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The first law: book one The Blade Itself Hardcover – 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Book Club Associates (2006)
  • ASIN: B0021EYQNU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (349 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,178,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, as well as the standalone fantasy Best Served Cold.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, and his daughters Grace and Eve. He still occasionally edits concerts and music festivals for TV, but spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels.

Here are the First Law Trilogy in series order:

The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
The Last Argument of Kings

Standalone:

Best Served Cold

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

140 of 147 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At first glance The Blade Itself is pretty old-school: it's book one of a trilogy (entitled The First Law; the second volume, Before They Are Hanged, is out now, to be followed by The Last Argument of Kings in March 2008), it features an old wizard mentor character and a barbarian hero as well as an untried youth, a feisty young woman and an army of nasty barbarians on the march in the north, whilst a resurgent desert empire threatens our heroes' homeland - the Midderland Union - from the south. There's also the threat of a non-human species gathering its forces beyond the northern-most reach of humankind's lands (isn't there always?).

Yet Abercrombie invests these storylines with vigour and energy. None of our heroes are quite what they first appear to be and the author expertly deconstructs them throughout the book, revealing their true motivations when you last expect it. Abercrombie is also a dab hand are writing excellent battle scenes and swordfights. There is also a hint of otherwordly alieness in this book, such as the scenes set in the House of the Maker which are quite memorable. The only major complaint I had about the book is the lack of a map. Most fantasy novels with a map don't really need them, but with military campaigns getting underway it would be nice to tell exactly where Adua is in relation to the Northlands, and where both are in relation to Dagoska, for example. But this is a minor complaint at best.

By the end of the book the pace has been ramped up to a compelling level, as our heroes depart in different directions to face their various destinies and full-scale war seems about to erupt on all sides. The Blade Itself is a tremendously enjoyable novel and I count myself fortunate to have read it late enough in the day to only have a brief wait for the second book.
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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful By SteveA (UK) on 29 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
Joe Abercrombie was recommended to me by a friend who has also been reading fantasy for a long time. He knew I was a huge fan of David Gemmell and said there were some similarities between his and Abercrombie's work; a certain level of grittiness, grey characters and an unpredictable plot. If Brent Weeks writes dark fantasy or crime fantasy, then Abercrombie's is definitely gritty fantasy or maybe blunt force trauma fantasy. Marketing people love labels, and sometimes they can be annoying, but in this case it tells you exactly what to expect. A shock to the system that will leave you reeling and bloody afterwards.

At first you might think The Blade Itself is a Me Too book as two of the characters are a battered warrior and a cranky old wizard. However, another main character is a torturer, someone who was himself a victim of torture, so much so that he is now crippled and in constant pain. And if someone were to kill him it would almost be a relief, because there would be an end to his daily suffering. Glokta was a former golden boy, a swordsman of renown who was captured by the enemy and broken in their cells. He didn't slaughter an army single-handed and fight his way home. If that's the kind of fantasy story you're expecting then look elsewhere. What emerged from the enemy cells not only looked different but inside Glokta was a new, very twisted man. This bitterness might sound depressing but in fact Glokta's dark sense of humour and internal monologue is some of the funniest material in the series. In any good book, no matter the genre, if it's dark you need some comedy or an undercurrent of black comedy to make it less depressing and Glokta delivers this.

What emerged for me throughout this book is how human Abercrombie makes his characters.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dondero on 29 May 2009
Format: Paperback
I decided to give this book a go having read some favourable reviews on a fantasy literature website, and having got somewhat bored of the traditional fantasy genre.

I really enjoyed this book, the characters were well written with strong personalities, and the plot was full of mystery and intrigue. My favourite character would have to be Inquisitioner Glokta, his cynicism and sarcasm made me laugh out loud at times. Each of the characters seems to have an interesting history, and how they all mesh together makes for a gripping read.

This is an excellent debut novel, and sets the scene well for the second book in the series, which I'm really looking forward to reading. I'm expecting great things of it!

I'd recommend this book for anyone who's feeling a bit jaded about the typical fantasy template that most authors these days seem to churn out. There's still plenty of swords and sorcery here, but written in a modern and refreshing way!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave Lunn on 9 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
I'll review all of the 'First Law Trilogy with this one review. I got into David Gemmell a few years prior to his death and have read all of his books. Despite reading many similar style books and enjoying a lot of them, I've never found an author that came close....until now.
The First Law Trilogy starts with 'The Blade Itself', continues with 'Before They are Hanged' and brilliantly concludes with 'Last Arguement of Kings'.
All 3 deserve 5 stars as does the series overall.
The first thing that captivates is the characters. There are one's you'll cheer for and others you'll want to see get what they deserve i.e. a brutal end. But don't assume this will happen.
Joe Abercrombie twists and turns. Good guys become bad guys and vice versa as the tale builds up. No one is quite what they initially seem to be.The author is never going to do the traditional neatly tied and bowed ending.
Characters you'll like will suddenly die, others you hate will get away with murder and prosper, all much to your frustration. However, all of the characters are engrossing and develop nicely as the story goes on.
What Joe Abercrombie does better than anyone else is combat. Be it a huge battle, a skirmish in the woods or (and in the final book there's a brilliant one) a duel to the death between two real tough characters, it really excites holds you.
I've read books by acclaimed authors that do battle scenes and read them quickly to get them over, or even given up on the book. Not with these. The fight scenes are great.
I read the third book in about 2 days. I could not stop. Food didn't get made, dogs didn't get walked, the house remained untidy as I spent my day off on the couch, book in one hand, coffee in the other...brilliant.
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