Joe Abercrombie’s ‘The Blade Itself’ is his debut novel, and the first in his ‘The First Law’ series. ‘The Blade Itself’ is a bloody and bloodied tale of high hopes and stakes, dashed dreams and brains, and more knives than a battalion of butchers.
A barbarian, a torturer and a nobleman walk into a bar…sounds like the start to a bad joke? Wrong. It’s the start of a bloody good story. In ‘The Blade Itself’, the veritable menagerie of characters are led into the depths of plot twists and turns, played like puppets at their own game. Other members of the cast are just as colourful, particularly the ‘Named Men’ from the North.
First off, everyone seems to in over their heads. Logen Ninefingers is somehow roped into accompanying a returned-from-the-ancient-past Arch Magi to the capital of civilisation. Inquisitor Glokta is chasing at shadows, marking smugglers and scriveners as traitors and conspirators. And Jezal Dan Luthar, who wants nothing more than to get drunk and wile away the nights in a buxom bosom, has somehow ended up training for the grand tournament. The plot itself is twisted terrific fun, but its characters’ interactions that make the story.
Abercrombie writes with a quick wit and a sharp tongue. His prose is refreshing, different, conversational even. At times it’s like being sat across the fireside from the writer, at others it’s as if you’re behind the eyes of each character. He dips into the darker side of humanity – or inhumanity in some cases – not afraid to pull the punches on just how low some people are willing to sink to. And the fight scenes…! Bloodied and bloody, if the printers ran out of ink, they could squeeze the pages and use the red stuff instead.
Say one thing about Joe Abercrombie, say he’s a dab hand with a pen as well as a the many knives – and you can never have too many knives.