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The First Law #3


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Für Logen, den Barbarenkrieger, sind die Zeiten siegreicher Schlachten vorbei – und dennoch steht ihm der größte Kampf seines Lebens bevor ... Zu viele Herren und zu wenig Zeit haben den zynischen Inquisitor Glokta in ganz andere Schwierigkeiten gebracht – unversehens steht er im Zentrum eines tödlichen Geheimnisses ... Als die Schatten des Bösen auf das Land fallen, hat der Erste der Magier wie immer einen Plan zur Rettung der Welt – doch dieses Mal geht er ein schreckliches Risiko ein…

941 pages, Paperback

First published March 20, 2008

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About the author

Joe Abercrombie

98 books25.7k followers
Joe Abercrombie was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Manchester University, where he studied psychology. He moved into television production before taking up a career as a freelance film editor. During a break between jobs he began writing The Blade Itself in 2002, completing it in 2004. It was published by Gollancz in 2006 and was followed by two other books in The First Law trilogy, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings. He currently lives and works in London with his wife and daughter. In early 2008 Joe Abercrombie was one of the contributors to the BBC Worlds of Fantasy series, alongside other contributors such as Michael Moorcock, Terry Pratchett and China Mieville.

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Profile Image for Petrik.
664 reviews41.3k followers
August 21, 2022
Abercrombie has been titled as Lord Grimdark for years now; I truly believe that Last Argument of Kings is majorly responsible for this.

“Round and round in circles we go, clutching at successes we never grasp, endlessly tripping over the same old failures. Truly, life is the misery we endure between disappointments.”

Last Argument of Kings is the third—and final book—in The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Every plot lines from the first two books lead to the revelations and ruthless conclusion in this installment. The story picks up immediately from where Before They Are Hanged left off, and it has come full circle. Depending on your perspective, the Last Argument of Kings is either bittersweet, depressingly bleak, or in between; I personally think it’s the latter. Abercrombie writes as if he’s a maestro of death and hopelessness. If you’re hanging on the edge of a cliff, Abercrombie will give you a dangling rope to save you but when you use that rope to save yourself from falling, he annihilates your hopes by using that rope to strangle you when you’re at the top. Yet, I must say that it is precisely for this unforgiving realism that I end up considering Last Argument of Kings as my favorite book in the series.

Picture: Last Argument of Kings by Alexander Preuss

By this point of the series, I think it’s safe to assume that you—like me—have grown very attached to the utterly memorable characters. Although some of the side character’s story continues in the next standalone trilogy of the series, this is where the main story arcs for the six main POV characters ended. Abercrombie has expertly weaved a tale that exhibited a harsh truth; despite insanely hard works and virtuous intentions, things may not go in our favor just because of one cruel reason: life isn’t fair. If you’re reading this review, and you haven’t started The Blade Itself, I’ll suggest you to not expect that a happy conclusion will be reached; you’re not getting one. In my opinion, none of the main characters attained what readers usually consider as a satisfying/happy ending; what they do get, however, is an ending that fits the narrative of the series. Expect an unflinchingly vicious finale, and it’s highly probable that this trilogy will go down as one of your favorite series; it’s certainly one of my favorites. What Abercrombie does well, he does extremely well.

“I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.”

Speaking of the things that Abercrombie does well, the action scenes in this book were top-class. Out of all the grimdark fantasy series I’ve read, when it comes to close-quarter combat, Abercrombie’s First Law and Jeff Salyards’s Bloodsounder’s Arc are always the first to come to mind. Abercrombie has conjured tempestuous war and battle scenes within this finale. We’ve seen glimpses of the deadly magic of the series in the previous two books, but in Last Argument of Kings, Abercrombie displayed the cataclysmic potential of the magic and why they became forbidden to use. The action sequences were bloody, violent, and downright merciless. This is by far the most action-packed and explosive installment in the trilogy; even if I were to include all the books published in the series so far within my assessment—this includes The Heroes—I’d still put Last Argument of Kings above them all, both in quality and quantity.

“Travel brings wisdom only to the wise. It renders the ignorant more ignorant than ever.”

The war scenes were incredible, but if I were to choose one main highlight of the book, it would have to be the duel scene. If you’ve read this book, you’ll know which confrontation I’m talking about. Back when I first read this duel three years ago, I immediately thought that it was phenomenal; on my reread, I still feel the same way about it. It’s terrifying to me how vivid it was; it honestly felt like I was there. I could hear the sound of swords singing, and I was able to see blood and gore poured from the heart-hammering trade of skills and deathblows unleashed that made the decisive duel unforgettable. Abercrombie has seriously outdone himself in this particular scene. Abercrombie painted a devastating scene that’s incredibly easy to visualize within this circle of death where chaos and the Great Leveller reigns. I’ve read many fantasy novel that features amazing duel scenes, and I can easily vouch that the mighty clash of death here, together with the one in The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang, are indeed the best duel scenes I’ve ever read in a novel; it was THAT good!

“You can never have too many knives, his father had told him. Unless they're pointed at you, and by people who don't like you much. ”

It suffices to say that Last Argument of Kings is grimdark fantasy at its best, and it is one of my favorite books of all time, simple as that. I loved this book on my first read, and I’m gratified to say that I still absolutely love it on my reread; maybe even more now. Abercrombie is a fantastic writer and storyteller; his characterizations are masterful, his prose is compelling, and his capability in creating vivid cinematic scenes that are brutal, intense, philosophical, and at times hilarious established him as one of the finest authors in the genre. For years now, The First Law have often be recommended as a must-read series for A Song of Ice and Fire fans and grimdark fantasy enthusiasts. The longevity and the assurance of high quality in this recommendation can exist only if a specific series has received a world-wide qualification and praises from readers around the world. And this is a crowning achievement that Joe Abercrombie, the Lord of Grimdark, has indisputably claimed from this trilogy. If you—somehow—haven’t read this series yet, consider fixing that mistake by reading The First Law trilogy. Now. You have to be realistic about these things.

“If you want to be a new man you have to stay in new places, and do new things, with people who never knew you before. If you go back to the same old ways, what else can you be but the same old person?”

Series Review:

The Blade Itself: 5/5 stars
Before They Are Hanged: 5/5 stars
Last Argument of Kings: 5/5 stars

The First Law trilogy: 15/15 stars

You can order the book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

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Profile Image for Michael.
274 reviews753 followers
April 5, 2010
Because, even after the first two volumes, every character will STILL surprise you. Because Glokta is the best fantasy character I've found since Tyrion Lannister. Because Logen is a mushroom-cloud-laying motherfucker. Because you should've seen it coming but you didn't. You really didn't.

Because even "gritty" fantasy writers are usually afraid to go this far against expectations. Because you will laugh. You will get angry. Because you will hate the ending. Because the ending is perfect. Because the last surprise is on the last page.

Because every combat sequence is spot on. Because every character's actions are spot on. (Despite the fact that we sometimes don't need quite as much explanation as we get.) Because we need more fantasy authors willing to give people like Terry Brooks, Margaret Weiss, Tracy Hickman and Robert Jordan a really good wedgie. (Giving dead people wedgies might be in bad taste, but it's occasionally necessary.)

Because worlds with swords and sorcerers are boring when they're perfect. Because people are boring when they're perfect. Because perfect things are boring. Because this series is totally not boring. Because in some ways Abercrombie's series works better than A Song of Ice and Fire (in some ways, just some, not all of them, please put down those rocks).

