The climatic last third of Joe Abercrombie’s Last Argument of Kings, is a fantastic sequence that the reader cannot help but read in one sitting. After the first two book’s of The First Law trilogy this confluence of events is exactly what the series deserved in it’s final volume, however leading up to this literally climatic battle there was a congestion of happenings to begin the book that while not frustrating just took too long to get through that made the volume feel longer than it was. Abercrombie’s characters lost none of their originality or well-roundedness throughout the book, however in a few instances they seemed to accept things or do things that seem literally out-of-character. Like that previous two volumes, Abercrombie seemed to telegraph basic fantasy tropes then paid them off in surprising and unexpected ways though as stated before some of them happened at the beginning of the book and felt longer to get through then seemed necessary once you finished the book. The ending of Last Argument of Kings is without a doubt a very thought provoking one, especially in the character of Bayaz who is the embodiment of the saying “history is written by the victors.” Though I was a tad disappointed with the pace of the first 375 or so pages, the last 260 pages through are what makes The First Law Trilogy great and so if you’ve read the first two books, The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged, then you have to read this book to see how all the story arcs play out.
The middle chapter of The First Law Trilogy is a fun mixture of epic journeys, brutal battles, political intrigue, and yes even sex (unfortunately). Joe Abercrombie after leading all his flawed and well written characters to Adua in The Blade Itself, he sent them all far away from the middle continent of his world. The epic journey of Bayaz, Logen, Ferro, and Jezal across the Old Empire on their way to the Edge of the World is given all the sense of an epic quest that sees all four change in their views of themselves but to the others as well. Inquisitor, now Superior, Glokta journeys to Dagoska to find out what happened to his predecessor and to defend the city from the Gurkish any way he can while looking over his shoulder for the stab in the back he always expects is coming but is continually surprised when it never happens. Up North, Logen’s former crew join up with Collem West and together they attempt to fight off Bethod’s invasion of Angland facing challenges none of them expected including dealing with the burden of leadership. Abercrombie surprises fantasy fans, even those use to the twist and turns of GRR Martin, by how he spins the three main story arcs in this book, especially the ending to the ‘epic quest’ led by Bayaz. However it’s the characters that even really makes one not want to set down this book and that’s why this book is so good.
I’m going to come out and just say it, The Blade Itself kicks off with action from various point-of-view characters whose storylines intertwine in an interesting and believable way. Joe Abercrombie has created a world of fading, but still deadly magic with monuments from a legendary age made famous by legendary figures in which ordinary characters suddenly find themselves interacting with. The narrative covers locations over three continents of the First Law world, in which we observe or learn three distinct cultures thus further building up the world. But what most impressed me was not the book concluding with definite end, but instead “open ending” that made the reader yearn for Before They Are Hanged.