was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT so be prepared. I liked the book a lot, but this is not a stand-alone book and the end is really no ending.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
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  • Thomas Newell
    7/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The sample does not do this story justice."
    What made the experience of listening to The Blade Itself the most enjoyable?

    The sample available on "audible" is for the opening lines of the book and does not do the narrator justice. Steven Pacey is an incredible narrator. He has a wide range of voices and accents. His choice of accents and affectations for each character are perfect.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story has the venom and grit of "Thrones" and the humour of Pratchett's "disc world" novels. Great characters. Blurred lines between good and bad. Super POV story telling.


    Have you listened to any of Steven Pacey’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Always brilliant.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    You can not stop the bloody nine.


    Any additional comments?

    Listened to this in three days. Didn't have credit to get the second book so refunded a really good book that I just purchased. Now I have used my refunded credit to purchase the second book. It is past midnight and I know I am going to be up for a couple of hours listening to the sequel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • carl gibaut
    Jersey
    7/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book"
    If you could sum up The Blade Itself in three words, what would they be?

    Addictive easy listen


    What other book might you compare The Blade Itself to, and why?

    Game of thrones


    What about Steven Pacey’s performance did you like?

    Amazing ability to use and change into the voices of each character


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Malcolm
    Herne Bay, United Kingdom
    7/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Delightfully twisted and evil"
    What made the experience of listening to The Blade Itself the most enjoyable?

    An admirably hard, fast and unpretentious read and packs a mean punch. It is crammed full of torture, vengeance and bad behaviour whilst keeping a good sense of humour.


    What other book might you compare The Blade Itself to, and why?

    The blood song


    What about Steven Pacey’s performance did you like?

    Steven Pacey has brought this gritty book to life. He fully submerses us into the characters of the book.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    “Once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than live with the fear of it.”
    ― Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • ken
    7/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "this has come one of my favorite listens"

    the story is a little slow to start, but once past the main buildup it flows and entertains. the bloody 9.... 😊

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr Simon L Elven
    7/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent story, perfect narration"
    If you could sum up The Blade Itself in three words, what would they be?

    Gripping, exciting, detailed


    Have you listened to any of Steven Pacey’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    A truly fantastic book. In depth characterisations and involved story line. The narration was one of the most enjoyable I have listened to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Edmund
    Chirk, United Kingdom
    6/30/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    I personally don't align with the overwhelming positive reviews perhaps showing that this isnt for everyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A D MCCLENAGHAN
    6/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bloody good read"
    If you could sum up The Blade Itself in three words, what would they be?

    Sharp, cutting and bloody


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Steven Pacey’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    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.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The novel was funny, exciting and at times chilling.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Martin Skou
    2635 Ishøj Denmark
    6/17/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing"

    Gripping story, wonderfull characters and the best ebook narration I have ever had the pleasure of listening too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Paradrew
    5/30/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • BEN I.
    5/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awesome Abercrombie!!"

    Brilliant story, fab characters incredible imagination run wild! I thought this was one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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