Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Over the past few years it seems that the U.K. has become the tip of the spear; the cutting edge in speculative fiction. Mieville's Perdido Street Station, Morgan's Altered Carbon, Novik's Temeraire, and McDonald's River of Gods were all released first in the United Kingdom. Steven Erikson published a slew of books in his mega-popular Malazan: Book of the Fallen series before a U.S. publisher decided to give it a shot. Now Gollancz brings us a shockingly good new epic fantasy from first time author Joe Abercrombie.

And the U.S. has yet to announce a publisher for this work. Are you listening PYR?

The Blade Itself fails to break new ground in fantasy. There is nothing terribly new about this work, and there are even a few tired old tropes that I wish had not been used. However, it's well plotted, the characters live and breath, and the world comes alive. The action is intense, and it offers epic fantasy fans what is too often missing in recent times -- a great adventure.

*I ought to point out that this is the first book in a new series. The Blade Itself ends quite nicely, but keep in mind that the wait for the next volume could be tedious. Fans of Martin, Jordan, and Erikson know exactly what I mean.

Logen is a barbarian from the North. He's seen more than enough of war, but violence seems to follow him wherever he goes. Jezal is a cocky son of nobility; a Captain of the King's army, and something of a pompous ass. Then he meets a girl who sets his little world on it's head. Glokta was the greatest swordsman of his generation, and a much-honored officer in the army. That is, until he was captured by the enemy and tortured for many years. Now he has returned from this imprisonment, still a young man, and faces life with a withered and twisted husk of a body. Unable to continue in the army, his career path leads him to join the King's Inquisitors. The tortured becomes the torturer.

This is a fine first novel. It certainly ranks among the higher echelon epic fantasies being written today, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.


Collector's Notes:

Jump all over the U.K. hardcover edition (It says paperback, but it is indeed the hardcover.) of this work. The Blade Itself will take off when it reaches the U.S. -- it's just the type of book that will do well in this country.

Comments on "The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie"


Blogger Atit Patel said ... (8:08 PM) : 

I enjoyed


Blogger Atit Patel said ... (8:10 PM) : 

I enjoyed this one (both the book and the review). The other debut fantasy this year in the UK was Stormcaller. Do you have that on your list to read, William?


post a comment