Because it's time to read something entirely made out of awesome. Because this is it. Because. Just because.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,634 reviews5,009 followers
June 19, 2012
and so the excellent First Law trilogy concludes. this was a splendid experience and certainly a hearty one as well. many things to consider and many enjoyments to be had. a full meal! and quite a bitter feast at that.

and here is the Last Argument of the title, succinctly delivered by the ferocious sorceror Bayaz:
"Power makes all things right. That is my first law, and my last. That is the only law that I acknowledge."

this is a really marvelous series. bold in intent, clear in purpose, both a strikingly rigorous critique of the systems of power and a fun, fast-paced adventure that turns expectations around narrative & characterization upside down. it is not perfect; the most egregious fault is a certain shallowness in the dialogue - many lines read as if they are coming from a particularly snarky tv sitcom. i do not like. but that fault, and other minor ones, pales in comparison to all the positives of the trilogy.

the first book basically functions as a a prologue. indeed, in other books, the entirety of the action in that book would probably have been dispensed with in a chapter or two. but The Blade Itself sees the building of character and the constructing of a strong foundation for its overarching narrative as key to its design, and so The Blade Itself sticks in the memory as one of the most in-depth introductions to the action that i've experienced. a bold move; i like. the second book is where all the action is at. but man does Abercrombie fuck with reader expectations in Before They Are Hanged. there are two primary narrative threads in the second book: a Quest for a Band of Adventurers and the Defense of a City Under Siege. for such a contrastingly (to the first book) action-packed novel, the decisions of how to end these two adventures is rooted in the need to illustrate failure - so much so that the novel functions as a sardonic critique and attack on the use of Quests and City Sieges in fantasy. the Quest goes nowhere; nothing is gained and the whole thing is pointless. the Defense of a City fails; good people are slain, a city is taken, and then the 'hero' is rewarded for doing a good job in drawing out the Siege - his actual failure being preordained by his loathsome masters. truly a a kind of rough justice in terms of reader expectations for classic narrative pleasures; i like.

Last Argument is likewise determined to smack the reader upside the head with their own complacent desires. this happens in two distinct ways: (1) showing the true darkness at the heart of its sometimes rather loveable characters and (2) giving the novel's various narrative threads some of the bitterest versions of happy endings that i've experienced.

to the first goal, it is important to point out what Abercrombie did in the second book: he made his characters highly appealing. their courage & loyalty & cleverness are highlighted and they are given amusing character traits to make them charmingly down-to-earth. they grow and they do brave things and the novel shows that they can be better human beings, if given the opportunity. the third book is counting on the reader to remember those positive little bits - all the better to sting that reader when they are reminded of these characters' true natures. the only person who escapes unscathed is the most unloveable character of all - the savage and bloodthirsty Ferro, who is my own favorite character.

other characters do not make it out with their loveability intact. Logan the berserker barbarian's stomach-turning past is actually explored (with an emphasis on his various mindless atrocities) and, most importantly, we are given a scene where we witness Logan's terrifying alter ego do truly horrible things. my God, he cuts a child in half! he becomes distinctly un-loveable after that little bit. and the same goes for the rest: anti-heroes who Abercrombie set up to be surprisingly sympathetic are given their chance... not to shine, but to molder. Glokta tortures innocent people that he knows are innocent, simply because he is following orders. Jezal overindulges his tendency towards frustrating ditheriness. Ardee becomes a self-pitying, self-loathing lush. Black Dow, Frost, and Severard betray those who have given them trust. Quai is shown to be a foul imposter. and most stark at all, Bayaz the Eccentric Magician is shown to have the true colors of a classic megalomaniac, uncaring of who he hurts & kills, primarily interested in maintaining his authority, a liar and a bully and a murderer, contemptuous of all who do not share his goals, and willing to do literally anything to further those goals and gain more power. Bayaz the Eccentric Magician - the only character who seeks to truly protect a kingdom against the powers of darkness - turns out to be the darkest monster of them all. i like.

to the second goal... well, i don't want to do what i did above, and list the viciously ironic happy endings delivered on all the remaining characters. one example will suffice: a Happy Marriage for a king and his new bride. a happy ending where a lesbian is forced to pretend to be deliriously happy to bed her man night after night - or else her lover, a stalwart lady-in-waiting, will be tortured and killed. a happy ending where the naive new king is so pleased with his wife's change of heart that he never questions how that radical change of heart occurred. he finds her crying at the window each night after a session of lovemaking... well, it must be because she is homesick!

the cumulative effect of all of Abercrombie's bleakly sardonic decisions is one that gave me a hollow, depressed feeling. and yet i was thoroughly engaged and challenged by each of his decisions. i felt attacked; i felt like the rug was pulled out from under me; i felt as if all that i held to be important and meaningful were simply false constructs based on lazy thinking and a complacency with what i have automatically considered as "good", as "right". being challenged like that is a rare thing. i like.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,511 reviews31k followers
August 5, 2021
this book blurs the lines between good and evil sooo well that i dont even know what to think.

i read somewhere that suggested a bad villain is someone who is just a jerk for no reason, a good villain is someone who thinks theyre right but in reality theyre wrong, and a great villain is someone who IS actually right but their methods go beyond what any moral person would approve of.

and let me tell you what - there are so many great villains in this. but they dont even feel like villains! thats the crazy thing. its that whole morally grey anti-hero vibes that almost every character has. its fantastic.

and its the characters that really sell this book/series, because honestly, the plot in this concluding installment didnt really do it for me. if you enjoy political and war manoeuvring, then you will enjoy this. but i personally found all the strategy and battles to be boring. im also not really sure i even liked the ending. for me, everything should come together in a conclusion and, in this, everything feels like its falling apart? i dont know how to describe it, but it wasnt what i was hoping for.

overall, great characters, good plot if youre into that kind of thing, and unexpected ending.

3.5 stars
258 reviews21 followers
July 26, 2010
Disappointing. This book probably deserves better than two stars, but I just can't bring myself to call it good, because I didn't really enjoy it even though I read it fairly quickly. Don't get me wrong: it's interesting enough, and the characters are still vaguely engaging, and there's plenty of action. By all means, the formula is there (even though it does feel a little bit tired).

So what's the problem? I guess I was just hoping Abercrombie would be able to salvage some of his characters and bring the story to a satisfying conclusion, but frustratingly, most of the characters end up less likeable at the end than they were at the beginning, and the book's "conclusion" feels loose and sloppy.

I'm okay with a "no good and no evil" sort of world, with ambiguous heroes, but for crying out loud, Abercrombie can't seem to come up with a sympathetic character, or any sort of heroic progression. His characters are in turn spineless, self-centered, vengeful, ruthless, feckless, and amazingly passive. Unlikeable in the extreme. Logen seems to be a completely different character from one book to the next, Ferro is static, Glokta becomes boring (can he stop tonguing his gums for a page or two, please?), and Jezal crumples into a worthless sack of dookie. By the end of the book, there was not a single character I was rooting for, and I really didn't care whether they lived or died. In fact, I was kind of hoping they would die, since then there wouldn’t be any sequels. Whatever happened to characters like Elric of Melnibone, Raven of the Black Company, Caine, Tyrion Lannister, Riddick, et al?

The humor seems to have disappeared by the third book, as well. This is too bad, since humor actually makes the characters a lot more sympathetic.

There is also some odd plotting. The logic of Bayaz is baffling: why exactly is he spending so much effort to build an empire when he could have accomplished his goals with a lot less hassle (he is, after all, incredibly rich and powerful and all that). And why does he show so little interest in "his" empire? Not even a hint of pride? What’s the point?

In the end, that’s what I came to. What exactly was the point of the story?

Oh well. Maybe I’ll pick up another book by Abercrombie someday, but not any time soon.

Profile Image for Kat  Hooper.
1,582 reviews396 followers
March 31, 2009
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Say one thing for this reviewer, say she's a weak-minded sucker.

She really enjoyed the first two books of Joe Abercrombie's The First Law trilogy. This story was original, had a unique style, fascinating characters, and a darkly cynical style. She liked it. It was fresh. But she was kind of hoping, even daring to expect, that the last book, Last Argument of Kings, might have an ending that was, if not perhaps exactly happy, at least somewhat satisfying.

Unfortunately, Last Argument of Kings was more realistic than happy. Hooray, some might say -- a realistic ending! But realistic is not what this reader reads fantasy for. For three books she read about people's heads being chopped off, painful body parts clicking, toothless gums being sucked at, pain, wasting disease, bodies being cleaved in half, more pain, betrayal, torture, treason, tyranny, loveless marriages, abusive fathers and brothers, miscarriage, alcoholism, prejudice, more pain. Lots of pain. It has to get better, right?

Alas, no. There just wasn't enough redemption to balance all of the pain. A couple of characters became more noble (they couldn't have become less so), but their triumphs were outweighed by the degradation of other characters. It was all just kind of depressing.

