Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mini book review: The Blade Itself

After having read Joe Abercrombie's two standalone novels set after The First Law series (Best Served Cold and The Heroes), I've finally gotten my hands on The Blade Itself, Abercrombie's debut novel and the one that kicked the whole thing off.  I have to say, I really like this stuff.

TBI follows three main threads, separate at first but then weaving together in a complicated tapestry.  There's the Northerner, Logen Ninefingers, also sometimes known as The Bloody Nine, separated from his crew and pondering the violent life he's led.  He falls in with the sorcerer Bayaz, who may or may not be an actual legend, and follows him to one of the Union's fabulous cities.  There, their paths cross that of Captain Jezal dan Luthar, a feckless youth who is learning how to be a swordsman, and the crippled Inquisitor Glokta, once a soldier and swordsman himself, now ruined by torture and himself a torturer.  Glokta is set on rooting out the government's corruption, Jezal wants wine, women and fame, Logen wants to be a good man again ... and no one is quite sure what it is Bayaz wants.

As this was Abercrombie's debut novel, it took a little while for him to find his voice, that fabulous voice that rings so clear in Best Served Cold and The Heroes - dry, blackly funny and with a gift for battle scenes.  By about the final third of the novel he hits his stride; by the time the Bloody Nine comes out to play, I was grinning as I turned the pages.  Abercrombie writes wonderful battle fantasy and this was a good start - I'm very pleased to have two more books in The First Law trilogy yet to read.

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