Caution, spoiler. I was disappointed in the ending as I had not seen the demise of Logan Ninefingers coming. I gathered from the fight he was in with his "friend" Black Dow that he did in fact, die. Ferro was forever driven mad by the Seed. No, this was not a pretty ending and I would have liked the ending to somehow involve Logan and Ferro getting together, but the portion of the book describing Ferro's actions, hearing the voices and ignoring Logan, sorta finished that one for me. The book ended the only way it could have, which to Mr. Abecrobmie's credit was not predictable. What an author!
I loved the whole series. I am sure that we have not heard the last of these characters. The characters reminded me of George R.R. Martin's Ice and Fire series. That Abercrombie was able to make us root for bad guys shows just what a great talent he has. Other series that I enjoyed as much as this one are Jennifer Fallon's The Second Sons trilogy which begins with The Lion of Senet, John Marco's Tyrants and Kings which begins with The Jackel of Nar, David Coe's Winds of the Forelands which begins with The Rules of Ascension,Greg Keyes Thorn and Bone series which begins with The Briar King,Terry Goodkinds The Sword of Truth which begins with Wizards First Rule, Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora,Giles Carwyn and Todd Fahnestock's Heartstone trilogy which begins with The Heir of Autumn,Geroge R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series that starts with A Game of Thrones, and anything by Terry Brooks Shannara related.
I WAS disappointed by the ending. I loved the first two books--couldn't put them down. And the first half of this one. But Bayaz is nothing more than a Rockefeller. So the answer that sprang into my mind as I finished the series was "so what?"
So what if someone who has held power for centuries holds on to it a bit longer? I'm not upset that the author had these events transpire in his universe. I'm just upset that they're the ones he chose to tell US about.
I can only presume that, like all totalitarian regimes, Bayaz's will eventually come to an end. Tell us THAT story, not some story from the middle of his reign. Tell us the one where he loses. Give us the book, in the same universe, maybe centuries later, where Bayaz gets his comeuppance. Or perhaps let us in on your little joke from the beginning, so we can root for him?
Fantasy novels, or any novels really, are a contract between author and reader. The author sets up the terms of the contract in the first few chapters, or at least by the end of the first book. This contract lets us know what kind of story we are getting into. If we get emotionally involved and keep reading, we are accepting the contract.
Like Terry Goodkind or Robert Jordan, Joe Abercrombie broke the contract. Of course, those authors broke theirs by ceasing to write good fiction, and turning out fiction that sucked. This contract was broken in a different way. Abercrombie's writing is admittedly awesome through to the end. But it ceased to be Good (capital G). And he broke the contract.
I can understand why Abercrombie lied to us about who Bayaz was. Bayaz was, after all, a liar himself. My reactions to the revelations at the end mirror those of the characters. But don't lie to us for 2 1/2 books, reveal the lie, and then leave it.
He could have chosen to write a fourth book that fulfills the contract he made in book 1. Or he could have chosen another time frame to write about. Or he could have chosen to tell the same story, but to MAKE A DIFFERENT CONTRACT. Readers don't like to have the rug pulled out from under them any more than anyone else.
Incidentally, I didn't mind that Logen turned on his friends and ends up alone. That is part of his contract. I loved his character, but there is no doubt it is a tragic one. He is quite insane, and we knew that from the beginning. The same with Ferro. It is nice to think about them being happy together, but it is also just fine if two violently insane people can't make it work. Glokta is another matter. His tragedy is behind him--the only reason I can think of to make such a major character out of him is if he can somehow rise to greatness once again. And it is not political greatness I hoped for--it is greatness of spirit, that we can see inside him the whole time. That is why this series feels unfinished to me.
The worst thing about this series is what it says about our own world. We live in a world where there is no good and evil. Nothing is wrong, so how can anything be right? To make a moral judgment, you need a set of assumptions as a starting place. And our world has eschewed such assumptions. But I read fiction to return to a world where good and evil don't depend on point of view. How disappointing to find out I had been spending my time in a world as morally bankrupt as our own.