Besides that, there really wasn't anything new in Last Argument of Kings. The story ends (for better or for worse), but there was none of the freshness that was so exciting in The Blade Itself. The writing is well above average, but not brilliant, and it certainly wasn't pretty.

What she's trying to say is: The First Law is an entertaining and well-written story for someone who is more the cynic than the optimist. But it left this reviewer feeling icky. Very icky.

Read more Joe Abercrombie book reviews at Fantasy Literature .
Profile Image for carol..
1,517 reviews7,722 followers
November 5, 2019
Wow. Just finished, and that was a book that was just... wow. Made expectations, fulfilled them, broke them apart into little pieces and reassembled into a huge jagged collage of a work. Amazing. Glokta continues to be the character you would love to hate, except that he is the very essence of tortured humanity. Jezal grows beyond a self-involved ego into a man willing to stand for his beliefs--except that he remains manipulated and somewhat ignorant of the extent to which he is played. Logen unfortunately sees too many more appearances of The Bloody Nine, and it costs him almost everything even as he wins. Commander West continues to lead with loyalty and strategy. Everyone is so humanly flawed, admirable in their nobility and despicable in their actions at times. Truly an impressive but uncomfortable work. The dark side of fantasy, not because it delves into Evil with the capital "E," but because it shows how choices and character continue to drive us, perhaps causing us to make the very same mistakes, or the choices we make when we have no choice at all. Even the most unsympathetic of characters have their moments.
Profile Image for Edward.
336 reviews894 followers
September 4, 2021
My brother and I were lucky enough to interview JOE ABERCROMBIE!. Check it out! Joe Abercrombie INTERVIEW

SO good. The re-read made this trilogy even better, which I thought was impossible. Nothing is impossible when it comes to Abercrombie's writing, and no mistake. 5 Bloody Stars.

Last Argument of Kings is one of the best final books of a trilogy I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading - actually, scratch that, it’s one of the best books I have EVER read. Seriously, it had moments of laughter, scenes that were so tense I was biting my nails and shocks that had me staring into the darkness of my palms as my hands covered my face.

“I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.”

Before They Are Hanged, Book 2 of the First Law was a masterpiece, and Last Argument of Kings completes the trilogy superbly. Bethod, King of the Northmen is a constant threat and there’s only one man who prevent him from conquering the Union, yeah you guessed it, our guy Logen Ninefingers. As Logen is facing the minor task of defeating a whole army, Superior Glokta is up to his usual tricks of torture and blackmail in the capital. There is more of a personal mission for Glokta this time around as it quickly dawns on him that there’s only so many power-hungry lords he can continue to keep smiling. Jezal dan Luthar is back in the capital seeking to let go of the life he once loved, of fame, women, gambling, to focus on beginning a family with the woman he loves, but can it really be that simple? Again I’m sure you’ve guessed the answer to that one. In true Abercrombie style, nothing is ever simple - you have to be realistic about these things. Also, book 3 brings about the true discovery of who Bayaz is, our questions are answered and he really comes into his own. I’ll leave it as that!

“It's hard to be done a favour by a man you hate. It's hard to hate him so much afterwards. Losing an enemy can be worse than losing a friend, if you've had him for long enough.”

One thing I love about Joe’s writing is just how clear each distinct voice is. You really know who the POV is from just after reading one sentence and I find that rare, especially one with multiple POVs. The characters are so quotable, with fantastic lines of speech and thoughts, it’s top quality writing. Each character has ample moments to shine which is exactly what you want in a final entry of a series, I felt so satisfied after finishing Last Argument of Kings - not to mention THAT ending. It was one of those few wide-eyed panic infusing moments that had me desperate for just one more chapter.

“The only difference between war and murder is the number of dead.”

Within Last Argument of Kings is one of the best duels ever. Abercrombie writes action so well, so brutally full of gore. I felt the cuts, the burn of muscles, the panic of battle and the euphoria of victory. The Bloody Nine has some of his best scenes to date here and they gave me the chills, as did Logen’s father’s sayings about war. What I also love about The First Law is the balance of characters. Not every character needs to be or is a legendary sword-wielding beast of a man who smashes his way to victory. Sure it’s good fun to read but there’s none of that here. The character’s find their own way to take on battles, literally and metaphorically.

“Rules are for children. This is war, and in war the only crime is to lose.”

I also love how much depth there is to all of the characters even secondary ones such as The Dogman, Black Dow, Ardee and Arch Lector Sult. There were sections of non-stop action without much pause for breath, and there were other passages of the calm, allowing us to really get into the characters and understand them even more. There were touching scenes in the Last Argument of Kings that added so much to the story and the way I felt about the characters - which I find very rare in a grimdark story.

“You can never have too many knives, his father had told him. Unless they're pointed at you, and by people who don't like you much. ”

5/5 - I’m sure you can tell how much I loved this and The First Law. I would recommend this trilogy to anyone who likes reading. Or just everyone. If fantasy is your thing then this is a must read, and if fantasy isn’t your think then this is a brilliant starting place to highlight just how amazing it can be when written well. Mr Abercombie, I salute you. I hope to see the likes of The First Law again.
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
215 reviews2,586 followers
March 22, 2022
A spectacular ending to an incredible series -- One of the best books fantasy books of all time.

The last book in a fantasy series can make or break the entire thing, and luckily Last Argument of Kings achieved this in spectacular fashion. This book is legitimately one of the best fantasy books ever written, and will help this series be considered an all-time great fantasy series, among the titans of this genre like The Lord of the Rings and A Wheel of Time.

The tone of this book is dark, and involves a lot of bad people doing bad things to each other. The twists are legitimately mind blowing, in part due to how overwhelmingly impactful they are, and in part due to the seeds of these twists being planted in the previous books without the reader knowing. And while the entire book in amazing, the ending of this book is 10/10 perfection.

From a riveting selection of a new king, to the greatest 1-v-1 duel ever written about in a book, to an ancient feud between wizards that comes to a head, to the most bittersweet of endings -- this book is incredible from start to finish.

Joe Abercrombie has rightly been titled as one of the titans of this genre, and anyone with even a vague interest in fantasy with darker elements needs to read this book yesterday.

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Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,111 reviews44.3k followers
March 10, 2018
The end of this series is a cleverly crude mirroring of it’s opening, and it’s just so damn hilarious. I’m saying no more regarding that, but Abercrombie never fails to make me laugh. Logan Nine-fingers is such a great character; he really is the strongest aspect of this series.

“You can never have too many knives, his father had told him. Unless they're pointed at you, and by people who don't like you much. ”


His wise courage allowed him to defeat the impossible. Only he would have survived such an ordeal. Abercrombie sure knows how to write an excellent battle sequence, but the one on one combat at the end of the book is a whole new level of gripping. It was tense. It was exciting. And it felt like it could have gone either way. Every stroke of the sword was vital. One wrong move and it was over. The odds were against Logan; he faced a terrible foe, but Logan is a survivor. He has been through so much in his life, and he will continue to face his enemies until he falls. He is unshakable.

His proficiency for killing grants him a new beginning by the end. He is in a position where he could go anywhere and be anyone. It will be interesting to see how far the character goes in the future. Now I’ve of course read Red Country but I want to see Logan after that. I hope one day that we finally get to see his end, whatever that may be. I think we need to because at the moment Logan’s story is far from over. An origin story would also be quite good. We know the basics of where he came from, but to read about it all would be great.

Strong endings all round

“Power makes all things right. That is my first law, and my last. That is the only law that I acknowledge.”

Logan is not the only great character in this series. Sand dan Glokta stands amongst my favourite characters in all fantasy fiction. He is on par with Tyrion Lannister in his wit, cynicism and intelligence. He is the unsung hero. He is the cripple; the man twisted with rage and despair, but he also pulls through it and continues to serve his country despite his many personal daemons. He finally gets his due, one deserved and one justified. Perhaps.

As I said with Logan, I would love to see a reprisal of this character. His newest novels (The Shattered Sea trilogy) whist in themselves quite good, simply are not on par with his first trilogy. The tone isn’t the same. The story is not as good. So I think a return to this world is in order, hopefully some time soon.

