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Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three Paperback – 12 Mar 2009

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Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three + Before They Are Hanged: The First Law: Book Two: 2 + The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.): 1
Price For All Three: £20.22

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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (12 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575084162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575084162
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, as well as the standalone fantasy Best Served Cold.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, and his daughters Grace and Eve. He still occasionally edits concerts and music festivals for TV, but spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels.

Here are the First Law Trilogy in series order:

The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
The Last Argument of Kings


Best Served Cold

Product Description


"Last Argument of Kings signs off the trilogy on a high, interspersing breathless skirmishes with thriller-like moments. You should always end with the best. Wow them in the final act, make the last chorus a belter, build to a climax and them get them on their feet applauding when the curtain falls. Last Argument of Kings is the textbook example of this theory in practice." (Dave Bradley SFX)

For any writer to produce work of this quality is superb; that this sequence marks a debut is all the more remarkable. The First Law (trilogy) is, I strongly believe, a seminal work of modern fantasy. It is a benchmark sequence that should be regarded as an example of all that is truly great in today's genre fiction. It stands way above the vast majority of the marketplace. It's damn good stuff! (John Berylne SF REVU)

"Breathtaking moments, great characters and grim laughs makes this a cut about your average fantasy. Joe Abercrombie's First Law series has had tired fantasy readers sitting up in pleasant surprise. And rightly so. Abercrombie is a fantasy writer who can really write. Last Argument of Kings is tightly plotted, has wit and style to spare, and in the Barbarian Logen and the Inquisitor Glotka it has two of the best fantasy creations of recent years." (Gideon Kibbleworth DEATHRAY)

All in all it has been one of the most incredible, twisted, inventive and above all utterly enjoyable fantasy reading experiences I've had in a very, very long time . . . Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he knows how to tell a bloody good tale. (

Last Argument of Kings delivers exactly what this trilogy needed: a no-holds-barred war story in which secrets are exposed, mysteries are explained and the author resolutely refuses to pull any punches. The ending is superb, particularly the tremendously satisfying epilogue and the final scene. Last Argument of Kings is a more than worthy conclusion to this trilogy. (THE WERTZONE)

The trilogy as a whole has crept gradually away from the standard fantasy template and gained a very unique feel. Having said this, for a book so different to Tolkien's, I'm going to make yet another Tolkien comparison - the aftermath and bittersweet ending has a very similar tone to the end of Lord of the Rings. each book in this trilogy has shown a distinct improvement, and with this fantastic concluding volume, I'd even go as far as to say it's become one of my favourite series. (SANDSTORM REVIEWS)

He's written something not far short of a masterpiece, something special. Last Argument of Kings has everything you could ask for: huge battles, political intrigue, masterly characterisation and surprises by the bucket-load. This book will by turns shock you, excite you, make you laugh, and above all entertain you. (SPECULATIVE HORIZONS)

Abercrombie is headed for superstar status (JEFF VANDERMEER)

Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he knows how to close a trilogy with panache. The final novel in The First Law trilogy, Last Argument of Kings, is without a doubt the strongest novel in the cycle and, indeed, one of the strongest finishes to a trilogy I¿ve come across in a long time. Joe Abercrombie has cemented himself at the top of the heap as one of the most consistent, fresh and exciting new voices in fantasy. (A DRIBBLE OF INK (website))

"Last Argument of Kings concludes The First Law the way it began: with cynicism, blackly comic repartee and non-stop, bloody action." (Barbara Davies STARBURST)

Abercrombie¿s talent for developing believable characters and changing the tone and voice of each chapter according to the point of view is a joy to read. Although he takes familiar fantasy staples, he manages to avoid coming off as a cheap hack reinventing Tolkien. A solidly written finale, rich with Abercrombie¿s trademark dark humour and great dialogue, that finishes with a decidedly downbeat ending. (Den Patrick DREAMWATCH) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Striking, character-driven and cynical noir fantasy.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By GOTTON on 9 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
The Last Argument of Kings really is a difficult book to review.

On the one hand I want to give it the best review I possibly can because, just as with the previous two novels, Joe Abercrombie has produced a well written tale with brilliant characters and an unforgettable world. Throw on top of that the unbelievable number of twists thrown into this novel and I found myself loving every moment of it. Whilst a lot of those twists you will see coming a mile off, they only serve to mask all the other countless twists that will genuinely take you by surprise.

