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Review: The Blade Itself, Joe Abercrombie

Description via Amazon:

Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

I’ve heard amazing things about the First Law trilogy.  It’s dark and gritty and there is very little magic in the world; what’s left is fading.  There is an ineffectual monarch on the throne and a very threatening ruler uniting the North against them.  The book alternates between these three men’s viewpoints as we both get to know them and things start to heat up in their world.  I think this book could turn out to be as amazing as people say, but I will be continuing the trilogy before I can really decide that.

The Blade Itself is definitely an exciting read.  It opens with one of the main characters hanging off a cliff and after that, it’s hard to turn away.  The three characters are so different and full of flaws, but I think that’s part of their appeal.  There are no spotless good guys here.  A few other characters are introduced and at the end of the book, they’ve all finally drawn together, which is why I’ve reserved judgment for the next volume.

What is interesting and different about this world is the lack of magic in it.  There is still a little bit, but the characters who can use it to their advantage are few and far between.  Overall, though, the world-building is a little sparser than I’d have liked, but I think the author has sacrificed that in favor of a very active plot.  It is a grim world, but it isn’t particularly detailed and could be a variety of other fantasy settings.  Perhaps a bit more differentiation will come in the next volume.

Basically, I’m going to wait to pass judgment until I’ve read more from Joe Abercrombie.  This book has enticed me enough to return to the series, but I haven’t fallen in love with it yet.

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