Each man worships himself

Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, book one of The First Law, is a fine yarn. It’s not stupid, and it doesn’t make me cringe. That’s good.

Fantasy attracts many bad authors, and undiscerning readers who help those authors stay in business. With this debut novel, Abercrombie isn’t yet one of the good authors, but he’s headed in the right direction.

The anti-hero of The Blade Itself is Logen, a Northern Barbarian. There’s also a Southern Barbarian, a wizard (complete w/harassed apprentice), a torturer, and a conceited fencer from a Decadent Civilization. The usual. But it’s not stupid. Sword & sorcery is like westerns: A familiar scenery you can write good or bad characters into. These are good characters.

The mood is irreverent and brutal. There are worrying hints of an Epic storyline in the following two books, but I think Abercrombie will manage. The First Law is not going to be great, but I’ll settle for smart and enjoyable.

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