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The Blade Itself (The First Law #1)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  60,448 ratings  ·  3,427 reviews
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 Captain Jezal dan Luthar, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at c
Paperback, 425 pages
Published May 4th 2006 by Gollancz
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Caitlin It reminds me a little of the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. They're both gritty, dark fantasies with large numbers of…moreIt reminds me a little of the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. They're both gritty, dark fantasies with large numbers of characters who aren't all purely good people. The Blade Itself has more of a frontier/western feel and a much more humorous feel to it. Where ASOIAF is very serious political intrigue, The Blade Itself is more a dark satire of standard fantasy tropes and human nature in general. I find that I actually like The Blade Itself better because it's funny in a dark, twisted sort of way. Just don't go in expecting happy endings or perfect characters. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
I’m going to do something that's a little disrespectful and start this review by talking about another fantasy series that I’ve enjoyed: A Song of Ice and Fire. That series rules. It has everything I’ve wanted in a series since Tolkien but there’s one thing to be said about it, neither good or bad, that is a big part of its impact: it is dark, very very dark. The darkness comes, as it should in all quality fiction, not necessarily from the actual bad things that happen to good people, but from t ...more
May 12, 2008 Jim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for full-blooded fantasy
Anton Chekhov famously said that if an author mentions a gun, it had better go off at some point, a point often attributed to Raymond Chandler (who at least practiced this rule). The same goes for fantasy writers. Fantasy doesn't need to be all blood and whirling blades, but if a fantasy writer straps a broadsword to a character's side, it had better be drawn in anger, at some point.

This was one of the best fantasy novels I've read in a while, especially impressive as it's a first novel. It has
Kat Stark

Buddyread with these epic ladies: Alexa, Ashley, Athena, Jennifer, Jessica, & Robin (Click to read their reviews)

UNCONVENTIONAL REVIEW TIME (because I always wanted to base a review off of a bud light radio commercial and now since all these other buddyreaders can post actual reviews, I can):

Must read in this voice: Click here

Bud Light Abercrombie Presents:

Readers of the World. Readers of the worrrrrld.

Today we salute you, Mr. Review watcher who has nothing better to do. Mr. Review waaaatche
Dan Schwent
On the run from a king he once served, barbarian Logen Ninefingers finds himself in the Union's capital, aligned with Bayaz, a legendary wizard long thought dead. Meanwhile, nobleman Captain Jezal Luthar trains for The Contest, a fencing spectacle, while lusting after Ardee West, sister of one of his comrades. Inquistor Glokta, crippled former swordsman, skulks around in the darkness, torturing the answers he seeks while searching for treason at every turn. What is Bayaz planning? Will Jezal bed ...more
Ibrahim Z
I almost put down the book when 3 paragraphs in the first 3 pages began with some version of this line:

"Shit," he said.

But I managed to slog through because I was told this was a some genre-breaking novel that didn't rely so heavily on typical fantasy clichés and it was supposed to be really dark and gritty. Instead of gritty, it felt kind of like a teenager who swears a lot to try and sound like an adult: really forced and usually out of context. A lot of the writing in general seemed to trip o
Okay. I think this book is a must read for all fans of fantasy. I've never read something that captures very frankly the dark side of humanity like this. The sheer pointless arrogance, greed and ambition of people willing to use and step over their betters for no reason other than they can. Its something most of us has seen done and even experienced ourselves. I went into this expecting something like the Broken Empire books by Mark Lawrence; I got a deliciously vicious surprise instead.

I have
Mar 29, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Patrick Rothfuss
Feb 25, 2012 Carol. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: epic fantasy fans
The Blade Itself will undoubtedly become classic fantasy. I found it engrossing, and one of the best examples of the "darker" epic fantasies, with protagonists lacking in traditional heroic qualities and quests that are less than selfless. I liked the way the story was constructed, primarily following three main characters, with a fourth was added partway through the book. I was fairly certain they would intersect at some point, so part of the interest in the story is seeing how their individual ...more
"So, let's cast the characters for our novel, shall we?"
"Of course, boss, Mr. Abercrombie, sir!"
"Where is the run-of-a-mill farmboy with a great destination?"
"I'm afraid he ran of the mill, met a goblin. Now rots in a ditch."
"Oh, how unfortunate."
"Indeed, boss, indeed."
"Let's see. What about the maiden fair in need of rescue from a dragon?"
"Apparently she ate the dragon. Now she was saying something about a burning sensation in the...well...digesting area. Went to the toilet, never saw her again
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I started reading Joe Abercrombie's debut novel immediately after finishing a very popular old 1970s classic post-Tolkien fantasy that had left me -- quite frankly -- bored. I had the flu, my body ached, and I was feeling sorry for myself. But by the end of the first chapter of The Blade Itself, I was feeling much better. First, Mr. Abercrombie's writing was vivid, tense, action-packed, and droll -- just the way I like it. Second, I found myself thankful t
6.0 stars (One of My All Time Favorites). Absolutely outstanding debut novel. Right along side The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss as the best debut Fantasy novels of the last few years. This book is as good as the fantasy genre gets and I can not wait to read the sequel. Finally, IMHO, Glotka is one of the most original and best developed characters in a long time. Highly recommended.

