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The Blade Itself

(The First Law #1)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  179,592 ratings  ·  9,801 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, 515 pages
Published March 8th 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)
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 character…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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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  179,592 ratings  ·  9,801 reviews

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mark monday
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-modern
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
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Grimdark & character-driven fantasy fans
Shelves: favorites
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4.5/5 stars

The Blade Itself was my first entry into a grimdark fantasy novel that I highly enjoyed; on this reread, I loved it even more.

“Once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than live with the fear of it.”

Back in October 2016, the only reason I stumbled upon this bloody marvelous trilogy was that, as many other readers did, I was looking for a reading experience that could offer me the kin
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I haven't enjoyed a character driven Fantasy book this much in a while!

Totally recommend it, loved Glokta, will read the rest of the series before the end of the year.
May 12, 2008 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
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: grimdark, fantasy
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
James Tivendale
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I was up until half five yesterday morning reading intensely to finish off this story. I didn't write the review then as it would have been a tired, mumbled mess with little to no eloquence and it wouldn't have included any cool sounding words. Let's see how I get on now after a good nights sleep. Prior to reading this, I had completed Abercrombie's Shattered Sea trilogy and enjoyed it a lot. Where that was classic story focused fantasy with twists aplenty, this is best described as a macabre, d ...more
Ibrahim Z
Mar 10, 2011 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
"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
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
So this was one of my most anticipated reads.

Grimdark fans from all over offer up this book as one of the best in the genre, and so that understandably rocketed my expectations!

And this was not a bad book by any means.

In fact, as soon as I started I was told multiple times that I could liken the first book of The First Law series to "a giant prologue," and I think that's a really accurate way to describe it.

The book follows a handful of characters who are all entangled in some way in the dege
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
gritty. visceral. unapologetic. and darkly humorous. everything you could ever want from a story like this.

its safe to say this is primarily a character driven novel, which is fine by me because every character is brilliant - it has quite the ensemble cast! each has their own secrets, histories, and quirks; making it quite the experience getting to know each of them.

not a lot happens plot wise, and with the main focus on the character developments, this felt very much like an introduction rathe
May 12, 2011 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
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
After finishing my second read-through of The Blade Itself, I’m finally ready to share my thoughts on it.

The book is a slow burn, which should not be confused with “boring.” Slower pacing can be incredibly effective if all the scenes have great character development and purpose. This tale took its time, and it was mostly time well used. The first time through, I found myself constantly distracted during one section of the book (about 20% shortly after the halfway point). At the time, I chalked i
Sean Barrs
Jan 17, 2014 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
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

The Blade Itself is exactly why I believe in second chances. When I first read this book four years ago, I had very little adult fantasy under my belt. I had read Elantris, Mistborn, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Kingkiller Chronicle. That’s pretty much it. I think I just wasn’t mentally prepared for something like The Blade Itself. Even ASoIaF, by far the darkest of the fantasy novels I had read up to that point, had a number of characters w
Rick Riordan
Nov 07, 2013 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
Muhtasin Oyshik
I appreciate it. I didn't like this story as I expected, but I didn't dislike it.
Mario the lone bookwolf
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Compared to other High-Fantasy, there is lesser action, many character scenes, introspective and dialogues and yet as much suspense as in a horror novel.

It must have taken the author much time to find such original characters and to combine them in a way that gives new perspectives and potentials for the fantasy genre. It seems to me as if, as with many newer great High-Fantasy series, that there is nothing healthier for a genre than to become unconventional, progressive and well, yes, pretty da
Joey Woolfardis
I first read this book nine years ago and my memory of it was rather hazy: I could remember the Bloody-Nine alright, and Glokta was a name that rang heavily in my ears, but otherwise most of it was cloudy, vague memories of possibilities. After finishing my Annual Reading Challenge six months early-and having read mostly genres that were not my favourite just to see how I fared with them-I knew I needed something good: something I knew (or thought I knew) I liked.

I'm so happy that I was not disa
✘✘ 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 dangl
Dan Schwent
Mar 04, 2013 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
Merphy Napier
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, fantasy, four-stars
Here's my video review ...more
Eric Allen
Oct 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
I tried to read this book. I really did. I got over halfway through, but I just can't go any further. It's too damn boring and pointless. I hate every character in it. I'm not interested in what's going on in the slightest. I keep making excuses not to read any more of it. A good story is about interesting people doing interesting things. And this one lacked both of those things. I should never have to force myself to keep reading, I should be excited and compelled to read by what's going on and ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
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“The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. Still, the struggle itself is worthwhile. Knowledge is the root of power, after all.”

★ When I first started reading, all I cared about was a good plot twist and nothing else. 400 and something book later, my opinions have drastically changed and I think good characters are the most important thing to me beside the plot and writing. I probably would not have liked this book if I r
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
"Every man has his excuses, and the more vile the man becomes, the more touching the story has to be. What is my story now, I wonder?"

Solid stuff. A real page-turner at times.

Aside from such splendidly enjoyable characters as Logen Ninefingers, Inquisitor Glokta and Major West, I especially enjoyed the musings about history, politics and urban life. Suffice it to say I completely share Logen’s aversion to the annoying crowds to be found in cities.

The book clearly deserves considerable praise, an
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-grim
*** 4.75 ***

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

Just as great as the first time around:-)
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Blade Itself (The First Law #1), Joe Abercrombie

The First Law is a fantasy series written by British author Joe Abercrombie. It consists of a trilogy, three stand-alone novels and a number of novellas set in the same world.

The Blade Itself: 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
Robin (Bridge Four)
Sale Alert: Kindle Daily Deal on 19Mar20 on Amazon for $3.99

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 tot
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, who likes humour, fighting, magic and badasses
Recommended to Orient by: Milda Page Runner
I can certainly say that this book is gritty. So, you start reading it and it pushes your face in mud, sweat and blood. If someone just falls somewhere or rolls down the stairs, you can be sure, it will be shown with all the glory of sticky stuff running down the face with an agonizing squirm. It reminds me of Tolkien or Sapowski in some episodes.
But this book is not just a merciless hole covered in darkness and blood. You can find a lot of fun, humor (slight or hard)and that just makes the book
TS Chan
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

Before anyone gasped in surprise that I've not read this excellent grimdark entry by Joe Abercrombie, allow me to provide a little backstory.

I have attempted to read The Blade Itself 6 years ago. However, I was then suffering from a massive, and I truly mean massive, hangover after finishing Words of Radiance; my head and heart were too reluctant to leave the characters and their stories. Frankly, I don't think any fantasy read would have helped, and so I set aside this book barely a
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)
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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

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)

Articles featuring this book

Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate...
469 likes · 289 comments
“Once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than live with the fear of it.” 796 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…