The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

This was an interesting novel to say the least. Never before have I read a book that flicked from great to boring great to boring so many times over and over again – this is a truly odd occurrence. Consequently, I’m not sure how I feel about this book. Often I had to force myself into reading it whereas on other occasions I got my teeth stuck into it and giggled at the numerous morbid and sadistic jokes and admired Abercrombie’s writing style.

When the novel opens, we are introduced to Logan Ninefingers – an infamous Northman well known for his bloody and brutal history. In the first chapter alone it becomes clear he has been separated from his group and is on the run from creatures called flatheads – very little description is actually provided of these characters, on the whole, now I think of it, it’s not a very descriptive book in any part of it – but one can assume they are goblin like. During the fight with a few of them, he falls off a cliff into a river and only just survives. When he awakes he returns to his former camp to find it empty – hungry and lonely he heads south only to encounter an apprentice Magus called Malacus Quai who was sent to find Logan and bring him to his Magus Master – Bayaz.

We are also introduced to two other characters – Jezal, a rich noble born young man who is learning to fence in order to become the fencing champion – and inquisitor Glotka, a merciless cripple who tortures people in order to protect the kingdom from the various underground threats the world offers and is thrust into a government conspiracy. There’s not a lot to say about Jezal other than there is more to him that meets the eye and even though he is a complete snob he is likeable. Glotka, on the otherhand, is startlingly likeable for a character that tortures people to get information out of them. he is in a state of self-loathing with himself because of his disability – he was captured and tortured during a war in which they damaged his leg beyond repair so walking and all other physical activities are excruciatingly painful for him and they also removed his teeth in such a way that he can no longer chew food – when one tooth was left in his mouth on the top, the corresponding one on the bottom was removed so a zig-zag like pattern is created and he can eat nothing but soup and porridge. His disability makes him bitter but he is funny and realistic and even though I tend to think it’s maybe just me being morbid, I found him extremely likeable because of these qualities and just because of his general manner. He’s certainly a very interesting character and he’s easy to relate to and sympathise in my opinion even if some of the torture scenes are very graphic. All I’m going to say about that is cleaver and fingers. You’ll understand if you read it…

All in all, this was a good book. Not astounding, not amazing, Good. Though this is the case, I have taken a lot from this book – the morbid and simple humour alike had me giggling and wanting to write down the quotes – not the most common occurrence I assure you – and I liked some of ideas Abercrombie had created and I hope to manipulate them and use them – not in a copying sense – in my own work. So that’s certainly a big bonus. A review on the front cover of the novel by The Guardian said ‘Delightfully twisted and Evil’ and that’s a brilliant summary! I’m unsure whether or not I would like to read on but I would recommend this novel to anyone with an open mind.

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