The Blade Itself

Joe Abercrombie‘s first novel of his First Law trilogy, The Blade Itself, has been highly praised on most fantasy blogs and by readers as one of the best fantasy novels of the past years. I thus tried it and came out quite enthusiastic, even though I still rank Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind as my top recent novel! The setting of Abercrombie’s universe is not particularly novel, a bit like Jones’ The Book of Worlds, with bands of grumbling mercenaries as in Nicholls’ Orcs, Cook’s Black Company or Moon’s Paksenarrion, the characters are not immensely surprising, having some of Eddings’ Belgariad‘s range of racial groups associated with idiosyncrasies—even though it completely avoids the stereotypical style of David Eddings!—, the role of magic and magicians, again related to Eddings’ Belgarath!, is only reluctantly acknowledged by most characters,  one of the main characters is a “bad guy” as in Hobb’s Farseer series or Martin’s Song of Ice and  Fire unfinished saga, and this first volume can be seen as a prologue to the coming volumes, since it only brings the customary “team” together before they start the usual “quest”… So why do I still like The Blade Itself?! The style is the main reason: Abercrombie’s writing is very crisp, with a lot of dark irony and humour even in the most desperate situations, the proper balance of political maneuvering, and major characters with many flaws but nonetheless lovable. The book has a bit of a light Terry Pratchett flavour in it and this makes for a very enjoyable read. (My only reservation is about the character Luthar who is (so far) sounding too much like a complete idiot although he is supposed to change in the second volume.)

Ps-The New Yorker published a list of seven essential fantasy books, list that does not countain The Blade Itself but should have, as “new kid on the block” representative! (It should also have avoided Goodkind for his terrible stories, Brooks for being so unimaginative and bland, and Erikson for being close to incomprehensible!!! And I would have included instead Roger Taylor’s Chronicles of Hawklan as a soft and poetic entry to the genre…)

3 Responses to “The Blade Itself”

  1. […] Best Served Cold I brought back from Texas. It is even darker and more sinister than the First Law trilogy. But, despite some flaws in the (predictable) plot and in the depth of the characters, not […]

  2. […] of Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy, Before they are hanged, does not leave up to its expectations. I really enjoyed the first volume, The Blade Itself, overreacting a little bit at the novelty in […]

  3. “the name of the wind”, by Rothfuss, is probably my fantasy book of the year…

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