My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Do yourself a favor, stop reading this review right now and go buy this book. If you like Fantasy at all, you won’t regret it. If that isn’t endorsement enough, keep reading.
For the past several months, I’ve been hearing great things about Joe Abercrombie and The Blade Itself, most from Veronica on The Sword and Laser podcast (which is one of my favorite podcast by the way), but I was busy reading other novels. I put the novel on my “to read” list, received it as a gift for Christmas, and just finally picked it up in May. Now, I wish I had picked it up sooner!
Admittedly, I wasn’t immediately wowed. In fact, it took me a little effort to get into the novel, but, once I did, I was sucked in. I think the biggest thing that slowed me down at first was the characters. I wasn’t immediately captured by major cast. They aren’t your standard Fantasy characters–there is no orphaned kid, no long-bearded wizard–and they took some time to grew on me. Once they did though, I couldn’t put the novel down.
Of all of the characters, I have to say that I was most drawn to Logen. The Bloody Nine. Damn. The guy is the definition of the term “badass.” However, I really liked all of the characters. They are so much more realistic that I’m used to. They are flawed; they are jealous, angry, and petty; they have regrets. But underneath it all, you can see that there is a measure of good in them. Perhaps it’s only a glimmer, but you can see it.
The novel is often referred to as a post-modern Fantasy and I think the way the characters are written is one of the key factors of that assessment. Nonetheless, the novel still has many of the classic elements of a typical Fantasy. There is still magic, wizards, knights, swords, and fighting. But the tone is different than most Fantasy novels and I like it. No, I wouldn’t want every Fantasy novel to be like this, but it is a nice change of pace.
Overall, I thought the novel was fantastic and I can’t wait to read the next one. I highly recommend this to all Fantasy readers!