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The Blade Itself (First Law) Paperback – 30 Sep 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 399 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 531 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr; Reprint edition (30 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159102594X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591025948
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.6 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (399 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,398,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Highly recommended - a funny, finely-wrought, terrifically energetic work of high fantasy. Seek it out (Joe Hill)

There is a gritty edge to his world and an awareness of the human cost of violence that is very contemporary. (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)

Comes close to living up to its publishers hype. (Jon Courtenay Grimwood 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)

The Blade Itself is therefore an extremely impressive debut, the first in a series subtitled The First Law, and in Joe Abercrombie it brings us a writer who oozes promise. This is surely a novel as sharp as its title. (John Berlyne SF REVU)

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. (Barbara Davies 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. (Saxon Bullock SFX)

"The Blade Itself is in many respects another reprisal of the classic formula. It will be fascinating to see where Abercrombie take his plot and how he develops these characters." (Roz Kaveney TIME OUT)

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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Striking debut novel with all the cynicism, realism and punch the fantasy genre has been missing.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
Usually when a book has many good reviews and I agree with them, I don't bother adding my voice to the throng. However, in this case I'll make an exception because I enjoyed this trilogy enormously. Not what I'd call hardcore fantasy, but a great story set in a fantasy environment. Many others here have sung the praises of these books in detail. What really sets them apart from most fiction I've read - the characters. Outstanding. Superb. The most interesting, funny, realistic, complex characters I've read in a long time. I think I read someone compared the author's writing to Dickens. I thought - come on - are you insane? After reading this, I think they must've been talking about the characters. Truly Mr. Abercrombie is in the same parish as Dickens when it comes to characters. Sand den Glokta is the most interesting character I've ever read outside Dickens. Jezel, Ardee, "Ninefingers" the Dogman... all great. After reading this along with "Before They are Hanged" and "Last Argument of Kings", I'm looking forward to his next book.
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I admit it - I bought this book purely because I liked the cover. It's a bad habit I have, and it doesn't often pay off, but this time it really, truely did. I was stunned to discover I'd just bought one of the finest fantasy novels I've read to date. Abercrombie's prose is deceptively simplistic, but under the surface is an elegance of style that makes it not only easy to read, but pure fun as well.

The Blade Itself boasts the most interesting cast of characters I have come across in a long time. Despite fitting into familiar stereotypes, Logen Ninefingers, Bayaz, and Luthar are still fascinating and fun, but it's inquisitor Sand dan Glokta who really steals the show with his dry cynicism and refreshing honesty. Some of his chapters are startlingly grusome, but I challenge anyone to put the book down in the middle of a hair-raising torture scene. The secondary characters - including Major West and his sister, and Logen's band of barbarians - all have their own stories and voices that make for an addictive tale of swords, sourcery and cynicism.

I'm giving The Blade Itself four stars because, despite its brilliance, it only tells a fraction of the story, and it is impossible to judge the entire saga from the first installment. I look forward to finishing Before They Are Hanged, but I've no idea how I'll wait another year to find out what happens next!
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