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The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One) Paperback – September 30, 2007

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The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One) + Before They Are Hanged (The First Law: Book Two) + Last Argument of Kings (First Law: Book Three)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr; Reprint edition (September 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159102594X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591025948
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (773 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.)
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" a fantasy novel full of enough ironic and slightly self-deprecating humor and Scorcese-esque violence to make the average hipper than thou non-fantasy reader want to learn more about the genre (my favorite kind to convert), yet filled with enough touchstones to make your average Tolkien weaned fantasy reader quite happy indeed...just one of the great characters in a rogues gallery of fantasy archetypes with a twist, Inquisitor Glokta is one of the finest examples of a sympathetically drawn antagonist I have seen in a very long time, in a book of any genre, and some of his inner dialogue is absolutely quote-worthy...if the rest of the series is as much fun as the first bit, Pyr can gladly have my $10.... This book is highly recommended by BBT Magazine!" -- Blood Blade & Thruster Magazine, August 2007

"If you're fond of bloodless, turgid fantasy with characters as thin as newspaper and as boring as plaster saints, Joe Abercrombie is really going to ruin your day. A long career for this guy would be a gift to our genre." -- Scott Lynch, author of The Lies of Locke Lamora

"[A] highly readable fantasy that isn't going to scare off mainstream readers or newcomers to the genre....a whole banquet of violent action and intrigue." --

"Critics compare Abercrombie to Dickens, but come on - Dickens was never so entertaining. This intricate story just flows, carrying along barbarian fighters with real courage (and real injuries), spoiled nobles with redeeming potential, mages with disconcerting agendas... plus the most sympathetic torturer ever. The First Law trilogy: an adventure whose characters grow in tough, surprising, satisfying ways, in a gritty, exotic world that is sometimes awful, and always fascinates. Expect fast, funny dialog, and one hell of a rush." -- John Meaney, author of Paradox and Bone Song

"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 ('The End') and an opening scene that is literally a cliffhanger, you know you are in for a cheeky, vivid, exhilarating ride." -- Starburst (5 star review)

Customer Reviews

The characters are very well developed and has an excellent story.
Eric Rathbun
I'm about halfway done with the book but the characters are very well developed and the story line is interesting.
Levani maisouradze
I love knowing the characters I read about and I can't wait to see what happens to these ones in the next book.
Peter Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

334 of 347 people found the following review helpful By Red Moose on July 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
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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116 of 125 people found the following review helpful By newyork2dallas on 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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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful By SBK479 on December 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
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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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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