The Blade Itself for £1.99

August 7th, 2012

My guess is it’s likely that most regular followers of this blog have already had the profound pleasure, education, and indeed revelation, of reading The Blade Itself.  But just in case the gloom of your life remains unilluminated by its scintillating brilliance, I note that amazon uk are for the next month or so running a little promotion where you can get the kindle edition for the paltry sum of £1.99.  No, not a printing error, not a mistake, £1.99.  That’s less than half price.  You’re picking my pocket.  You’re stealing the food from the mouths of my children.  In order to whet your appetite, I present to you one of the most recent 1 star reviews from the amazon page:

“There is a line between good and evil and this book not only crosses that line, but goes far onto the other side … This books seems to be a symptom of society that previously had morality and traditional values and has gradually moved further and further down the dark path towards greater “freedom” … It saddens me that 86+ people reviewed this book and gave it 5 stars.  So why did I buy it?  There is a romantic element at the moment with movies, games and books about common people, orphans, peasants, poor people, who despite their circumstances are able to become something, whether through a thieves guild or as an assasin using their talents for the greater good.  This book goes in a completely different direction as if we want to become serial killers, I wish I could give it a negative rating!”

Oh, so do I!  But sadly, one star is the lowest rating amazon allows, even for books in which assasins (sic) don’t use their talents for the greater good.  But only imagine, this reviewer had to pay full price to lament the sad slide of all that is moral and traditional into the toilet!  Now you, yes, madam, yes, sir, you, can do the same for a mere £1.99!

Posted in announcements by Joe Abercrombie on August 7th, 2012.

44 comments so far

  • Frank Fitzpatrick says:

    OK, OK, I’ll hold my hands up and admit, I was in a bad mood, you hadn’t replied to my comments and I wanted to do something that would cut and scathe you…

    Seriously though, that person is a fucking idiot.

  • Chevi77 says:

    I am ordering that bargain straight away. And technically, I have it already in printed version, so more than stealing from you, you could consider it a tip!
    Is it going to happen with the other books from the trilogy? I’d rather get them too at such a good price along with my printed versions!

  • Chevi77 says:

    And by the way, that reviewer should read a bit more from greek philosophers. The tale of better past times, where youth was not immoral and traditional values are lost is as old as they are. And never proved to be true.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Come, come, let us be civil.

    It won’t be likely to happen with the other two, but The First Law is coming out as a boxed set later in the month, with the e-books of all three for 9.99, I believe. So you might be better waiting for that. Up to you…

  • Chevi77 says:

    Thanks for the tip, Joe. I might wait then. That seems a fair price for the whole trilogy in e-book format. And if it does not happen, well, I still got the printed books, and you could blame the editors for one less sale 🙂

  • Frank Fitzpatrick says:

    I must say, I can’t think of many people that seem to revel in negative reviews such as yourself Joe.

    Is that down to confidence in your own ability or that you simple value the opinion of others? (even when they are beyond wrong)

  • Michela says:

    The review is fantastic Joe, should be a blurb on the cover of some future edition 😉 I’ll spread the word to the less illuminated that don’t have a copy yet.

  • Michela says:

    negative reviews sell books as much as the positive ones, I think. I bought many novels after reading a negative (sometimes hilariously negative) review. You know, you read why somebody didn’t like it and sometimes you think, “that’s my book!”.

  • Michela says:

    I mean Frank, ops! Sorry 🙂

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    All bad reviews used to burn a lot but my skin has got a great deal thicker over time. There certainly is a degree to which I find any response to my work to be fascinating, and I’m always looking for things I can learn, ways I can improve, for all you don’t find diamond edged insights very often, certainly not on amazon. Overall, as Michela points out, I’ve learned that reviews which really attack you on idealogical grounds are some of the best publicity you can have for a book – negativity draws way more attention than positivity, and usually from all kinds of different observers. Folks who disagree with the grounds for the attack will think this is the sort of book I will like, folks who agree with the attack often think I need to read this and find out if it’s really as bad as they say, and in either case the book is established as something important and significant enough to warrant attack, a book that cannot be ignored, but must be destroyed – so I usually love to see a good impassioned attack piece on my work. Amazon reviews are often pretty disposable, but the bad ones are sometimes unintentionally hilarious. In this particular case I find the reviewer’s idea of what constitutes a good book to be so divergent from mine that I take his dislike for it as a sign of success.

