The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One) Review

The Blade Itself

Author and Genre

The author is Joe Abercrombie. The Blade Itself is the first book in his First Law trilogy and falls within the genre of fantasy fiction.

Logen Ninefingers

This fantasy novel follows the adventures of Logen Ninefingers. He is a brutish barbarian from the north who has built a reputation as a fearsome fighter due to his savagery and strength. But our hero has run out of luck and finds himself alone in the wilderness with more enemies than friends.

Logen Ninefingers’ character really stuck with me due to the gritty and realistic way in which Joe Abercrombie portrays him. He is an incredibly capable warrior, verging on invincible.

However, Logen’s amazing strength is also a severe flaw. I won’t give anything away about the plot, but the author manages to expertly work this drawback into the character’s strength and make his abilities utterly believable.

Jezal dan Luthar

Sometimes in fiction, opposites attract. This is certainly true of Logen Ninefingers and Jezal dan Luthar. They are two of the main characters in The Blade Itself and couldn’t be more different.

The author throws them together in numerous situations, the hulking barbarian from the north and the suave, dandy officer from the south. This character contradiction is a brilliant touch which helps to create amusing dialogue and exciting plot turns.

Inquisitor Glokta

Absolutely my favorite character in Joe Abercrombie’s novel, Glokta is a torturer and investigator. He has had an extremely traumatic past, being detained and horrifically tortured as a young man.

These experiences have left him physically and mentally twisted. Glokta’s character is that of the typical villain in many ways. He hurts others in grotesque ways, appears to have neither remorse nor empathy, and follows the orders of his mysterious commanders without question.

What Makes The Blade Itself a Brilliant Novel?

Glokta is not just the typical villain. Yes, he is a torturer and an inquisitor. But he is also a war hero and someone who is working towards the greater good.

What the author does extremely well is to allow kind and caring elements of Glokta’s character to shine through the curtain of blood and broken bone.

Joe Abercrombie does the same things with his other main characters in The Blade Itself. Added onto Logen Ninefingers’ brute battle prowess is something similar to cowardice. As with Jezal, whose charming and noble exterior hides an ugly, cowardly core.

If you go on to read this fantasy novel you may end up asking yourself in every chapter whether the main characters are heroes or villains. The distinction between the two in Joe Abercrombie’s world is far from clear.

Should you read it?

In my opinion, this is one of the best fantasy novels to come out recently and you should definitely give it a try.

For another fantasy fiction book which I have enjoyed and reviewed, click here.

To find the Amazon page of The Blade Itself, click here.

If you’d like to read some fiction I have written, click here or here.