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The Blade Itself (The First Law) Paperback – September 8, 2015
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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. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"Pointed, driven, and sharp."―Locus on Red Country
"Magnificent, richly entertaining"―Time on The Heroes
"Imagine The Lord of the Rings as directed by Kurosawa."―Lev Grossman, Wall Street Journal on The Heroes
"[Abercrombie has] begun breaking his own rules. And succeeding wildly at it. ... [R]arely has Abercrombie had so much fun while rollicking through his colorful cast's foibles and witty dialogue - and rarely has he dished out so much straight-for-the-heart poignancy."―The A.V. Club
"New, fresh, and exciting."―The Independent (UK)
"Exhilarating... Abercrombie's knack for wit and grit holds your attention throughout, and his eye for character means that there's heart as well as muscle."―SFX (UK)
"Abercrombie writes fantasy like no one else."―Guardian (UK)
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The second half of the book remedies this. The slog went away and the book became the joy to read so many other reviewers mention.
You will enjoy this book of you don't mind all the pieces not fitting together right away. You will enjoy this book of you enjoyed The Malazan Book of the Fallen series.
Starting off, I did not think this book was for me. Turns out I was wrong.
Don't miss what this dude writes. He's one of the big ones, one of the best working today. He has the right combination of everything I look for in fantastic fiction.
The world created in this novel, while not exactly commented upon in this novel, is a cruel, unfortunate web of murder, war, magic and politics all taking place in a framework that the reader knows very little about.
The only complaint I have about thus book is that, at it's conclusion, nothing feels very concluded. It is clearly an introductory book, and while that is to be expected from an introductory book, it is still frustrating. I'll need to get the next book as soon as possible.
If you have even a passing interest in fantasy or speculative fiction, do yourself a favor and read this book. It truly is a great one.
Some say that this book, being his debut, is a little rough around the edges, but is has a story that you can submerge yourself into and which always feels true. It does not have the same depth as "A Game of Thrones" does, but plotwise it will still keep you guessing and Abercrombie is a master of belieavable characters and vivid/strong action. Here is a tale of darker fantasy that has many of the genre's tropes, with a moral framework between deliciously black and loveable white. Abercrombie has inspired many authors of darker fantasy in recent years and if you have enjoyed authors of fantasy like Daniel Abrahams, Scott Lynch, Mark Lawrene or Luke Scull you will not be disappointed.
Worth the reading since the second book is better.