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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: £19.77

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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 (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,395 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

2 of 2 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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3 of 3 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 iisdaripper on 10 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
Having become disillusioned with the fantasy genre over the years I was hoping that this would change my mind as it is lauded as "fantasy for grown-ups". Most of the settings, themes, races and even the characters do not push the boundaries of fantasy and the only thing that I struggled with was the geography (map please), which I eventually feel mostly comfortable with after the third book. This helped me to make the transition very easily and then I could not put the books down.

The tried and tested formula of the three/four main characters' plots' running together and often crossing over it certainly was a page-turner. I found the characters engrossing, darkly amusing (especially the twisted Inquisitor Glokta) and suitably different to make them compelling. The story is a little clichéd and a bit too tidy whilst leaving it open for at least one more book - which is a good thing in my opinion. There was enough variety, humour, twists and originality to make it enthralling, charming and most of all a great fun read.

Highly recommended and I can't wait for more.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charley R on 14 May 2012
Format: Paperback
First things first: "The Blade Itself" was one of my favourite fantasy books of the year that I read it. I could hardly get my hands on "Before They Are Hanged" fast enough, and I loved that too - especially watching Jezal get his teeth bashed out. Call me sadistic, but it was incredibly satisfying to meet an author who wasn't afraid to show that people end up in nasty situations, and don't always improve instantaneously because of it.

"The Last Argument of Kings", though ... I was just a bit disappointed.

I felt like we got stuck in the battle scenes for too long. Dark, bloody, gritty and gore-infested as they were (which was fantastic) I felt like they were dragging on just a bit too long. Also, the contrived ending regarding Glokta and Ardee really threw me off, which was disappointing as I love Glokta as a character. It just didn't seem like the sort of thing he would do. The man who maims people he hardly knows marrying his dying friend's sister just because he doesn't feel like killing her? I didn't like that.

Now, call me pathetic, but I felt rather cheated watching every single character be systematically destroyed. While I very much admire the technique, and know it was probably a more realistic ending than that, I can't deny that some sentimental part of me wished it could have turned out better. Jezal I couldn't give a toss for - he was a coward from the start, and we knew it. The deaths of all of Logen's old friends, though, and Ferro's sudden serendipitious discovery of demon-powers, felt off, not in the least because Ferro is probably the least inspiring character of them all. I felt as if the author had set everything up just to tear it down again with little regard for sense. A few contrived plot twists regarding Bayaz's past only put a cherry on the cake, for me.

Nevertheless, a wonderfully dark, gritty creation - though perhaps forced to be a little too dark than one might feel it should have been.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very good read though I had to push through some bits knowing full well that I wasn't going to get the "good conquers all" satsifaction. This is NOT your typical "Disney ending" fantasy novel. Joe Abercrombie is much closer to the George R R Martin camp with bad things happening to good men and the good guys....not who you think they are.

I take 1 star off because on the infuriatingly loose threads ending of thus "trilogy". There is no closure for some threads. Maybe this is Mr Abercrombie's way of saying "Life sucks, life isn't fair, screw you!" through a novel. You will find that the series does NOT end here and there are more books in the series.

Personally I'm going to take a little break from the series and get some satisfying schadenfreude and comeuppance from somwhere else. Then perhaps I'll come back and be disappointed in humanity in more of his series.
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