I have heard for quite some time that Joe Abercrombie was more of a “gritty” fantasy writer, more in the vein of George R.R. Martin than Robert Jordan. So that’s what I expected in The Blade Itself.
What I read was not gritty. I would describe it more as an action-adventure with a fantasy flavor. Actually it felt more like an urban fantasy style of writing in a medieval fantasy setting. The characters had a lot of flippancy in their dialog, and it was very fast-paced with no setting descriptions. But I’ll admit I only made it 15% through the book before I got bored.
I see that the book was nominated for a Campbell Award (for new writers) in 2008. Perhaps there was a dearth of fantasy books by new authors that year.