The Blade Itself

The Blade Itself

Paperback - 2007
Average Rating:
Rate this:

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...

Publisher: London :, Gollancz,, [2007]
Copyright Date: ©2006
ISBN: 9780575079793
Branch Call Number: FAN ABE
Characteristics: 536 pages ; 20 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 16, 2018

Halfway through the 500 page book I paused. Too many major characters to keep track of with too many separate stories all unrelated. But the book came highly recommended so I finished the book. A Mistake. in the end there is still too many and no defining theme, no problem to resolve. no plot, no reason to write the book. And certainly no reason to read any more books by Joe Abercrombie.

It’s no Game of Thrones but at least each of the characters has their own motivations and personalities; they are not just archetypes. The story is engaging and pulse-pounding at times. The only drawback, for me, is that each of the stories seems to progress to a conclusion that was never in doubt; there are no unusual twists or surprises along the way to keep you off balance.

Dec 13, 2016

When I started 'The Blade Itself', I thought that it was a good substitution for George R.R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series. Wow was I wrong! The 'First Law' series, in my opinion, is equal to or better than Martin's more popular epic.

Without revealing too much about the overall series, I thought the The Blade Itself was amazing. I read Abercrombie's 'Shattered Sea' trilogy before this book and was expecting something similar, but this book delivers a very different type of story. The book delivers highly on swordplay, sorcery and statecraft. It also provides a good lore background to the world and its history, which have interesting analogies to our own. It doesn't fall into "high adventure" in my opinion, but fits squarely into the "epic world building" category of fantasy. The characters initially seem like common tropes in fantasy, until you learn more about their past and intentions.

I think Bayaz may be the most interesting and complex Wizard-type character I have read about in any fantasy novel. He initially seems like a 'Merlin' figure, intent on guiding our primary protagonist with wise counsel and a bit of magic. That perception slowly erodes as the story goes on. Logen Ninefinger's story gets better as you read more about him. At first it's easy to see him as a character similar to Robert Howard's Conan, a honorable warrior-barbarian. As you learn more about who he is, and why he is in the situation that we meet him in, we realize he is not what he believes himself to be. Rudd Threetrees and Ninefinger's former band of 'Named Men' provide a lot of the humor to the story, and they have their own interesting history. Jezel Luthar was never interesting or likable, but the build up of his story is important and pays in the sequels. I found his friend and rival, Captain West's story to also be a bit dull compared to the other characters. That said, his perspective is required to move the story forward in a lot of places. Finally we have the brilliant and broken Inspector Glokta, who's story is interesting, but does not 'kick in' until the following sequels.

All in all, it was well worth the read. The story gets better with the sequels, spinoffs and prequel.

May 06, 2016

27/6 - Even after 103 pages I'm still not sure what I think about this book. I feel like I'm waiting for something fantastic and amazing to happen, but there's no telling when that might come to pass. Logen's chapters are definitely more interesting than Glokta's and the foppish prince's who can't fence (whose name I can't remember), especially since the battles that have been so highly praised are most likely to happen in Logen's presence. To be continued...

30/6 - Okay, things have picked a bit, we've had another couple of battles (maybe skirmishes is a better word) between Logen and some of Bethod's men and between Logen's men and some Shankas. I hope Logen and his men are reunited in this book, instead of waiting till the next one, because I really want something good to happen to Logen. Logen's the only one I can muster any kind of sympathy for, all the rest of the main characters - Luthar (I remembered his name), Glokta, Sult, and pretty much all the inhabitants of Ardua are too corrupt to be liked, and Bayaz doesn't appear to need anyone's sympathy, he seems pretty much perpetually happy and can look after himself in battle. Ferro is an interesting character, especially as she is only the second female character to be important enough to have lines or a name, and I see her 'rescuer' Sulwei as being a dark-skinned, southern version of Bayaz. I wonder what will happen when the two magic-wielders meet, if they knew each other in the past? To be continued...

1/7 - Rooves is the accepted plural of roof, right? When a word ends in F, like roof, wharf, leaf, knife, pluralising it changes it to VES - rooves, wharves, leaves, knives. Everybody knows and agrees with that statement, right? Well then, why doesn't Abercrombie? He follows the rule when he uses the words leaves, wharves, and knives, but not for rooves. Instead of rooves he writes roofs. I have also noticed a few instances of missing words, like on page 446 when Ferro says "Give it me!" instead of "Give it to me!" They are only ever small, non-essential words like 'the', 'to', 'a', and so on, but still, when it happens more than once it's a problem. To be continued...


2/7 - Logen's just got a whole lot more interesting. To start with Logen's a barbarian with a conscience and good reasons for being so savage, but now we find out that most of what was done to earn his terrifying reputation was done under the influence. It's not clear what he's influenced by, a demon or the more mundane split personality, but I'm thinking that it'll be the demon, this is a fantasy after all. This started out slow, but I persevered and I'm really glad I did. Advice to other readers: If you can make it to 'Part 2' the pace really picks up from that point on (Ferro helps). I can't wait to get my hands on the next book.

Mar 23, 2016

For a more detailed review check out this book on my blog!

I really enjoyed this book and loved that it was different than what I am used to reading. I adore books that focus on the characters, but still have an intriguing plot. I highly recommend giving this book a try if you want something different to read and enjoy novels that tend to focus on characters. You wont be disappointed!

Kereesa Jan 29, 2016

Slogging, but not bad.

DevilStateDan Aug 05, 2015

I am new to Joe Abercrombie but am fast becoming a huge fan of his writing. His characters are beautifully flawed & his action sequences are well paced & gruesomely real. This is a great start to a fantasy trilogy of the sort that I love best! #ABookBasedEntirelyOnItsCover #ATrilogy

JCLHebahA Jun 02, 2015

Nice quick read with engaging characters and bits of sly dark humor.

Aug 26, 2014

the first law: book one

a great first book, in a series, an epic fantasy, my favourite kind of story.
A bit slow in getting going, and finding out how all these diverse characters and plots connect, but interesting, and well written. On to the 2nd, to find out more about Logen Nine-fingers, Jezal dan Luthar, Glotka, first Magus Bayaz, Ferro, and how Bethod, the Shanka, the Named Men, and many more fare.
A map of the world would be great, but not needed, really.
Recommended for fantasy readers.

Jul 11, 2014

Good beginning to what seems to be a promising series. Begins quite slow but as characters are added, the story picks up.

View All Comments


Add Notices
Jan 20, 2011

Violence: Many explicit fight scenes, though the one scene of domestic violence may be the more disturbing than gory sword play.

Jan 20, 2011

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.

Jan 20, 2011

Sexual Content: Several references to the act, some vulgar, but no explicit descriptions.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Mar 23, 2016

fantasybkaddict thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Jan 20, 2011

sairen42 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at VIRL

To Top