Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Wish-list

The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)I don't know what first intrigued me about The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. Maybe it was the cover, which is definitely attractive, or perhaps it was the author's last name, which reminded me of the store (that I've actually never been in). What I do know is that after skimming through the synopsis I nearly moved on:

Only a few short years ago, the Kingdom of the Union triumphed in a war against bitter enemies to the south. But though the Union has never seemed more powerful, beneath the facade it is weak and corrupt. Ruling in place of the feeble-minded king, the Council is rife with schemers and traitors, while the bold new King of the Northmen skulks on their borders, threatening invasion.
Enmeshed in these difficulties are five mismatched figures: Logen Ninefingers, a barbarian warrior who lost his family, his village and his men in an ambush by the Northmen’s semi-human Shanka. Captain Jezal dan Luthar, paragon of selfishness, who’d rather fleece his friends at cards than fight for glory in the fencing ring. Inquisitor Glokta, tormented torturer, whose latest trail of corpses may lead him to the rotten heart of government. Ferro, once a slave girl, now a slave to revenge, a ruthless killer whom fate has chosen for greater things. And the wizard Bayaz, who may be a fraud…or something far greater than anyone imagines. As their paths inexorably converge, murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled…and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. (SFBC)
Yeah, not so much on the 'once a slave girl now a slave to revenge' line--it sounds so... cliche-ish. I decided to give it another minute of my time and went over to Amazon to read some reader reviews. Surprisingly it rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Mark Pawlyszyn was with me on the synopsis thing:
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I read the blurb from the back and nearly turned away after reading only half of the summary. But something made me open it up and try the first few pages--and I was hooked. It starts with an action scene--like most fantasy novels--and it is described so well. It is realistic without splattering gore in your face. I can't think of any other author who treads that line so well as Joe Abercrombie does in The Blade Itself.
Jim from goodreads said:
Raymond Chandler famously said that if an author mentions a gun, it had better go off at some point. The same goes for fantasy writers. Fantasy doesn't need to be all blood and whirling blades, but if a fantasy writer straps a broadsword to a character's side, it had better be drawn in anger, at some point.

This was one of the best fantasy novels I've read in a while, especially impressive as it's a first novel. It has a fair amount of the aforementioned blood and swordplay, but it is much more than that. The characters are finely drawn and the story is both complex and well-paced. 
The reality is that I was actually hard pressed to find a bad review for this book.

One Amazonian (hehe) who gave it two stars said this:
The biggest fault I had with this book was that it took almost the entire 500+ pages to truly (I think) start the story. The rest is about the meanderings (well ok, battle filled meanderings) of characters from a wide variety of areas. Probably the best comparison I can make is with "Fellowship of the Ring" by Tolkien. Both books involve a quest that is a major turning point in the characters' lives and the world...(Robert Gamble)
Hmm, not so convincing on the two stars thing.

My only hesitancy, after reading the reviews is the comparisons between George R.R. Martin and Abercrombie. If you like Martin then great, but I found his writing to be dark, raw and, for lack of a better word, irreverent. The way he discussed things left a bad taste in my mouth and I couldn't finish the first book I read by him. If The Blade Itself turns out to be like Martin's work I will probably not finish the book.

Book: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails