The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)
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The Blade Itself (The First Law #1)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  43,957 ratings  ·  2,746 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...more
Paperback, 517 pages
Published March 2007 by Gollancz (first published May 4th 2006)
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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
Jim
May 12, 2008 Jim rated it 5 of 5 stars 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...more
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
Jon
Mar 29, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Patrick Rothfuss
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...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Feb 25, 2012 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 4 of 5 stars 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
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...more
Stephen
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)...more
Megan Baxter
I am trying to figure out what this book is missing for me. There's nothing that makes me angry about it, there's plenty to like. And yet, still, although I read it and mostly enjoyed it, the first half of the book is already fading in my mind, and I don't see any reason to ever re-read it. I'll probably read the rest in the series, and this is perfectly competent fantasy. It's just not...enough.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforceme...more
Rob
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...more
Helen
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.
Artemas
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...more
Penny
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...more
Lilli Perspice
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been having a torrid affair with the fantasy genre since I was a jail-bait teen. We’ve quested after every kind of magical doodad together, learned from wise mentors, discovered our secret pasts, joined countless ragtag bands of unlikely heroes, and saved a universe full of kingdoms from total annihilation.

But lately I’ve grown bored. The wise mentors have started sounding more like pontificating fools, the ragtag bands of friends so similar that I frequently forget th...more
Sandi
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
Mpauli
"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...more
Carmen
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...more
Veeral
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...more
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...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...more
Derek
If you're reading this, I hope you'll bare with me. I don't set out to write long reviews intentionally. In fact, when it comes to reviews, I never have a plan. I just sit down and start typing, but I have a feeling this one might end up longer than most for me.

This book might have just opened up a new door for me. I sincerely hope it did. I'll admit it. Before reading this, I used to kind of look down my nose at fantasy books. I've never knocked anyone else for liking fantasy. I just thought th...more
Sarah
Well, I didn't finish it. I couldn't. And I TRIED, I really did, despite the fact that the first line of dialogue nearly made me toss it immediately:

"Shit," said Logen.

Well, we're now already on shaky footing, not just the swearing but the wholly uninspired swearing, the use of the single most boring swear word in the English language as our first introduction to a character in a genre where you have an incredible amount of freedom with language, but let's keep going. Next line of dialogue:

"Gah...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
c.o.lleen ± (... 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...more
Rabindranauth
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...more
Hirondelle
May 13, 2011 Hirondelle added it
Shelves: fantasy, i-quit, meh
I seem to be in a mood for fantasy novels, so digging up all those very popular books I have been stockpiling for ages, this was next.

And it is no-go. I gave it a 100+ pages and while nothing about this is horrible, the eight deadly words come to mind: I do not care what happens to these people. Not a bit.

It seems to be a mostly political intrigue book - I love those, so I was biased to like it. The 3 main characters are flawed (euphemism, actually they are creeps), perhaps realistic (though the...more
Eric
Mar 25, 2011 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Fantasy fans
Recommended to Eric by: Max Kotelevets
Shelves: fantasy
I am subtracting a star from my review solely because the book ends on a cliffhanger -- no, it would be closer to say it ends at a beginning.

The fellowship of characters that Bayaz and his apprentice bring together -- Logen, Jezal, Ferro, and Brother Longfoot -- isn't successfully accomplished until the final chapters, and they don't leave for their epic quest "to the edge of the world" until the book closes. So this book functions as a 500-page character study, or prequel, for the reader to fam...more
Bill
Well, the hype seems to have been warranted for this fantasy series.

The Blade Itself is typical book one fare, in that a good deal of it lays down the groundwork for a trilogy (Another trilogy. There ought to be a law that fantasy readers receive three times the lifespan because damn near every story has to be a f'ing trilogy.)
I ask myself, why do I even bother? But then the answer is simple. Fantasy is that genre that is the ultimate in escapism. And when a story enfolds you to the point where...more
Lee
So my first reading of Abercrombies work turned up a great read and a series that I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into.

A lot of people will say that this is dark and gritty. There are scenes that made a lot of readers uncomfortable. But I had no such problems reading this book. If you have read Malazan or the Black Company, you will not find this too dark.

The difference for most readers, I suspect, is that the usual pain and cruelty is inflicted on our protagonists or the genera...more
Allison
The Blade Itself is the first in a trilogy, and it takes its time building up a vivid sense of the setting. It gives us plenty of time to get to know the characters in their current flawed states rather than jumping immediately into the changes they'll go through. Normally, this would sound boring, but Abercrombie's descriptive powers are impressive. He gets you involved at a level that is rare, bringing you close to the characters physically as well as emotionally. This adds depth, giving a fee...more
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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...
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.” 234 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?”
170 likes
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