Up until the last 300 pages, I was going to recommend this series to every fantasy reader I knew. Now I don't even think I'll keep the books. I probably won't read anything else by this author. It takes trust to start a book, when that means you commit your money and several hours of your time--not to mention whatever emotional involvement you may develop for the characters. And I don't trust Joe Abercrombie.
I was frustrated with the ending of Logen only because he was in a desperate battlen and NINEFINGERS did not come out. I found this to be a major inconsistency with the story in total. Also it seemed like a fight he could've definite won. Also Black Dow had some vengeful feelings towards Calder for killing his friend Forley. Why did he link up with them? If Logen was going to die it should have been as Ninefingers, and if he was in a desperate battle The BLoody Nine should have came to get his fill. As for the rest of it. The ending was what it was, and the chapter's title sums it all up to me, "Does the devil know he's the devil." THis would be in reference to Bayaz. I thought that there could have been more evidence that Bayaz was truly this wicked throughout the first two novels.
Generally, I thought it had a fairly realistic ending for all of the characters, and I was satisfied with most of it. Actually, I absolutely LOVED where Glokta ended everything. I felt a bit sad about Jezal, his wife specifically, but it still seemed appropriate. And I was sad that Logen and Ferro didn't get to run off together and try to move beyond their pasts, but that really would have been unrealistic.
Here's the only thing I wish the author had done differently. Kill Bayaz. I think it could've been done, if someone just acted quickly and caught him off guard. And I'd have cheered. I really wanted Jezal to do it, in the end, but instead of expressing the anger and bravery he had occasion to show throughout the series, he whimpered and did as he was told, which I honestly thought was out of character for him. Throughout the whole thing, it had made clear that he didn't like being told what to do.
Other than Bayaz surviving the whole thing, it was a decent ending.
Actually, it was surprisingly light on the POV character deaths, for such a dark ending!
Abercrombie seemed to be trying to bring the story full circle, and that's something that I really like. The parallels from the beginning of the series ("The End") and the end of the series ("The Beginning") are interesting, and it seemed to me that Logen falling to his "death" in both instances is Abercrombie's attempt to sell the full circle idea.
I enjoy stories that come full circle because they are a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how the characters have changed be setting them back in similar circumstances. Jack Finney's "Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets" is one of my favorite short stories and a perfect example of a story coming full circle. Abercrombie takes a different, much more cynical approach where he basically shows how the characters have NOT really changed by setting them back in similar circumstances. This is a novel approach and it left me with the sense of futility that I imagine Abercrombie intended. The problem, however, is that my sense of futility was so broad that it made me question whether there was any point to reading the entire trilogy in the first place. I really felt like I had wasted my time on some very interesting characters and an interesting story that went absolutely no where.
I loved the series as a whole. The ending I enjoyed but even for dark fantasy I guess I always would prefer some sort of happy ending. Call me sappy whatever. The cast of characters that Abercrombie presented for me was by far the most entertaining lovable bunch of miscreants I've ever had the pleasure to read about. I kind of enjoyed that the story told the tale of a god using his people to his advantage opposed to the people summoning there gods for power. Kind of a nice twist. I understood when they got to the end of the series though why he decided not to make Bayaz a POV character. My hope remains that a 2nd trilogy will come out involving the same cast of characters and a quest to destroy Bayaz but none the less I was greatly satisfied with the trilogy and eagerly await Best Served Cold.
Why did he leave so many loose ends? I take it we're to assume that West dies of the plague, and we know how Glotka, Jezal, and Bayaz end up, but what about everyone else? We have no idea what happens to Ferro when she goes after the emperor, or even if her new powers are real or some insane delusion. He copped out by Logen, leaving us off where he started and not saying whether or not he survives. I have no problem with POV characters dying, but the author owes his readers a definitive ending.
I think the Bloody Nine didn't come out at the end because that part of him is gone. Right before the Bloody-Nine was going to kill Dogman, when the great explosion happened in Adua, the book says "he felt it knock something loose inside his skull." Then the Bloody-Nine left. Then he didn't show up when Logen desperately needed him. So to think, Logen was finally sane and nobody knew it.
