Joe Abercrombie, The First Law – Book One – The Blade Itself, Great Britain, Gollancz, 2006, 536p.
I finished this not long ago and I’m eager to read the next book which is waiting patiently in my book shelf.
We’re given three initial characters – notorious barbarian Logen Ninefingers from the North; Inquisitor Sand dan Glokta, teeth-pulling torturer for the Union and a cripple with a past; young silly puppy Jezal dan Luthar guaranteed to win the fencing tournament and seems to forget there’s more to life than him and his big di- I mean ego. Their individual paths are journeys of discovery and self-realization before they eventually intertwine given the current threat of war, forgotten magic and corruption.
Slowly more characters are introduced as we see how this first chapter of a trilogy is indeed a lead up to something muuuuch bigger; ” ‘It’s forbidden,’ he whispered, ‘to eat the flesh of men…’ “
My favourite character is Glokta; his inner monologues are fabulously fully of angst and sarcasm. I’m extremely intrigued to find out the story as to how he became crippled and toothless. His character seems middle age to almost a vision of a military man going grey with ghosts in his eyes, yet we realise quite shockingly he is actually only in his thirties. Poor bastard, although his victims of questioning probably have it worse.
I want to give Logen a big hug. Despite how incredibly tough and violent he is, his personality is full of softness and acceptance. Another character with a bloody past which we only get a taste of.
Jezal is a douchebag and remains one until the end of this book. However I think this is going to change if Ardee (the tomboy, quick-witted love interest) will ever take him seriously…and you know, so he doesn’t get himself killed by a Northman.
The book doesn’t really end on a cliffhanger but a definite ‘taking the next step’ for all the characters. As I said previously, I’m keen to keep reading mainly to get the juice on what happened to the characters in the past. There are many skeletons to tumble from the closet.
My only bit of criticism is the names of some of the very minor characters ie; Glokta’s superiors. I tend to forget who ‘Lord flim flam’ is and his role under ‘Grand Master who the fuck is that guy again?’. The politics is only going to get heavier as more possible shady corruption is revealed – so getting a grip on names will probably be necessary for later books.
Regardless it’s a detailed, well written and humorous read with drops of darkness and violence. Can’t lose.