The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie

It’s tricky to know just how to review The Blade Itself, because, I must confess, I didn’t exactly come to it expecting just a novel. I came to it expecting what’s widely considered a foundational text for the (relatively) new subgenre of Grimdark. I have read the occasional book that might be considered to be within that area (like Hurley’s God’s War, though that’s science fantasy rather than straight fantasy), but the big names of the movement – Abercrombie, Lynch, Lawrence and company – I’ve never gotten around to. So in reading this… yes, of course I wanted an enjoyable experience, and to see what this popular author was like, but I also wanted to see what grimdark was really like in the flesh, outside of the polemica and caricature for and against. What is grimdark? What makes it different from non-grimdark?

And, to be honest, I come away a little puzzled.

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