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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

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)]

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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Characters drive the story. The Narrator rocks!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Blade Itself to be better than the print version?

I've not read the print version. Steven Pacey (the narrator) does a fantastic job making these characters come to life. Abercrombie writes incredibly interesting heroes with both dark and light sides to them. They drive a story that is good but just not important compared to the dynamics of the POV and secondary characters.

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

Potentially Game of Thrones due to the grey morality and at times very brutal and bleak world. It's very realistic as one of the characters will remind you often. It is certainly smaller in scope than SOIAF though with less winding plot and more emphasis on the stories of the chosen "heroes" then the ever growing cast of GoT.

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


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

I've been listening to audiobooks for over 15 years and this might be the best voice acting I've heard. Abercrombie's ability to build unique ticks and traits of characters certainly helped but Pacey just made them REAL. I laughed and felt bad for it and just felt invested in the loving or hating the characters as they went through the story. (I'm speaking somewhat to the whole trilogy here which is well worth it)

Any additional comments?

I'm a Sanderson guy who loves intricate plots and world building. Abercrombie does the opposite in my opinion with more grey heroes, less emphasis on story and much more on how events affect the characters he's crafted. Different but I absolutely loved it. The characters, while frustrating and heartbreaking at times don't make decisions that I couldn't have predicted. Abercrombie establishes who they are so well that even if you disagree sometimes with how they act or are disappointed you understand why. And when they surprise you it's marvelous but still somehow always true to them. Highly recommend these books and the audio version.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding - just read this book

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!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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A rare combination

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.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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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!

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

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Characters are full, Story is building

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.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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You can trust the 4.6 rating on this book and the glowing reviews. This is a character driven story full of wisdom, blood and gore, pain (physical and emotional), LOL moments, sarcasm, sword and sorcery, cold vivid landscape, magic, twists and turns and lots of characters which are well developed. Like George RR, these characters are fleshed out and you spend enough time with them, that you don't have to worry about being confused. This was my second time with this book and I enjoyed it as much the second time through.

The book starts with the action straight off. Logen is a NAMED MAN, who is almost killed by a FLATHEAD. THE MAN WHO STRIKES FIRST USUALLY STIKES LAST. Logen has been fighting all his life and he is also considered a NORTH MAN. He is tired of fighting, but still willing to do what it takes. I HAVE SETTLED A FEW SCORES IN MY LIFE, BUT IT ONLY LED TO MORE.

Inquisitor Glokta, was my favorite character. He was once a dashing young noble and winner of the sword fighting champion of the land. In a war, he was captured and tortured for two years. He is now 35 years old, but looks much older. He is a cripple, missing most of his teeth and with several other painful maladies, caused by surviving two years of torture. Just climbing or going down stairs is a challenge for him. IF GLOKTA HAD BEEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO TORTURE ANYONE MAN, ANYONE AT ALL, HE WOULD SURELY HAVE CHOSEN THE INVENTOR OF STEPS. He now gets no respect and he is an Inquisitor, which means he is a torturer. His snarky, sarcastic humor, had me going throughout the book. BROKEN HEARTS EVENTUALLY HEAL, BUT BROKEN TEETH NEVER DO.

CAPTAIN JEZEL DAN LUTHAR is a noble, who knows he is handsome and of noble birth, far superior to most others, especially of common birth. First you like the guy, than you hate the guy, than you think maybe he is okay and finally? JEZAL COULD'T AFFORD TO BE SEEN WALKING ABOUT THE AGRIONT WITH A FAT GIRL ON HIS ARM. IT COULD RUIN HIS REPUTATION.

If I have a complaint, it would be the length of the novel, yet I could not tell you what to cut. Sometimes I wondered where the story was going, but I was so invested in the characters and their everyday lives, that I was not as bothered by that as I usually am.

I have mentioned only a few of the starring characters, there are a couple of other major characters, such as Major West and his curvy sister Ardee. Jezel seems to be following in love with her, but she is a commoner. Bayaz is FIRST OF THE MAGI. Then their are some more minor characters, but not less colorful, such as Practical Frost, the Albino, Ferro, Dogman, Grim, Black Dow, threetrees and the Navigator who has remarkable talents.

Pacey the narrator is excellent

The following is a SPOILER for the Reviewer Assassins and has nothing to do with the review of this book. So listen up CHUCKLES AND YOUR BUTT BUDDY FROM ATLANTA AND THE TEACHER FROM CALIFORNIA.


94 of 110 people found this review helpful

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Great story and superb narrator

The story was great, but Steven Pacey is a god. It seemed that there was more than one narrator, his Glokta was spectacular.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Loved it!

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.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Effing fantastic

Grit, humor, blood, wit, originality, excellent characters, hints of sexy romance, believable pain both physical and emotional. Can't wait for 2 and 3!

24 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Hear me out

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.

38 of 49 people found this review helpful