The Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

Fry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 13th September, 2014

This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
The Last Argument of Kings by Joe AbercrombieThe Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #3
Published by Gollancz on March 20th, 2008
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy
Pages: 536
Source: Purchase
The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but its going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and theres only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. Its 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 ...

Wow. Is all I have to say after that. Wow.

After their failed mission to find the destructive weapon known as the seed, our merry band of travelers disperses. Logan makes his way up to the north in order to fight Bethod with his fellows, while everyone else decides to stay in Adua.

Jezal dan Luthar, a changed man, wizened by his travels and near brush with death, becomes involved with Ardee West. While their relationship is destructive and hurtful, it seems to be what makes them happy. Doesn’t Jezal deserve to be happy? Apparently not. After the death of the king and his two heirs, the unlucky brute is elevated to the position by surprise parentage. He’s just a pawn in his castle, despite wanting to make the kingdom a better place for everyone involved, his is unable to due to circumstance. His relationship with Ardee is cut short, and he is forced to marry the beautiful daughter of Duke Orso from Styria.

Poor Terez. Honestly. As I was reading the book, she seemed horrible.  I wanted her frosty bitchy ass to die in a fire. I mean, she wasn’t nice to Jezal at all and he’d not really done anything to her. But, I understood her point once it was revealed that she was homosexual. Still, that situation could have been handled better by everyone involved. Terez could have explained things to Jezal, as Jezal wasn’t past considering mistresses. They could have come to some agreement. There didn’t have to be threats and bodily harm in order to get Terez to produce heirs. That’s just rude and barbaric.

Sand Dan Glokta, of course, was the one to do the threats and the harm. But, that’s his niche. I wouldn’t expect less from him. Despite his outward face and lack of scruples, he can be a pretty stand up guy sometimes. His budding friendship and relationship with Ardee was one of the highlights of the book for me. Their witty banter and cynicism was refreshing. I’m glad he offered to marry her instead of stab her in the face. They make a good couple.

I was one of those who constantly forgot that Glokta was the same age as West. It’s easy to forget, as West is fit and functional and Glokta is withered and handicapped. Glokta basically ran head first into a Theon Greyjoy situation. Though, for all of West’s gallivanting, he quickly withered away due to Bayaz’s interference. Seriously, Bayaz fucked everyone up with his magic. Those who didn’t get torn to shreds became horrifically sick and never recovered. Casualties were high on both sides.

Though, as the story was prone to remind us, history is made by the victors. Perhaps we’ve been rooting for the bad guys all along? Sure, the Gurkish were cannibalizing people and becoming somewhat indestructible, but desperate times call for desperate measures! They have to go up against Bayaz, the murdering bastard he is, and his pet half-demon! That’s pretty scary! I dunno, you guys. Once the battle was over, I had a really bad taste in my mouth.

Bayaz opened up and showed his hand. He was the puppeteer all along and will remain such. The business of Midderland is still under his thumb and he really doesn’t give a crap about anyone else. His treatment of our point-of-view characters makes that fact plainly obvious.

Ferro may have wanted vengeance, but she got a lot more than she bargained for. She was used as a tool and cast aside. Her abrupt departure from the Agriont makes me hope we see her in one of the standalones. Fingers crossed. I liked her a lot, despite her obstinate and recalcitrant nature.

Alright, we wind down the point of view wagon with Logen and the northmen. Ninefingers travels back to the north to help with Bethod. Dogman, although a major point of view in the previous books, despite being chief, becomes second fiddle once Logen comes back. Logen lives up to his name as the BloodyNine, as that demonic (I’m assuming, as similar descriptors and the overarching cold theme are used) berserker mode takes over several times. He does some pretty scary shit, and destroys Bethod because of it. This, by default, makes him King of the Northmen. Though, funnily, the northmen don’t want a goddamn king. So, after going to fight in the south to help cull the Gurkish, a coup is made upon their arrival of Carleon. Black Dow, how could you? I’m super curious as to his continuing story now, but I’ve gotta finish Best Served Cold before starting The Heroes.

And so, the series quite poetically ends as it has begun, with Logen jumping off a cliff for the sake of perhaps surviving. Is he dead? We don’t know! The series was overall satiating and a great addition to the grim, awful fantasy types that I’ve come to love. Joe Abercrombie is masterful at his art. Can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this universe.

Written by Fry


Probably in a dungeon somewhere. Game Master for the D’n’D actual play podcast Roll For Wenches .

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