Friday, April 15, 2011

Read Lately: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

  • I don't get in a fantasy mood much anymore. Although at one time it was all I ever read, I burned out on the genre long ago when I could no longer stand the poor quality of writing in most fantasy schlock. So when I do find an author who infuses fantasy with actual decent writing, I take notice. One such author is Joe Abercrombie and I have long been interested in reading his The First Law trilogy. So when I finally had the opportunity, I plucked the first book off the shelf and dove in.

  • The Blade Itself was not a book that I could read quickly. Abercrombie writes well and he evokes the action and emotions of his character in a grounded, believeable way. But the book is very deliberately paced, so I read it a chapter at a time over the course of a few weeks.

  • As slow as the book unfolded, it always had me coming back to read more. I was hooked on the adventures of the barbarian warrior Logen Ninefingers, the roguish army captain Jezal dan Luthar, and inquisitor Sand dan Glokta. Each of the characters is fascinating in their own ways, both in their achievements and in the failings that they must overcome.

  • While I would normally spend time setting up the plot of the book, but The Blade Itself defies that. There are plans and dangers to be overcome, but that does not seem to be the point of the story. It is very much a character driven book. But at the same time, it is just the first third of a trilogy and the story stops cold at the end.

  • At the end, I am conflicted about the book. On one side, I am really loved the writing and the characters. On the other, reading the book was work, which is not something I'm used to in my fantasy fiction. I know that is more a statement about me than about the book. But if the rest of the series follows suit, it may be a while before I'm ready to tackle them.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. It really is hard to find fantasy that's worth reading, much less rereading (only a very few authors have appealed to me that much). A personal peeve of mine is ten book epic sagas that really should have been trilogies.

  2. I liked this trilogy of books. I thought The Blade Itself set up for a great story, but read more like an introduction, but the second and third book were fantastic once events finally ramped up and things started happening.

    I don't know about you, but personally I had to space the three books weeks apart instead of reading them back to back. I don't mind violence and grittiness, but there is only so much I can take all at once.

  3. @ Yeebo - I rarely reread as much as I did in younger years. And you are right about those mega-epics. I'm tired of authors falling so in love with their creations that they fail to tell a worthwhile story.

    @ MMOGC - I am planning on getting back to them, but it will be some time. Glad to hear that the action picks up in the later books.