The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie: Book Review - The Fantasy Review

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie: Book Review

Spoiler-Free The Blade Itself Book Review

My Rating: 4/5

Spoiler Free – The Blade Itself Book Review

I’ve been watching book reviews, hauls, TBRs and more on BookTube for over 8 years now. I first heard of The Blade Itself and Joe Abercrombie 4 years ago, around the time fantasy book review content creators such as Daniel Greene, Murphy Napier and Elliot Brooks started putting out their videos.

After 4 years of ignoring everyone’s advice and insistence that The First Law trilogy (and everything else) by Joe Abercrombie is worth reading, I finally started reading The Blade Itself. I should have read it sooner.

the blade itself book review

Everyone Talks About the Characters

And there’s a reason for that. Actually, I think there’s a second, but I’ll get to that. Jezal, Glokta and Logen are all incredible characters. Their points of view feel completely different, to the extent that you know who you’re following even without being told.

Jezal is an arrogant, selfish nobleman who I hated from the start and still don’t like him. That’s the point! Just because I don’t like him doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy his scenes. Seeing the world through his eyes was interesting, especially when he seemed to have conflicting opinions on people and things, his arrogance and self-righteousness coming into conflict with friendships (kind of) and the world around him.

Glokta, once a great swordsman, now a crippled torturer, is bitter and in constant agony. I think this character might have been the most difficult to write. He finds himself, as an inquisitor, embroiled in political schemes that were very entertaining to read and genuinely surprising at times.

Finally, the last main point of view character is Logen. What I find interesting about Logen is that he doesn’t want anything. That is to say, he wants to not know anything, and will just follow his companions along, making sure they don’t die. As someone who has done both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in writing, it was surprising to see a character with no impact on the plot of the book, yet it still worked. I couldn’t stop reading until the end of his scenes, all because his character was so well written, rather than being hooked on the plot.

There is Little to No Plot

Sure, there is a narrative, but it isn’t what you might expect. The Blade Itself is almost like a set up for the next 2 books, introducing us fantastically to the world, the characters and mysteries to uncover.

This is why I think everyone (including me) mainly talks about Joe Abercrombie’s characters in book reviews for The Blade Itself – what else is there to talk about?

This sounds like a negative, but it’s not. If you only want a fantasy book that has epic battle scenes, dragons, elves and constant excitement, this might not be your favourite book. (But, from what I’ve heard of the trilogy, you could think of it as a 1500-2000-page epic fantasy book and get your fill of battle later on.)

The narrative is political. It’s full of mysteries, backstabbing, literal stabbing… And from the little we see of other countries/continents, Joe Abercrombie successfully shows that this is a sprawling world with vibrant cultures and dangerous, incoming threats. This is just the kind of book I was after, and it’s been on my TBR pile for over 4 years!

Final Thoughts

Everyone who raves about this book is right. If you loved A Song of Ice and Fire and don’t mind your fantasy books a little dark with only a dash of magical elements, this is definitely a series you should pick up.

Related to The Blade Itself Book Review

Owner and Editor of The Fantasy Review. Loves all fantasy and science fiction books, graphic novels, TV and Films. Having completed a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative writing, they would like to go on to do a PhD. Favourite authors are Trudi Canavan, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.

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