The First Law Trilogy
1. The Blade Itself- A bloody four stars
2. Before They are Hanged - A gritty four stars
3. The Last Argument of Kings- A strong four stars

Profile Image for Alex.
98 reviews3 followers
March 3, 2009
Okay, so here's the thing with this book and why I gave it no stars:

1) It's the third and final volume in a trilogy that up to this book was pretty much as good as fantasy gets: good characterizations, egaging plot, nice overall writing style, etc etc etc.

1a) I specifically liked the first two because they were surprisingly nasty, not dark mind you (no brooding emo heroes of the night), nasty.

1b) "Nasty" isn't meant sexually either, incidentally, in case you were flashing to Janet Jackson right then.

2) All of that remains true for this book. I think it's important to know that no actions or events in this book are implausible given what's happened before or are unbelievable to the characters as written to this point.

3) Man, everything goes to shit and everyone dies or is fucking miserable forever is what happens here in book three.

4) And that turns out to be the point of it all, the philosophy the series intends to convey: That everyone is a total shit and you will die and death will be awful and degrading, but that's what life's like anyway so who cares.

4a) I think it's because that's the IT of the series that I found the book so dispiriting and also retroactively ruinous of the first two, which I no longer particularly like knowing what they'd lead to.

4b) Which makes me worry a little that I've turned into Pollyanna No-Unhappy-Endings let's have some cookies and hugs.

4b -i) Or even worse, someone who requires moral edification in entertainment.

5) I am going to resist those ideas about myself, even as I struggle to figure out why this is so repugnant to me, why I feel so.. almost offended by this book. I guess because this ending seems as trite as one where everyone wins and has cookies and hugs, only looking for some deeper credibility by instead of cookies it's slavery instead of hugs it's sharp pointy sticks being jabbed in various orifices. It ends up not TRYING to say anything more then the easiest black or white thing it could say, and it's even worse when you have this feeling the author COULD HAVE DONE BETTER.
Profile Image for William Gwynne.
344 reviews1,336 followers
July 10, 2022
Here is a review of Last Argument of Kings on the channel - The Brothers Gwynne

“Rules are for children. This is war, and in war the only crime is to lose.”

Dived into this third instalment in The First Law trilogy straight after finishing Before They Are Hanged. I was tempted to leave it a few days, as I actually felt trepidation at finding out what happens to the characters that I now love, despite their serious flaws. I know that Joe Abercrombie can be a nasty, nasty man to his characters, but I hoped there could be a Disney happy ending here.

Is that silly?

Yes. Yes it was.

This is so real that I could just turn on the news. But it is also incredibly enjoyable, don't get me wrong about that. Joe Abercrombie has cultivated a reputation for being a cruel writer who will spare no pain from his characters. I'll be honest, that is well earned. I felt so emotionally manipulated it was unbelievable. It shows it’s a fantastic story if you feel that much emotion and attachment to the cast. But it still doesn’t make it the most pleasant of experiences.

“You have to realistic about these things.”

Joe Abercrombie is famous perhaps mostly for his characters, and that is because they are so unique and now iconic. Glokta the tortured torturer, he does such terrible things, but you’re still routing for him. Logan Ninefingers, who you just feel so, so sorry for, but who is also terrifying, as is made crystal clear in this finale. Jezal, the once most infuriating character, now the man who I somehow want to emerge victorious. They are the main three perspectives, but then there are the brilliant other perspectives and major characters. West, who is possibly the closest you will get to a good man in an Abercrombie book. Then Bayaz, who you should never cross, and many more. Joe Abercrombie is an absolutely masterful character creator, and he brings about a satisfying conclusion for every character.

Whilst Abercrombie is most well known for his characters, I think this sometimes means that people neglect to mention the perfectly executed plot, which was obviously all set out from the beginning of the series. All the little breadcrumbs you didn’t even know were there reveal themselves in this conclusion. The twists were magnificently announced, making you understand everything, and wonder how you missed it. Again, I’m going to use that word. Masterful.

Then their is the prose and action. Abercrombie subtly changes his prose for each perspective, which adds to the brilliance and realisation of the characters I mentioned earlier. But he is also brilliant at creating any tone that he needs. The tension between characters, the humour between friends, the despair when all is lost, the panic of a battle. All are achieved brilliantly. Also, I have to say that the duel in this book is the second greatest that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. And that is high praise.

“You can never have too many knives”

This is one of the best books I have ever read, and one of the best endings to a series as well. It was amazing. I feel sad, depressed, lonely and lacking faith in humanity, but it was still awesome to read, and it is definitely a story that lived up the hype and delivered a if not happy or enjoyable conclusion, a very well crafted and satisfying one, and one that is awesome to talk about long after you have closed the final page.

Everyone should at least try picking up The First Law Trilogy. It could easily become one of your favourite series of all time.


I now have a YouTube channel that I run with my brother, called 'The Brothers Gwynne'. Check it out - The Brothers Gwynne
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,474 reviews9,406 followers
March 22, 2023
Good gracious and gravy, this initial trilogy was amazing!!! There is no way for me to adequately express its greatness...

I have nothing but love. Ughhhh, my heart is bursting for Abercrombie's creation. Pure genius. This is a must for Fantasy Readers. I am really looking forward to continuing on in this world!

My friend, Shannon, and I binged these first three books together and it was so fun. The characters; I just want to be with them!!

Profile Image for HaMiT.
163 reviews23 followers
August 21, 2020
باید در مورد یه سری چیزها واقع بین باشم
مثلا احتمال اینکه شخصیت پردازی به این خوبی توی یه کتاب یا مجموعه ی دیگه ببینم خیلی پایینه
داستان و پیچش های داستانیش خیلی خوبن ولی شخصیت پردازی باعث میشه بدون ذره ای خستگی 2500 صفحه کتاب رو بخونید و بعد از آخرین صفحه پیش خودتون بگید کاش فقط چند هزار صفحه ی دیگه هم ادامه داشت. خیلی از داستان ها شخصیت پردازیشون بعد از یه مدت دچار افت میشه ولی توی نخستین قانون تا آخرین لحظه فوق العاده میمونه
تقریبا همه ی شخصیت های داستان به نوعی اسیر گذشته اشون هستن
لوگن که - شود کوه آهن چو دریای آب، اگر بشنود نام بلادی ناین - میخواد گذشته ی پر از خون و خشونتش رو پشت سر بذاره و اوضاع رو درست کنه
فیرو که برده بوده و هیچ فکری جز انتقام توی ذهنش نداره
و سند دن گلوکتا که یکی از بهترین شمشیرزن های زمان خودش بوده ولی دو سال اسیر دشمن شده و همه جوره تحت شکنجه قرار گرفت�� و الان از نظر جسمی دائماً در حال درد کشیدنه، همیشه کابوس میبینه و توی گند و کثافت خودش از خواب بیدار میشه و بیشتر وقتها مشغول نیش و کنایه زدنه، حالا یا تو ذهنش یا موقع صحبت با بقیه. با این حال تجربه ی نزدیک به مرگ و دائم در معرض خطر بودن باعث شده هوش و حواسش خیلی تیز باشه و الان به عنوان بازپرس و شکنجه گر توی اداره ی اطلاعات مشغوله به کاره
برای من همین گلوکتای تنها برای لذت بردن از این سه گانه کافی بود. معرفی شخصیتش توی کتاب اول، درگیری های ذهنیش، دیالوگ هاش و شوخیهای دارکش و پایانش همگی کاملا بی نقص بودن. خواننده هیچوقت نمیفهمه باید دلش برای گلوکتا بسوزه یا ازش بترسه

زندانی: من اعتراف نامه رو امضا میکنم، ولی اسم افراد بی گناه رو نمینویسم. خدا به من رحم کنه، ولی اسمی در کار نیست
گلوکتا: شاید خدا بهت رحم کنه، ولی اون کسی نیست که اینجا گازانبر دستشه! محکم بگیرش

خیلی دوس داشتم تیریون و گلوکتا بشینن جلوی هم و فقط به همدیگه متلک بگن و ببینم کدومشون کم میاره :))

اسپویل سرنوشت شخصیت ها

خلاصه اگه نغمه دوس داشتین، نخستین قانون هم بخونید
شاید حتی بیشتر از نغمه ازش لذت ببرید
ترجمه هم عالیه ولی ارشاد جون یه جاهایی از کتابها رو سلاخی کرده پس نسخه انگلیسی هم کنارش داشته باشین
این قضیه در مورد اکثر کتابهای ترجمه صدق میکنه فکر کنم
اشاره به رابطه ی جنسی بده ولی صلیب خونین و ریختن دل و روده و قطع پا و دست و سر و از وسط نصف شدن و انواع و اقسام شکنجه اوکیه
Profile Image for Hamad.
990 reviews1,307 followers
December 20, 2020
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

“Rules are for children. This is war, and in war the only crime is to lose.”

