My first complaint is that there's nothing new at all here. A guttersnipe named Azoth wants to apprentice himself to a "wetboy" (an assassin who uses magic) named Durzo Blint. There's a magical sword. Azoth is more than he knows he is. There are shifting loyalties and political machinations. And 660 pages or so later, there's a lot of story left to tell. I doubt that I'll carry on. The writing is undistinguished, and the book could have used some severe pruning. For example: "It looked entirely normal, except that the sheath was made entirely of lead, and it covered the sword entirely, . . ." And then there are sentences that make an old retired English teacher blanch: "But with fire in one hand and a gleaming knife in the other, the horse was hardly calmed." There were times in the story when I wasn't quite sure what was going on.
Things like that don't bother anybody but me, I'm told. People today read for story, not for grammatical niceties or stylistic touches, and I figure they're amply rewarded with this book. It's filled with action, with violence and mayhem, with plot twists, and the overarching feeling that anyone can die at any time. Maybe after a year goes by I'll give the second book in the trilogy a try. Or not. Hard to say right now.