The Blade Itself

“Delightfully twisted and evil… for once the novel comes close to living up to its publisher’s hype.”
Jon Courtnay Grimwood, author of the Fallen Blade series, for The Guardian

Book One of The First Law

The blade itself incites to deeds of violence.” – Homer

The Blade Itself, UK PaperbackLogen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught up in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian, leaving nothing behind but some bad songs, a few dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a jar. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendships. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government… if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is fantasy with a real cutting edge.

Book Details

UK / ANZ Print
Publisher: Gollancz
Date: (First Published in Hardcover, May 2006)
ISBN: 9780575079793
Format: Medium (B-format) Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99 / $AUS19.99

North American Print
Publisher: Pyr
ISBN: 9781591025948
Format: Large (Trade) Paperback
R.R.P.: US$17.00

North American Limited Edition
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Format: 500 Signed Hardcover / 26 Leatherbound Traycase

Publisher: Gollancz
ISBN: 9780575091504

Publisher: Orion Audio (UK)
ISBN: 9781409111443

German Edition
Publisher: Heyne (

Dutch Edition
Publisher: Boekerij

Spanish Edition
Publisher: Alianza Editorial (

French Edition
Publisher: J’ai Lu (

Russian Edition
Publisher: Eksmo

Cover Gallery

US Paperback, Orbit 2015 editionUK Paperback, alt. coverAudio EditionUS Limited Edition HardcoverGerman EditionDutch EditionSpanish EditionSpanish Edition, 2013 reprintoriginal French EditionFrench EditionRussian EditionThe Blade Itself: Norwegian edition

back to top

Buying Info

UK Print & Ebook | Book Depository | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith

North American Print & Ebook | | |

back to top


Discuss and Review The Blade Itself at

The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)

Read an Extract

Click the cover to open the extract in full-screen mode.

Read, share and embed via

Click an icon or link below to read online or download the file format of your choice.

Read On-ScreenDownload ePubDownload Mobi (for Kindle)Read or Download PDF

on-screen | epub | mobi (for Kindle) | pdf

Visit the Sample Chapters page to download extracts from all of Joe Abercrombie’s books.

Reviews and Plaudits

  • Locus magazine’s recommended reading 2006
  • Top 5 in SFX readers’ poll 2006
  •’s favourite five books of 2006 and 2007
  • Finalist for the Compton Crook Award 2008
  • Finalist for the Tähtifantasia Award 2010
  • Finalist for the Prix Imaginales 2010

“An exciting new entry to the heroic fantasy ranks – rough-and-tumble,
bold and authentically original.”
Jeff VanderMeer, author of City of Saints and Madmen

“There’s wizards, mythology, kings, princes, a self-absorbed nobleman, ancient legends, fencing – all written so well I was grinding my teeth with envy whenever I HAD to put the book down. This is a fantastic start to a trilogy, and I can’t wait to get the next two books so I can see what happens next.”
Lilith Saintcrow, author of the Dante Valentine and Jill Kismet novels

“Critics compare Abercrombie to Dickens, but come on – Dickens was never so entertaining. This intricate story just flows, carrying along barbarian fighters with real courage (and real injuries), spoiled nobles with redeeming potential, mages with disconcerting agendas… plus the most sympathetic torturer ever. The First Law Trilogy: an adventure whose characters grow in tough, surprising, satisfying ways, in a gritty, exotic world that is sometimes awful, and always fascinates. Expect fast, funny dialog and one hell of a rush.”
John Meaney, author of Paradox and Bone Song

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie is the best new fantasy book I’ve read in the last 10 years. Yes. You heard that right.”
Andy Remic, author of the Clockwork Vampire Chronicles

“Darkly humorous, dripping with rich characterisation and with great control of voice, Abercrombie is setting the standard for modern fantasy fiction.”
Tim Stretton, author of The Dog of The North

“There is a gritty edge to his world, and an awareness of violence that is very contemporary… there is much to reward the reader.”
Lisa Tuttle, for The Times

“An admirably hard, fast and unpretentious read… packs a mean punch in the bloodthirsty mayhem and mystery departments.”
– Saxon Bullock, SFX Magazine

“You’d never guess that The Blade Itself is Joe Abercrombie’s debut novel. He writes like a natural. There are great characters, sparky dialogue, an action-packed plot, and from the very first words and an opening scene that is literally a cliffhanger, you know you are in for a cheeky, vivid, exhilarating ride.”
– Barbara Davies, Starburst Magazine

“Abercrombie kicks off his series masterfully with a heroic fantasy without conventional heroes. Its clearly the characters that take center stage here. Their dialogue is full of cynicism and wit, their lives full of intrigue, battles and magic.”
– Gail Pruszkowski, Romantic Times

“Fans of character-driven epics who are willing to take their heroes with a grain of moral ambiguity should add this novel to their ‘must read’ list… The Blade Itself is a smartly-written, sophisticated debut with compelling characters, a complex plot, and style to burn.”
– Siobhan Carroll, Strange Horizons

The Blade Itself is a page-turner powered by a combination of gritty, fast-paced action and juicy doses of cynicism.”
Edge Magazine

“Now this is a breath of fresh air! A story told with wit, dash, and a keen eye for character… Finding a writer like Abercrombie amidst the clutter of second-raters who crowd the fantasy genre is like the sun breaking through dark clouds; he wakes you up and reminds you why you took up reading in the first place.”
– Simeon Shoul, Infinity Plus

“It’s funny, violent, and brilliant. Imagine if Quentin Tarantino wrote a sword & sorcery novel.”
Unshelved Book Club

“Fast-paced, deeply sarcastic, spitefully witty and well observed. The dialogue is razor sharp, the author is comfortable changing voices depending on viewpoint and there is very little to find fault with.”
– Den Patrick, Dreamwatch

“A fantasy novel full of enough ironic and slightly self-deprecating humor and Scorcese-esque violence to make the average hipper than thou non-fantasy reader want to learn more about the genre … yet filled with enough touchstones to make your average Tolkien-weaned fantasy reader quite happy indeed.”
– Lucien Spelman, Blood, Blade & Thruster

“In addition to excellent characterizations and fascinating world-building, Abercrombie also writes the best fight scenes I have read in ages. I’m glad the whole package is good, but I could happily recommend The Blade Itself for the fight scenes alone.”
– John Enzinas, SFSite

The Blade Itself is an incredibly accomplished first novel.”
– Victoria Hoyle, Emerald City

“An extremely impressive debut, the first in a series subtitled The First Law, and in Joe Abercrombie it brings us a writer who oozes promise. This is surely a novel as sharp as its title.”
– John Berlyne, SFRevu

The Blade Itself easily equals anything released in epic fantasy in the past few years, and just may rise to the top … This book is about characters first, and Abercrombie skillfully portrays them with near-perfect internal and external dialogue set at an ideal pace … he stops just short of spitting in the face of genre and set my heart racing through some the best written fight scenes of any genre. This one is not just for fans of epic fantasy.”
Neth Space

back to top