Book Review: The Blade Itself by Abercrombie (4 stars)

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

4 out of 5 stars

Read in March 2009

The first three hundred pages of this book were riveting. Most of the rest were entertaining and exciting but ultimately the ending disappointed somewhat – unless you like leaping off a cliff to the next book. Lucky for me, that next book is in the mail and I can soar back into the story soon.

There isn’t a character that isn’t fascinating in this story. Glokta, the tortured torturer; Logen, the wise almost pacifistic barbarian; Jezal, the arrogant noble on a collision course with reality; Major West, an upstart commoner with the weight of the world seemingly on his shoulders; Bayaz, the mythical First Magi and his young and only apprentice Quai; and, a host of other supporting characters no less conflicted.

The Union is frothing with political intrigue. It has an Inquisition to ferret out treason and traitors, but no religious backing to legitimize or limit it’s power. It has the backing of the government and the Arch Lechter uses all that power to further his own ends and those of his allies on the Closed Council.

The barbarians at the gate, led by self-proclaimed king Bethod of the Northmen, has succeeded in uniting the divisive Northmen and has plans to invade the Union’s northern most member, Angland.

The old Empire is rousing from slumber under the leadership of a new, younger Emperor, and has also set it’s sites on the Union, or rather its lonely peninsular member Dagoska, far from the center of the Union in Adua.

Bayaz sends out several calls via his colleagues, summoning specific individuals to him. The purpose of this is not immediately apparent. The first one to answer the call is Logen Ninefingers, also sometimes known in the north as the Blody-Nine. Bayaz, Logen and the apprentice Quai set out south to Adua. Bayaz does not tell Logen why he called him and Logen is content to be called and joins the trek south.

Once in Adua, Bayaz, as First Magi, attempts to fill the only vacant seat on the Closed Council. It is held in reserve for the First Magi and has been for thousands of years. But no one, least of all the Arch Lecther, believes Bayaz can possible be THE Bayaz of legend. And Bayaz, of course, doesn’t do magic tricks on demand. An em-passe? Hardly. It only gets more interesting and bloody with each turn of the blade.

This story was quite a ride – lots of action, fighting, intrigue, and fascinating characters. Be forewarned that the ending is a bit abrupt and you will want the second book on hand to continue the adrenaline rush.

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