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

by Joe Abercrombie

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1,933573,534 (4.18)62
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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English (54)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie is the final volume of his First Law Trilogy and this was a excellent ending to this adventurous, bloodthirsty, and extremely riveting story. All the various storylines are merged and resolved bringing both moments of immense satisfaction and a few exclamations of surprise. Of course when I say resolved, I don’t mean that everything has been neatly tied up with a pretty bow. This is not the kind of story that ends neatly or even necessarily happily.

First and foremost the characters that people these books are some of the most sharply drawn, and uniquely original ones that I have read about. The author digs beneath the surface and gives his characters a balance and purpose behind their deeds. The reader comes to know the evil, twisted Glokta, but also gets to see the inside of the man, what formed him, what causes him to act and why. Far from being repulsed by his dark deeds, we understand and at times even root for him. Every character springs from the page, fully formed, well rounded and complete. From the main character of Logen Ninefingers, to secondary ones like Ardee West, each one complete, original and multi-sided.

The answers as to who lives and who dies, who is the ultimate winner and who is pulling all the strings are revealed in this breathtaking, bloody tale of action and intrigue. Last Argument of Kings is an excellently crafted, deeply plotted conclusion to this epic fantasy trilogy. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Nov 1, 2014 |
Great Series ( )
  Gonzalo8046 | Sep 29, 2014 |
Almost a year has passed and I am still conflicted over the ending of this book. Regardless of how bad that sounds for the beginning of a review, I stand by it. Glokta is a wonderfully horrid yet multi- faceted man whose story I could not get enough of. The guy was crippled beyond belief and he chose to put himself through a new kind of torture- a game that was played behind the curtains, where all the players lie and everyone is doomed. Yet the old cripple continues. Jezal is a different man entirely. At first he couldn't care less whether anything ever got done, but then he attempts to mend everything when nothing can be done. He was trying to put together a hopelessly crumbled leaf. Logen. Oh my dearie Logen. His own battle, quite literally, took him to the edge of sanity. How can one man, regardless of how large he is, live with the crimes that Logen has committed? This book has no happy ending. Don't bother looking for one. No one is happy. Happiness is for those who are purer than these. At least we have Abercrombie's dark humor to fall back onto when we're done crying. ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 13, 2014 |
This is Book Three of a fantasy trilogy about a power struggle that is marked by violence, bloody torture, betrayal, evil, conspiracy, greed - well, you name the type of dark gritty depravity, and this series is replete with it. Nevertheless, I loved it.

For one thing, the author has chosen the most interesting characters for his “heroes” - very, very damaged people who combine jaw-dropping cruelty with compassion, hope, loyalty and love. You come to adore some of them, admire others, and retain a fascination for the intricacies of the rest. In addition, the author’s mastery of the exigencies of war and the realities of politics is most impressive.

Most of the people in this book are around age thirty, and most of them don’t attain many more years than that. Some of the most memorable characters include:

Sand dan Glotka, former champion swordsman and dashing officer but now a crippled and disfigured victim of torture and a worker for the Inquisition himself; you wouldn’t think an author could manage to make this 35-year-old torturer into a sympathetic hero, but this one does.

Jezal dan Luthar, a shallow arrogant nobleman and coward, infatuated by his own face and self-inflated by his own ambition but with so much growing up to do, over the course of three books, he manages to do so.

Magus Bayaz, the First of the Magi - i.e., first apprentice to Juvens, son of Euz - the part man, part demon who sealed the gates to the world below, delivering humanity from the tyranny of devils. Euz promulgated The First Law, which is that it is forbidden to touch the Other Side directly, or to speak with devils. [However, Euz was of course himself part devil, as were his sons, Juvens, Kanedias, Bedesh, and Glustrod.] The first three were given magic gifts, but not his fourth son Glustrod, who summoned demons from the Other Side to exact revenge. The woes of the world stem from this demonic interfamilial conflict.

Khalul, the Second of the Magi and in deadly competition with Bayaz for control of the world. Khalul broke the Second Law against eating the flesh of men in order to enhance his power base.

Mamun, First apprentice of Khalul

Logen Ninefingers, a famously courageous killer and cunning tactician with a penchant for inspirational aphorisms, a philosophical bent, a knack for making enemies, and, when not almost demonically possessed in battle, a very good and lovable man;

Dogman, Second to Logen and his best friend and follower;

Bethod, King of the Northmen

Ferro Maljinn, a former slave to the Gurkhul and now looking for vengeance, both aided and impaired by being descended from demons.

Ardee West, the intelligent and unconventional sister of Major Collem West, a friend of Jezal’s

Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

There is a great deal of pessimism expressed by the characters in these books, and a lot of good reason to support such an outlook. The saga depicts life, as one of the epigrams holds, as “a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse.” Or as Logen describes his own existence, which is in some ways a microscopic version of everyone’s: “It seemed a bitter, pointless sort of a life now. No one was any better off because of it. Full of violence and pain, with not much but disappointment and hardship in between.”

Government is portrayed (in a shift from fantasy to reality) as an ever-shifting balance of winners and losers in the greedy quest for power and wealth.

The characters often (by necessity) think about death, or “going back to the mud.” For example, Dogman, thinking about how death is a great leveler, treating each man the same, notes despondently:

"It’s an easy thing to make a man a carcass. He knew a thousand ways to do it. But once you’ve done it, there’s no going back. One minute he’s a man, all full up with hopes, and thoughts, and dreams. A man with friends, and family, and a place where he’s from. Next minute he’s mud.”

It's not all bleak though; there is also a lot of gentle humor in the book, mostly coming from Logen, who is often apt to distill wisdom in the form of advice from his father (“You have to be realistic;” “Never take a man face-to-face if you can kill him from behind;” “You can never have too many knives;” “Fearlessness is a fool’s boast” ) or in self-deprecating observations about himself (always starting with “You can say one thing about Logen Ninefingers....")

There are also some profoundly tragic and touching love stories interweaved in the books.

Book Three is full of surprising developments for the characters, in ways that tie the many subplots of the three books together.

Evaluation: This epic narrative is filled with uncommonly nuanced heroes and jaw-dropping (and often jaw-breaking) adventures, along with meditations on politics, love, life, friendship, courage, betrayal, revenge, mortality, human motivations, human failings, and the inexplicable and undefeatable human capacity for hope. Ordinarily I tend to eschew books with so much violence, but here it serves a purpose, one of which is to place into relief acts of nobility and compassion, made all the more exceptional for the risks inherent in just being good. ( )
  nbmars | Aug 11, 2014 |
Awesome finish to one of the best fantasy series I've ever read. ( )
  Me-chan | Jun 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
The author's "voice" feel and read smooth. The world building and character development is masterful. The character development is so good that they feel like old friends at this point. And then the ending broke my heart! It is "not really" a “happily-ever-after” (HEA). Those characters that the author is so good at creating? Some of them did not have a HEA. But on the other side of the coin, maybe I got so heartbroken because the author is so good at weaving the story that I felt it deeply. Gotta give the author a lot of kudos for that! It gives you pause to wonder though if some of the “good guys” might not really be good and some of the “bad guys” might not really be bad. The whole trilogy is just a long sad tale where I couldn't find much of a meaning to the heros' struggles. Is it even a fight of good versus evil? So at the end of it, what were all their struggles for? All their trials? All their hardships? For what? The answers to those questions were not very satisfying to me as a reader. I also find the writing style using multiple threads to be slow going, annoying and feels discordant to read. So despite the masterful author’s “voice”, I don’t think I would be buying anymore work by this author.
 

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Joe Abercrombieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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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