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The First Law Trilogy (The First Law #1-3)

4.48 of 5 stars 4.48  ·  rating details  ·  3,652 ratings  ·  119 reviews
The three volume edition collecting The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and The Last Argument of Kings
Hardcover, Book Club edition, 1600 pages
Published September 2008 by SFBC; Book Club edition
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jasper Williams
I really loved this series.
Say one thing for the first law trilogy, say it's got really good catchphrases.
The First Law Trilogy probably ranks in my top five debut trilogies of all time. Joe Abercrombie hits the ground running-- this series is nowhere near novice level. It's slick, dark, wonderfully cynical, and has some of the best bash-you-in-the-face fight scenes I have ever read.

The plot is nothing original, mind you, but the characterization definitely is. Unlike much of the Sword and Sorcery fantasy, Abercrombie's characters are deeply personal for the ultimate reason that they are almost alw
Blake Garretson
The last book destroys the whole series for me. The first two books were decent, and I felt like they were building towards something interesting. However, the ending of the last book is so laughably bad, the first two books are rendered pointless and not worth reading.

Instead of using an easy, clichéd story book ending, the author took an equally lazy route by making every character and plotline end horribly. I think he meant to impress us with his "grittiness" and depth by avoiding the happy
Wow, people are really polarized on this series; they seem to think it's either the greatest thing since sliced bread or it's utterly cliché and tiresome. I'll try to add my own small voice to the middle way and say that The First Law trilogy is neither of these things. Overall, First Law strikes me as a mildly original fantasy trilogy with some interesting world-building touches--- a geography vaguely reminiscent of Europe and Asia; a setting that isn't quite swords-and-horses medieval as Renai ...more
Marcus Svensson
Utterly depressing, will never read again 5/5.
The Blade Itself 2006 IBSN 9780575079793
Before They Are Hanged 2007 ISBN 9780575082014
The Last Argument of Kings 2008 ISBN 9780575077898
All published by Gollancz

This review originally appeared on The Specusphere, a now-defunct webzine, in 2008

In The First Law, UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie has produced one of the most impressive first trilogies ever to hit the market. It is remarkable not only because of its brilliantly complex plot and characters, but also because of its fearless investigat
Why 3 stars (and not 4 or even 5) ? Just because the third book was so depressing and honestly, a bit boring. Yes, I was bored. Mostly with the repetitions : yes, I understand that when someone "goes to the mud, they'll be burried and then they'll rot. Yes, I know that Glokta is in pain (bloody leg, bloody arse, bloody neck, bloody tasteless food, bloody gums...) *sigh* But I was also bored with the characters development. Or should I say their non-development ? Or their going-down-again ? There ...more
This trilogy was beyond-description fabulous. Characters you love to hate, a dynamic plot and amazing battle scenes have propelled this trilogy into my absolute favorite.

There's no character I've found to love then hate then love again like Sand dan Glotka.
Jesús Cañadas
Iba a ser mi lectura del verano, pero al final ha caído en 10 días y eso solo puede ser bueno. Se lee del tirón, entretiene y tiene momentos brillantes.

A otro nivel, se nota que Abercrombie estaba empezando. Repeticiones, inconsistencias, un estilo planito rozando lo ramplón, deus ex machina, similitudes sospechosas con otras sagas fantásticas, cambios de parecer de varios personajes porque le viene bien al autor...

Pero vamos, que uno no viene aquí buscando Proust. Te lo pasas bien y eso ya es
Where oh where to begin. I liked this series, but it had potential to be so much better. From a lot of other reviews of this work I see glowing comments about Joe Abercrombie's writing style. This, to me, was the weakest point of the books.

Let's start with the positive.

Abercrombie wove a beautiful world with a great and complex story. Much of the world was barely touched on leaving room for many more stories in this world. There were many unique things about this world and story that made it a
D. Peach
A definite for the fantasy enthusiast. This is an amazingly well-crafted trilogy by a master story-teller.

Characterization was by far my favorite part of the book. Every character is thoroughly unique, utterly compelling and terribly flawed. Murderers, torturers, drunks, cowards, and betrayers people the pages. I loved them all, rooted for them, and was equally disappointed and horrified. The main characters are, by and large, trapped in lives they wish they could change. As a reader I kept hop
Apr 27, 2015 Marko rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf-f
The characters - oh, the characters!

The First Law trilogy has its flaws. Most of the minor and a lot of the major points of the plot are predictable (though a sufficient number of shocking twists and revelations partly alleviates this), and repetitions of characters' catchphrases can get tiresome, to name the two that bothered me most.

But the characters themselves more than make up for it! Unorthodox, vividly written, with their own contradictions and personal fights, rarely have I seen such a p
Pick your favorite epic fantasy, cynical just-so tale, or grimdark war story. Call it X. Imagine Joe Abercrombie picking up your copy of X, casually tossing it on the ground, unzipping, and pissing on it. "You call that grim, dark, cynical fantasy? I'll show you grimdark!" You are horrified that your favorite book/series is being treated so poorly, but you cannot stop turning the page.

This is the box set for Abercrombie's first 3 books:

* The Blade Itself - There's a fencing contest coming up! Ja
Well, its been almost two months since I started. I did take a break between each book, but still, that is some investment.

I did not do this in the right order, lets get that out of the way first. I stumbled upon 'The Heroes' by accident, immediately realized I was probably a bit in the dark about some things-and yet plowed ahead anyway because what the hell, I was sucked in.

