Less than an hour ago I finished reading Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself. I'm working on a library book deadline here, and it's due today so I had to get it done. That was okay, though, because I was done with it, both literally and figuratively.
I've mentioned it before here on the good old blog that this book was highly recommended thanks to the internet and readers and authors alike of other books I've enjoyed. I have to say, I don't see what the fuss is all about. The first of a trilogy, when I first started reading I had to make sure that I hadn't accidentally started the second book. There was a lot going on all at once and from the get go it was action action action. I felt like I was reading a sequel, not the author's first published book.
There are a lot of names and events that get thrown around. A lot of characters get introduced rather quickly with minimal introduction and they started to pile up in my brain. There were also four or five (maybe even six) characters that the chapters focused in on. Although they all eventually intertwined it was a little chaotic. I don't mind chaos, but I felt a little lost. Plot was the big focus here, not people. Ironically, I didn't feel like much happened in regards to the plot. I also found myself not relating to or caring about anyone in the story. A little more character depth and development would have made me all the more engaged. The same goes for depth of story. I'm sure it's coming in the later books, but a bit more explanation and depth would have been nice. An index of who's who would have been helpful, too. There were a lot of names and many of them were quite similar.
One thing the book could have really used was a map. The bulk of the story takes place in, I think, the center of the world. It starts in the North, and spends a little time in the South. There was a lot of talk of old wars fought over territories. Okay, cool, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around the minimal descriptions that accompanied where places were. Complicated boundaries and several countries are hard to visualize without any great description and just plot advancement.
Like I said, I'm sure the next books in the trilogy will help fill in some of the awkward and confusing blanks but I'm not sure if I'll bother. It's not that I didn't like The Blade Itself, it's just that I have a ton of books at home and on hold at the library that I think I'll enjoy more. I will read the second book if I find the time and the stars align to make it available from the library when I want. Otherwise I might just pass.
Finally, there was one other thing about the book that I found unsavoury. Its condition. I know library books are communal and goodness knows how many people have had their hands on them, but this book came to me with a tattered cover (it's only six years old), tape on the inside, and an all over worn feeling. Clearly someone beat it up. Maybe they were getting a little too into the fight scenes. Either way, that didn't really phase me. It was the dried boogers and mysterious dark stains that really ruined my lunches. Disgusting. This is really just a side note, though, and doesn't have anything with the story itself, but I just had to share. It's just another reason I'm glad The Blade Itself is done. Well, that and the Meg Cabot book waiting to be picked up today when I return it.