The Blade Itself

The Blade Itself : Book One

4.15 (128,598 ratings by Goodreads)
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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...
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Product details

  • Paperback | 544 pages
  • 132 x 198 x 42mm | 376g
  • Gollancz
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0575079797
  • 9780575079793
  • 12,181

Review Text

I might not end up marrying this book, but I'm certainly infatuated with it right at the moment. It's delicious, the characters sharply drawn and their motivations believable, the clash of cultures (always particularly difficult for an author to pull off) believable as well. Lilith Saintcrow
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Review quote

The star of the show is doubtlessly Inquisitor Glotka for simply being one of the most wonderfully bitter and cynical characters I've come across. With a very funny and clever internal monologue going on during every conversation he has, Glotka's as miserable and nasty at the end as he was to start with and, especially in a heroic fantasy novel, it works perfectly -- SF Crowsnest An admirably hard, fast and unpretentious read from debut author Joe Abercrombie. Packs a mean punch in the bloodthirsty mayhem and mystery departments. Crammed full of torture, vengeance and bad behaviour, it's a lively tale of savagery vs. civilisation. The Blade Itself may not reinvent the wheel, but it does serve up a whole banquet of violent action and intrigue' -- SFX You'd never guess that The Blade Itself is Joe Abercrombie's debut novel. He writes like a natural. There are great characters, sparky dialogue, an action-packed plot, and from the very first words and an opening scene that is literally a cliff-hanger, you know you are in for a cheeky, vivid, exhilarating ride -- Starburst There's a fat vein of cynicism and dark humour throughout. The action scenes are fast-paced and the violence takes its toll both mentally and physically. A great start to a long journey' -- Dreamwatch The Blade Itself is a page-turner powered by a combination of fast-paced action and juicy doses of cynicism. Perhaps more remarkable, however, is the way Abercrombie sets the scene -- Edge Magazine Delightfully twisted and evil -- The Guardian There is a gritty edge to his world and an awareness of the human cost of violence that is very contemporary -- The Times I might not end up marrying this book, but I'm certainly infatuated with it right at the moment. It's delicious, the characters sharply drawn and their motivations believable, the clash of cultures (always particularly difficult for an author to pull off) believable as well. -- Lilith Saintcrow Twisty plotting and gallows humour. * SUNDAY TIMES * Highly recommended - a funny, finely-wrought, terrifically energetic work of high fantasy. Seek it out -- Joe Hill
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About Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings). His standalone novels (Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country) are also set in the First Law world. His novels have been shortlisted for the World Fantasy Awards, British Fantasy Awards, John W. Campbell Award and the David Gemmell Legend Awards. His covers are also award winning, and have won both the David Gemmell Legend Award and the World Fantasy Award for best artwork. Joe formerly worked as a freelance film editor and is now a full time writer who lives in Bath with his family. Follow @LordGrimdark on twitter for more information, or visit
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Rating details

128,598 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 41% (53,254)
4 39% (50,363)
3 14% (18,285)
2 4% (4,563)
1 2% (2,133)

Our customer reviews

It's been a good while since I last dipped my toe in the fantasy genre, this book has certainly reignited my liking for it though. The characters are interesting and the setting believable, it offers a new twist on the standard fantasy. The Blade Itself is the first book in the 'First Law' trilogy and it has certainly wetted my appetite for the following 2 installments - so much so that they were both ordered within minutes of finishing Blade. A lot of the criticism seems to point to the lack of an 'end' to this book - had I not read the reviews, it's not something I would have picked up on, at the end of the day it's the first part of a trilogy so why expect it to be all wrapped up by the end of book one? - it ended with me desperate to know how the story develops and what is going to happen to the characters. Highly recommended. Now hurry up and deliver books 2 and 3!show more
by matt cunningham
I found this book and the entire series the most refreshing modern fantasy I've read in a long time. The characters are believable, gritty, interesting and have a realism and depth not often seen in fantasy. The way he writes is both accessible and clear, you never get lost or confused during battle scenes whether they be on a small or grand scale. Abercrombie is able to keep you reading even though there are four separate stories all going on at once. Again just a fantastic more
by Phill Lappin
A lot of the commentary I've seen about this novel has me itching to rise to the author's defense. Not that he really needs me or anyone else defending him but I do feel that his contribution to the genre has been unfairly slighted. The truth is that Abercrombie's writing brings to life a company of players that you will not soon forget. Swords and Sworcery fantasy, aka epic fantasy, needs hot-blooded and relentless heroes who go places and do things that live on in our memories and our subconscious well beyond their final pages. This book and those that follow in the series do that and for that I think Abercrombie deserves our thanks and readership. The thing is you need to look at the series as one book: The Blade Itself just happens to be the first 500 pages of it. If you had your heart set on a beginning, middle and end to each book then you might be a little unsettled, even miffed, at the fact that Abercrombie takes his sweet time to do what he needs to do. If you read it for the long run, all 1500+ pages of it when you stack the three books up, then the individual installments will not leave you more
by Trevor
"The Blade Itself is a fantasy book that steps away from the stereotypical fantasy being churned out by many authors in the genre and presents a fast moving storyline and a book that's quite easy to read. The story is compelling throughout although it doesn't present too many suprises and has a disappointing finish - I'd have liked something resembling a conclusion between each book in the trilogy. There are flaws throughout, which to me detracted from what could have been a far more interesting read. At times I felt like I was being patronised by the author, things being repeated that were said only 2 pages earlier. An internal monologue seemed present so that the reader doesn't need to read between the lines, and outlining often obvious parts of the story. There are interesting concepts behind each character (bar the traveller introduced at the end perhaps, who would have been better left out of the book altogether), but the characters didn't seem to develop beyond that, it seemed every time a character was reintroduced to the story it was necessary to force the interesting concept on you just in case you'd forgotten them. Overall, I like the book, and am intriuged as to what happens in the story but I did feel an editor could go through and remove enough content to drop the page count by 50 or so and produce a better book for it. For the genre, it's entertaining, but I felt Joe Abercrombie has a big leap to reach the heights of George R Martin or KJ Parker. "show more
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