The Blade Itself is a difficult book to describe, because this book doesn´t really have a plot. Or the little plot that there is, is a kind of prologue to the subsequent books in the series. At least it feels that way. But this doesn´t make this a bad book. Simply because Abercrombie constantly kept me invested in the story by having created the most interesting and multilayered characters I have read about in a very long time.
We follow three main characters, who couldn´t be more different from each other. Jezal, a vain soldier, who is full of himself, Logan Ninefingers, a barbarian, who is tired of fighting, and Inquisitor Glokta, a former soldier, deeply scarred by torture, who has turned into a torturer himself (and who has the best inner monologues). Besides the three main characters, we follow a few other minor characters.
All of these characters have one thing in common: they are all morally grey to the fullest extent and Joe Abercrombie really indulges in subverting the expectations of the reader. You think you have a grasp on a certain character … well, think again. You can never be sure about these characters and their actions, which makes this such a compelling read.
This book is grim dark fantasy, so I was prepared for a fair amount of violence going into this novel. And there is violence, but not as much as I would have expected and the tone the novel is written in is wickedly funny at times. However, if you don´t like any kind of violence and gruesome behavior in your books, you should stay away from this read.
But I cannot wait to read the second book in this series.