The Blade Itself was Joe Abercrombie’s first book as well as being the first installment in his First Law Trilogy. The book was first published in the UK way back in March 2007. I’ve only recently come across the book and so I read it not too long ago (obviously). Once again, I find myself in awe in front of a debut novel that really does not appear, when reading, to be one.
In the Union there is constant political scheming for power, but now there are outside forces threatening to change things. Bethod has recently united the North and now plans to invade the Union’s province of Angland. In the south the Gurkhul Empire has recently seen the rise of a new emperor who lusts for power and is planning to take the Union owned city of Dagoska. Yet even with these ominous threats, the Union’s leaders in Adua, prefer not to act but instead keep selfishly concentrating on their advancement.
There are three point of view characters: Jezal dan Luthar, a young noble and Captain in the King’s army, Inquisitor Glotka, a crippled policeman of sorts that specializes in the torture of suspects to gain information and Logen Ninefingers, a famous Northman warrior, turned rebel wandering in the mountains of the North. Jezal and Glotka both are in the capital Adua, the Inquisitor playing a large part in the local political happenings through his attainment of “confessions from his tortured victims”. As a character he is hard to comprehend yet his inner turmoil is captivating. With Jezal, Abercrombie paints a typically shallow character but even in the shallowness he manages to grab the reader. I found Logen to be only moderately interesting but his viewpoint allows for interaction with the the mage Bayaz who is, through most of the book, a more interesting character, primarily because of the mystery that surrounds this ages-old man.
The world Abercrombie creates for the First Law Trilogy immediately comes across as a rich and realistic with all the little things fantasy readers like. He also cooks up a magic system of which we constantly allusions to see a few examples of but for the most stays clouded in mysteries. Bayaz being one of the only ones to use magic illustrates in his behavior the essence of Abercrombie’s magic.
As a first book in a trilogy, The Blade Itself is an excellent read leading directly on into the second novel of the First Law. At this point I haven’t read the second book in the series and obviously not the third, so I cannot attest as to the quality of the rest of the series but The Blade Itself definitely starts it strongly. A book I would recommend to those that like the grittier kind of fantasy as well as those lovers of epic fantasy out there.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Reading Age: 15 and up
Violence: A lot of it. There are also so very intense scenes describing Glotka’s torturing.
Sex/Language: Quite a bit of swearing like in all of Abercrombie’s books. Also the vocabulary is often quite direct. No sex scenes that come to mind.
Joe Abercrombie’s website: http://www.joeabercrombie.com/
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