The Blade Itself

By Joe Abercrombie,

Book cover of The Blade Itself

Book description

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.

Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain…


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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Blade Itself as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I've always been impressed and fascinated by fantasy that feels realistic and down to Earth. That's why I was sucked into (and was blown away by) Joe Abercrombie's world. It is grittier than Game of Thrones; his characters are brutal and realistically flawed; and his writing is by turns vivid and hilarious. This first book in The First Law trilogy pulls you into a harsh world filled with likable barbarians and sympathetic torturers. Against the backdrop of war and its atrocities, Abercrombie brings fantasy archetypes into a realistic (if very dark) world – and it's an unforgettable journey.

Most of the protagonists of The Blade Itself have had an entire series worth of adventure, violence, and strife befall them before the story even begins. They are broken people, caught in the shadow of all the things they’ve done before, and the book and series ask if they can ever escape those shadows—spoilers, they can’t, but their best efforts make for a compelling read.

From Elijah's list on heroes haunted by their adventures.

I’ve saved my all-time favourite for last. The First Law trilogy blew my mind. It shattered my preconceptions about what fantasy could or should be. I was hooked, glued, nailed to each character and scenario and battle, and felt like I was right there in the circle holding a shield. The First Law has everything. It’s gritty, it’s raw, it’s comical, it’s in your face where you can feel the greasiness of the blood, smell the sour breath and taste the dirt on your tongue. There are nasty little fights tooth and nail in the mud. There is heroic single…

Aside from the Jekyll and Hyde (or should I say Banner-Hulk, Angel-Angelus) protagonist, the oft-times berserk Logan Ninefingers, Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy stands out in terms of the author’s use of extremely close point of view throughout, and his strong sense of dialect, perhaps best shown in the character of the Dogman.

All the usual heroic fantasy tropes are present, albeit with many subtle and not-so-subtle subversions. The book starts at a breakneck pace and never gets bogged down in inconsequential detail. The action is visceral, in your face (in a Bernard Cornwell sort of way). The world-building is very…

From Derek's list on conflicted protagonists in fantasy.

No one creates a character like Joe Abercrombie. He doesn’t write about heroes and villains, just real people with different perspectives. The Bloody Nine must be the greatest creation I’ve ever read. You come to know Joe’s characters like the back of your hand, you can anticipate their actions and find joy when you are right and outrage when you are wrong. This novel, and the subsequent two, taught me that strength of character far out weighs what you are trying to do with your plot. Some times it’s not all about the destination, it’s about the journey. And in…

From Adam's list on inspired me to start writing.

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