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The Blade Itself: The First Law: Book One [Kindle Edition]

Joe Abercrombie
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (682 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.

Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.

And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up in a hole in the snow with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all - ideally by running away from it. But as he's discovering, old habits die really, really hard indeed . . .

. . . especially when Bayaz gets involved. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Glotka, Jezal and Logen a whole lot more difficult . . .

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British newcomer Abercrombie fills his muddled sword-and-sorcery series opener with black humor and reluctant heroes. Logen Ninefingers, a barbarian on the run from an ex-employer who's now king of the North, finds his loyalties complicated when he switches sides and becomes a valuable source of intel to the beleaguered Union. Glokta, a torture victim turned torturer, gets roped into securing the Union's position against both the invading Northmen and the incompetent Union king and council, and ruthlessly wields his skills in attempts to weed out traitors. Foppish Jezal, a preternaturally excellent swordsman, manages to win the contest to become the Union champion, thanks to a little help from Bayaz, a mage with his own agenda. The workmanlike plot, marred by repetitive writing and an excess of torture and pain, is given over to introducing the mostly unlikable characters, only to send them off on separate paths in preparation for the next volume's adventures. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


I might not end up marrying this book, but I'm certainly infatuated with it right at the moment. It's delicious, the characters sharply drawn and their motivations believable, the clash of cultures (always particularly difficult for an author to pull off) believable as well. -- Lilith Saintcrow There is a gritty edge to his world and an awareness of the human cost of violence that is very contemporary -- The Times Delightfully twisted and evil -- The Guardian The Blade Itself is a page-turner powered by a combination of fast-paced action and juicy doses of cynicism. Perhaps more remarkable, however, is the way Abercrombie sets the scene -- Edge Magazine There's a fat vein of cynicism and dark humour throughout. The action scenes are fast-paced and the violence takes its toll both mentally and physically. A great start to a long journey' -- Dreamwatch You'd never guess that The Blade Itself is Joe Abercrombie's debut novel. He writes like a natural. There are great characters, sparky dialogue, an action-packed plot, and from the very first words and an opening scene that is literally a cliff-hanger, you know you are in for a cheeky, vivid, exhilarating ride -- Starburst An admirably hard, fast and unpretentious read from debut author Joe Abercrombie. Packs a mean punch in the bloodthirsty mayhem and mystery departments. Crammed full of torture, vengeance and bad behaviour, it's a lively tale of savagery vs. civilisation. The Blade Itself may not reinvent the wheel, but it does serve up a whole banquet of violent action and intrigue' -- SFX The star of the show is doubtlessly Inquisitor Glotka for simply being one of the most wonderfully bitter and cynical characters I've come across. With a very funny and clever internal monologue going on during every conversation he has, Glotka's as miserable and nasty at the end as he was to start with and, especially in a heroic fantasy novel, it works perfectly -- SF Crowsnest

Product Details

  • File Size: 1506 KB
  • Print Length: 628 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0575091088
  • Publisher: Gollancz (June 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002VHI8FE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,935 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
323 of 336 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing July 5, 2006
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I read the blurb from the back and nearly turned away after reading only half of the summary. But something made me open it up and try the first few pages--and I was hooked. It starts with an action scene--like most fantasy novels--and it is described so well. It is realistic without splattering gore in your face. I can't think of any other author who treads that line so well as Joe Abercrombie does in The Blade Itself.

I didn't find this a funny book, overall. It's not a comedy at all. But there are several moments where I did laugh out loud as I read some clever description or a reaction of one of the characters. In fact I think I found more to smile at in this book than most other novels that are specifically tagged as being funny or humourous. The humour here isn't forced. I didn't feel like the author was trying to be funny. It was more like the humour you might find in casual conversation with a friend.

This book moves along at a good pace. It is one of those books where you want to keep reading to find out what happens, but, unlike many other page-turners, things actually happen in this one! I hate books that promise action or resolution just over the next page, just another page, one more page, and before you know it you've read half the book and still nothing's happened. This is definitely not a one-trick pony of a book. Each character is well developed and the plots intertwine naturally.

What this book doesn't contain are tired old writing techniques. Well, it's not perfect, but it's as close as I've come across in 15 years. Anyway, there are no stereotypical cliched fantasy characters.
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113 of 121 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A series and author worth reading September 25, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Long on intrigue, stark and direct, from a quality standpoint Abercrombie's debut fits well within the upper reaches of the fantasy genre and produces a number of decent mysteries for books two and three of the trilogy. Abercrombie has put a new spin on the typical medieval fantasy fare.

First, his main characters are both archetypal, and not. There are six primary ones: Collem West, the low-born, capable, hardworking warrior who has accomplished a great deal in the caste-bound military system of the main setting for the novel, the empire known as the Union; Ferro Maljinn, a warrior woman from the south who has seen war, death, and an existential threat to all mankind but knows only hate; Jezal Luthar the gifted swordsman who typifies the courtier-set until his mindset is changed by a no-nonsense love interest; the Dogman, a Norse-type warrior from the North who fights with a perpetually feuding band of brothers that wishes to save the world from two horrible dangers; Logen Ninefingers, a barbarian warrior who has far more human frailties than Conan; and Sand dan Glokta, the Inquisitor.

