Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The First Law trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged & Last Argument Of Kings - Joe Abercrombie

My original idea was to do three separate reviews for the trilogy, looking at each book separately.

However, I found myself unable to stop after The Blade Itself; I had kind of suspected that this would be the case by the end of Chapter 1, to be honest. I had opened TBI without any expectations or pre-conceived ideas about what to expect and man, Joe’s gritty and hopelessly addictive style was a revelation, as was the seemingly effortless way that he deals with the various threads and points of view, keeping them tight and lean.

The story evolves as it progresses, building a cast of characters that are sympathetic, likeable and complex, without ever threatening to bog things down with excruciating lumps of exposition. The trilogy covers little over a year in the life of the characters, and crams in two different wars, a (almost) heroic quest to the Edge of the World, murder, intrigue, betrayal, ungainly sex, cannibals, feuding mages from the dawn of civilisation and the occasional exploding henchman.

Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he can write!

Some people might feel the trilogy is a bit light on the world building side of things, but any perceived shortcomings in this respect are more than compensated for by the fluid storytelling and irresistible pace. It’s a thoroughly entertaining body of work and deserves a prominent place on anyone’s bookshelf.

As this is one of our Summer Reads List books I have to give it 9 / 10 stars as it is just that blindingy good a read.


Neil Ford said...

Nice review.

I have to admit to starting The Blade Itself but not having finished it yet. It didn't grab for some reason.

I think it's probably because fantasy isn't really my thing and it's a very lucky book that therefore breaks through.

- Neil.

Heidenkind said...

Wow, this series sounds really great! I don't think I've seen it in my bookstore.

ediFanoB said...

I love The First Law trilogy. My favorite charater is Sand dan Glokta.

Highly recommended if you like fantasy.

Mark said...


Stick with it and it'll snowball before you know it!

Natascha De Marco said...

I have the first book, and looks like I have to start reading it...


PS; Im having a contest over at my blog

Its for a copy of Meridian, sign up!

Peter said...

I've always been interested in this book, not sure whether I would like it but now I am convinced, thanks for the awesome reviews.