I am 10 years late to the party but I am happy that I finished my first trilogy by Abercrombie and it met most of my expectations! I mentioned in my reviews of the last books that the books read like one huge story rather than three books and it means this book had to tie up everything and close all the story lines which it did in one way or another.

Abercrombie’s does not need any introduction from me, he is well known as the lord of dark fantasy for a good reason. The prose is very unique and gripping as it was in the last books!

The characters are still what makes this book and Abercrombie this successful! The characters are very memorable, specially Glokta who is literally everyone’s favorite and to be honest, the story took some directions and thus character development that I did not see! All the characters arcs are closed in this one and except for the very last pages, I liked how weird and dark it was! I was very confused by the epilogue and salty to the fate of on the characters but I did some research and got some answers to their mysterious fate!

“If you want to be a new man you have to stay in new places, and do new things, with people who never knew you before. If you go back to the same old ways, what else can you be but the same old person?”

Also this was pretty merciless with all the action and war going, it meant saying good bye to many of the characters which may also make it a kind of an emotional read.

The plot is probably the best in this book because we finally get all the reveals and twists and we have the final anticipated war! The world gets more expanded and the magic more interesting and we get a few surprises along the way!

“I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.”

Summary: As good as can be expected from lord grimdark himself! This is a very good conclusion to the trilogy and I am definitely excited to read more Abercrombie next year!
Profile Image for Overhaul.
230 reviews554 followers
August 21, 2021
“He aprendido mucho de mis múltiples errores. Lo único que no he conseguido ha sido aprender a no volver a cometerlos”

Puntuación: ⚔⚔⚔⚔⚔. Esperaba darle las 5, no ha defraudado.

El Último Argumento de los Reyes, es tercer y último libro que cierra la trilogía de "La Primera Ley". Todas las líneas de la trama de las anteriores entregas conducen a las revelaciones y a la despiadada y sangrienta conclusión de este magnífico cierre. La historia da comienzo desde donde se quedó "Antes de que los Cuelguen", cerrando así el círculo. Y joder, vaya círculo. 

Dependiendo de la perspectiva de cada lector, esta última entrega es agridulce, deprimente, sombría o algo intermedio. Abercrombie escribe como lo que es, un maestro de la muerte y la desesperanza. El te tira una cuerda para ayudarte y finalmente te estrangula con ella cuando creías estar a salvo. Es precisamente por este realismo implacable y sucio por lo que termino considerando este como mi libro favorito de la saga. ¿Se llevará cada uno lo que se merece?, ¿Quién es realmente bueno o malo?. La pluma de Joe Abercrombie no solo es afilada y  sangrienta, sino también muy jodida. Tan jodido como uno de los personajes que me ha sorprendido. Vaya final exquisito hasta poético se ha marcado el maestro del grimdark.

“No culpo a nadie. ¿De qué sirve eso? Cada cual hace lo que le toca. Hace mucho tiempo que deje de buscar razones”

Joe Abercrombie ha creado de manera experta y concienzuda como un cirujano que va paso a paso una historia que exhibía una cruda verdad y es que a pesar de los duros y grandes esfuerzos o de las "intenciones" virtuosas, es posible que las cosas no vayan a nuestro favor solo por una razón ¡La puta vida no es justa! Obvio no diré nada del final solo que lo leáis, lo disfrutéis y contempleis dicho final, un final que encaja a la perfección con la narrativa de la saga y el estilo de Abercrombie.

Esperaba un final sin piedad, inquebrantable, cruel. Es muy probable que esta trilogía se convierta en una de vuestras sagas/autor favoritas, sin duda es una de mis favoritas. Y aún no siendo el caso si que puedo decir que como mínimo se convertirá en una lectura memorable, tanto los personajes y sí, sí, hablo de Glokta el puto amo y señor de esta saga. Que sí, el resto de grandes personajes está muy bien pero que Glokta es mucho ¡Glokta!. Abercrombie lo hace bien, lo hace extremadamente bien.

“La mayoría de las heridas nunca llegan a cicatrizar del todo, pero hay algunas que duelen más con cada día que pasa”

Las cosas que Abercrombie hace bien y no pocas de ellas destacables, pues son: Las escenas de acción que en este tercer libro fueron de primera clase y categoría. Abercrombie ha usado su afilada pluma para crear escenas de guerra y batalla brutales en este final. Hemos visto destellos de la magia en los dos libros anteriores, pero aquí mostró el potencial devastador de la magia y el porqué de esas leyes que no se deben romper jamás. Escenas de acción sangrientas, violentas y despiadadas. Esta es sin duda la entrega más explosiva y llena de acción de la trilogía.

 “En eso consiste sobrevivir. Se recuerda a los muertos, se dicen unas palabras en su memoria y luego se sigue adelante confiando en que las cosas vayan a mejor”

Las escenas de guerra fueron la ostia, me gustó la escena del duelo.  Si has leído este libro, sabrás de qué estoy hablando. Lo increible y terrorífico de Abercrombie es que consigue hacerte sentir como si realmente estuvieras allí. Así puedes escuchar el sonido de las espadas danzando en el aire, el sonido del acero chocando contra el acero, el sonido de los pasos en el barro, la respiración jadeante, el sonido y el olor de la sangre derramada por los golpes a muerte. Como Miguel Ángel el señor Joe Abercrombie pinta unas escenas devastadoras que son increíblemente fáciles de visualizar dentro de esta cadena de eslabones sangrientos donde reina el caos y el es el juez, verdugo y dios. Si algún día este señor crea una religión, voy a practicarla.

“Algunos tipos de poder no son más que engaños de nuestra mente”

Para mi es un escritor y un narrador de categoria sus caracterizaciones son magistrales, su prosa es hasta poética al menos para la señora que reina en todos los campos de batalla. Lo mejor que consigue es ser convincente mostrando esa realidad gris y sucia gracias a su capacidad para crear momentos vívidos que son tan brutales, intensos, filosóficos y divertidos como lo son los memorables personajes y diálogos que se desarrollan. No me extraña nada la fama con la que cuenta Abercrombie y sobra decir que formo parte de su humilde rebaño. Garantía de calidad, debería venir esa etiqueta en sus libros. Señor del Grimdark, título ganado a pulso, realismo y sangre.

“Son todo mentiras. Era mejor tener dentro un vacío que llenarlo con esto”

Uno de los mejores libros finales de una trilogía que he tenido el placer de leer. Hubo de todo, tenemos desde momentos de humor a escenas tan tensas y épicas que te mantienen sentado y pegado al libro que hasta te olvidas de respirar, tenemos también grandes revelaciones que me dejaron flipando.

“¿Se os ha atrofiado ya el poco seso que os haya concedido el destino?”

Una de las cosas que me gusta de su narrativa es la distinta y clara voz de cada personaje. Tu sabes de quién es el punto de vista justo después de leer una sola frase. Tenemos personajes que son memorables y citables como prueba de ello tengo el libro lleno de Post-it , con brutales discursos y pensamientos mostrando una escritura de alta calidad. 

“Las reglas son para niños.  Esto es guerra, y en la guerra el único crimen es perder”

La profundidad que poseen todos los personajes, incluso los secundarios viendo cómo las personas pueden crecer de manera dramática frente a la adversidad, fue una demostración de lo rápido que esos desarrollos pueden dejarse en el camino y la facilidad con que los personajes pueden volver a caer en viejos hábitos, traiciones, revelaciones de ver sus verdaderas caras. Para nada esperaba en esta historia un final feliz, sino realista y como terminó siendo con Abercrombie sorprendiéndome. Logró crear y lanzarme a la cara el personaje más cabrón que jamás haya leído. El alcance de dicho mal fue impactante, ya que de ninguna manera fue evidente para mi. Una absoluta insensibilidad que me dejo anonadado, rasgo que quizás debería haber anticipado mirando hacia atrás. Todas y cada una de las cosas y momentos que Abercrombie logró en esta trilogía se ha ganado mi respeto. Brutal, pero cautivador y lleno de suspense. Lo que consiguió llevándo a cabo este final es un equilibrio difícil de lograr una cantidad impresionante de sorpresas, ¿Buenas o malas?, ¿Quién vivirá y quien se irá de vuelta al barro?

