2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
You,ll get no argument from me , a fantastic conclusion to this brilliant fantasy trilogy .,
This review is from: Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three: Book Three of the First Law (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)With the first two instalments of the First law series s The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.) and Before They Are Hanged: The First Law: Book Two: Book Two of the First Law (Gollancz S.F.) Joe Abercrombie has set himself well on the way to writing a fantasy trilogy to compare with Robin Hobbs Liveship series or her Tawny Man and Assassin trilogy and The Lord of the Rings (3 Book Box set) for that matter. His contemporary sardonically edged take on the genre is refreshing as well with lots of profanity and the fact any character is as likely to get skewered by a verbal barb as by a sword ...well maybe not but it's a close thing.
The final book The Last Argument of Kings continues the character developments propagated in the previous two books while at the same time expanding the scale of the plot and drawing the reader inexorably towards to the not altogether satisfying conclusion.
As the barbarian Bethod continues to assault the Empire from the north the Gurkish amass to the south ready to attack Adua. Logen Ninefingers joins up with his old mates Threetree,s The Dogman ,Black Dow etc to fight against Bethod while the Empire army is riven by internal disputes with the commoner Colonel West looking on with exasperation. Jezal dan Luthar isn't the arrogant arse of before and is drawn back into the arms of West's sister Ardee but is still unsure of where he stands in the scheme of things .First Of The Magi - the imperious Byaz seems to have a handle on events that alludes to some decidedly dodgy subterfuge while Ferro scowls and longs for Gurkish blood pretty much as she did in the first two novels except there are some residual stirrings from her relationship with Logen. Inquisitor Glotka meanwhile continues to expect to die any given minute while at the same time wheedling his way in and around the political chicanery and duplicitous power struggles .
No one knows what is going to happen , except Byaz perhaps ,but there is one thing for sure no one can expect what is coming. Some will be invested with more power and responsibility then they are entirely comfortable with and will have to make sacrifices accordingly while others will be cut adrift or even worse become casualties.
There is crackling magic , an epic battle and siege , duels , blood, guts and lashings of charcoal black humour . The narrative threads are tied up nicely and if they are not quite what the reader would expect or even want for some of these characters than as Logen would say " you have to be realistic about these things ". It's also hard to escape the conclusion that although many of the characters have developed into better people as a consequences of the events in these books the world it is set in is arguably worse off. How like real life is that ?
Which brings me to possibly the strongest thing about this trilogy - how it cleverly alludes to aspects of modern society without being heavy handedly allegorical . How it lashes out at the power of institutions and enigmatic cabals and individuals and the failures of capitalism ( how apt given recent events) . It does this while being uproariously entertaining and sometimes quite profound especially in aspects to relationships.
Joe Abercrombie has said that The First Law should be treated as one novel in three sections and having read the whole trilogy it's not hard to see why. Here we have a work from a much maligned genre that pretty much rules over anything else I have read in a long time ...apart from the aforementioned works which are also fantasy .A novel that leads us like The Dogman... stood ...wondering on how things used to be better.