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Last Argument of Kings (First Law 3) (Bk. 3) (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Joe Abercrombie

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2,404722,586 (4.16)66
Member:enikra
Title:Last Argument of Kings (First Law 3) (Bk. 3)
Authors:Joe Abercrombie
Info:Gollancz (2009), Paperback, 704 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie (2008)

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We pick back up a couple of months after the events of Before They Are Hanged (The First Law: Book Two), Bayaz and crew have returned to the city of Adua after their failed quest, Sand dan Glokta is a Superior of Adua and carrying out his duties - both for the country and for his boss, the Arch Lector, West and the Northmen are in the North fighting against Bethod. The king is about to die, and both crown princes are dead, and the nobles are trying their best to outbid each other in both favours and blackmail so that they can seize the throne. As if the kingdom doesn't have enough troubles, the war with the Gurkish is about to come to a head.

All the plotlines set up in the last couple of books converge and get resolved - the wars with the North and the Gurkish, the succession, Bayaz's plans. In a way, they're resolved neatly, but not in the way you'd expect from a work of fantasy. No one in Abercrombie's world is particularly nice, but almost everyone turns out to be nastier than you might expect - and yes, that's possible. Although, the character arcs are certainly plausible and realistic, it's still sad.

This book is certainly well crafted, but it's not one that I particularly enjoyed reading. After the negativity in Before They Are Hanged (The First Law: Book Two), I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and the characters that Abercrombie had spent the last two books building up get some measure of redemption, for all the blood and gore to pay off, but as Abercombie keeps repeating - "no one gets what they deserve." There are a lot of battles, every characters gets put through hell, everything in sight is destroyed, but there's no reprieve in sight.

Writers can choose to focus on how miserable the world is, or they can try to find inspiration in unlikely sources, which is what most fantasy does. Abercrombie chose the former, and it feels like he got swept up in his desire to write a gritty and realistic world that he forgot to make it likeable - it's merely depressing. It makes me retroactively dislike the other two books for making a promise they didn't deliver on, but no one gets what they deserve and that includes me, apparently.

I would write about the plot and the ending of the characters, but it doesn't seem like it matters. It hardly feels like the end of a trilogy, it just seems like a few more moves have occurred in the game of chess that Bayaz and Khalul are playing. Indeed, Abercrombie has continued to write books that will hopefully end in some sort of resolution - there are three more books set in this world and a forthcoming trilogy. I don't think I want to be along for the ride, though.

I struggled to decide how many stars to give this book - it's very well done, but I didn't enjoy it. Readers that are not bothered by futility would probably like this series, though (fans of George R.R. Martin, I'm looking at you.) ( )
  kgodey | Apr 11, 2017 |
So many mixed feelings on this book and I will try to address this without delving into spoilers. The writing is top-notch. The tension is intense throughout every plot--each character is at risk, and the stakes are high. That said, the end left me frustrated. Mind you, I know the genre is grimdark. I didn't expect happy endings. Even so, I wish the ending hadn't kept dragging on, because the longer it went, the less I liked it. It came back to a simple fact: most of the characters didn't change through the course of the trilogy (the major exceptions to this being Ardee and Jezal). There was no enlightenment, no growth. This contradicts how most books--heck, even 1000-word flash fiction stories--usually develop a character arc, and it left me without a sense of satisfaction at the end.

That said, I am still mightily impressed with Abercrombie, and I will look for more of this books. This trilogy was still a great read overall, even if the very end wasn't quite what I wanted. ( )
  ladycato | Oct 24, 2016 |
I just can't decide how to rate this book. I enjoyed everything about the Last Argument of Kings except the ending. Although, I'm not as unhappy about it today as I was when I finished the book last night. It has been on my mind so Joe Abercrombie knew what he was doing. If there was another book in the series, I would rate it 4 to 5 stars.

I am going to give it 4 stars because I do recommend this series...unless you are squeamish or require a HEA. ( )
  Amanda105 | Sep 5, 2016 |
I greatly appreciate Abercrombie's style and panache. I think he is a very skilled writer, I just find his worldview to be utterly disheartening. Some people might laud him for having the guts to make his characters truly suffer, but what is the point of such suffering if his character don't gain anything in the end? Ferro is left haunted by demons, hellbent on revenge. Jezal is turned into a puppet king with none of his own agency. Logen is presumed dead. What was the point of the suffering, the pain, the struggle if in the end nothing changes? Why should I care at all about the characters and their fight? To me, the ending turned the books into nothing more than a nihilistic farce. All of the love I had built for the characters crumbled away like dust in the wind.

Now don't get me wrong. I do not demand happy endings. In fact, I find happy endings just as repulsive as this emptiness. There is no point in raising the stakes so high and making the characters suffer so much if in the end they don't get anything for their troubles. There is such an emphasis on the characters becoming better people. Jezal and Logen both want to be better men. But all this book showed me was that it is impossible to ever become a better person. If you try, you are left even worse off than you were before.

So I'm left with the question: What is the point of this book? ( )
  EruditeVolatility | Jul 12, 2016 |
more difficult to keep a track of all the action than the previous two, or perhaps I wanted to relive it all so finished at a gallop...At the end, some ends are tied up and some are loose, and there is nothing fairytale about any of it... I loved it! ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
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Joe Abercrombieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Preuss, AlexanderCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.—Paul Gauguin
Last Argument of Kings—Inscribed on his cannons by Louis XIV
Does the devil know he is a devil?—Elizabeth Madox Roberts
Dedication
For the Four Readers

You know who you are
First words
Superior Glokta stood in the hall, and waited. He stretched his twisted neck out to one side and then to the other, hearing the familiar clicks, feeling the familiar cords of pain stretching out through the tangled muscles between his shoulder-blades. Why do I do it, when it always hurts me? Why must we test the pain? Tongue the ulcer, rub the blister, pick the scab?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575084162, Paperback)

The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him ' but it's going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and there's only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. It's past time for the Bloody-Nine to come home. With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no-one is safe, and no-one can be trusted. His days with a sword are far behind him. It's a good thing blackmail, threats and torture still work well enough. Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is far too painful, and turned his back on soldiering for a simple life with the woman he loves. But love can be painful too, and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it. While the King of the Union lies on his deathbead, the peasants revolt and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No-one believes that the shadow of war is falling across the very heart of the Union. The First of the Magi has a plan to save the world, as he always does. But there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, after all, than to break the First Law ...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:00 -0400)

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The King of the Union lies on his deathbed, the peasants revolt, and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is about to fall across the heart of the Union. Only the First of the Magi can save the world, but there are risks.… (more)

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