“Los sueños son cosa de niños. Nosotros somos adultos. No me merezco esto -exhaló-. Nadie tiene lo que se merece”

A estas alturas, estoy seguro de que casi todos los lectores han oído hablar de este autor y con razón catadle sino lo habéis leído aún no os lo perdáis solo con el personaje y la mayor y más notable creación de este autor que es, Glokta, esta saga ya merece muchísimo la pena. Tenéis personajes, momentazos, revelaciones, cambios y finales complejos, currados al detalle. Todas esto consigue despertar muchas cosas buenas y malas en vosotros. Pero sobretodo memorables. Mi camino con este autor por suerte solo acaba de comenzar, teniendo por delante sus libros independientes y su nueva saga. Como lector para mi coger un libro de este señor es significado de una delicia y un disfrute de lectura.

“A fin de cuentas, siempre había sido así. Pero, a pesar de todo, ahí seguía él, meando contra el viento”
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,896 reviews10.5k followers
April 4, 2013
As the Gurkish march on Adua, Bayaz schemes to defeat them, Jezel discovers his secret parentage, and Glokta tries to learn things no one wants him to know. Meanwhile, the Northmen are holed up in a fortress in the hills with Bethod's army at their gate, waiting for the Union army to arrive. Will they arrive in time? Is even Bayaz enough to defeat the Gurkish?

Apart from my Dark Tower reread of 2011, It's been a long time since I read the final book in a fantasy series. I guess re-reading the Elric books was the last time and probably Amber before that. The Last Argument of Kings, final book in the First Law trilogy, is way up in the series ender hierarchy.

The manure hits the windmill in a serious fashion in this volume. Several pretty important characters die. The rest of them have their lives change in real ways. Who would have Jezel dan Luthar and Logen Ninefingers would wind up kings? Or what would happen after they did?

Glokta and Bayaz were by far the most captivating characters in this volume. Glokta shocked me time and time again and I'm still not sure if Bayaz slew his mentor or not, only that he has his fingers in most of the pies in the bakery. All the revelations toward the end blew my mind.

There are so many things I want to gush about in this volume, like Bayaz using the Seed against the Eaters, Glokta marrying Ardee West, and the fight between The Bloody Nine and the Feared. I knew the confrontation was coming as soon as the Feared was introduced and I was pretty sure of his weakness. I just didn't picture the battle to be so brutal.

The character development over the course of the three books was pretty damn amazing considering where Jezel, Logen, and the rest started. The ending was the icing on the cake.

Like I said in my reviews of the other books, people compare these books to George R.R. Martin but they aren't that similar other than the brutal deaths. The First Law is way more like Pratchett. This particular volume reminds me of Watchmen quite bit when the heroes find out just how thoroughly they've been jerked around.

Five blood drenched stars. That's all I have to say.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
61 reviews9 followers
December 25, 2012
"Delightfully twisted, and evil." The excerpt from The Guardian tells everything you need to know about Joe Abercrombie. He writes twisted fantasy where the characters are as wicked and dark as the plot twists and morale is not a relevant consideration for any decision. And he writes it well. In short time he has become one of the leading names of the genre, mainly thanks to the First Law trilogy that concludes in the Last Argument of the Kings.

And after finally completing the trilogy, I can't help but coming to the conclusion that Abercrombie has nothing to offer to me.

I freely admit that he writes very varied characters, who have believable flaws and internal struggles. His dialogue is great and each character has a distinct voice of his or her own. However, by the third book in the trilogy, the obsession of making everyone dark, troubled, twisted, and gritty starts to work against the story. The transition from one character to another no longer offers an interesting contrast, and the plot twists start to become very predictable. This is not shades of grey, this is just the black of a black-and-white world. And as a result, none of the characters really develop anywhere during the story, even though they all had enough inner demons to really do so.

I was also very disappointed to see that my biggest worry after reading the first two books was very much realized: Abercrombie is all about his characters, and in the end he does not have a very interesting story to tell. Or that he does not tell it in a very interesting way. When I finally got to the bit where a handful of pages were dedicated to revealing what was actually going on behind the scenes, I very much wanted to groan.

Telling everything in the end may work in the detective novels, but it does not work in fantasy, especially not after the big conflict has already been resolved. I want to understand what the conflict is all about to actually care about it and the characters caught into it. The great revelation in itself was also somewhat of a let-down. The setup was promising, but it was used more as an excuse, than as a great, unifying theme. Not to mention that all of it didn't even make that much sense. So in the end, Last Argument of Kings was let down by a combination of far-too-predictable twist and a weak background story that was delivered in an uninspiring way.

Joe Abercrombie is clearly a talented writer. Unfortunately, based on the First Law trilogy, it seems that he is not a very interesting storyteller. To me, a truly memorable fantasy author should be both.
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
550 reviews1,052 followers
February 18, 2015

The last book in Abercrombie’s dark fantasy trilogy. Done. Dusted.

It’s going to be a while before I’ve properly assimilated everything that happened over the course of the series. It’s quite something, and it’s well worth your time if you enjoy genre fiction.

Last Argument of Kings – thoughts

Strange and painful events seemed to follow in his wake like stray dogs barking behind the butcher’s wagon.

Like I mentioned in one of my earlier reviews, it isn’t clear whether this wants to be (dark) heroic or (dark) high fantasy. It does contain elements of both; It’s very, very violent and bloody at times, but it also has moments of hush and awe. As expected, the action sequences are spectacularly impressive, especially any featuring Logen Ninefingers, or more particularly, The Bloody Nine.

[He] stood still and caught his breath, the sword hanging down by his side, the grip cold and wet in his clenched fist. He’d never been much of a one for moving until it was time.
“Best tell me your name, while you still got breath in you. I like to know who I’ve killed.”

I’d be hard pressed to select just one word to describe Abercrombie’s writing, but something that did spring to mind was “immediate”. There is an intimacy and urgency to the prose that pulls the reader in, kicking and screaming, for better or worse, until everything is played out. At almost 700 pages in pretty small print this is no light read, and yet it’s over before you know it.

The characterisation in this story and in this entry in particular, is extraordinary beyond my ability to describe. The POV characters are fairly ambiguous for the most part and you’re never quite sure just who is going to carry the day as the biggest bastard, or beloved, of the series. I think, though, that I’m not alone in being partial to master Ninefingers, who is easily one of the most bad-ass and provocative anti-heroes to grace (if you could call it that) the pages of a book.

It meant nothing to [the Bloody Nine] who men were, or what they had done. He was the Great Leveller, and all men were equal before him. His only care was to turn the living into the dead, and it was past time for the good work to begin.

A word of honour has to go to Inquisitor Glokta, whose inner musings are a delight and whose story is rife with intrigue and delivers the most surprises.

It always amazes me, how swiftly problems can be solved, once you start cutting things off people.

As with the previous books, there is a lot going on, mostly concerned with warfare. Siege, battle, bloodbath, siege: wash, rinse, repeat. Despite that, it remains a fascinating story that manages not to be overshadowed by the mayhem. The (extended) ending is likely the portion that readers will quibble over the most, but it’s a fantastic achievement all in all. Great stuff all round.

In a recent review of a different book I made a comment regarding the use of (crude) expletives during certain, um, scenes of intimacy. The same thing happens here, but it didn’t seem so out of place at all. This either makes me the biggest hypocrite in the universe, or this is just that good a book.

You have to be realistic about these things.
Profile Image for Alex Nieves.
172 reviews637 followers
June 27, 2021
Full video review here: https://youtu.be/SARMd-trt1g

What a freaking conclusion to this incredible trilogy. This is definitely my favorite of the 3 and there were just SO MANY AWESOME MOMENTS in this book. Video coming soon but damn, I need some more First Law.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,588 reviews1,468 followers
October 5, 2014
“Mercy and weakness are the same thing in war, and there's no prize for nice behavior.”

