The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie

This book has a self-centered soldier, a barbarian, a torturer, a wizard, an evil overlord, an incompetent king and a former slave turned fighter. There are plots to invade, plots to take over the throne and plots to go on an epic journey. There is most every trope, plot and character you could expect from a fantasy novel. While the book is fun, it is also a little simple while simultaneously overwhelmed by everything it tries to include. There are many novels that take one element of this book/the fantasy genre and do it much, much better.


  • Looking for the story of a torturer? Try Shadow & Claw by Gene Wolfe.
  • Want a magician of sorts with questionable morals? Try Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
  • Want plots upon plots to overthrow neighboring kingdoms? Try Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Want a strong female that moves from slave to fighter to powerful leader? Try Empress by Karen Miller
  • Want the story of a skilled fighter who starts off as a cocky ass-hat but changes personality in an impossibly short amount of time? Try watching Thor. No, don’t. That was a terrible movie.
  • Need a better book that includes all the epic-fantasy-ness you could ever want? Try Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin