Book Review: First Law Trilogy

First Law Trilogy - Joe Abercrombie

Several months ago, I finished up the Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb and was in search of another epic fantasy tale. After several glowing recommendations, I decided to go with The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Shortly after starting in on the first book, my free time became erratic. It took a considerable amount of time to read The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged. By the time I hit book three, Last Argument of Kings, I had more time and read through it in short order.

Due to the vast amount of time it took to complete this series, I will not be looking at each book individually. Instead, I’ll be talking about the series as a whole.

My Likes:

I am not a fan of profanity in the Fantasy genre. I can’t explain why I feel this way, mainly because I don’t mind it in any other genre, but it often feels like a cheap thrill. Joe Abercrombie drowns the reader in profanity and yet it never comes across as a cheap thrill. It is folded into each character so well that it feels as though it is a part of them. At no point did I feel as though the author was trying to shock me with his choice of words, they flowed naturally from each and every character.

I absolutely love Joe Abercrombie’s sense of humor. This gritty tale had snippets of dialog that made me crack a smile and others that made me roar with laughter. Whenever a punchline was delivered, it felt natural for the character, which made it all the more appealing. On several occasions I went back and re-read paragraphs just so that I could laugh some more.

My Dislikes:

When I first started reading The Blade itself, I had a bit of difficulty getting into the story. The problem wasn’t that the story was dull, my issue was with the way in which the story was told. Having recently finished nine Robin Hobb novels, I struggled with Joe Abercrombie’s style. The story felt as though it lurched forward rather than progress smoothly. Every instance of “said Logan” or “said Bayaz” grated at my nerves. Before long I was drawn into the story and was less concerned with the style that it was written, however, in the beginning it was a challenge.

There were some aspects of this tale that were painfully obvious. It felt as though too big a hint was given to the reader, too soon, and for scores of pages an outcome was plainly coming. When the plot twist was presented to the character, I found myself bored with the idea and looking forward to something else coming out of the woodwork.

Closing Thoughts:

The First Law trilogy was recommended to me as a gritty story with many grey characters. Initially I struggled with the writing style but quickly became engrossed in the story. I was so impressed, in fact, that I dove right into the next published work, Best Served Cold. In addition, I pre-ordered The Heros so that I could continue to read Joe Abercrombie’s gritty, action packed stories.

The character development throughout all three novels was fantastic. Some viewpoints I loved, others I loved to hate. When the story was coming to a close, I loved seeing everything unfold from the variety of perspectives. I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy and would recommend it to anyone that enjoyes gritty fantasy with dark characters.


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2 comments On Book Review: First Law Trilogy

  • Hi Walt,

    Also loved these books, not sure how it comes across or if there is such a thing but as an Englishman I found the humour in these books to be very ‘British’ if that makes any sense? So I am really pleased that you found it so funny at times.
    Just out of interest which character were you talking about when you said that you couldn’t really warm to them until you got to the end? Good stuff.

    Cheers

    • I didn’t start getting into Glotka’s story until later in the series. I found myself getting bored with his search for the truth and less interested in his bones clicking and the pain that followed.

      I wasn’t really into West’s part of the story until the chapter where he earned his northern nickname. From then on I was eager to read more.

      I was drawn in fairly quickly by all of the other characters, especially Logan. The First of the Magi, on the other hand, I thought was great in the beginning and I started liking him less throughout the story (The more high and mighty he became the less appealing I found him to be).

      All in all, I thought the trilogy was an excellent read.

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