  • Thaddeus says:

    O tempora, o mores!

    More seriously, that’s a good deal for anyone yet to own the book. Cheers for posting the review too. If/when I end up getting a one star review I’ll be able to remember that even whisky enthusiast and occasional writer Joe Abercrombie gets them.

  • Frank Fitzpatrick says:


    Franz is the disguise I use whilst traveling around Europe.

    But to be honest, what you’ve said not only makes sense, but also tickles a subject that I am particularly interested in (writing and publishing), so I thank you for your response.


    I find it strange that the writer of the review basically states that he/ she would prefer your books to be like Disney films, with notable right and wrongs, and no grey shading in between.

    Because you are the King of Grey. Or to use a better term, the King of Realism.

    I consider your work not to be Epic Fantasy, but rather, Realist Fantasy. Thus why I enjoy it so much more than others. As in real life, nothing runs smoothly and there are no happy endings (or they are rare and fair in between).

    But I suppose it must be easier to read such reviews knowing you have a fan base whom worships you.

  • Ads says:

    The review’s first sentence was pretty good, but then he started to lose the plot a bit after that.

    “There is a line between good and evil and this book not only crosses that line, but goes far onto the other side…” <— This does have blurb potential, just as Michela said.

    And it pretty much sums up exactly why I read every book Joe churns out.

  • Giasone says:

    Is the line between good and evil really as radically trespassed upon as the reviewer claims? Having just re-read ‘The Blade Itself’ – and enjoyed it greatly – it seems to me that the murder of Forley the Weakest is presented as evil, even if without it actually being called such. There is also no question that Bethod and his sons are presented as bad because of their hubris (i.e. lack of respect for the qualities of others, most dramatically, but not exclusively, Bayaz) and Khalul is even worse, whatever the flaws of the Union and Bayaz. Limited government that allows people notable liberty is preferred as more consistent with human well-being than full-on despotism. Questions of friendship, loyalty, respect and obligation are also interwoven into the narrative. Hardly a simple celebration of immorality or amorality… I think philosophically-inclined reviewers should really try to grapple with the trilogy in terms of moral complexity, rather than a simplistic dismissal of them as nihilistic just because there isn’t some noble and Christ-like warrior-king.

  • James Oswald says:

    I love the one star reviews, especially the more idiotic ones. Someone complained that because my book was part of a series, it wasn’t complete, and so even though he’d really liked it, he was only going to give it one star. Another gave me one star because he didn’t like the name of the main protagonist. You can’t fight that kind of logic.

  • Apatt says:

    Clearly Amazon US is more concerned with your children’s welfare as they have not reduced their e-book edition’s price in the least. That review makes me want to reread the book, except that I just read Before They are Hanged last week and still haven’t read Last Argument of Kings yet.

    I’m in Thailand and I’m glad to report that your books are being read here (by me that is), they are also on sale in Bangkok English language book shops.

  • Matt says:

    What a great line, ‘There is a line between good and evil and this book not only crosses that line, but goes far onto the other side….’. I would suggest that you have that put onto any future reprints of the book.
    If anyone is at a loss for something to read at the moment, they could try the other reviews that Benjamin has submitted to amazon. Be warned, he does take himself seriously. I thought that his review on ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a littery ananlasis’ summed up his inteligence perfectly.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    In the end people either like a book or they don’t, there’s no arguing with it, but I’m always amazed at the totally different ways people approach reading and the totally different things they seem to want out of it. I’m particularly surprised when people seem to want a certain definite angle taken by their entertainments – like this guy seems to want morality and traditional values, and a ‘romantic element’. A similar refrain you hear a lot is, ‘real life is nasty enough without reading about nasty things’. I dunno, I can love the stirring moral simplicity of Magnificent Seven, or the technicolor clenched jaws of Gunfight at the OK Corral, and still love the sleazier stylings of Fistful of Dollars, or the murkier waters of Unforgiven or Deadwood. In fact for me they all add to each other. Same for fantasy. I love Lord of the Rings but I wouldn’t want to just read Lord of the Rings over and over. No accounting for taste, though…

