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Joe Abercrombie’s world in The Blade Itself

September 9, 2010

I’m almost done with Book One of the First Law series by Joe Abercrombie, it’s a very enjoyable, quick read. The prose is effective, polished and direct; he emphasizes elements in his description sparingly. He only does so when he needs them to set the atmosphere and accomplish the effect he’s after. The characters are consistent, believable, and thoroughly human. Mr. Abercrombie reveals of each of them, again, just enough to sculpt them as perfectly as he needs to. Both of these characteristics serve him well, as that brevity is vital for the quick pace of the narrative, as well as the other, overarching effect he’s after: telling his story from several points of view, simultaneously.

Each of the narrating characters –the story is told from a mixed third-person perspective– has a palpably different vision of the world, which can only be appreciated when all of their perspectives are assembled together. This effect is at its strongest when the contrast of what one character thinks as commonplace surprises another.

Those multiple perspectives gradually reveal the mechanisms, the cosmology of this universe. The cosmology, in turn, was more or less in plain view of all the characters. However, the significance of each detail is not brought to light until the pieces begin to fit together.

There are hints that sketch a model similar to the one defined in Tolkien’s Silmarillion, where there is one creator atop a long pyramid of quasi-divine servants that has the mortal creatures of the world at its base.

Not everything is revealed in the first book, nevertheless, which could have just as easily been an enjoyable read of a “lighter” incarnation of the genre. Mr. Abercrombie begins to ask the questions that remit me back to Tolkien’s work towards the end. Or rather, I, as a reader, didn’t put the pieces together until then.

A thoroughly enjoyable experience. I look forward to the rest of the series.

From → Literature

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