Chris (The Genre Fiend)'s Reviews > Last Argument of Kings

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
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it was amazing

The best way I could analogise Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy is through a poker game. It began with The Blade Itself dealing out its hands, getting everyone acquainted with the rules of the game and showing some interesting cards at its end. Then Before They Are Hanged played out a few (admittedly slow) rounds before something of a player shift occurred during some flop cards reveals no-one saw coming.

Finally we get to Last Argument of Kings; we've reached the point where the table gets flipped, and all those carefully-played cards get tossed aside.

Abercrombie has shown in the previous two entries that he understands grimdark, fantasy and great character development through a nice little polygamy between the three, and Last Argument of Kings is the kind of ending I really hoped would bring it all together. Suffice it to say, it bloody well does.

Our protagonists are violent, foppish, brutal, aggressive and harangued (where applicable), and it's a testament to Abercrombie's outstanding character work that I actually care about all of them as much as I would the virtuous, "good" protagonists of, say, Mistborn . Granted, there are times when the morally questionable acts our "heroes" take are a little hard to swallow and these are not the kind of people you'd necessarily want to go off to the pub with, but overall the greyer aspects of these protagonists' morals actually gives them more dimension than most traditionally heroic ones possess. Say what you will about Sand dan Glokta, torture technician and easily the trilogy's best character, but dammit if he isn't interesting (and also more than a little scary).

What also helps with the glowing review I give Last Argument is its ending. Without spoilers, it leaves enough brevity that the world of The First Law can still be fruitfully explored in future volumes. I'm looking forward to diving in with Best Served Cold, the first subsequent standalone story set in the 'verse, and it'll be interesting to see the knock-on effect Last Argument's ending has on the world at large. Succinctly, some stuff went down and it's all just a bit big.

I've been advertising the First Law books to friends as Game of Thrones done smoothly, subtracting a ton of the grime, rape and prolific (and, at times, unneeded) swearing with a clear ending goal and characters who don't induce total, black-hole apathy in the reader through their dark and depressing acts. That's not to say The First Law isn't dark, or that it doesn't at times exceed Game of Thrones in the violence and grittiness department, but it's a much more satisfying, engaging kind of darkness if that makes sense.

I'd highly, highly, highly, highly recommend the First Law books, and Last Argument of Kings in particular, to anyone the least bit keen on well-written prose, dark fantasy and characters with fantastic depth who are also complete assholes. Ok, that last part probably isn't a great sales pitch, but trust me. You'll love it.
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Reading Progress

July 6, 2014 – Shelved
July 6, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
August 11, 2014 – Started Reading
August 18, 2014 –
page 100
14.9%
August 19, 2014 –
page 110
16.39%
August 29, 2014 –
page 170
25.34%
August 30, 2014 –
page 228
33.98%
August 31, 2014 –
page 464
69.15%
August 31, 2014 – Finished Reading

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