The Blade Itself, Joe Abercrombi, Pyr, ISBN 978-1-59102-641-9, 543 pgs.

Cover of "The Blade Itself (First Law)"

Cover of The Blade Itself (First Law)

This is the first book in The First Law series. Superior Glotka, inquisitor, torturer, former sword master, military hero and cripple, works in the hot, sweaty belly of the empire ripping truth from the mouths of those deemed enemies of the state. The Bloody Nine, also known as Ninefingers, has become separated from his men during battle and now must make a new path if he is to survive. Bayaz, magician, in fact, first of the Magi, rests in his keep, waiting for the time when he must venture forth, back into the world he helped make. Around them all swirl secrets, mysteries, betrayals, found alliances and personal failures. As these three stories intertwine with a number of others, all leading to the shaping of major events and minor, yet key, interventions, the empire, and the world begins to crumble under an onslaught that comes from all sides. If the world is to survive each of these key players must let go of their pasts and move to new positions on the stage of destiny.

Joe Abercrombie has created a very intriguing world for his fiction debut. It is full of character and intrigue and smothered in rich background. The story is definitely character driven and that is perfect as these are some very interesting characters. That is not to say that the world that these characters inhabit is not equally interesting, what with a crumbling and aging empire, the intrigue of court, an invasion threat from the north and enough deceit and deception to fill a castle.

I like the way Abercrombie writes.  I like his character development, his pacing and his plotting.  Certainly his Superior Glotka character is more fun than one can imagine, and the guy is a torturer.  This should be a clue that The Blade Itself and the series is full of dark humor and observation on the human condition–albeit a twisted and cynical observation.  The story is one that stretches across the centuries which lends both a fatalism and a sense of epic to the proceedings.  This book is highly recommended.  More so if you like Dave Duncan or Steve Erikson.

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About damnaliens
Writer, reviewer, home provider to the Damnaliens

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