Hands-down, The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie is one of my all-time favorites books. It’s got crazy fighting and really cool characters, but it draws you in even when there’s no action. There are very few parts that drag. I read it on vacation in three days, no lie. And then I went out and immediately bought the two others for the trilogy, because it was that good.
However, I think a good book review should also include the biggest problem with the novel. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any big problems. It’s like a nap. You know that it’s going to suck when it’s over, but you enjoy it and succumb to sleep because you’re so damn comfortable. If that comparison didn’t make any sense, clearly you’re sleep deprived, and should go take a nap.
The only thing that even remotely resembles a problem is how blatantly obvious the parallel between our racial borders and the books racial borders is, not to mention the egocentrism of the different cultures. But what are you going to do, right? I mean, most authors do the same thing, just because it’s a much easier base point than creating entirely different sub-cultures for each civilization, and the relationships between said sub-cultures. And it also means that the writer can focus more attention on other things, like character development and sketching out extremely detailed descriptions of what is happening.
As I said, the setting is a little convoluted. Even more so than A Game of Thrones, and it’s a little more predictable in regards to the cultures of each geographic region. The “civilized” world is similar to (read “a copy of”) Renaissance Europe. The North is filled with savages that are kind of a cross-breed of Vikings, Celts, and other early European tribes. The South is basically the Middle East/Africa. There’s another continent that’s supposed to be Spain, but it’s not mentioned a whole lot in this book.
The main “protagonists,” and I use that word in the loosest way imaginable, all represent one area of the world. Logan Nine-fingers is a total badass from the North, Jezal dan Luthar is a fucking prick from the Europe-ish kingdom, and Ferro Maljinn is a psychotic ex-slave from the South who is intent on murdering every single person in a position of power as a way of saying “thank you for the years of mental, physical, and sexual abuse.” (Did I mention that he’s psychotic?) Logan is a total BAMF because he goes into this blood-rage thing every once in a while. Basically, his alter ego (the Bloody Nine) takes over and goes ape-shit, killing everything. Jezal is a whining asshole of an officer in the King’s Army, and also fences. But like I said, he whines a lot and doesn’t really achieve anything of his own volition. Ferro is a psychopath. That’s basically all you need to know about her.
Bottom line, go read this book. Buy it, rent it, download it, steal it, I don’t care. But if you are a fan of the fantasy genre, it’s a must read.
P.S. I found out this week that the verb “diss” as in “to disrespect” has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. My faith in the English language was just kicked in the testicles.