Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings

Last Argument of Kings

Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Price: 10,20 €

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 ...

The third and last part of the First Law-series by British author Joe Abercrombie basically goes on where its predecessor Before They Are Hanged has left us desperately waiting for more. And I'm talking content as well as the quality of the text.

Watching Abercrombie's characters grow has been a real pleasure for me since the very beginning of the story in The Blade Itself. They all developed in a very logical and realistic way, especially because Abercrombie is not afraid to make uncomfortable decisions for his personage, even if they make a character really unlikeable to the reader. But that is the thing I like about them: If they never had doubts, felt awkward or were drunk by their own self-aggrandisement, they would just be another cast of pale characters in some series of fantasy books wanting to suceed J.R. R. Tolkien.

Although part of the plot were a bit obvious, it stayed logical and there were even a few surprises left for me to discover. What I didn't like after three whole books were the fighting scenes which were a little bit too excessive and bloody for my taste. A little bit's okay with me, but filling several chapters with them? Nah, not my cup of tea really.
Same thing with the huge epilogue which isn't really an epilogue but happens after the great fight and "scenes that happen after everything's over but still before the epilogue starts" seemed too long to be typed conveniently. And it's not that that part isn't good or anything, it's just ever so long. The storylines of the characters get a polished ending and it helped me understand some things I didn't quite get during the final chapters. A little bit shorter would have been nice though.

But - there is always a "but", isn't it? - the final scene was a-ma-zing. I love series coming to a close the same way they began, so that was a real treat.

To put it all in a nutshell, I'm so sad the stories of Logen, Glokta and friends are over. After finishing the last book my mind kept returning to it the whole day, just as if I could not accept that there was nothing more to learn about it. There are new books by Abercrombie placed in the same world, but it's not really the same and I'm going to miss it. Or reread it.
Once. Or Twice.
Or several times.

Have you read the First Law-series? Did you like them? Or not? Let me know!


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