The first novel in the First Law Trilogy and debut fantasy novel from New York Times bestseller, Joe Abercrombie.
Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian — leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, 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 box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. 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.
Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult.
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 noir fantasy with a real cutting edge.
The plot of the trilogy involves three major powers:
The Union, a large kingdom similar to Western Europe.
The Gurkish Empire, which is similar to the large Middle-Eastern empires of antiquity.
The Northmen, a rough alliance of several northern tribes with Viking and Anglo Saxon overtones under the leadership of a warrior-king named Bethod.
There are two major theaters of war. The first takes place in the north between the Union and the Northmen, who invade the Union’s northern province of Angland. The second is in the south between the Union and the Gurkish Empire, who attempt to annex the Union city of Dagoska. The trilogy centers on the fortunes of a variety of characters as they navigate through these and other conflicts.
The Blade Itself
The title of the first book is taken from a quote by Homer in The Odyssey: “The blade itself incites to deeds of violence.”
Before They Are Hanged
The title of the second book references a quote by Heinrich Heine: “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”
Last Argument of Kings
The title of the third book refers to the words Louis XIV had inscribed on his cannons: “Ultima Ratio Regum,” which is Latin for “the last resort of kings.”
The three standalone books are set in the same world as the trilogy. Some of the major characters are minor characters from the original trilogy while several major characters from the trilogy sometimes also appear in smaller roles, cameos or are mentioned in passing.
Best Served Cold is set in the same universe as the First Law series, roughly three years after the trilogy. It takes place in Styria, an island continent reminiscent of Italy during the Italian Wars, focusing on the vengeance of a betrayed mercenary leader.
The Heroes focuses on a three-day battle set in the same world as the First Law trilogy, about seven years after events of the trilogy itself. Union commander Lord Marshal Kroy leads the Union forces against the much smaller Northern army led by Black Dow. The story features many characters seen in previous First Law novels like Bremer dan Gorst, Lord Marshal Kroy, and the Dogman.
Red Country is set about thirteen years after the First Law trilogy and revolves around a youthful female protagonist who is hoping to bury her bloody past, but she’ll have to sharpen up some of her old ways to get her family back. Her journey will take her across the barren western plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre and high into the un-mapped mountains.