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The Blade Itself (The First Law #1)

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  86,147 Ratings  ·  4,522 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, 517 pages
Published March 2007 by Gollancz (first published May 4th 2006)
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David Can't believe the negative posts I'm reading. Great gritty dark fantasy with three unique protagonists and very distinct voices for each. None of them…moreCan't believe the negative posts I'm reading. Great gritty dark fantasy with three unique protagonists and very distinct voices for each. None of them are heroes per se, but all are interesting and compelling. Good read so far, fans of A Song of Ice and Fire may like it. (less)
Avaminn F'nett It's writing style is a bit like Scott Lynch's, but not as good. It's a decent book. I don't know why people compare it to ASOIAF because they're…moreIt's writing style is a bit like Scott Lynch's, but not as good. It's a decent book. I don't know why people compare it to ASOIAF because they're nothing alike.

Scott Lynch's books are definitely the closest.(less)
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17th out of 2,584 books — 18,692 voters
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16th out of 1,851 books — 6,485 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
Mar 20, 2011 mark monday rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantastickal
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 it was amazing
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
Feb 29, 2016 Kat Stark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Jul 29, 2015 Bookwraiths rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, grimdark
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, Joe Abercrombie is a fantasy author who all my real-life friends have raved about for years and insisted that I read. From their proselyting, it seemed that my life would not be complete without sampling Lord Grimdark’s wares. So, in order to save myself from some accursed fate, I read the first two novels in Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea series.

Unfortunately, grimwhine was not for me. If interested in the “why”, you ca
Ibrahim Z
Dec 15, 2011 Ibrahim Z rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
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
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Buddy read with the wannabe torturers over at BBB

DNF at 34%.

You! Yes, you there! The person who is reading this review right now! Are you one of the hilarious people who told me I was going LOVE this book? You aren't? It's your lucky day, you should try playing the lottery or something. Now. If you are one of the delirious people who did tell me I was going to LOVE this book…oh man, you are SO doomed.

I mean, what the bloody hell??!! How DARE you suicidal people lure me into this by dangling
Dan Schwent
Mar 23, 2013 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2013
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
Feb 25, 2012 Carol. rated it really liked it
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
The Shayne-Train
Feb 27, 2015 The Shayne-Train rated it it was amazing
I'll start this review by saying that, currently, I have 197 Goodreads friends (which is really something, as I doubt there are even 50 people in my real life that I can stand). Out of those 197 friends, 59 of them have either read this book, or have it on their to-read shelf. That's 30%. Pretty much one in three. Numbers don't lie; they can't.

So I doubt I'll be introducing the concept of Mr. Abercrombie's genius to anyone. In fact, this would be pretty much the perfect example of "preaching to
Mar 12, 2016 Choko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*** 4.75 ***

A buddy re-read with my friends from BB&B

Just as great as the first time around:-)
Bookworm Sean
Mar 13, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 4-star-reads
Joe Abercrombie certainly knows how to write some disturbingly likable characters. In any other book the protagonists would be the bad guys. Logan Ninefingers is a brutal warrior who goes into insane blood rages where he kills anything, and everything, near him. Yet, weirdly, he is also a wise and sensitive soul. San Dan Glocka is a torturer whose heart is pure malice, yet somehow his attitude toward life boarders on the hilarious. These two are such great characters; they make the series what i ...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)
Jun 01, 2015 Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE) rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE) by: Kat Stark

Actual rating : 4.5 stars

Back when I was in college and had to read a tons of French classics, I considered my dearly fantasy books as my escape, and I used to devour them all, good or bad, whenever I had the opportunity. Sadly, what had to happen finally happened : I grew tired of them, and spent years avoiding them, until a little bastard named Jorg came along in February, and then I thought : FUCK YEAH. There are still fantasy books I can enjoy. The Blade Itself is one of them.

If I can't den
Mar 29, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Patrick Rothfuss
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)
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
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
Eon ♒Windrunner♒ & part-time Warder ☯
March 2016 Reread done and stars re-awarded. *high-fives Abercrombie

This book sucker punched me. I did not expect this level of awesomeness. I did initially give this 5 stars due to superb characters, but downgraded it after some consideration regarding the plot.
I know Lord Grimdark is a very popular author, but I had tried one of his books a few years back and did not care for it as much as this one. It was good, but that was just where it stopped for me.

This book though, hit all the right not
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it
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
Apr 28, 2014 Evgeny rated it really liked it
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 th
May 29, 2015 Carmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans
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
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 Rick Riordan rated it it was amazing
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
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 ign
Mar 29, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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.
Aug 17, 2014 Alexa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Sep 30, 2015 Molly rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Rating 4.5

Great first book!

STILL WORKING ON THE REVIEW- so little time, better spent on reading

Damn, another great dark/epic fantasy series.


It is just the first book, but I just know I'm gonna love the other books in the series. I love a great anti-hero, and this book has more than one. Let's face it, the only characters that seem guilt-free (for now) are... "Erm..."Malacus Quai, Yulwei (not for long I think, he must have some dark past) and Brother Longfoot (maybe because we don't know much abo
"A man does not but on a mask unless he's got some dark work in mind."

I'm always left speechless when I take a random book and give it a try. You really never know what to expect within it pages. I didn't even read the synopsis, I just jumped into it and was Blown Away.

The storyline was gripping and intense from the get go, with a rich and healthy supply of characters. I really can't choose who I love more. Logan, Glokta, Jezal Ferro, Quasi and Ardee ( to name a few ) are all amazing. Reading s
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
Jul 31, 2015 Phrynne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book!!! The narrator, Steven Pacey, was brilliant and the story itself was excellent. I loved the touches of humour which made me laugh out loud and some of the characterisation was just superb. All of the main characters are damaged in some way, some of them are just plain evil, and yet we also see their good sides and in the end there are no goodies and baddies, just people. By the end of the book there is no choice by but to move on to the next in the series because you just have ...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
May 16, 2011 Dirk Grobbelaar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, books-i-own
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
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Beyond Reality: The Blade Itself: Roll Call & First Impressions **NO SPOILERS** 8 44 Apr 07, 2016 11:12PM  
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  • A Betrayal in Winter (Long Price Quartet, #2)
  • The Crown Conspiracy (The Riyria Revelations, part #1)
  • Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine, #1)
  • The Warrior Prophet (The Prince of Nothing, #2)
  • Shadows Linger (The Chronicle of the Black Company, #2)
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2)
  • Toll the Hounds (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #8)
  • Promise of Blood (Powder Mage, #1)
  • Night of Knives (Malazan Empire, #1)
  • King of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #2)
  • Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt, #1)
  • The Cold Commands
  • The Daylight War (Demon Cycle, #3)
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 (9 books)
  • Kriegsklingen (1 von 2) (The First Law, #1 Part 1)
  • Kriegsklingen (2 von 2) (The First Law, #1 Part 2)
  • Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)
  • Feuerklingen (1 von 2) (The First Law, #2 Part 1)
  • Feuerklingen (2 von 2) (The First Law, #2 Part 2)
  • Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3)
  • Königsklingen (1 von 2) (The First Law, #3 Part 1)
  • Königsklingen (2 von 2) (The First Law, #3 Part 2)

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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.” 468 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?”
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