Reviews & Writing

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Blade Itself

For the first book review on this site, I chose something that sounded almost as bloody as Writing Wars itself. Which is...The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie.

Now if you haven't heard of Joe, you're either living in a bunker still reading Tolkien (there's nothing wrong with that,) or you haven't been reading fantasy for around the past four years. Or you have, in which case you've been reading the wrong kinds of books. Why?

Because The Blade Itself is a book that expands genre conventions. How? mixing dark comedy, and the sort of grittiness and brutality you would expect from authors such as George R.R Martin, brewing the two together into a book that is stuck somewhere between a Dark Fantasy, and A Sword and Sorcery one, (Some of you may know this as Heroic Fantasy,) Joe manages to create a unique stew, worthy of anyone who reads fantasy. However, it tastes bitter sweet.

 What makes The Blade Itself, (for lack of a better word,) so awesome, is its characters. An old torturer, a shy barbarian, an arrogant noble, I mean when has ever such a unique interesting cast been assembled? I think never, but there might be a reason for that.

Characters with titles such as, torturer, barbarian, and arrogant, are not always the most sympathetic sorts of people. This makes it difficult for the readers to connect with them.

Unfortunately, The Blade Itself suffers from this.

Fortunately, it only suffers for around the first hundred pages. If you can clutch your teeth until then, and read on, you won't be disappointed. For after these...measly few pages, the characters grow on you, and the many plots begin to coincide in many, many, action packed scenes.

It must be said though, that the plot is nothing special, (though it is original,) and neither is the setting, which appears to a medieval land of sorts. Where Joe's skills as a story teller truly lie, are in his humor.

Every character is hilarious. Really they are. And despite all of the jokes they throw around, never does the book feel cartoonish. Such handling of comedy within fantasy is rare these days, and for that I tip my hat to Joe Abercrombie.

It should also be mentioned that his characters are not only funny, but are also very unique, with Joe actually using different writing styles to portray each of them.  Really different writing styles.

So though The Blade Itself is not a book without flaws, (ahh, those damn hundred pages,) it is still a great book, one that is helping drive fantasy forward, and one that many readers will find refreshing. (Especially the ones living in a bunker.)

And if you read it, and are hungry for more of Joe's work, well The Blade Itself is the first in a trilogy. A trilogy that is already done. Seriously, there's no waiting around with this guy, he even has a stand alone book out in the same fictional universe as The Blade Itself called, Best Served Cold. And he has another one hitting the shelves soon, called The Heroes.

So, you owe it yourself to try reading The Blade Itself. Its new, its fresh, its the future of fantasy. Got it? Well then why aren't you reading it yet? Get off that chair, and head to the book store right now.

Unless you have a few issues with the following.

Profanity: This book has some swearing...okay, it has alot of swearing. But all of it is used masterfully, adding both to the serious, and comic parts.

Sex: Not really, not in this book. Some things may be implied...but nothing really happens.

Let me be the first one to give this book a NOT FOR KIDS label. I mean the book is violent, brutal, gritty, and those are just some of the things that make it so great. Imagine the whole AWESOME!

Since Joe Abercombie is so awesome for writing such an awesome book, check out his website.

And write him a nice little comment, and while your at it, write me one as well.

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