Glokta is Abercrombie's best character -- a hero of the Union, champion swordsman, he was captured during a previous war and physically shattered such that as a 35-year old man, his appearance and motor skills are closer to someone three times his age. But his mind works well -- he is sharp, biting, cruel, courteous, and bitter by turns.

This volume has some action (fights, duels, small battles, some magic), and hints at the overall plot (the plot points are really a bunch of dots on paper, without a lot of connecting lines yes), but primarily sustains its momentum with intrigue and detail to set up the remaining books. Abercrombie's writing is direct, coarse (lots of epithets), frequently funny, and often dark.

All told, a fine beginning.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Debut December 31, 2010
By SBK479
Every year one of my old college buddies sends me one or two sci-fi/fantasy novels for my birthday. Knowing my disdain for pop-fiction writers like John Grisham (What, a lawyer at the heart of a conspiracy? Amazing!)or self-important fantasy blowhards like George RR Martin (it's 2011 and ADWD is STILL nearly finished... or maybe that was his career? Oh well, let's watch some Jets and Giants and forget about it), my friend always tries to show me authors that care more about characters and story than making money, movies and miniseries. Sometimes he has succeeded (John Scalzi, and yes, A Game of Thrones too) and sometimes his suggestions were a little too far off the beaten path (Accelerando, Perdido Street Station).

This year it was "Spin" by Robert Charles Wilson and "The Blade Itself" by Joe Abercrombie. This review covers The Blade Itself.

Fantasy novels are, quite frankly, extremely easy to do poorly. Barbarian. Wizard. Brave knight. Cowardly knave. Occasional she-devil, be she Nubian warrior or redhead with a big sword. All these characters are well-known to fans of the genre, as are their exploits. Quest to end of the earth to get/destroy magical item/treasure/water fowl, which will save the world from darkness/destruction/enslavement/Ryan Secrest. I've seen and enjoyed all this (except the RS-free world, but a man can dream), so a fantasy writer had better make it fun for me.

Joe Abercrombie succeeds for two reasons, the first being the characters he designed for this story. You have Logen Ninefingers (Lo-gen, of the NINE fingers...), aka the Bloody Nine, barbarian from the North who trades in Conan's utter lack of humanity for world-weariness and a palpable sense of impending damnation for his many sins.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Low-Fantasy at its Best
Abercrombie writes with direct prose that grabs you from the first paragraph. Each of the novel's six main characters have a distinct voice. Perfect low-fantasy page-turner.
Published 7 days ago by warmbutter
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent author. A unique writing style that is enjoyable ...
Excellent author. A unique writing style that is enjoyable to read. The plot and characters come to life. Wholly recommend this book
Published 8 days ago by James R. Askew III
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story. Characters vary wildly and he gives them ...
Excellent story. Characters vary wildly and he gives them each very unique personality. Luthar stuff is a bit over the top ("and now for his favorite part of the day... Read more
Published 9 days ago by caleb peckham
5.0 out of 5 stars Something for everyone
After a few friends recommended this book to me, I finally decided to check it out...and I am glad I did. Read more
Published 9 days ago by R. Woods
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an example of writing that truly sucks you in and won't let...
This is an example of writing that truly sucks you in and won't let you go! Great read, Joe Abercrombie has become (in my opinion) the best of the best in this genre'.
Published 10 days ago by dac
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
Good and entertaining. Predictable. Decent read though. Had fun with it for the most part.
Published 11 days ago by phil j turner
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim fairy tales
Quite fascinating, not dull, dripping with sarcasm, a car wreck you cannot but gape, with magical bells and whistles attached.
Published 12 days ago by harriba
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
could not get past a few chapters
Published 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars If only.
I really liked this book. It has all the stuff you want in a sword and sorcery story, with the addition of characters that are more fully developed than usual. Read more
Published 13 days ago by spike
5.0 out of 5 stars Good start
Well written and great characters. I'm liking book 2 even better.
Published 14 days ago by Joe Thomason
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More About the Author

Joe Abercrombie is a freelance film editor, who works on documentaries and live music events. He lives and works in Bath. THE BLADE ITSELF, his debut novel, is the first novel of The First Law trilogy, followed by BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED and LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS. His new stand-alone bestseller is BEST SERVED COLD.

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title & author help please
It was a fantasy book over 20 years old about a girl and a boy in a medieval setting on a quest to save the world. It has spellcasting and at least one supernatural being. That should narrow it down, right? Good hunting, Eleanor!
Jun 8, 2010 by Jackie Lee |  See all 2 posts
I would definitely recommend (having just finished it), the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks.
Nov 8, 2009 by Dan Hoizner |  See all 10 posts
Lovecraft & Machen
"The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood
Nov 3, 2008 by Joel Cashier |  See all 3 posts
ebook spacing inbetween each paragraph
I'll deal with it just fine, but it sure does annoy me. Can anyone advise if the other books in the trilogy do this as well? I've already read this one so I knew more or less when the scene changes happened, but I haven't read the others and imagine it's much more jarring when you don't know... Read More
Jan 3, 2011 by J. Leard |  See all 6 posts
Help! I need recommendations in the paranormal/fantasy arena
Have you tried Simon R. Green's "Nightside" series? It starts with "Something From the Nightside" ... lots of action, no romance, and every paranormal thing you can think of (and a few you haven't) all mixed together. Not real deep, not real intellectual, but fun, fast reads.
Jul 21, 2008 by Ryan T. O. Leary |  See all 15 posts
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