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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Say one thing about Joe Abercrombie ...
...say he spins a damn good yarn.

In fact, for my money, Abercrombie has delivered quite simply the most memorable and satisfying fantasy saga since the original Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

Last Argument of Kings skilfully draws together the diverse threads into a breathtaking finale. We have some sex, some explicit torture, intrigue and stunning...
Published on 4 April 2009 by Cartimand

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Where is the ending?
I can only think that deadline day arrived for Mr Abercrombie's book, so he just stopped where he was.
Surely this can be the only explanation for the lack of any attempt at an ending. No loose ends are tied up, no idea of where the story may go, nothing approaching a satisfactory conclusion is reached.
A trilogy that, 2000 pages ago, started quite promisingly...
Published 5 days ago by Gary P. Chapman


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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Say one thing about Joe Abercrombie ..., 4 April 2009
By 
Cartimand (Hampshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
...say he spins a damn good yarn.

In fact, for my money, Abercrombie has delivered quite simply the most memorable and satisfying fantasy saga since the original Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

Last Argument of Kings skilfully draws together the diverse threads into a breathtaking finale. We have some sex, some explicit torture, intrigue and stunning revelations aplenty, battles on an epic scale and some incredibly vivid descriptions of how it must feel to become a berserker. We also have more than a few laughs along the way. If you're a fan of the swords and sorcery genre, you may well remark on the absence of any maps at the front of the novel. Abercrombie cheekily engages with the reader by letting one of his characters comment on how she hates books with maps. Nice touch!

More so with this novel than its predecessors, I got a distinct feel that the warring factions hint at historical conflicts between Islam and the West. The 'Gurkish' certainly have vaguely arab-sounding names, aim to force the Union to worship god in their manner and the word 'Crusade' is even used on one occasion. Whether this was Abercrombie's intention or not I don't know, but it adds a further element to the saga. Indeed, somewhat like the Crusades, the labels of right and wrong frequently get blurred. It is in this splendid ambiguity that the power of Abercrombie's story-telling lies. The nearest thing we have to a conventional hero is Jezal - but he remains a coward at heart. We dally a long time with the witty Glokta - and yet he is a ruthless torturer. Logan, Dogman, Bayaz, Ardee, West, even previous bit-players like Pike all have their splendidly rounded characters develop yet further in this superb novel.

Don't expect a feel-good ending. What I can promise you though, is a spectacular, memorable and realistic ending to this deliciously cynical and ironic, but above all, very human, saga.

Great stuff!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very dark, very funny and very violent, 15 July 2011
By 
P. Fitzpatrick "paulfitz28" (Seattle, WA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the series and this is a great conclusion to the trilogy. This one is darker than the previous 2. There are sinister overtones throughout the book.

Life feels bleak in this book at times. Can a man really change? Logen Ninefingers is constantly facing the question, as is Superior Glokta and Jezal.

The characters are still well written and immensely likable. If you enjoy dark humour you will find this book to be one of your favourites. I'm not sure I enjoyed the outcomes/revelations for Bayaz and Ferro. But the book was a great read overall and the finished most things up perfectly. A couple of twists towards the end, and I have to say I am an Abercrombie fan after reading these. Highly recommended!
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33 of 40 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 review is from: Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three (Kindle Edition)
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 Say one thing for JA, 16 April 2008
By 
Mr. L. Palmer - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Say he is a very talented writer indeed. LAOK is the final chapter of the first law series, and just like its predecessors it is a marvelous read. Again we follow the stories of, 'The Bloody-Nine', Sand Dan Glokta, Jezal Dan Luthar, Ferro, Byaz and the northmen, amongst others, and each is written splendidly, each character seems to come alive and is very individual and we get a sense of this throughout the series.
I am not going to spoil the plot as it is always better to get there yourself, but suffice to say, as other reviewers have before me, that if you are looking for a clean cut black and white tale of good vs evil, look elsewhere. Abercrombie isn't interested in good people and bad people, just people and their capacity for both good and evil, you will find yourself loving characters that when you really stop and think about who they are and what they represent, you shouldn't. In one particular character (Jezal) if you read the whole series, you will go from loathing, to respect, to pity all in the space of three books, and this really is testament to JA and his skill in charecterisation.
The first law series however isn't a blood thirsty romp of death and foul language, it deals with the ambiguous nature of hero's and villains in a way that only the late David Gemmell did before. It also however twists politics and moral conundrums in a way reminiscent of George R R Martin.
A lot has been made about how this book ends, and honestly it is perfect for what it is, it would be a huge cop out for Abercrombie to take the easy road of happily ever after, and anyway I have a sneaking suspicion that we aren't by any means done with the Angland or its occupants.
Overall this book is a shining example of what fantasy fiction can and should be it isn't over the top on magic and monsters, it has a plethora of interesting characters, and it is a very good read often funny, never dull, always exciting.

