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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Say one thing about this trilogy, say it isn't over
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...
Published 14 months ago by GOTTON

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an ending, more a never-ending pause
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...
Published 5 months ago by Martin Woodrow


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Say one thing about this trilogy, say it isn't over, 9 Oct 2013
This review is from: Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three (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.

Now at times that can work but in this book it really didn't. Joe Abercrombie has done such a masterful job of making me fall in love with his characters, even with all of their deadly flaws, that I want to see at least one or two of them have a happily ever after. I understand that life isn't fair but at the same time it is also varied so the odds that all of the characters in a novel aren't going to get what they want is madly unfulfilling and makes reading the books a chore.

So that is my conundrum and in the end it was probably the first side of the argument that wins out. In spite of the irks and flaws I have with the ending the majority of this book is top notch. It was gripping from beginning to end, the story was well paced and unlike with most books out there it genuinely kept me guessing.

It has been a while since I have read a trilogy of books of this calibre and so I can happily give it a four star review that would have been a five if only there had been just a little more finality to the tale. Still a great book and one that I highly recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an ending, more a never-ending pause, 25 July 2014
This review is from: Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Great series, 10 Jun 2009
This review is from: Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Call me Sentimental, But..., 14 May 2012
This review is from: Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical "Disney ending", 6 Oct 2014
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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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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOTR meets Guy Ritchie, 14 May 2008
If you buy this trilogy expecting pages of epic landscapes alive with giants, goblins, dragons and bestrode by shining heroes in silver armour sat on magnificent horses wielding magic swords dealing out death and destruction to an evil meglamaniac and his hordes of minions, you will be sadly dissappointed. Also if you like your books full of song lyrics, poems, family trees and elvish alphabets you will be equally dissappointed. Our author even declines to prefix the action with the usual obligatory badly drawn map!

No, Abercrombie's world is a world made of men. Their actions, emotions desires, words, triumphs, failings, smells and innards. The author takes you through the story from the various points of view of the main charactors, and what a collection of charactors they are, beautifully fleshed out, 3D and brought to life so that I almost expected to meet them whilst out walking the dog in the woods. The major benefit of this style is that you never tire of one charactor and you ride along behind their eyes so you know and understand their motives and grow to love and sympathise with them even though they are cabable of the dreadful.

Don't get me wrong, there is much here the hackneyed fantasy reader will recognise. A grizzled campaigner, a young handsome swordsman, an ancient arch magi, a torturer, a beautiful girl and a host of barbarian tribesman. However all given a refreshing twist. The swordsman is a cowardly, self obsessed snob. The grizzled campaigner is oft possessed by a 'beserker' alter ego who is as likey to kill his best friend as his worst enemy and the beautiful girl is a slightly tarty 'low-born' with an inclination to hit the bottle.

Potential buyers of a sensitive nature be warned the writing style is more Guy Ritchie than Tolkien. Expect profanities, sex, gore and plenty of black humour.

The joys of this book are the authors ability to create 'real' people, he has a gift for dialogue and moves the action along at a satisfying pace and puts you in the heart of it. The story avoids being cliched and predictable for the most part. The charactors are all shades of grey rather than being definatively evil or good and their actions stay true to their personalities as set out in volume one.

If I was hyper critical I may say that the plot though neatly pulled together at the end, for much of the trilogy can feel like a series of random events. Also the female charactors don't feel quite as authentic and fleshed out as the male ones. But I am splitting hairs here, this is a rollicking good adventure that has made me remember why I first picked up a copy of LOTR all those years ago.

I'm going to really miss the personalities in this book, Logan Ninefingers is truly one of the great fantasy charactors ever created as is the deliciously bitter and twisted Glotka. That said I hope 'Joe' does not do the predictable sequel or prequel but conjures us up another cast list of equally entertaining heroes & villains to ride with in his next book, and if your reading this Joe don't keep me waiting too long!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 25 Jan 2013
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This has been the most enjoyable fantasy sequence I have read in a very long time.

Mr Abercrombie has the knack of making the loathsome lovable and the most villainous wretch a sympathetic protagonist.

Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he's a finer writer!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A New High in Low Fantasy, 20 Jun 2011
By 
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. He continues to juggle several storylines from the PoV of different characters and all are exciting and well written. As a reader you are constantly left on a knife edge as you read a cliff hanger, only to be kept waiting three or four chapters for a conclusion. The likes of Ninefingers and Dogman are still infinitely readable and their journey is well worth reading. Book 3 is a slight dip compared to the ultimate fantasy fiction of Books 1 and 2, but as a whole the series is still awesome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing cosy about this cast of characters..., 23 Jan 2011
By 
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. He manages to make the storyline of this volume self-contained enough that, although there was no prologue, I didn't feel it mattered too much.
`The last argument of Kings' was apparently the inscription on Louis XIV's cannons, according to Abercrombie. This classic fantasy plot, written in third person multiple viewpoint, complete with an ineffective king and corrupt courtiers facing a series of unpleasant threats, enlivened by this cast of nasty characters, has the full range of unexpected twists, delivered with plenty of pace. If your tastes run to the gorier end of fantasy tales, then you've probably already come across Abercrombie. But if you usually enjoy a gentler version of fantasy, give this author a try - he's well worth it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT!, 17 Mar 2008
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
For some reason a very large bookstore in London (no names etc) has put this book out a week early according to the publication date, so I've snaffled a copy and read it over the past weekend. Well if you've got this far you will NOT be disappointed. I can't say too much for fear of letting slip too much of the story - sure some of you will guess part of the ending but not all the threads are sewn up (or are they?). Sorry that is really annoying, so suffice to say the characters you have grown to know and love(?) still have thrills aplenty to get through before reaching their various ends...clue there perhaps?

In my book this has been easily the best fantasy read of the past few years and Mr Abercrombie only goes from strength to strength.

If you've read the previous two books you HAVE to read this one. If you are looking for a new and rewarding fantasy series to get stuck into then look no further.

BRILLIANT!
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Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three
Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three by Joe Abercrombie BA (Paperback - 12 Mar 2009)
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