The Blade Itself is Joe Abercrombie's first full length published novel and is part one of a three part trilogy. While it is a solid debut for a rookie, you can tell it is written by a newer writer.
First of all, I must state I love fantasy fiction. Any time I am reading for fun, and it isn't on a book list I am reading, I stray towards the fantasy fiction. I like a little Science Fiction as well, but my heart lies in the fantasy.
So I was needing a break from my list, and when I do, I usually try a new fantasy author. After good reviews on Amazon and at Borders, I decided to dive into a newer author. And at first, it really drew me in. Each character is pretty unique with various problems and issues. There is an inquisitor who tortures confessions, but was once tortured himself. There is the rugged north man who is a killer but who no longer wants to be. There is a full of himself soldier and nobleman. There is a magician when no one really believes in magic. There are also some solid supporting characters.
Each character is flawed and has issues. And that is a nice change of pace. But so far what has most disappointed me is that no character has really surprised me. So they are flawed. They never seem to step out of character and do something that surprises me. I think the most rounded character so far is the north man Logen. Another annoying thing is that several of the supporting characters seem more well rounded and realistic than the main ones.
The other annoyance is the speech patterns. Every time a character gets flustered or doesn't know what to say we get an "Er" or an "Erm". Now if one character had this speech pattern fine. Two maybe. But everyone makes it very repetive. Especially the Inquisitor Glotka. He is the tough guy, the man who has been tortured and has the sarcastic smart whit. Yet if you stump him it will be a page and a half of "Er's" and "Erm's".
Even so, this book remains a page turner. The last few chapters I stayed up late to finish, which is really what a great book does, reguardless of the flaws. There is great action, great character development and a great set up for some solid sequels. I have read some reviews of the next books and they have only gotten more positive, so hopefully Mr. Abercrombie has continued to grow and improve his writing.
This book was a solid three stars through most of the book, but the exciting action, the strong ending, and the great set up for the next book has easily boosted this to 4 out of 5. If you like fantasy with a little edge to it, check this out. I don't think you would be disappointed.
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