The first novel in the First Law Trilogy and the debut novel from New York Times best seller Joe Abercrombie.
Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he's on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian - leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.
Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.
Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: Cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.
Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald 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 Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult.
Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.
Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is noir fantasy with a real cutting edge.
©2015 Joe Abercrombie (P)2015 Hachette Audio
Exhilarating.... Abercrombie's knack for wit and grit holds your attention throughout, and his eye for character means that there's heart as well as muscle." [SFX (UK)]
I am always excited yet hesitant to start a new series. This book started off with action which was a nice change of pace from what I normally read. The action carried all the way through to the end. What I enjoyed most though was the characters and the way they were developed. I am having to force myself not to immediately dive into the 2nd book.
I did not expect a lot from this book. I was looking for something to tide me over until the next season of Game of Thrones comes out. I didn't expect much from this book but I was surprised. There is a sly dark humor that seeps through the entire narrative. I can remember on several occasions actually laughing out loud as I listened to it while jogging. The story is compelling, the characters are very tangible and the narrator uses a great range of voices and accents, without going over the top. Well worth it!
I burned through this one super quick, which for me is a measure of enjoyment.
It is tempting to draw similarities with Tolkien's LOTR, written for a new millennia, but they are far too different. This is modern writing for a modern audience, with connections to timeless failings of human kind. It is a study in failings and triumphs.
There are anti heroes, dark humour, romance, more questions than answers, but this is far lighter than the other obvious comparison, GOT.
Narration was supurb.
Some may be annoyed that the book ends with everything up in the air, you will need to continue with the series.
I didn't like this book at first. I found it hard to care about any of the characters, and figuring out the purpose of the story at all was a bit difficult.
Then I realized that this book is essentially a prequel. It's like the back story for characters in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, and their subsequent teaming up. Once I realized that, it was a much better listen.
That said, by the end I was rather excited for the next book in the series, and looking forward to seeing how these characters and their roles develop.
Also, in my opinion, the narrator is excellent. Wide range of accents, distinct voices, and he allows the listener to forget he's reading you a story.
This book is compelling primarily due to the complex nature of the characters within it. It is a book full of anti-heroes, which makes it feel modern. My favorite is San Dan Glokta an ex-star fencer who was tortured into being a cripple by war. The cynicism and sadness weaved into his character is expertly done. However this book's range of characters forgets women protagonists. With 1/2 being in the book and not being the central characters. In this sense the book lacks the modern need to find compelling female characters. The female character Pharoah might become more prominent in further books, so fingers crossed.
In relation to story, each event within it is enjoyable. However at quite a few points I was like but where is this book going? In the end you realize the plot is simply building into a greater scheme that I'm sure will play out in the next two book.
In conclusion, read this book for the characters, as they are probably some of the most carefully crafted in epic fantasy.
The story is interesting, the characters compelling, and the Narrator masterful. You must read this.
Beautifully developed characters, sweeping storyline and a plot just complex enough to be interesting not confounding or garbled. Masterfully paced with well written battles and hand to hand combat. A group of core charaers who you come to enjoy and root for at every plot twist.
Engaging and carefully rehersed performance by Steven Pacey. showing tremendous effort in developing vocal stylings for narration amd caracter dialog. Just a delight to listen to his craftsmanship. Really a beautiful, cohesive and masterful work from the reader and production team. Thank you!
I made it through all three books mostly because I was curious how Abercrombie would tie everything up, and because Steven Pacey did such a good job with the voices. My frustration with the trilogy is that Abercrombie creates some likable characters but doesn't really do anything with their personal development. Few villains are held accountable, good behavior is rarely rewarded, and several characters are simply trivialized over the course of the books. Survival is the best you can hope for here - not redemption - and we aren't always even sure about survival since some characters just sort of slip out of the narrative without any real explanation.
The vision in these books is bleak and the brutality ubiquitous. Most of the adventures lead to dead-ends and few problems are actually resolved. Although there is a "big picture" here, it far too cynical to be a satisfying one. The action just sort of explodes and then peters out in uneven spurts. In the final book the most interesting protagonists simply go off in separate directions with no real closure or even a promise of closure to their story-line. The final chapter is called "Loose ends" which is appropriate since there are quite a few of them left dangling.
Abercrombie's world building is not complex, though I think he believed he was developing a more complex world than it actually comes across. It feels more like a video game - the world just a backdrop for ongoing fight scenes. These are highly descriptive, so it can feel exciting; but ultimately it seemed an endless and pointless exercise. I don't think he knew how to end this trilogy, so he just sort of let go of the narrative at the end with one final splash and a big question mark. Personally I don't mind question marks at the end of books, because the "reader" can make the decision of what will happen next to suit oneself, but this book has too many of them in too many directions.
Still, if you like medieval-type fighting, struggles for power, and computer games that are mostly fighting through tough situations, you will probably find the books exciting. Steven Pacey does an excellent job of keeping the action going and the voices distinct. Just don't expect an epic with something to say about the human condition.
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