Nominee: John A. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel (2008)
Executive Summary:
I really enjoyed the book, but it felt mostly like setup for the rest of the series. Most trilogies at least have some short-term goal accomplished in each book, but I felt like that was missing here.

Full Review
One of the very first things Good Reads recommended me to was this book. Well this and Gardens of the Moon. I ignored both books until convinced otherwise by friends of mine.

Apparently good reads recommendation engine knows what it's talking about, and I shouldn't igno
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
1 1/2

I had avoided this book for awhile, despite all the good things I'd heard about it, primarily because I was afraid that the "gritty realism" proclaimed about in the book amounted to "bleak and disheartening". I read for entertainment, and I don't read to be depressed about the darker parts of human nature, because I'm quite familiar with them already, quite frankly, and so I saw this book and thought "not for me".

But, still, when you see a book recommended by, seemingly, everyone, time and
Holy foul-mouthed, freaking God, where the hell has Joe Abercrombie been all my life? This is different from any other fantasy story I've ever read and I F*@#ing loved it. From Logan "Bloody Nine" to my favorite character, Glotka, Abercrombie just killed it, both figuratively and literally. It's fantasy turned on its head and having its throat slit. Dark, violent, foul and soooooooooooooo much fun.
Apr 28, 2014 Evgeny rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Evgeny by: Artemas
Shelves: fantasy
Northern barbarian Logen Ninefingers tries to stay alive in the wilderness while being pursued by his enemies. When he receives a message that a powerful wizards looks for him, he decides to take a job even without having a clue what the said job is about.

In the southern capital of the Union (this is the name of a kingdom) a crippled inquisitor Glokta does his job - a little too enthusiastically. He used to be a dashing military officer, but several years being a prisoner of war made him practic
Robin (Bridge Four)
Buddy read starting 7/25/14 with Athena, Alexa, Kat Stark, Jessica, Jennifer and Eon
    ‘History is littered with dead good men.’

Do you like morally ambiguous characters? Do you want to read something where there is no clear ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’ persons, where people and their motivations are a mystery for the most part? If you love fantasies that focus on the characters a little more than the world building then this is totally for you.

There is not one Mary Sue character in the bunch. Of the
Mar 14, 2014 Carmen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Logen Ninefingers is a barbarian from the rugged Northern country. He is content with nothing more than living to see another day. Everyone he cares about is dead.

Inquisitor Glokta is 30 but you'd think he's 90. Hunched, crippled, in constant pain - Glokta shuffles through this story like an old man. He was tortured for 2 years in the Emperor's prisons, and now he tortures people himself for the Union. He is bitter, angry, tenacious and cynical.

Jezal Luthar is a spoiled, arrogant, handsome offic
Buddy read with Kat, Robin, Ash, Eon, Athena, Jenn & Jessica.

This book is ALL about the characters.

Seriously, if you ask me what the book is about I can maybe form three coherent thoughts:

1. There's a realm that sounds like Europe+Africa, and there's going to be war. Not sure who the good guys or bad guys are, everyone sounds terrible.

2. There's magic! The First of the Magi wants to stop the war? Win the war? Something. He's gathering people for something.

3. E
This was a fantastic book which only missed the five star mark due to the lack of a proper ending. It's a major pet peeve of mine but didn't bother me as much as it usually does. It wasn't a cliffhanger ending, it didn't just stop, but it didn't really resolve as such. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

I've seen a few discussions lately about the definition of "dark fantasy" and for me, this is it. It was dark and gritty and violent and more than a few scenes stayed with me long afte
David Sven
“How’s the book?” asked Jezal.
“The Fall of the Master Maker, in three volumes. They say it’s one of the great classics of history. Lot of boring rubbish,” she snorted derisively. “Full of wise Magi, stern knights with mighty swords and ladies with mightier bosoms. Magic, violence and romance, in equal measure. Utter shit.”

Say one thing for Abercrombie, say he knows how to make fun of his own trilogy. We can of course add to this rather brief summary with bloody barbarians, an unhuman hoard, spir
All hail Joe Abercrombie, my new favorite King of Grit.

The Blade Itself is a great start to a promising trilogy that I know I will re-read in the future. If you are a fantasy fan and haven't read Abercrombie's stuff, then you are really missing out.

