I’ve read The Blade Itself before – well I’ve listened to the audiobook and can’t say that at the time I enjoyed it that much. I thought the characters were good but the plot never seemed to get going and it didn’t feel like Abercrombie had a lot of plans for the plot itself. The second time around, I appreciated the characters even more and understand what Abercrombie is trying to do with the story.
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The Blade Itself is the first book in The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, a grim dark fantasy novel. Grim dark essentially means it utilises a dark sense of humour, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and there’s often a bit of gore. The Blade Itself follows the stories of Inquisitor Glokta, a now crippled former warrior and fencing champion; Logen Ninefingers, a wild and brilliant warrior and Captain Jezal dan Luthar, a nobleman facing the pressure of becoming the next big fencing champion.
The Blade Itself plot – 4/5
As I stated in my opening paragraph, I remember thinking the plot of The Blade Itself was quite weak when I first listened to it a few years ago. However, I have a lot more appreciation for it this time around after having read a lot of other fantasy where often because the world is so fantastical, it often focuses on the politics that happens within those worlds and that’s what happens here in The Blade Itself.
The story feels more like the first book in a series that maybe Abercrombie intended it. There’s still an element of my first impressions where I don’t feel like this plot is going to blow anybody away – there are no stark twists or sweeping character arcs, but it is solid and it does help build the world around the characters.
The Blade Itself characters – 4.75/5
Now this is where Joe Abercrombie absolutely shines. The characters in The Blade Itself are absolutely brilliant with Inquisitor Glokta being one of my favourite characters I’ve ever had the joy of reading. Glokta is an ex-war-veteran who was once considered the greatest warrior in the land but after a horrible injury he has become a limping, hunched and grumpy man who enjoys torturing other people. That story in itself is enough for Abercrombie to keep giving very solid reasons as to why he does some of the mean things he does, however, Abercrombie also implements an internal dialogue having Glokta say what he really thinks in many situations which ends up being some of the best laugh-out-loud moments of the book.
I think it’s a testament to Abercrombie that despite Glokta being arguably a villain in the world, he ends up being your favourite character and you end up rooting for him to do well.
The other two protagonists Logen Ninefingers and Captain Jezal are both great additions too. Jezal is struggling with the high expectations set upon him as well as finding a love interest he really isn’t allowed to be interested in and Logen Ninefingers is just a cool warrior who ends up finding out some cool magic is still around. They didn’t quite stand out like Glokta but their stories were arguably far more interesting than his so I still had a lot of interest when reading about them.
The Blade Itself final rating – 4.25/5
I feel like the sequel to The Blade Itself could go on to be one of my favourite fantasy books of all time. If Abercrombie can take the incredible characters and the world he’s built here and throw it into a grander scale with a better plot, he’s got the recipe for an absolute winner.
The Blade Itself is brilliant though. Its grimdark nature and wonderfully dark sense of humour make this fantasy book feel so down-to-earth and enjoyable! Glokta is our standout anti-hero as the funny but obviously dark main protagonist and possibly one of my favourite characters in any book I’ve ever read.
Pick up a copy of The Blade Itself from Amazon