100 Books in a Year: #63 The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
Well, another excellent fantasy series begun. Curse you nerds. This one’s the first of the First Law Trilogy — the first law being “Don’t let them get wet.” It’s solid fantasy; much like the Kingkiller trilogy it feels like it has to be three books long. The story’s just that massive in scope. However, Abercrombie’s really excellent about knowing how to juggle characters. He keeps the story focused on three major threads: the Inquisitor Glokta — a former champion of the Union who was tortured by enemies and is now a crippled mess torturing suspects for the Inquisition; Jezal dan Luthar — a spoiled noble who’s set to become a fencing champion for the Union; and Logen Ninefingers — a Northern barbarian wandering the countryside after he and his cohorts are beset by savages. The rest of the characters are drawn into their wake as the story unfolds. Then each of these three end up crossing paths. It’s deftly done, even when a fourth character comes in the second half of the novel, and is also drawn into the story. It combines the magic of Wheel of Time with the savage politics of Song of Ice and Fire. It’s brutally violent, and the language is savage.
And that’s weird to me. Fantasy always felt like a safe area for me. You could expect some violence, and maybe some romance, but never any overt sexuality or foul language. Every other word in The First Law Trilogy is fuck or shit. It’s kind of strange to me. I don’t know. It assuredly improves the story here, and adds to the gritty flavor. But it’s strange to be reading this fantasy novel with knights and kings and hearing each other screaming about “fucking killing the fuck out of fuckers!” It’s fucking strange. I don’t know what other people’s thoughts are on this. Even in the Song of Ice and Fire, there are a few cocks, cunts, and fucks, but it’s veritably Tarantino up in this piece. However, the characters are so well developed, and the tone is so cruel and clever, it doesn’t make it a negative. It’s just something to get accustomed to. I always recommended fantasy books to ten and twelve year olds who were good readers, but not so much on this one.
However, you Pajiban nerdlingers who like fantasy should jump all over this. It’s brimming with war and scheming and unbelievable violence. Someone explodes from a magic spell. Into big dripping chunks. Yup. Get on that shit.