My favorite thing about the fantasy genre is how different the books can be and still fall under the same genre. There aren’t many books like The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. And the author makes sure to keep it fresh and gritty throughout the novel.
The Blade Itself: Summary
Logan Ninefingers fights off a bunch of supernatural enemies while barely clinging onto life. “Still alive” he mutters to himself in disbelief. His friends are most likely dead and Logan has to get away from the Shanti before they track him down. But where does he go from here?
Inquisitor Glokta is a cripple and knows how to torture people. He has first-hand experience after all. Before he was a prisoner of war, Glokta used to be the best swordsman in the city. But now, his job is to make sure the prisoners spill out all their secrets. But he gets dragged into a big conspiracy and failing may mean the end of him.
Jazal dan Luthar is a captain, good looking, and a nobleman. Yet that doesn’t stop him from fleecing his friends out of money in a game of cards. The money earned means nothing to him but it is another officer’s monthly pay. To keep on getting his income, Jazel has to make his father happy and that means picking up a sword and winning the upcoming tournament. The problem is, Jazel is horrible at sword fighting and being lazy doesn’t help.
Lastly, there is Bayaz, the wizard. He is a bald old man and the First of the Magi. Unlike the other characters, Bayaz has a good idea of what is going on and what is about to happen. Everyone gets caught in Bayaz’ scheme, whatever it is, and the upcoming war.
The Blade Itself is a mystery novel as much as a fantasy novel. As the reader, we don’t exactly know what is happening and we have very little knowledge of the world the characters live in. And it works pretty well. Because of our lack of knowledge, we attach ourselves to the characters and learn by overhearing things throughout the novel.
Abercrombie gambles with our interest and it pays off. He ends up creating a level of mystery that is carried throughout most of the book. Some people may not like that format because not understanding what’s at stake makes it harder to understand what is going on. I will agree it takes a good while before we have a good picture of everything but I enjoyed it for that reason.
The First Law trilogy has great characters and a heavy plot. Just like The Lord of the Rings, it has a ruler controlling the pieces on the board. We don’t know what he wants but are introduced to him as the mastermind. So if you like LOTR with more grittiness and an air of mystery, then this book is for you!