    I could be wrong but I think it’s actually more of a publisher decision than an amazon one. Frustrating, I know, but different territories still act independently in the way they did long years ago. Nice to hear they’re on sale in Thailand, though. Don’t think there’s a translation deal there yet…

    Aw, I hadn’t gone as far as checking out his other reviews. I feel bad now. I encourage him in all future littery ananlasises.

  • Matt says:

    Lol, not wishing to set him up, that was my bad spelling, no acount for peoples inteigence these days

  • Jacob says:

    “There is a line between good and evil and this book not only crosses that line, but goes far onto the other side … This books seems to be a symptom of society that previously had morality and traditional values and has gradually moved further and further down the dark path towards greater “freedom””

    I think the reviewer missed the point ultimately. The books aren’t about good or bad, but they are about necessities during harsh times, which can’t even be classified in a similar category as “good and evil”. For instance, the scene in Before They Are Hanged (was it, exactly?) when Black Dow chops the fourteen year old boy in the back of the head. I can see it as evil all I want… but therein lies the beauty of such a scene. These men are hardened, war-scarred scouts, on a mission. They can’t be bothered with feelings when politics, lives, and higher conditions are at stake. The books present a nice boundary point between “being outright evil” and realistic. You can detest people all you want, but the judgment of reality is completely different. No one can say, if faced with a certain situation, they wouldn’t have done the same thing. It’s not a portrayal of violence as glamorous moreso as it is a portrayal of a “things happen which are unavoidable” scenario.

  • Matt says:

    oops, even more bad spelling, *account *intelligence

    I’ll give up now while i’m behind

  • JenMo says:

    If not for the tone, that review could easily have been a 5 star essay on breaking the mold and bucking trends. It makes me feel like I should take another look at the book….. I’ve been meaning to by the audio version.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    In that case, I wish him well in all his endeavours.

    That’s in the Blade Itself, I think.

    I’m all for buying any version.

  • Frank Fitzpatrick says:

    It seems that this particular entry into Joe’s blog has been much more interesting and exciting than I first assumed it would be.

    Can’t beat insight (unless you hit it with a stick).

  • Christoph Wagner says:

    I am really disappointed. I already have that book! I demand recompensation! (That’s how those things work, right?)

    Awesome move Joe! And a great post:D

  • Gustaf Hallberg says:

    This is a very nice gesture. As a nook user I’m probably gonna buy it from B&N at full price to show my appreciation 😀

  • Kellendil says:

    That is seriously cheap.

    I already own it in paperback though, and I’m not really interested in the kindle-version.

    Still though, that is really cheap.

  • Adam says:

    Why couldn’t I have written a review of your work like that? Of course, I’d have said the same thing, but with five stars and the addendum that I was sad to not be able to give it more, but… yeah.

    Best review ever.

    Speaking of reviews, someone recently related to me that, after receiving a negative review from Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer punched him the nose, to which Vidal had to say, “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer.”

    So beating up the negative review people does have some consequence!

  • Random says:

    Seriously a review like that could have got me to read the book, that dude is just ‘nuts’. Now in honor of this naive reviewer i am going to reread the blade itself…. once again…

  • Morgan says:

    Plugging the book is cool and expected ….

    But it’s been over a week and still no Olympic blog entry? COME ON big guy :<)

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Too busy watching Olympics to make Olympic blog post.

