The Blade Itself

Posted by : atcampbell | On : November 18, 2008

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Eight people attended this meeting at A. T.’s house. Our topic was Joe Abercrombie’s first novel, The Blade Itself. It is a swashbuckling fantasy. All of us started and finished the book.

We thought this book had strong characters. The favorite of many was Inquisitor Glokta, a disabled veteran who becomes a torturer. We did not want or expect to like him, but found him empathetic and appreciated his dark humor. Several of us enjoyed the Keystone Cop-style adventures of Logen Ninefingers’s band of dog soldiers. We learned the culture of this book’s world through their eyes.

One person said this was an amazing first novel and an excellent epic fantasy. He felt the world of this book was not the typical Middle Ages fantasy, but more like the Ottoman Empire or the Vikings. He enjoyed how the estimate of the mage character’s age kept going up.
Another enjoyed everything about the book: its story, world building, and characters. He thought the practicals (the torturer’s assistants) were funny.  He found the novel violent, but reasonable for this world.

We appreciated the author’s clear storytelling and concise prose.  We noted that there are virtually no infodumps in the book, which is amazing for a first novel.

One reader commented that he never would have read this book if not for the Reading Group, and was surprised how much he liked it. He found the world reminiscent of Conan’s world. He thought the book was funny and enjoyed the politics. He felt it was a smart book about smart people.

We were pleased to read such a well-written intricate fantasy that doesn’t abuse standard tropes. One reader appreciated that this book is more political than most dark fantasy. Another liked the book so much that he wrote fan mail to the author.

In conclusion, this was a rare book that everyone in the group enjoyed. All of us plan to read more of Abercrombie’s work. After the meeting, many of us had a nice dinner at La Morada.

— A. T. Campbell, III