British Invasion, part 2: Joe Abercrombie's THE BLADE ITSELF

Well, this one is now available in the USA. Published by Pyr in trade paperback format, American fantasy fans will now have the chance to see what the buzz is all about! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Also, for all things Abercrombie, you can peruse Joe's brand new website at

For those who can't get enough of him, here are links to two interviews I did with Joe. The first was conducted right after my reading of The Blade Itself, and the other was done to promote Before They Are Hanged.

As I did with Brian Ruckley's Winterbirth, I'm posting my review of The Blade Itself from last year. Do check out these two books!:-)
Joe Abercrombie's debut is making some noise all over the internet. Understandably, little more was needed to pique my curiosity! I wish to thank Joe for sending me signed copies of both The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged when I could not get through with his publicist.

The Blade Itself is a throwback to what used to dominate the genre during the 80s before doorstopper fantasy epics took over. As such, it is reminiscent of David Eddings and Raymond E. Feist in their heydays. What does that mean, exactly? Well, The Blade Itself is a character-driven tale that is not comprised of countless storylines. The First Law is a trilogy, so the author has no choice but to keep this story under tight rein. There is also a certain sense of adventure throughout, something that was popularized by the sword and sorcery sub-genre during the 80s.

There is a lot to like about Joe Abercrombie's debut. As a throwback fantasy novel, I found it refreshing. The Blade Itself will please some fans, it will fall short with other readers.

As he stated in a recent interview, Joe Abercrombie doesn't attach that much importance to worldbuilding. He prefers to let the readers discover his universe and its inhabitants through the eyes of his characters. Don't expect a level of details similiar to what you'd find in a Jordan, Erikson, Martin, or Bakker book. Still, the author provides enough background info to keep things interesting.

Characters always make or break a book/series. And nowhere is it more evident than in a self-described character-driven novel. The characterizations found in The Blade Itself are at times very good, but some also leave a little to be desired. Characters like Inquisitor Gokta and Logen Ninefingers are well-done, and they literally carry this tale on their shoulders. Others, like Bayaz and Jezal dan Luthar, are clichéd and somewhat of caricatures. A few are barely introduced, like Ferro and Yulwei, yet are intriguing.

One of this book's main facet -- and this is where it might alienate some readers -- is how humorous in tone the story is told. À la David Eddings, the narrative is always written in droll style, making it all but impossible to reach the emotional impact necessary to create powerful scenes. Very similar to J. V. Jones' The Book of Words trilogy and, to a lesser extent, to Brandon Sanderson's Elantris. As I said, I found this approach refreshing. But it's obvious that some readers will be put off by this. Don't let the beginning fool you. As you read on, you realize that, beyond that humorous tone, there is a lot more depth to those plotlines than meets the eye.

As a very accessible novel that can potentially please many disparate fantasy fans, I'm persuaded that The Blade Itself will be a success. Much like Sanderson's Elantris was last year. And with Pyr set to release it in North America in 2007, Abercrombie's debut will get an even bigger readership.

The author will probably never win any awards. In all likelihood he'll never be held in high esteem by aficionados. What he'll do, however, is sell books. What we have here is another bright new voice in the fantasy genre. And there can never be too many of those!

The Blade Itself is a solid debut. I'm curious to see where Abercrombie will be taking this story in the sequel. . .

The final verdict: 7.5/10

1 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Even though Joe Abercrombie and The Blade Itself have been featured on so many different fantasy lit blogs over the last few months, I somehow managed to do nothing more than glance at any reviews. I'm just not that into epic fantasy anymore and I've gotten to a point where I am very reluctant to start reading a new series, or even a trilogy--whatever its subgenre might be.

But after reading your review, I just might have to give Abercrombie a try. I loved The Belgariad when I was a kid. I also dig stories with a good sense of humor, which is not easy to pull off! Who knows, maybe this will whet my appetite for more epics.

otherwise & elseways