Then a year later I wanted to go back-but wasnt ready to commit to the full trilogy, so I did 'Best Served Cold', which re
Andy Crawford
What would an epic, magical quest be like with real, complicated, and highly flawed people as the protagonists? On the surface, this book and the series don't seem to offer much that's new. There's a great journey, a wise wizard, a young noble with shaky confidence, a brave, fireplug of a young maiden, and a fearsome northern barbarian. But each of these characters do not quite fit the mold... what really goes on in the mind of a huge, half-naked warrior with a sword? What really motivates the o ...more
Charles Olson
The First Law Trilogy: The ultimate literary blue ball experience.
In my Reader's despair, I question the purpose of art and storytelling and compare Abercrombie, Tarantino, and Kubrick in order to understand why this trilogy I loved filled me with existential rage


I started out LOVING this series. Apart from the excellent writing and immersive world, I cared about the characters - I wanted the heroes to overcome their poignant struggles and I hungered for revenge against the villa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ryan Ailts
Bastards are a trope of modern day "dark" fantasy. If you like bastards, you'll love this series. And I'm not just talking about the children of two-pump chumps who abandon their lovers when a small bump appears. I'm talking about the shittiest of shitty people who serve only themselves. If you love to read about people you love to hate, you'll love to read these books.

Whether it's the mutilated, bitter but ambitious inquisitor who may actually have a heart for one person or the military officer
Marcus Knowles
The First Law is a three book series: The Blade Itself; Before They Are Hanged; Last Argument of Kings. I read these a year back, so I'm not aware enough of the finer details to review them individually. Not that such a thing is needed as the quality of the books is consistent. What you get in the first book, you get in all of them.

The prose is clean and simple, no page long descriptions (which I loathe) and the story is interesting and complete ignores standard plot conventions, which is a huge
Michael Martin
A fantastic trilogy. The Blade Itself got off to a rough start, I struggled to get myself fully into to the story and had to leave it on my bookshelf for a week before diving into the second half. I started reading this trilogy after picking up a copy of The Heroes and loved it, thankfully my love of his storytelling and writing style encouraged me to return to The Blade Itself. The struggle continued, though once I'd reached the end I knew I had made the right decision in returning to the story ...more
"Heads on spikes, eh? Never goes out of fashion." you can see this is classic Swords and Sorcery. Engaging characters that you're sorry to see die and liberally peppered with humorous observations. The berserker and his fellow barbarians have great names and although there are many bloody battles necessary to medieval warfare, the author doesn't stoop to pornographic sex and grotesque violence to tell a good tale.
I absolutely loved this series. It's gritty, bloody, violent and full of characters that I hated one moment, loved the next then hated again. Almost every character is self-serving and doesn't care about anything except their own agenda and will crush anybody who they disagree with and/or don't like -- kinda reminds me of today's Republican party!

I highly recommend!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Denis Rodionov
Great epic fantasy trilogy for those who prefer gritty human politics to pointy-eared heroics. It’s less literature than George Martin, but I think more honest storytelling.

— Great story. Simple, honest, involving. Satisfying ending, interesting twists, believable decisions, no irritating loose ends.
— Great characters. Not very deep, not extremely complicated, not profoundly evolving, but very much alive, picturesque, easy to sympathize, pure fun.
— Excellent fighting scenes. Just can’t imagi
For a debut trilogy, this is good. No, let me rephrase that; This trilogy is good, more so because it is his debut. The plot is ok, but the character's are deep and you feel you understand them completely. Joe puts you into their minds and shoes so thoroughly that when you're done you could literally live as one of the characters for a week. Everything from their decisions to their actions to their temperament is laid out clearly. The characters are the first major plus.

The second major plus is



Wow, I'm at awe with this author. His writing is so simple and yet so effective, raw, and unforgettable. The characters in this trilogy are incredibly flawed, sometimes outright villainous, and yet, somehow, we manage to fall in love with all of them. We are right there with them in their most embarrassing, painful, and low moments, so we can't help but feel as though we know them intimately. The battle scenes in these books are so well-written that I felt as though I was literally right in the ...more
I didn't like the kind of journey where you follow the character and you don't no where they are going (neither do they). The worst for me is the last chapters named 'answers' where the author have to explain the 2000 pages you just read because he did a so poor job writing them that he has to explain the plot at the end...

I found that there is no suspens at all and I don't like this kind of book. The only suspens is " what does the stupid character will do to get out of a situation he put himse
Keith Splawn
You've gotta be realistic...
This was my introduction to Abercrombie's world full of conflict on a personal, national, and international level. He weaves together a motley band of characters who grow and change dramatically during the course of the storyline. Some in very surprising ways, others in very disappointing way. This set of novels grips your attention and doesn't let go... though it ends with several plot lines unfinished... hopefully Abercrombie will pick up the strings and tie them th

Joe Abercrombie is the chosen one.
If Tolkien is the Godfather, G.R.R Martin is Michael, and Robin Hobb is Connie, then Abercrombie is one hell of a Vincent.
A new age Jesus of the fantasy genre, if you will.
Believe the hype.
These books are modern and stylish with great characters, great dialogue, a great plot filled with bloody action and comedic refreshment. A buffet of all the things that are lacking in the genre today, but with all the elements of fantasy that fans love.
Say one thing for The F
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Joe Abercrombie was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Manchester University, where he studied psychology. He moved into television production before taking up a career as a freelance film editor. During a break between jobs he began writing The Blade Itself in 2002, completing it in 2004. It was published by Gollancz in 2006 and was followed by two other books in The First Law Trilogy ...more
More about Joe Abercrombie...

Other Books in the Series

The First Law (3 books)
  • The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)
  • Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)
  • Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3)
The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1) Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2) Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3) Best Served Cold The Heroes

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