The ending sucked. Every single story line came to a negative, and unsatisfactory ending imo. I feel disgusted, cheated, robbed, sad, let down and very very bitter. I loved these characters for 2000 pages, only to get screwed over the last 100. Don't know that I can read another book in this 'verse.
It says "The water came up to meet him. It hit him in the side like a charging bull, punched the air out of his lungs, knocked the sense out of his head, sucked him in and down into the cold darkness...
Now I can see some people taking this as Logens death but you can also say that Logens been through alot worse.
The ending was quite realistic and did jive with the characters.
Folks, Logen always hated himself. I don't see why it was a surprise at all that he ended his life. He could not get over the things he had done while The Bloody Nine. It would be unrealistic for Logen to live happily ever after. I thought there might have been a chance when Logen asked Jazel "Am I a bad man?" Jazel answered, "What? You're the best man I know." I thought that might have helped Logen escape his self-loathing, but alas, killing a 10-year old boy and his best friends is not something he could easily shrug off.
Ferro's ending, although also a bit of a downer, was also realistic. There wasn't anything driving Ferro besides hatred and revenge. It would have been laughably unrealistic if she all of the sudden decided she didn't need those things after all. She is not the "settle down with some man" type lady. Any other ending for her would have been a stretch.
I understand the frustration with Bayaz, once considered to be the leaders of the "good guys" to turn out to be just as evil as the bad guys. However, I didn't see this as too much of a stretch either. Look back to all the things Bayaz did and said. They might have looked good on the surface, but there was a somewhat selfish motive behind all that.
Of course the endings for Glockta and Jazel were relatively happy, and also realistic. We saw the "coming of age" of Jazel coming the whole series. Abercrombie put in enough events to make that transformation realistic. As far as Glockta is concerned, I think we The First Law fans should just rejoice that at least things ended well for our favorite character, getting the hot chick and position of power.
While I wouldn't have minded a bit happier ending, I'd much rather have an author do something different and veer away from the Hollywood ending.
Your review was spot on. Since he broke the contract and threw our trust and emotional investments in our collective faces, do you think he might return our money? Say one thing for Cynical Joe, say he makes Nihilism look like the sun in springtime...
I prefer endings that favor the protagonists that I am following, or at least to be fair in some way. I don't understand why so many authors feel the need to murder off or screw over their protagonist.
"The worst thing about this series is what it says about our own world. We live in a world where there is no good and evil. Nothing is wrong, so how can anything be right? To make a moral judgment, you need a set of assumptions as a starting place. And our world has eschewed such assumptions. But I read fiction to return to a world where good and evil don't depend on point of view. How disappointing to find out I had been spending my time in a world as morally bankrupt as our own."
It really disheartens me to hear people say things like that. Why does every fantasy series have to be cut and dry good vs evil endings just to appease you? There are literallly hundreds of series to choose from that offer this stale premise yet you still want a single original series changed to cater to your simplistic views. Attitudes like yours are why the fantasy genre on the whole is so stale. If the book is good, it's good. There is value in feeling despair for characters you've grown attached to but far too little authors have the balls to go for that feeling. Not everything has to be sunshine and roses.
My impression from the way the series ended, with Logen jumping to an unknown fate in the same manner as in the first book, made me wonder if there was more to come from these characters. It's good to see Abercrombie confirmed it. His characters are too well-drawn and thought out to be left in such an unfinished state at the third novel, without the author intending to finish things up.
You know I wondered the same thing. That fight scene in the end was a perfect storm for the Bloody Nine to make an appearence, but he didn't. Why? There was impending death, the odds were against him, and he was forced into a corner. The bloody Nine came out for less, like when he killed the Thunderhead, and the boy. It was Logen Ninefingers that fought in that room, and jumped. I hoped that psychopathic split side of his personality died.
I was rooting for Logen - I always liked him until the battle on the hill.
I don't think he died (say one thing for Logen Ninefingers he is lucky). However, if the Bloody Nine is still a part of him I hope he died.