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Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie | Book Review

Last Argument Of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
Published by Gollancz on June 18, 2009
ISBN: 9780575087873
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, General, Epic, Military, Action & Adventure
Pages: 544
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased Book
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five stars - Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie | Book Review

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...

Well shit….

Put a fork in me, I’m done.  Between my recent readings of John Gwynne and Joe Abercrombie, this has finished me off.  I have a book hangover that would rival some of my wilder student days spent drinking tequila on only a few hours sleep.  These days it takes the recovery time of minor surgery to get over both drinking and books that are this bloody sublime! 

“I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.”

Last Argument of Kings is the third and final instalment in the First Law Series and what an absolute ending it was.  Explosive.  Tantalising.  So brutal I could taste it on the tip of my tongue.  It’s a book to be savoured and devoured in equal measure.  All the frayed edges, loose threads and secrets bubble at the surface excitedly teasing the reader to look deeper, to feel deeper and to just tear that band aid straight off.  It immediately careens off from where Before They are Hanged left it.  Last Argument of Kings isn’t a happy ever after type of story – Abercrombie shits on that notion (then again you should have that notion already imprinted in your head.)

From the bleak north to the chaotic south everything has a turning point and an ending.  I found it a satisfying if not entirely bleak ending.  I’m both struggling with feelings of bittersweet but also basking in the absolute mastery of Abercrombie.  I think only he can deliver the brutal nuances of humanity whilst still making it an epic read, the reader isn’t bogged down with the depressing nature of the human condition. 

Say one thing about Joe Abercrombie, say he knows how to ruin you.

The characterization in Last Argument of Kings is once again the invisible pull I have to his writing.  The prose is completely devastating.  Imagine him inviting you for a meal only to have you poisoned with a sinister smile on his face.  At this point he knows he has you where he wants you.  We are more than a little attached to his characters, the fear that something deadly will happen to them is always in the dark recesses of your mind.

“You have to realistic about these things.”

Each character has their crosses to bare.  Their journey isn’t one with rainbows and butterflies and their endings don’t have them either.  The ending is what you would come to expect from their character arcs and Abercrombie’s narrative.  I’ve come to have a deep respect for Logen Ninefingers.  This man is carrying a heavy burden.  By the end he reminded me of the berserker type of Viking.  It isn’t a gift, it’s a curse, essentially, it’s robbed him of everything.

One thing that needs to be said about this entire series is that I’m completely done regarding the villain type character.  Glokta, will forever be my favorite.  His dastardly, evil, self-serving ways hit a chord.  You love to hate him.  He’s broken but really, he doesn’t want to be fixed.  It’s his DNA, it makes him Superior Glokta rather than lieutenant Glokta.  I think out of all the character’s he had the most satisfying ending, something worth the pain and suffering.  A slice of something he daren’t allow himself to imagine. 

 Joe Abercrombie has created something cinematic with some of the most intense and rewarding battle scenes I’ve ever read.  If you haven’t read this series yet…get to it sharpish. Last Argument of KIngs has left me sitting wondering how on earth I will ever read anything again.

“Everything beautiful has a dark side, and some of us must dwell there, so that others can laugh in the light.”


joe abercrombie - Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie | Book Review

Joe Abercrombie was born in Lancaster, England, on the last day of 1974. He was educated at the stiflingly all-boy Lancaster Royal Grammar School, where he spent much of his time playing video games, rolling dice, and drawing maps of places that don’t exist. He went on to Manchester University to study Psychology. The dice and the maps stopped, but the video games continued. Having long dreamed of single-handedly redefining the fantasy genre, he started to write an epic trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man’s barbarian Logen Ninefingers. The result was pompous toss, and swiftly abandoned.

Joe then moved to London, lived in a slum with two men on the borders of madness, and found work making tea for minimum wage at a TV Post-Production company. Two years later he left to become a freelance film editor, and has worked since on a range of documentaries, awards shows, music videos, and concerts for artists ranging from Barry White to Coldplay.

This job gave him lots of time off, and realising that he needed something more useful to do than playing video games, in 2001 he sat down once again to write an epic fantasy trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man’s barbarian Logen Ninefingers. This time, having learned not to take himself too seriously in the six years since the first effort, the results were a great deal more interesting.

With heroic help and support from his family the first volume, The Blade Itself, was completed in 2004. Following a heart-breaking trail of rejection at the hands of several of Britain’s foremost literary agencies, The First Law trilogy was snatched up by Gillian Redfearn of Gollancz in 2005 in a seven-figure deal (if you count the pence columns). A year later The Blade Itself was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It now has publishers in thirty countries.  The sequels, Before They are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings were published in 2007 and 2008, when Joe was a finalist for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer.  Best Served Cold, a standalone book set in the same world, was published in June 2009, and a second standalone, The Heroes, came in January 2011 and made no. 3 on the Sunday Times Hardcover Bestseller List.  A third standalone, Red Country, was both a Sunday Times and New York Times Hardcover Bestseller in October 2012.

The first part of his viking-inspired Shattered Sea series for young and old adults, Half a King, came out in July 2014, when it won the Locus award for best young adult novel.  The other two books, Half the World, and Half a War, followed in January and July 2015.

His collection of short fiction, Sharp Ends was published in 2016.  A new trilogy set in the world of the First Law, The Age of Madness, began in September 2019 with A Little Hatred. The Trouble with Peace followed in September 2020, and the final part, The Wisdom of Crowds is due in September 2021.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, his daughters Grace and Eve, and his son Teddy.  He spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels…


five stars - Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie | Book Review


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