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Last Argument of Kings (First Law) (Bk. 3)…

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

by Joe Abercrombie

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2,266682,825 (4.17)65
Title:Last Argument of Kings (First Law) (Bk. 3)
Authors:Joe Abercrombie
Info:Gollancz (2009), Paperback, 704 pages
Collections:Your library

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Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie (2008)


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Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
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 |
Thrilling conclusion to a great trilogy, hated to see it end. ( )
  CMSkiera | Jan 26, 2016 |
Joe Abercrombie is an excellent storyteller, and has created a wonderful story in this trilogy of books. I've been assured by fellow readers that his excellent characters continue in some additional books, and I'll give those a try. What I particularly love is how he takes us through a journey of discovery of some of his characters. Characters that I saw as innocent or good or"righteous" in the beginning evolved throughout the story, becoming more slippery and dark as we made our way through their experiences. By the same token, characters that seemed dark and sinister early became the real heroes as the story progressed. So much like the real world, right? Good and bad in everything and everyone, and often times the best folks aren't necessarily hiding behind the prettiest faces. These books were a present to me from one of my kids, and what a great present they were - I'll be looking for more by Joe Abercrombie! ( )
  bicyclewriter | Jan 8, 2016 |
Ah! Last volume of a trilogy, the final page is always turned with a sense of accomplishment, not that it was a long hard road getting there, Joe Abercrombie's writing is a breeze to read, though the breeze can be damn uncomfortable! Having read three longish books by him now with pleasure I can declare myself a fan. The last couple of books I read prior to this one were strong on plot and ideas but they failed to engage me on an emotional level because the characters were not rather flat and uninteresting. Coming back to character-centric The First Law trilogy is a refreshing change of scene, even if the air smells a bit fetid at times.

Last Argument of Kings naturally carries on from where the second volume [b:Before They Are Hanged|902715|Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)|Joe Abercrombie|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1179318094s/902715.jpg|2116927] left off. Most of the book is concerned with warfare between the Union against both the Northmen and the Gurkish Empire. The individual stories of the skillfully developed central characters from the previous two volumes are (sort of) concluded here as well as the epic main story arc that affect all of them. I keep coming across reviews of First Law books that mention "unlikable characters", I could not disagree more, I like almost all of them, and even the ones I dislike are interesting to read about. The protagonists are all complex and believable, some of their story arcs remain open ended and there is room for sequels, but as far as I know Abercrombie's subsequent books set in this world are focused on secondary characters instead.

The previous page turning fantasy epic I read was [b:The Desert Spear|6736971|The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle, #2)|Peter V. Brett|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320389818s/6736971.jpg|6527274] by Peter V. Brett, it was a very good and compulsive read but it pales in comparison to books in this trilogy, the wit, charm, and intelligence of Abercrombie's books are seldom matched in the sf/f genre. The prose style is generally visceral but occasionally the author slips in unexpectedly lyrical passages like

"Their deaths were written in the shapes of sweet blood on the bitter ground. Their deaths were whispered in the buzzing of the flies on the corpses beyond the wall. Their deaths were stamped on their faces, carried on the wind, held in the crooked line between the mountains and the sky. Dead men, all."


"It’s hard to be done a favour by a man you hate. It’s hard to hate him so much afterwards. Losing an enemy can be worse than losing a friend, if you’ve had him for long enough."

These more profound thoughts tend to be from the perspective of the melancholy barbarian Logen Nine Fingers.

While I love how all the myriad characters converge for the grand finale, I find the fate of the individual protagonists a little too inconclusive, and some of them deserve a better fate than the author gave them, though I suppose that is a reflection of real life. As Logen Nine Fingers.(master of catch phrases among other things) likes to say "You have to be realistic" and "Nobody gets what they deserve". Still, even though the intent of the author is to create a gritty, visceral and believable fantasy saga I feel the actual ending need not be so bleak, I followed the lives of these characters and I like them enough to wish for a happy or at least optimistic ending for them. Not all tropes need to be turned on their heads I think, happy endings leave a better aftertaste. That said it is the journey, not the destination (to trot out another cliche), and many readers are fine with the book's ending as it is. Just a personal quibble from me then.

I look forward to catching up with all the Abercrombie fantasy fiction in 2013.

4.5 stars (5 stars for the trilogy as a whole) ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (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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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Abercrombieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Preuss, AlexanderCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
For the Four Readers

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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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