However, on the other hand this book suffers from a hugely unsatisfying ending. There was about a hundred pages to go when I started to suspect that I wouldn't be happy with how things were going to finish. The story was winding down and there were just so many unresolved story lines that I couldn't imagine them all being summed up. The sad fact is that none of them were, at least not to a finality. I finished this book wondering if this really was the end of a trilogy or if maybe it is just a middle book of a series waiting upon the next.

Continuing his trend of brutal writing that kind of hints that there will not be any happy endings for his characters, we are left feeling that no one has come out the happier for the experiences in this novel, save maybe one whom I won't name right now to saving spoiling the ending for those who haven't read it. There was a time when I would have called this kind of writing brave being as we are in a world where most tales finish with a happy ending. However in recent times there have been a large number of these gritty books that aim for a brutal realism that leaves most stories unhappy and the sad trend in them all is that there are no happy endings for anyone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Martin Woodrow on 25 July 2014
Format: Paperback
After going through the whole trilogy, and enjoying most of it, I found the ending exceptionally disappointing - in fact it wasn't an ending, more like a never-ending pause. None of the characters stories are tied up and the main 'wizard' of the story who has become more Hitler-like as the story progresses, just walks away into the sunset. There really needs to be another book to tie things up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Tyler on 20 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Here's a quote that any fantasy author would want in their inside cover, "the best fantasy trilogy since Lord of the Rings." This is exactly what Joe Abercrombie can now put in his `First Law' trilogy; the unfortunate thing will be that the quote is from a random Amazon reviewer i.e. me. Despite my lowly status I am a keen science fiction and fantasy reader so I believe my opinion still counts and that Abercrombie has created the best set of fantasy books for years. As a threesome `The First Law' is an epic saga, but like all stories, they must come to an end. `The Last Argument of Kings' is in many ways a fitting finale as it has more action and battle sequences than the previous books combined, but it also suffers somewhat from the curse of `the end'.

As a set `The First Law' is a new high mark in low fantasy. Abercrombie's fantasy world is gritty and feels real, magic is replaced by dirt and evil. In many ways `Last Argument' reverses this trend as is the most fantastical yet; magic becomes far more prominent towards the end. The battle sections between mages and wizards etc did not sit comfortable with the 1500 pages of the series beforehand. Previously, magic was hinted at, even seen briefly, but it could always be explained as mysticism. By the end magic is very real and these sequences are amongst the most convoluted and confused in the trilogy.

Issues do not end here. Abercrombie revels in his grimy fantasy world, but the book draws some bleak conclusions. The `good' characters were never likely to prevail more than the `bad' characters, but almost everyone takes such a pounding that you can't help feeling a little deflated. Despite the downbeat nature of the book, it does not detract from how awesome Abercrombie's writing is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sjhigbee on 23 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
The golden rule in any character-led story is to make said characters sympathetic so that the reader cares what will happen to them and thus engage fully with the book. Well, Joe Abercrombie trashed that one. His main protagonists are an amoral, power-mad Mage... a hard-bitten warrior whose berserker rages cause him to commit unspeakable acts of barbarity... a drunken, embittered woman who has a love affair because she can't think of anything better to do... the cowardly, arrogant fool she slept with... Oh - did I mention the scheming cripple who tortures innocent people for a living? All these characters' flaws are unflinchingly laid open to our gaze. Laced with a lot of bad language - and if you are squeamish, there are a couple of unpleasantly explicit torture scenes, as well as loads of blood and gore in the fight scenes. Personally, blood and gore doesn't do it for me.

And yet... and yet... I couldn't put the book down! Not only that, my favourite character by a long mile is Superior Glokta, the aforementioned torturer. It's a neat trick to pull off. Abercrombie's vivid prose and masterful character depiction are major reasons why this author can get away it, along with the humour threading through story - desert-dry irony that has you panting for more. The world in all its grimy vividness leaps off the page with the same relish that the Monty Python crew depicted medieval filth in 'Jabberwocky'. Having said that, while Glokta's adventures sometimes teeter on the edge of farce thanks to the wonderful internal musings on his plight, the savage undertow of violence and his constant pain keeps it from becoming too cosy.

Abercrombie's other clever trick, is that despite this being Book Three of the series, I didn't feel I needed to reread Books One and Two.
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