I committed to finishing series this year and just devoured The First Law #1-3. I will read the subsequent books at some point but I admit to being less interested in side stories within the greater world.
So, yeah, I’m glad to have finally read The First Law. Big magic, big action, big destruction, heroes and villains as one, the series has everything I want in a fantasy. The immersive descriptive writing style kept me sucked in, and I can add this to my top adult fantasy reading.
It’s hard to talk about book three in a series without spoilers so I’ll do my best, but am not 100% committed to anything beyond this point being entirely spoiler free.
Bookish Quick facts:
- Title: The Last Argument of Kings
- Series: The First Law #3
- Author: Joe Abercrombie
- Publisher & Release: Gollancz, 2008 (Orbit Reprint, 2015)
- Length: 536 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of dark fantasy
Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:
The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and there’s only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. It’s past time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.
With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no one is safe, and no one can be trusted. His days with a sword are far behind him. It’s a good thing blackmail, threats and torture still work well enough.
Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is far too painful, and turned his back on soldiering for a simple life with the woman he loves. But love can be painful too, and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it.
While the King of the Union lies on his deathbead, the peasants revolt and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is falling across the very heart of the Union. The First of the Magi has a plan to save the world, as he always does. But there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, after all, than to break the First Law…
There’s a lot that I want to say about these books, but I’ve said most of it in my first two reviews of the series. And I’m sick, and have sick brain, so this may be short.
Overall this is one of my favorite adult fantasy trilogies I’ve ever read. The Last Argument of Kings really nailed home a constantly bleak outlook, heroes aka villains sinking ever lower, complicated friendships unravelling, so much betrayal ..
.. Essentially everything Grimdark is supposed to be. You think the characters hit rock bottom and then they just keeps sinking. Sinking and grinning and swinging their bloody weapons the whole time, I love it.
The war scenes were the highlight. Not just the duel, the scene up in the highlands at Crummock’s fortress, with everyone crawling around stabbing at whatever, blood raining down, the actions of the bloody-nine… Umm 😳 terrible stuff. There were lots of times where the reading experience was immersive like that though, where one could feel like they were there among the bodies.
The world build throughout the series is amazing too, without ever being overwhelming. Someone in an interview once said that the best worldbuilding feeds into immersion without becoming a distraction, and I have never agreed with anything more.
Character wise, Glokta had some real hero/villain moments. He’s probably my favorite character. It’s hard to make readers cheer for a crippled torturer and Abercrombie managed to do it. Dogman and Logen both had weak story endings but I didn’t hate the way the ending made the whole series come full circle. I think that’s the point, that it never ends for fighting men. He left it open to go all sorts of different ways.
Many people with fewer fried brains and more eloquence have sung endless praises about this series so, yeah go read it. I’m not sure how I waited until 2022-23: totally worth it.