When your two favorite characters in a book are a master torturer and a warrior who occasionally is filled with so much bloodlust that he forgets who he is and is as likely to kill a friend as much as a foe you really shouldn’t be surprised to have mixed feelings at the end of the series.

But I was surprised. Maybe I’m too used to the series I’m reading ending by tying everything up neatly in a bow and giving out an appropriate number of Happily Ever Afters. I can’t really say that happened. There are some people who got what they deserved, others who got far more than they deserved and even more who did not get what they deserved at all. At the end I wasn’t sure how to feel. This is one of those stories that is going to stick with me and I’ll wonder what the characters went on to do long after the story ended.

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I’m going to give Joe Abercrombie some props. He made me love characters that I shouldn’t have liked at all. I mean who loves the torturer in a story, but Glotka is one of my all-time favorite Anti-Heroes. I also adore Logan who sometimes goes on killing sprees and might kill his most trusted ally, still Logen Nine-fingers really made this story for me.

Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he is never boring. I flew through the last half of this book needing to know what was going to happen. I was surprised by revelations that just kept coming. There was one character that I absolutely loved in prior books that I couldn’t believe how much I despised them by the end of this one.

“But you love to play the good man, don't you? Do you know what's worse than a villain? A villain who thinks he's a hero. A man like that, there's nothing he won't do, and he'll always find himself an

I really do not want to give away anything about this story. I just ask that you go in with an open mind and be ready for a very wild and unconventional and always entertaining ride. The ending to this trilogy is much like Abercrombie’s characters; complex, interesting, controversial and perfectly unapologetically flawed. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a good thing but looking back on it now a week after I finished I really liked some of the chances he took with his story.

I really hope he revisits a few of these characters since he left it a little open for some of them in the future. I grew really attached to so many of the characters in the story and I really want to see them again.
February 26, 2019
The Last Argument of Kings is a great ending to a superb fantasy trilogy. Don’t think this fantasy as light and ethereal – no, think dark, brutal and bloody. There are battles and battles and battles to be fought, and the most crucial is between Logen Ninefingers and his old friend come-enemy Bethod in the North.

This is just a wonderful trilogy that provides everything you need for a breathtaking page-turner. Great characters, a world of intrigue, battling nations, supernatural influences, enthralling landscape, entertaining dialogue, humour and the band of warriors including Logan Ninefingers, Ferro and Jezel, led by Bayaz, the First of the Magi. The characters are highly capable in battle but also vulnerable, they make good decisions and bad, and they inflict damage and suffer pain. The writing style is a perfect pace and balance for the adventurous plot and the descriptive content with the characters and landscape.

There are a lot of parallels to Game of Thrones but it does have its own place. I would highly recommend the trilogy and the entertainment through each book is tremendous.
Profile Image for Markus.
470 reviews1,519 followers
August 26, 2019
“The only difference between war and murder is the number of the dead.”

A fitting end to the trilogy, and yet the end seems rather pointless. These books are pageturners, they're sometimes funny, and they're mostly highly enjoyable, but there always seems to be something missing. Some deeper meaning. Some focus beyond just subverting tropes for cheap laughs.

Watching Bayaz' plans unfold is, in the end, what this trilogy has to offer, but fortunately it is indeed quite the enjoyable exercise.

“Power makes all things right. That is my first law, and my last. That is the only law that I acknowledge.”
Profile Image for Celeste.
889 reviews2,332 followers
July 3, 2019
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

I’ve read some dark stuff in my life, but I believe that Last Argument of Kings is the bleakest, most brutal book I’ve read, ever. Joe Abercrombie undoubtedly earned his title as the King of Grimdark. If it wasn’t for the humor Abercrombie had been deftly layering into the story since The Blade Itself, I don’t know that I could’ve finished this final installment. I joked with my fellow Novel Notions bloggers that I felt like I needed to bathe in kittens and rainbows when I read the last pages, and that honestly wasn’t far from the truth. I started half a dozen or more books in the aftermath of this book, only to put them down again because they weren’t bright enough. I finally settled on rereading a Nora Roberts trilogy that I’ve read over and over since my teenage years. Nora’s charming descriptions of Ireland could not be further removed from the Union and the North and Gurkhul as Abercrombie detailed them.
“I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.”

If Before They Are Hanged was a study in character development, in how people can grow dramatically in the face of adversity, Last Argument of Kings was a demonstration of how quickly those developments can be thrown by the wayside and how easily characters can slip back into old habits. People who had genuinely changed found that those changes weren’t strongly rooted enough to sustain. It felt like the plot was propelled almost entirely by one betrayal after another. I didn’t expect a happy ending, I really didn’t. I mean, you have to be realistic about these things, after all. But I didn’t expect to hate nearly everything about the ending, either. A scant few characters found themselves in a decent place as the book drew to a close, and even those endings were heavily tempered with disappointment.
“If you want to be a new man you have to stay in new places, and do new things, with people who never knew you before. If you go back to the same old ways, what else can you be but the same old person?

Abercrombie also succeeded in crafting perhaps the single evilest character I’ve ever experienced. The full extent of said evil was shocking to me, as it was in no way apparent when the character was first introduced. Their callousness in regards to the value of human life was appalling, though it’s a trait that I should’ve anticipated as I look back. Even though I was shocked by this revelation, I had to respect how elaborate and well executed their plan was. There was one character who managed to surprise me with their decency, but I’ll refrain from naming them.
“People would far rather be handed an easy lie than search for a difficult truth, especially if it suits their own purposes.”

There were a couple of chapters that, though blood soaked, exhibited some amazing technique from the author. A duel scene, which is possibly the best such scene I’ve ever read, managed to be horrifying in content and almost breathtakingly beautiful at the same time. The language used was incredibly impressive and demonstrated that Abercrombie is not only a gifted storyteller, but a phenomenal craftsman. I was also highly impressed with a chapter entitled “Sacrifices.” Almost every perspective character was present in this single chapter, and Abercrombie made an artistic decision that I found delightful. Whatever line ended one perspective was also the opening line of the next perspective. It was a fun and thoughtful addition that I appreciated immensely.
“Rules are for children. This is war, and in war the only crime is to lose.”

While this book was painful to read, I have incredible respect for what Abercrombie managed to do in the First Law trilogy. It might’ve been brutal, but it was engaging and suspenseful and, even when I was disappointed in the characters’ decisions, I still cared about them. That’s a difficult balance to strike, and Abercrombie did it was great finesse. There were also an impressive amount of surprises, though few of them were happy. I’ve heard that his standalone novels set in the same world aren’t quite as bleak. I very much look forward to reading these, though I’ll be giving myself a breather before approaching them.
“Round and round in circles we go, clutching at successes we never grasp, endlessly tripping over the same old failures. Truly, life is the misery we endure between disappointments.”

Oddly enough, I believe that the First Law trilogy is now among my favorite fantasy series I’ve read. But, unlike others in this category, I’m not sure it’s a trilogy I’ll be rereading, as most of the other series among my favorites have been or will be. I loved the characters and would definitely like to revisit them, but I don’t know if this last book in particular is one I could stomach a second time. While Last Argument of Kings was written and executed brilliantly, the difficulty I had in reading it kept me from giving it the full 5 stars I know it deserves. If you consider yourself a fan of the grimdark subgenre but have somehow never read this trilogy, that’s an oversight that undoubtedly needs to be remedied. But if you struggle with darker fiction, you might want to steer clear of the First Law. You’ve been warned.
Profile Image for David Katzman.
Author 3 books446 followers
July 7, 2019
This review is for all three books in the First Law trilogy. I was set to name this as the greatest fantasy trilogy that I've ever read. And yet the ending hit me so hard that I just can't muster up the enthusiasm that I had halfway through Book 3. Not to say that this isn't brilliant in so many ways. And while I respect the view of humanity as an honest and not unreasonable critique, it's hard to be quite as enthusiastic about something that, in the end, is so dark. Viewing our current society, from Hitler to Trump, it's clear that power and selfishness dominates. But unfortunately, as a thematic conclusion, it's depressing. Truth hurts.

