It is with a sense of trepidation that I post this review, because Logan (Rememorandum ) went through a lot of trouble to send me this entire trilogy all the way from the great state of Kentucky. He did this freely of himself, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for giving me the chance to try this trilogy out. And I would like to offer my apology that I was unable to see in it what he saw. Perhaps, with enough time, I’ll try the second book.
Thanks Logan. Maybe some day we’ll have the opportunity to raise a pint together-- in person.
It’s official. Me and the book trilogy are no longer friends. It’s been a tenuous relationship of late, but after slugging through the first book in Joe Abercrombie’s “gritty” First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself), I feel it’s safe to say that we need some time apart.
Seriously. What’s wrong with one book that tells an engrossing, solid, character driven story? Oh, right. Those other books are for world building. Setting up the environment, while introducing the audience to the various characters that will inevitably wander some lonely, barren part of a fantasy world on a quest for some holy trinket (sprechen sie ring?). If you’re lucky (not so in the case of The Blade Itself ) the author might get ‘round to telling you just exactly what these characters are going to be getting into in the other two books, and why you should even give one crap about them, their plight, or their silly quest. Unfortunately, by the time Abercrombie begins to explain some of these little details in The Blade Itself, I was too bored to really care one way or the other.
Here’s the simple lowdown.
The Blade Itself is the gathering portion of the overused quest trilogy. Several characters from different backgrounds, cultures, and regions are brought together (by design or happenstance) to undertake a difficult task which only they can complete. They are led by a shifty, grumpy old wizard who prides himself on being purposefully obtuse (Yoda, Gandalf?).
Now, if this doesn’t sound familiar, you haven’t read very much fantasy fiction. The whole plot (I don’t care how many f-bombs you make the ruffian, reluctant hero type say, or in how much detail you describe the battle scenes) traces its roots back to J.R.R. Tolkiens’ master work and genre defining trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.
It may not seem so similar on the surface, but scratch the surface of Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself ever so slightly and you’ll see beneath the unfamiliar names and places yet another pretender. A carefully concealed pretender, dressed up in blood, guts, and profanity.
But a pretender nonetheless.