The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
I’ve seen this series recommended a lot throughout all of the fantasy “aficionado” groups. It has been fairly hyped up in my opinion, and that made it an easier choice for the next series for me to dig into.
The Blade Itself is dark and gritty. Honestly, some of the plot and setting fell short for me. You really have to immerse yourself into the story to get a grasp of what is going on. I caught myself a few times saying “What the hell is going on and why does this matter?” The plotting from Abercrombie doesn’t hype you up as much as Sanderson does. I have not finished the series yet, so let’s hope I am proved wrong. (I am currently in the middle of Before They Are Hanged)
The real shining quality of this novel are the characters. Abercrombie strength appears to be in his characters. I enjoyed all of the main characters: Logen, Jezal, Bayaz, and my personal favorite, Glokta. Forget everything I said about plotting and setting, because these characters make everything worth it. Glokta is written so well out of all of the characters. He is most probably in the list of my favorite characters of all time. His tortured past and current state makes for excellent character writing. What really stands out for me is how Abercrombie writes his physical characteristics and manerisms. Glokta should be taught as a master class at showing a character. You can really picture Glokta clear as day sucking at his teeth (or lack off) and limping around. I can still picture the scene of him in the beginning of the novel trying to make his way down a small staircase. If you are on the fence about reading this, do it just for Glokta. All four of them are worth it though. (Maybe minus Bayaz for now…)
As an aside, the fencing was entertaining. I was engaged in all of the scenes and especially the tournament. After reading that I had to watch some of the fencing bouts from the last olympics. My girlfriend had asked me that day “So what have you been doing after work?”, and I told her that I’ve been watching Olympic fencing for the past few hours. (Classic Chaz)
The official Chaz verdict: Just read it. It’s a good novel and the series has been getting better in my opinion. I still have 1.5 books to finish the trilogy and then I will post a whole series update.
Listen to this when you watch Olympic fencing: https://youtu.be/p2JCGerRKew