Nyx Book Reviews

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Review Rewind: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The original review of this book was posted on 27/07/2010

Title: The Blade Itself
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #1
Rating: 4 Stars

517 pages
Published October 2009 by Gollancz

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This book follows several characters in their struggle with the hard world this story is set in. We meet Logen, aka the Bloody-Nine (he only has nine fingers left), a barbarian who doesn’t seek out trouble, but well, trouble finds him. Then there is Glokta, a cripple Inquisitioner that doesn’t do much asking, but more torturing instead. We also follow Captain Luthar in his struggle to become the winner of the annual Contest. A small role is for Mayor West, and his sister Ardee. And then, the person that connects all these people: the mysterious First of the Magi Bayaz. Also notable is his sickly assistant, Quai.

There are so many characters in this book, and at first that is rather annoying because it makes it harder to really get to know them, but as I continue reading, it struck me that this really is the strength of this book, because they actually are all interesting and have so much depth, that they indeed deserve a story of their own.

Thumbs up for Mr. Abercrombie for the highly original fantasy story he has created. It is hard to write in a genre like fantasy, where is written so much and almost everything has been done before, and still he manages to write a book that feels refreshing.

Be warned though: this book contains a lot of dark humour. If you don’t appreciate that, please don’t read this. If you can’t handle torture, don’t bother trying it. This is not for the weakly minded.

Looking back

At the time I read a lot of fantasy, and although I really enjoyed The Blade Itself, it didn’t stand out much, except maybe for its grossness. I’m quite impressed now by how much I still know about what happened in this book, and how the characters somehow became imprinted on my concious. The other two books in this series have been waiting for my attention for years, and I hope I will be able to get to them soon. Rereading the blurb and my review makes me want to continue the adventures of Logan, Glokta, and the other dozens of great characters by Abercrombie.

The scene that I remember best is when Glokta tortures someone by chopping off someone’s fingers. Ick.


Logen Ninefingers, the infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, his friends dead and his future bleak, he could be staring at death for the last time. But it’s the dead who will offer him a final chance — someone out there still has plans for the Bloody-Nine.

Captain Jezal dan Luthar, paragon of selfishness, has little more dangerous in mind seizing glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, the army is mobilising, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would be delighted to see Jezal come home in a box. But then he hates everyone. Cutting treason out of the heart of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendships — and his latest trail of corpses could lead straight to the rotten heart of government…if he can stay alive long enough to follow it…

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