The Blade Itself: Bloody Beginnings

Holy shit, this book was awesome! It’s been a hot second since a book managed to hook me right from the beginning and keep me hooked all the way through!

Not much of a cover, admittedly.

War is brewing in the Union. To the north, King Bethod rallies the tribes together to strike. To the south, the Gurkish Empire rallies for a rematch against their enemies. All the while, Bayaz, the first of the Magi, gathers together out story’s protagonists to carry out some unknown task.

The characters in this book are all rock solid. Logen makes for a great antihero; I’ve got a major soft spot for warriors with bloody pasts trying to find redemption. Glokta is a remarkable character; a hero turned into a cripple with a twisted heart makes for a consistently interesting character. Jezal is a spoiled loser and watching him consistently get his comeuppance is delightful. Collem West is a delightful subversion of fantasy tropes; he may seem noble, but he’s actually even more twisted than Glokta. Ferro doesn’t get much to do aside be an asshole, but the seeds of mystery she sows are remarkably interesting.

And then there’s Bayaz. Who is basically just fucking with everyone the whole time.

Dialogue is this book’s greatest strength. Conversations have a very natural and engaging flow. Everyone speaks like actual humans, being delightfully vulgar and charismatic. Plus, the book makes masterful use of subtext.

As for the world building, it’s… okay. The world isn’t as interesting or as deep as others in the genre, but it gets the job done. The setting feels real and lived in. I’m sure it’ll only become more fleshed out and interesting as the trilogy goes on.

My one problem with this story is the ending. Namely in that it basically doesn’t have one. It’s more or less just a cliffhanger that sets up the next book. No character arc reaches its zenith, no massive event happens to change the world, nothing. It just feels like the book finished setting up the sequels, so it wrapped things up.

Though, to be fair: the final few lines hit like a fucking freight train. Once I read those, I practically raced to pick up book two.

I really loved this book. The First Law is an engaging read from start to end. It may not have had a particularly satisfying conclusion, but it still left me hungry for more. If you’re looking for a dark fantasy with great characters, this is a rock solid pick.

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