Review: Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

lastargument

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #3

Pages: 670

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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…

Last book of the trilogy of The First Law, which I have taken my sweet time to read it and enjoy it. Thankfully, the author has written much more books based on that world. And, after the earth-shattering ending of this one, they are more than needed. I know they don’t follow the same story per se, but I’m hoping for enough winks and nods to put my mind at rest. Fingers crossed! By the way, this review will have heavy spoilers, because I can’t truly write about my feelings without them.

After the disappointment of ending their epic quest empty handed, the group go back home. Bayaz, Quai, Logen, Jezal, Ferro and Longfoot go to the capital of the Union and, from there, they say their goodbyes. Logen travels to the North to meet their friends and help them in the fight against Bethod. The rest stay in Adua with different objectives in mind. Meanwhile, the Gurkish Empire decides it has been in the background of the plot for far too long…

This last book is divided in two big chunks: the war against Bethod and the North and the war against the Gurkish Empire in the capital of the Union. I have enjoyed the later much more than the first one, but that doesn’t mean the brutish Northmen lack the abilty of hooking me up. I was just a bit sad while reading it. In the previous book, Logen blossomed as a character. I really wanted for him to be happy and I thought his going back home could be a first step. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Ninefingers is miserable among his people. I wanted to take him back to Adua and Ferro and let him be happy, but it seems his honor demanded to see the war against Bethod handled. It’s pretty hard to read how his so-called friends turn on him little by little. Even the congratulations after the much needed victory feel empty (which is totally on point taking into account the very final chapter of the book…). The best moments of the plot in the North are those with the focus on West. The soldier shows a lot of cunning and leadership skills that I dind’t know he was capable of. My opinion of this character has improved greatly since the first book.

But the mamia is mostly in the capital of the Union. There stay most of the original team fulfilling diverse roles. Glokta is balancing his many masters in order toi keep his head. Jezal is being catapulted to the top of the noble life thanks to Bayaz. Ferro is Ferro, so she is looking for new ways to get her revenge on the Gurkish Empire. And Bayaz… I will talk about him later (do NOT expect nice words). Jezal is the subject of one of the most shocking and unexpected moments of the book. It made me smile from ear to ear. I was salivating thinking about the reaction of Glokta, so prone to jelousy when the former Captain is involved. Sadly, there is not much time to enjoy the new era due to the massive Gurkish armada attacking the Union. Unexpected allies and returns just in time are two of the main ingredients that save (barely) the situation…

The most important role in the events that are into play during the battle is the one conducted by Bayaz. He could be mistaken as the hero who stopped the dreadful Eaters of the Gurkish Empire. by far the most formidable adversaries. But it is also during the first days after the victory that all pretenses are dropped. Bayaz is bad news. Very bad news. He is a liar, a murderer, a tyrant, a master manipulator. Everything that happens was to enhance his glory, no matter if the puny mortals that surround him are oblitarated. He put all the pieces together to create and solve the issue, as if it were a simple game for him. The cruelty, the coldness, the emotional impact that he provokes in every character… I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was fuming with pure anger. The real bad guy of the books was walking free… I was so invested in the story that I truly felt his traitorous backstabbing. I hate him with a passion. I can’t think of another character in any other book that I would like to see suffer as much as Bayaz deserves.

If Bayaz getting away with his crimes wasn’t bad enough, he leaves his “friends” in a sorry state. Ferro has been touched by the Other Side. She is hearing voices, but the First of the Magi doesn’t care at all. He has used her as a kleenex. Use once and drop it. Yulwei is trapped or dead in the Tower, after being left there by his supposed friend. Another one who has outlived his usefulness. West… man… that one is hard. After all he has done to get the North back and save the capital, he is affected by a weird illness that has transformed him in little more than a corpse. A disease released by Bayaz experiments. And it wasn’t an accident. He knew about it and he didn”t care. Even wrose, I bet he could do something to cure it… but he just shrugs and turns around. He despises everyone who is not Bayaz. Disgusting fella… Jezal’s situation is not better. He has been placed as King thanks to the lies of Bayaz, but the Magi expect full obedience. When he doesn’t agree with his methods, Bayaz uses his power to submit Jezal thorugh pain in a really cruel exchange that left me speechless and trembling. And I could keep going with Glokta, Logen and more.

I must congratulate the author on the mastery of the plot. He creates a fully character driven story through the first two books to make the reader at home with them. To make the reader feel like part of the group. Like a friuend to them if you get into books as much as I do. And then he drops the bomb and the reader is too close to avoid collateral damage. I have had a knot in my throat while writing this review. I don’t know when I will recover. I just wish that we will see Bayaz fail in the future books sooner or later. I am like Ferro now. Only driven by vengeance.

Well played, Mr Abercrombie. Well played. These books are going to be amongst the most special ones I have ever read.

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