The Blade Itself, as I noted above, was published in 2006 by Orbit Books in the US and Gollancz in the UK. The subsequent books were published in 2007 and 2008, named Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings respectively. Written by Joe Abercrombie, this series received praise by fantasy greats, including George R. R. Martin.
Beginning with an introduction to Logan Ninefinginers, a Northman also called Bloody Nine. Having been separated from his friends, and assuming they are dead, Logan travels by himself through The North. War is spilling out throughout the globe, not only in the North but in the Union, the Gurkhul empire and Styria.
Logan learns from the Spirits, small smokey creatures that very few mortals can speak with, that a great wizard named Bayaz wants to speak with him. With a purpose, Logan travels to the Magi library to meet the First of the Magi, Bayaz. This meeting sets the wheels of fate into motion, intertwining not only the members of Bayaz's company but also the world.
Bayaz promised Logan revenge on his enemy the king in The North, Bethod. Bayaz, Logan, and Bayaz's apprentice travel to the Union, to add more members to their quest. Though their "quest" is very vague, getting the impression from Bayaz that one should not ask him too many questions. He is the First of the Magi and is to be obeyed and not questioned.
From here we are introduced to the other main characters, Sand dan Glokta, Jezal dan Luthar, Collem and Ardee West, and Ferro Maljinn. Glokta is a former solider turned torturer for the Union. Jezal is an insufferable military man. Collem is a low-born military major (evident from the lack of "dan" in his name). Ardee is the thorn in her brother's foot, an outspoken low-born living in the capital. Ferro is an escaped slave. She will stop at nothing to have her revenge.
The story is told through two predominate groups. The first is the traveling group, made up of Bayaz, Logan, Jezal, and Ferro. This group travels across the globe on Bayaz's quest. The second is group is Collem, Ardee, and Glokta. Though they spend a large portion of time in the capital of the Union, Collem and Glokta must travel for their work. Collem ends up fighting in Angland and The North and Glokta is sent to Dagoska.
This is the bare bones of the story. I have omitted a lot. I feel a reader should go in with a minimal understanding of the books. That way none of the twists of turns of the paths the characters take are spoiled. Its unexpected and raw.
This series is similar to A Song of Ice And Fire by George R. R. Martin, the story is told through the perspective of multiple characters. These characters aren't morally black or white. All the characters have many driving points for their views, which are touched on. No character is wholly evil or good. They are human... Well, some of them are human-ish.
If you like epic tales (epic in the honest sense of the word). Characters that you will be rooting for (even if they are a former solider, crippled in the war and turned torture). Mixed with interesting lore and magic that doesn't try to pull a deus ex machina, then this series could be for you! I only say could because writing style preference varies for people. Give this series a try! I hope it won't disappoint. I know its a classic for me.