That said, this is one of the most compelling fantasy trilogies that I've ever read. It's merciless and brutal, but for all that, it feels honest. Abercrombie does just about everything right. The characters are all fascinating and compelling. They are believable and yet also surprising. Sometimes they make choices exactly as you expect, and other times they are driven by motives that were just under the surface, which you didn't recognize. The dialogue is excellent and realistic. The plot is complex and never boring yet not overwhelming. Abercrombie masterfully, and I mean masterfully, ratchets up the tension slowly and carefully. The drama builds and builds and builds, to a point where I was literally shouting at the book. I had to know what happened next, and it had to happen quickly. He manages atmosphere quite well, with diverse tones ranging across heartless cruelty, ironic comedy, awkward realism, and eerie horror. Something that seems obvious but I have found to be a weakness for many authors is actual physical movement and physical struggles. Abercrombie is quite good at describing all the physical aspects of movement, human contact, fighting and warfare. Even his sex scenes aren't ludicrous because they are uniquely character based. The overall fantasy worldbuilding is outstanding. Everything holds together as a concrete and coherent place. Thematically, Abercrombie seems to be exploring what forces drive us human animals. And whether there is an opportunity for us to become "better." More humane humans, if you will. His answer in the end is, well...not really. With some nuance, there are opportunities. If the weather is right and the world gives you a window...briefly. But the opportunity and timing is rare, and given the more typical unfairness that life has to offer, it brings out the selfishness inside everyone. We each do just what we think we have to do. Abercrombie also explores gender relations to interesting effect. He manages to create strong female characters, and yet show how they are trapped and controlled by patriarchal society. Hello Kavanaugh. Oh, and we shouldn't forget social class and wealth, which is another thematic area Abercrombie investigates.

This 3,000+ page story follows a diverse group of individuals through a story that sprawls across a couple years. Two wars are fought almost simultaneously along with a mission to retrieve a powerful magical artifact that could turn the tide of the battles. One country is facing off against two enemies and political intrigue dogs every step of the struggle. Magical forces have taken sides as well. You'll find yourself surprised by the twists and turns this series takes. I certainly was.
The main characters encompass: a powerful and pompous ancient wizard, a barbarian (of sorts) and one of the greatest fighters alive who can speak to spirits, a female with a demonic ancestor in her past who is also a great warrior, an arrogant soldier of noble birth and his friend, a skilled soldier of common birth and his sister, who is strong-willed, witty and aggressive. And last but not least, the most sympathetic torturer that you are likely to ever encounter in literature. Yes, truly, you will be rooting for this torturer to succeed throughout the entire series.

In the end, most of the story threads are resolved and come together in a way that overall satisfies...although as we know, life isn't fair so Abercrombie leaves us with a few intentionally unresolved events and an uncertain future. I just did a little interwebs research and discovered there is another trilogy set to continue this story. Well, well. We shall see.

I was truly blown away by this series and highly recommend it to any fans of fantasy. Or for those readers interested in taking a dip into an incredibly well-crafted and literary fantasy series (as long as you don't turn away from some brutal violence). This is a great work that stands outside the mainstream of fantasy.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
700 reviews77 followers
April 6, 2022
Oh, look, this is five stars as well, imagine that! (Please feign faux being shocked)

Look, I honestly don’t think anything I’m going to say here is anything that hasn’t been expounded on before, but Lord have mercy, it must be conveyed in some shape/form/fashion.

There’s a reason Abercrombie is considered a master of his genre; this book, in my opinion, takes that and sums it so very excellently. Abercrombie takes these vivid real characters, characters placed in extraordinary situations. However, you still somehow empathize, loathe, hate, or are shocked as they are, and therefore these characters are relatable even to us in our “normal” lives.

The twists, the turns, the blows, you feel them in real-time with this unlikely band of players right up until the very end. Every time I thought, “Ah, he’s going to put a nice bow on this situation, and who can blame him? These characters deserve it.” he teases that lacy ribbon across your body until you’re about begging to be mummified in it. He pulls the whole damn thing away for another surprise.

This novel is fantasy, philosophy, entertainment, emotions, and characters that are so realistic it’s hard at times to remember this is a made-up story. However, their decisions, motives, and faults all make sense at some level, and often you’ll find yourself rooting for someone once you understand their reasons, even if they were on your shit list from previous volumes.

“A man can change.” - Logen ‘Ninefingers’, all I can say to that I raise my glass and say yes, yes he can.
Profile Image for Jokoloyo.
449 reviews269 followers
April 10, 2017
Secrets revealed! Plots twisting here and there! Maybe you could outguessed some of plots? The good news is even if you did outguessed a plot, it didn't make the story less fun. Some of the plot twists were actually simple, but the author's execution skill is marvelous. Oh yeah, your memory that still held the details of book one would be rewarded handsomely on this book.

Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
720 reviews1,173 followers
October 28, 2020
[4.5/5 stars] This was easily the best one yet!

And I kind of ruined the experience for myself. By not planning ahead well enough to actually get through my library hold before it was due back, I had to stop part way though and wait three months to get it again… I swear I should’ve just bought it then and there, but I’m stubborn). In any case, the fact that I was interrupted right in the middle of all the action and still managed to be just as invested several months later is a testament to how good it was.

The brilliance of this series is in the characters. They’re not just flawed. Oh no, they all, each and every one of them, go beyond just merely flawed into completely f#cked up territory… and that’s why they’re so fascinating. Even Logan, who many highlight as their favorite character, has some deep psychological issues. By far, my favorite character is Sand dan Glokta. I’ve said it before, but I’ll continue to torture you with repetition – I’m in constant awe how a character who, on paper, should be considered completely deplorable manages to not only delight me, but have me rooting for him the entire way. His sardonic, practical views of the world are brilliantly represented, and I find myself laughing out loud at the most inappropriate times (like during torture scenes). It’s really not funny, but at the same time it’s hysterical… Abercrombie’s ability to create such a juxtaposition of emotions within scenes is truly masterful.

I like the culmination of events in this one, and the fact that nothing went the way I was expecting it to. Another of Abercrombie’s strengths is that he doesn’t stick to the formulaic storytelling prominent in the genre. This series is a unique creation told in its unique way, and I love that he stayed consistently true to his perspective through the whole thing. Although I was on the fence after the first book, these last two have convinced me beyond a doubt that this series is worth every bit of praise it gets. I wish I’d read it ages ago (I’ve owned it so long), but at least now I have several other unread Abercrombie novels to look forward to.

Recommendations: this trilogy-ender has convinced me that this series deserves its place as a fantasy genre staple. Not only does it have one of my favorite characters of all-time, it’s completely unapologetic in execution. This is not a feel-good tale. It’s dark, gritty, and violent. Yet I loved it, and I can’t wait to read on.

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

Other books you might like:
Promise of Blood (Powder Mage, #1) by Brian McClellan A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin The Grey Bastards (The Lot Lands, #1) by Jonathan French Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1) by Steven Erikson The Dragon's Path (The Dagger and the Coin, #1) by Daniel Abraham
Profile Image for Constantine.
810 reviews129 followers
April 14, 2022
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Epic Fantasy

This is the third book in the First Law Trilogy. It’s action-packed and full of surprises. This is my favorite book among the three. When I say it is full of surprises I actually mean it 100%. Completely unpredictable and you have no idea what the author has in store for these characters. The turn of events will blow your mind.

This is a grimdark fantasy so be sure not to get attached to any of these characters (if you could) because you never know where they will end. Joe Abercrombie’s main hero in this book is the plot. The events keep putting these characters into very challenging situations. And the survivors are the winners! Or maybe not! If you thought you knew these characters by now you are mistaken. They are very twisted, selfish, and self-centered characters. They will keep surprising you when they are thrown into hardships. Their next move is always unpredictable and that is what maintains the charm and cruelty of this series.

My most favorite parts of the book are the POVs of Glokta and Jezel. The rest are not too far away. I appreciated the introduction of a few new characters especially Terez who was again a character full of surprises like all the others. Loved it from start to end! Joe Abercrombie has a new fan! I can’t wait to get into his other books. Highly recommended for fantasy fans.

“If you want to be a new man you have to stay in new places, and do new things, with people who never knew you before. If you go back to the same old ways, what else can you be but the same old person?”
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