Hello Humans! Confession time, reviewing my owned TBR is probably the thing I am absolutely the worst at. I so often find myself quietly deleting owned books from my ‘reviews to write’ list and settling for a brief ‘I read this, it was good’ in my monthly wrap-up videos (subscribe to my Youtube Channel for more of my face). But I’m trying to do better, not only am I trying to actually reduce my owned TBR, which has been growing since June of last year and sees no sign of stopping, but also to review those books. I don’t want to give the impression that all the books I talk about are sent for free (nothing wrong with that it’s just not an accurate picture) and I want to give the bought books the same space and hype as I’m giving new released.
Time to review The Blade Itself.
Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.
Nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.
Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.
Enter the wizard, Bayaz. 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 Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult.
Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.
I bought my copy of The Blade Itself as a bit of a ‘whim’ purchase at YALC 2019, I was there with friends but I was feeling a little bit tired and introverted, I wanted a book, impulse purchase. Retail therapy is a thing and YALC is dangerous. But in all seriousness I’d been wanting to pick up one of Joe Abercrombie’s backlist books for quite some time. I read and reviewed A Little Hatred late last year and realised that this was an author and a world I needed to get into.
Cut to six months later and we have an actual review.
I’ve read Grimdark books before, I’ve read Anna Stephens and Ed McDonald and I’m willing to admit that when I read those books I had no real idea what grimdark meant, what made it distinct as a genre. With those books as my examples I basically decided that grimdark wasn’t for me, I was too precious a flower, I needed happy endings and no one having their sensitive body parts bludgeoned for no reason.
But time passed and Justine kept quietly (and likely unknowingly) plugging away that this was an author I ought to be reading. So I read A Little Hatred and really enjoyed it and this year I finally actually started the series – I’m a mess if you can’t tell.
I’m delighted to announce that, if this is Grimdark, I want more of it. I loved this book. Obviously there’s something to be said for ‘right book, right time’ and I can see how I was not in a place for darker fantasy a couple of years ago, but even then this felt like a whole other being compared to the other books I had read. Yes it was dark, yes it was violent, yes people were being very graphically tortured – but it never feels gratuitous. I never felt like the author was standing over my shoulder whispering ‘yes look at me hurt the character aren’t I mean and isn’t it awful’ – something I’ve experienced in books that weren’t even claiming to be Grimdark! It’s the vibe of the book, the way that the ebb and flow of the ‘dark’ elements come into the story, the balance of it all, that really worked for me.
I thought that the characters were just phenomenal. I know it sounds a bit trite to say ‘he made unlikable characters that I liked’ but it’s true. Basically none of the characters in this book are typical ‘heroes’ but they all make sense, they’re all fleshed out and have understandable motivations and as a reader you can see how and why they react the way that they do. It’s one of the things that makes an exceptional fantasy novel and while I won’t be inviting any of these characters round for dinner I’ll certainly be looking forward to hearing more about them in future books.
This book very much feels like the first book in a series, it’s setting scenes and setting things in motion that I highly doubt will come to fruition until later books. I personally didn’t mind, and I know for sure I’ll be reading the other books in this series as soon as I have time – but worth keeping in mind if you’re a completionist.
Overall, I think this book is well-worth a read, particularly if you’re not sure whether grimdark is for you.
My rating: ⅘ stars (not enough women)
I bought this book myself. All opinions are my own.
The Blade Itself is Available Now!
What say you? Have you read this series? What are some other highlights? Let me know in the comments below!