Joe Abercrombie immerses the reader into a truly gritty fantasy setting. When I say "immerses" I mean that he pours a cauldron of blood down your throat while ripping off your toenails. These books are not for the faint of heart. I actually felt my
This was simply an amazing book, made even more so by the reading in the Audible version by Steven Pacey. His ability to change voice for each character was fascinating, and really added to the presentation of the entire story. I had no problem differentiating between the main characters, and the supporting characters, as well. It was amazing to hear him switch between all of the accents necessary for the characters and where they were from. While this is set in a fantasy world, depending upon t ...more
Gregor Xane
This book was like watching someone setting up a chess board very, very slowly and methodically. And for most of its length, that's what it was, getting all the characters where they needed to be so that their journey could begin. It wasn't until late in the narrative, when all of the pieces were in place, when the opening moves finally happened, that it truly became an exciting read. The stakes weren't known early enough to really drive the book forward. A true sense of the mysteries of this un ...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
This book came complete with a plethora of glowing reviews and commendations. Fortunately, for once, these seem to have been well founded.

The Blade Itself brings a sense of awe to the table, something sorely lacking in contemporary fantasy. Of course, there are many, many books that I still have to read....
I'm very much a supporter of old school fantasy and this novel seems to be a happy meeting of 'modern' and 'classical'.

What makes this novel especially appealing are the characters, and specif
Julie Covington
Well it should come as no surprise to anyone if you have seen my latest updates that I did not love this book. Quite unfortunate really (as I absolutely LOVED Half a King) and honestly I think entirely “it’s me, not you” on this one. As far as my final rating, I struggled with where to take this so I just decided to break it down…

Writing – 4.5 stars
When your good, your good…and Joe is just that. He has a magical way of writing amazingly witty characters and creating a world that is breathtaking.
Andrew (BritBookBoy)
This book was pretty incredible. I absolutely adored reading about every single character, no matter what kind of dark, messed up stuff they'd done. Abercrombie somehow manages to make all of them extremely well definied from their first appearance, and continues to make them compelling and fascinating through to the last pages. Even if there were characters I didn't particularly like, I still found myself itching to find out what kind anitcs they were going to get up to next, revelling in every ...more
Buddy Read with Robin, Alexa, Jessica, Kat, Jennifer, Athena, and Eon

This book was all kinds of epic. It was the bare bones of what high fantasy should be. More so than anything I’ve read in a long time, this book was truly the embodiment of a good fantasy novel. It had all the elements - the magic, the “heroes”, the anti-heroes, the strong female characters, and the mythical (straight up scary as hell) creatures.

Never before have I found myself rooting for a torturer. And root for him I did,
I usually prefer stand-alone books, or series that take place with the same characters or setting but don't leave you hanging at the end of the book. The kind of SF&F series that I like include The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, The Company by Kage Baker, and Charles deLint's Newford stories. I have to say that The Blade Itself isn't like any of these. It's also not like series that go on and on without end. It doesn't meander like The Lord of the Rings or take ten volumes and counting like S ...more
Rick Riordan
It's been a while since I read a fantasy trilogy all the way through, back to back. Joe Abercrombie's The First Law series was too compelling not to finish in a single marathon. The first book, The Blade Itself, introduces a cast of well-developed, complex characters throw together in a world loosely based on medieval Europe. At first, it's not entirely clear what the major story line will be. It's also not clear who the good guys and bad guys are -- kind of like real life. If this sounds like A ...more
Joe Abercrombie needs to find the person responsible who might have misplaced the last 100-150 pages of this book just before it was to be published. But I have a feeling that he might not have to go much far to do so. A mirror would serve just as well as Hercule Poirot in this case. Yes, the book ends abruptly. But such is the curse of reading epic-fantasy.

Apart from that, I enjoyed this book quite a lot. Especially the character Glokta, the Inquisitor, the torturer. His dry wit reminded me a
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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)
  • Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)
  • Last Argument of Kings (The First Law #3)
Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2) Last Argument of Kings (The First Law #3) Best Served Cold The Heroes Red Country

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“Once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than live with the fear of it.” 320 likes
“Has it ever occured to you, Master Ninefingers, that a sword is different from other weapons? Axes and maces and so forth are lethal enough, but they hang on the belt like dumb brutes. But a sword...a sword has a voice.
Sheathed it has little to say, to be sure, but you need only put your hand on the hilt and it begins to whisper in your enemy's ear. A gentle word. A word of caution. Do you hear it?
Now, compare it to the sword half drawn. It speaks louder, does it not? It hisses a dire threat. It makes a deadly promise. Do you hear it?
Now compare it to the sword full drawn. It shouts now, does it not? It screams defiance! It bellows a challenge! Do you hear it?”
More quotes…