  • James says:

    Love that and went to buy it. But as I’m from one of Englands filthy penal colonies (Australia), I’m not allowed. How about you put a donate button on your site so we can give you the money and find other means of obtaining this gem? Or is it coming out to other countries soon in Kindle format?

  • Jen says:

    I got your book from the library a while back, but I headed back to school before I could finish…sadly. I thoroughly enjoyed it and intended to finish it at a later date, however as usual life got in the way. In any case, I will happily be purchasing…and I agree that the description in the one star rating is one of the reasons I enjoyed it in the first place. It was refreshing to read something unusual. Best of luck!

  • Graham says:

    Jo, the all important question.

    Was this review helpful to you?

  • Nick says:

    I knew it. Not content with creating Shattered Styria, the Unstuck Union, Grisly Gurkhul and the Knackered North (it counts!) Joe’s also to blame for BROKEN BRITAIN. YOU BASTARD.

    Maybe some kind of Hug a (Skarling) Hoodless will solve this social crisis…

  • Phil Norris says:

    Hi Joe, seeing The First Law is being released in a paperback box set, are there any plans to re-release the trilogy in hardback?

    I’ve got BSC & The Heroes in hardback, obviously Red Country will be the same, but the FL trilogy is paperback. I’d love to have the whole set the same.

    Would sit nicely alongside my complete hardback ASoIaF collection.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    You know what? Yes it was.

    No hardcover re-releases planned, that I’m aware of. That very, very rarely happens. The market is only there to support it for things that become exceedingly popular, like Game of Thrones.

  • Ranma says:

    one needs to admit that at least the reviewer tried to criticize the book and not the author…anyway, 1.99 is the maximum I would ever like to pay for an ebook and it’s still not clear to me why a new ebook costs slightly less than an hardcover…

  • Michael says:

    Just back from two days at the olympics with the whole family, it was beyond amazing to be there.

    @JenMo – definitely recommend the audio version, makes sitting in traffic jams a joy.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Most authors (this one included) are not great at making that distinction…

    In essence an e-book costs slightly less than a hardcover because it only costs slightly less to make an e-book than a hardcover. 95% of the processes involved in making the physical book – commissioning, design, editing, publicity, marketing, management of relationships with retailers, etc. etc. not to mention the actual, you know, writing – are exactly the same. The only savings are in printing, warehousing, distribution, which are actually pretty minor costs, for the vast majority of books. Plus there are a number of factors that actually make the e-book more expensive – the need to encode into a range of different formats + if you’re in the UK, VAT is charged on e-books but not on physical books. There’s a certain price point below which publishers can’t really afford to sell their product, certainly if they’re going to continue to offer any level of innovation and diversity.

  • Patrick89 says:

    Joe, I daresay you could be a very convincing salesclerk, maybe as part-timer in a book store. Lowering all other books, and raise yours upon heaven?

  • Jacrobat says:

    My dear cousin has long told me I had to read Joe Abercrombie’s writing, but with small kids busy job etc I never got around to it. This amazon review, however, has reinforced my will to go out and get it straight away. Luddite that I am, I will go for the traditional version though. Wish me luck……….

  • Phil.I.P. says:

    Other Phil,

    There is another hardback edition of The First Law from those splendid folks at Subterranean Press, and BSC is forthcoming. However, there is the small matter of the cost, especially as their limited editions of the first two books are sold out.

    Spotted this set with matching numbers on UK eBay:

    Opening bid is a paltry 299.00 GBP. Mind you, that is considerably cheaper than the decent set of the Gollancz hardcovers which would set you back at least 1,000 GBP. Short print runs (circa 1,000 – 1,500 per book), many of which go to libraries, is the root cause.

  • SwindonNick says:

    Oh bollocks, you are getting like Pink Floyd’s DSOTM which I appear to have bought about 12 times now in different formats. So I bought the first book. Then I bought it again when you did a signing and now I am going to buy my third copy. Curse you, I was going to invest that two quid on a Euromillions ticket so your greed has probably cost me the £138m I was going to win. I hope you feel guilty, at least The Floyd never stole my lottery money.

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