I have to say that I enjoyed this book, more than I enjoyed the Game of Thrones, the little hundred pages that I read (and didn't continue). One of the first things that I liked about this book is how it was written. It's easy to understand, comical in a way, and yet, it distinctly articulates the darkness and feelings of the story and the characters. Unlike many authors who tend to make long complicated sentences in an attempt to sound deep or profound, Joe Abercombie does not, but even with that, the prose still seems musical. So, in a nutshell, it's the writing that attracted me initially and kept me reading.
Essentially, The Blade Itself is the first book of a Trilogy called The First Law. Why The First Law? It has something to do with the world's history, which is discussed in good detail and is very interesting. More than anything else, the first book is like an introduction of sorts, where we are introduced to the world the author has created and the very colorful characters. And by colorful, I really mean colorful as in they all have very interesting personalities. I think this is the book's strongest point.
First we have Logen, or more popularly known as Logen Ninefingers (as he is missing one finger) who is a kind man with a heart of gold. Je, however, has seen a lot in battle, and when provoked can transform into a murdering psychopath. He is from the North, an area disputed and acclaimed to foster savages, men who only know how to fight, and are feared because of this. Running away from creatures called Shankas, he falls down a cliff and gets separated from his friends, and founds himself in the guidance of Bayaz, an old sorcerer who has seen the world of men fall down and up and down again.
I like Logen a lot. I found it very amusing when he was so in awe of the city of Adua. I pictured him like a lost country boy looking at a big city for the first time. But I think what attracted me to him the most was how he acknowledged the many crimes and murders in the past, and how he is ashamed of it, but yet also acknowledges the fact that there were instances that he just had no choice. It's a difficult world, after all - a world full of wars and hate. He just tries to survive. He fears the enemy, the unknown, and its because of this fear that he is still alive. He is probably one of the most human characters in the book. "I'm still alive!" is what I would say, too, when I overcome a life and death situation.
Then we have Glokta, which is another of my favorite characters. He is a torturer who used to be one of the most admired soldier and swordsman. He is the epitome of a character who was at the top, at the prime of his youth, and then in an instant, all of this crshed into pieces and is now seen like a dreg in society. Because of this he is sarcastic, has a dry and gory humor, and has thus been degraded into catching and torturing people to get information out of them. He has a knack of figuring out the true motives of people, of knowing their dirty secrets, but keeps it to himself and follows these people anyway. Glokta is probanly the most colorful of the characters. He may have had quite a past and a downfall, but most of his thoughts are very funny and made me laugh in more than a few occassions.
We also have Jezal, a blooming swordsman from a rich family who is as selfish and as arrogant. His only ambition is to rise to the top, and due to his upbringing, he sees people of no blood inferior and thus cannot stand them. He is especially not jovial when it comes to Logen, and especially Glokta. We also have Major West, a commoner and a strong soldier, who rose to the top from the very bottom, and worked his ass off to get where he is today, but even with that, he still finds difficulty in establishing connections with people around him because of his lineage. We also have Ferro, an ex-slave who wants to render vengeance on all the people who oppressed her and made her suffer. I don't like her very much as she is too extreme on the vengeance thing.
All in all, I think the characters were built and introduced nicely, which is good, and hopefully there will be nice and yummy character development in the second book!!