Enjoy.
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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 50 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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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular conclusion for a very solid debut series, 16 Mar 2008
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
In the frozen wastes of Angland, the army of the Union and its allies continues to wage war against Bethod and his forces. The Gurkish, having retaken Dagoska, now develop new and more bold plans to continue to wage war against the Union from the south. And, having failed in their quest to the far side of the world, Bayaz and his companions return to the city of Adua to make new preperations for the conflicts to come. But in this struggle it becomes clear that different factions are scheming for power, that those who are allies one day may be bitter foes the next, and that the price of victory may be far too high...

The First Law has attracted a great deal of praise since the publication of The Blade Itself a little under two years ago. Abercrombie's clear style delivered an apparently 'straightforward' fantasy tale with some interesting ruthless edges to it. Before They Are Hanged forced the reader to revise a lot of what they thought they knew whilst putting several key twists into the story that were unexpected. 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. Those expecting a gloriously happy, neat ending to this trilogy best look elsewhere.

Instead, we get huge battle sequences, including one that threatens to displace the supremacy of Steven Erikson's siege of Capustan from Memories of Ice as the greatest epic fantasy battle this century. We get more intricate, devious politics. We get more torture, courtesy of our friend Glokta (whose character arc remains the most vivid and engrossing of the series). The deepening of the character of Bayaz, who first turned up looking like a jovial Belgarath-style wizard and is now revealed to have a lot more going on to him than just that, is also tremendously satisfying. To those who have taken part in debate on various fan forums some plot elements may emerge as rather predictable, at least until Abercrombie pulls the rug out from under your feet and, just for giggles, does it again a few chapters later. Best of all is the way quite small storyline elements from the previous two books are revisited and minor charaters of no great significance are now revealed to have their own important roles to play.

The ending is superb, particularly the tremendously satisfying epilogue and the final scene. Enough loose ends are left that Abercrombie could revisit the storyline in future books or series, but not to the extent that it is a necessity. Life goes on, albeit in a manner which some characters (and perhaps some readers) find criminally unfair. We also get enough clues laid about other, hitherto undeveloped parts of the world such as Styria that the news that the author's next novel, Best Served Cold, will be set there is most welcome. However, for the time being at least, we must bid a fond farewell to Superior Glokta, the redoubtable Jezal, the secretive Bayaz, the proud Ardee, the solid Colonel West and, of course, the Bloody-Nine. I look forward to the day when we catch up with them and their adventures once more.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Where is the ending?, 21 July 2014
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This review is from: Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three (Kindle Edition)
I can only think that deadline day arrived for Mr Abercrombie's book, so he just stopped where he was.
Surely this can be the only explanation for the lack of any attempt at an ending. No loose ends are tied up, no idea of where the story may go, nothing approaching a satisfactory conclusion is reached.
A trilogy that, 2000 pages ago, started quite promisingly became progressively more tedious and repetitive, until it limped to its wildly unsatisfactory conclusion.
If you fancy a story that feels as though someone has ripped out and thrown away the last hundred pages, this could be for you. Otherwise, steer clear!
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