The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie

4 January 2019
The Blade Itself Book Cover The Blade Itself
The First Law
Joe Abercrombie

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers. Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men. And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up in a hole in the snow with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all - ideally by running away from it. But as he's discovering, old habits die really, really hard indeed . . . . . . especially when Bayaz gets involved. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Glotka, Jezal and Logen a whole lot more difficult . . .


The Blade Itself is the first book of the First Law Trilogy, which is an epic supernatural fantasy adventure. It can’t be helped to compare the trilogy to the Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series in its depth of detail, its rollcall of wonderful characters, hidden plots and agendas, and fantasy dimensions. The world of Joe Abercrombie it told in superb vivid detail with expansive landscapes where multiple cultures and nations are warring and untrustworthy of the other but there is the darker menace growing in strength and intent on domination.

The plot is a rollercoaster of action with characters that are wonderfully drawn. The character layers are developed throughout the book and they are individually capable, dangerously incompetent, and never sure whether they will stand out as unlikely heroes or unseen traitors.

The Blade Itself focuses on the history that has led the nations and characters to this place, at this time, and with these ambitions. The storyline delivers through multiple threads each with their own set of characters and challenges. The narration doesn’t shy away from the brutality of conflict and torture but I wouldn’t say gratuitously. Battles must be fought and Logan Ninefingers will be at the heart of it. Answers must be sought, alliances must be formed, and traitors must be found. Glokta the inquisitor will hunt the traitors and those that constitute a risk. Bayaz the First of the Magi knows what’s at stake and must stop it, he is powerful but even he cannot do this on his own.

A breath-taking story of wonderful characters, that I highly recommend. I can’t understand why there isn’t a TV or film adaptation of this story.

The other books in the First Law Trilogy: Before They Are Hanged, Last Argument of Kings

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

Find Reviews
High Quality Honest Reviews
Latest Tweets