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antonakis

Nightgate Inn

A blog about fantasy and science-fiction books, new and old, popular and obscure. Stay a while and listen...

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The Books of Skyrim
Nate Ellis, Matt Daniels, William Shen, Alan Nanes, Shane Liesegang, Jon Paul Duvall, Brian Chapin
The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie As always, I will avoid going into describing a synopsis of the book, you can read that up there ^^. After I finished the book, I was really surprised when I found out that this was Abercrombie's debut novel as it didn't feel like a debut at all. Sure, there were the occasional rough spots but they were so minor that they didn't matter. Anyway, I like to do my reviews with positive and negative points so let's start with that.

Positives:
- Abercrombie's characters... well what can I say about them!!! This is certainly the novel's strongest point! His characters are truly amazing, gritty and totally realistic, at the same time heroic and shameful each in his own little and special way. Often, I found myself thinking of them as a mix between Peake's Gormenghast protagonists and Dragonlance heroes! Abercrombie makes you care for all of them in the same way GRR Martin does!
- Also, people that follow my reviews know that I have a sensitive spot for dialogues as I value them highly. This novel excels at that point! Both the dialogues as well as the internal monologues have excellent pacing, style and content which add to the general appeal and believability of the plot and characters.
- The structure is also a positive point. I generally don't prefer multiple points of view but Abercrombie pulls this out quite well and competently. You never get lost or confused and it's easy to remember where each thread is at. Also, a detail which I really liked and helps make this work is that Abercrombie alters his style a bit depending on the point of view. So from one POV you get longer and more detailed descriptions, from another you might get deeper internal monologues and from a third you might get a "lighter" language.

Not so positives:
Not really a lot of them ...
- While not bad, the pacing of the story was sometimes a bit uneven. There were parts where I felt that it dragged a little bit, as if Abercrombie was uncertain of how exactly to proceed or where to go from there.
- The above leads me to my second minor gripe which is that sometimes plot-wise the novel felt a bit aimless, as if the characters and their personal lives were left in the driving seat to take the story wherever it took them. While I understand that this was Abercrombie's intention from the beginning as he wanted this to be a character-driven novel while maintaining an atmosphere of mystery and uncertainty, I think that maybe he overdid this just a bit too much. This is more of a personal and subjective gripe however as I usually prefer a more plot-driven narrative.
- My final complaint has to do with the ending... or the lack of resolution. In my mind there are two types of trilogies, one that has 3 stories closely related and interconnected together usually in a temporal manner (i.e. [a:Brandon Sanderson|38550|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1201547425p2/38550.jpg]'s [b:Mistborn Trilogy Boxed Set|6604209|Mistborn Trilogy Boxed Set (Mistborn, #1-3)|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1257442247s/6604209.jpg|6798109]) and one that has 1 long story divided into three books (i.e. [a:J.R.R. Tolkien|656983|J.R.R. Tolkien|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1329870573p2/656983.jpg]'s [b:The Lord of the Rings|33|The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)|J.R.R. Tolkien|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347257199s/33.jpg|3462456]). The Blade Itself is the first part of The First Law trilogy which apparently falls into the second category, and thus it has no resolution at the end, no ending. I'm not sure I can blame a book for what it is but... I had to find some negatives!! :p

All in all, this is an impressive debut and an amazing first part of a trilogy that I intend to read as soon as possible. I'm going to subtract half to one point from a perfect score for those personal gripes I described above but still, this is definitely a highly recommended read for anyone who enjoys reading fantasy of any kind!
4 - 4,5 stars out of 5 !!