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Last Argument of Kings (First Law: Book Three) Paperback – September 23, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The sword & sorcery trilogy that began with The Blade Itself (2007) and Before They Are Hanged (2008) comes to a violent, sardonic and brilliant conclusion. The shaky Union, menaced simultaneously by rampaging Northmen and by Gurkish invaders from the south, now must contend with intrigue and treachery in its capital, Adua. Summoned to play parts in a devastating confrontation between magical forces, conscience-ridden berserker Logen Ninefingers and honest, weary Union commander Colonel West come down from the north to meet painfully self-aware torturer Glokta, revenge-obsessed female warrior Ferro, pliable young adventurer Jezal and scheming, unscrupulous mage Bayaz. All these people are believable, especially as they dabble in grimly convincing magic and struggle to hear their consciences through the roar of carnage and betrayal. Abercrombie is a fresh new talent, presenting a dark view of life with wit and zest, and readers will mourn the end of this vivid story arc. (Sept.)
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"Abercrombie is a fresh new talent, presenting a dark view of life with wit and zest, and readers will mourn the end of this vivid story arc."
--Publishers Weekly

"You should always end with the best... Last Argument of Kings is the textbook example of this theory in practice. The third in Joe Abercrombie’s debut fantasy series, The First Law, reveals everything a finale should: conveys some answers, ties together the loose ends from various plot strands, knocks over pieces painstakingly set up in the preceding stories, and in the aftermath delivers the character development that surprises as well as delights. This series was always a swords-and-sorcery sequence that rejected the overwrought Tolkienesque myth building in favor of wry dialogue and tough, interweaving plotlines. Although it’s never a comedy, the author’s tongue lurks inside his cheek as he re-energizes the fantasy staples. "

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 639 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591026903
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591026907
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (452 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe Abercrombie is a freelance film editor, who works on documentaries and live music events. He lives and works in Bath. THE BLADE ITSELF, his debut novel, is the first novel of The First Law trilogy, followed by BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED and LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS. His new stand-alone bestseller is BEST SERVED COLD.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 114 people found the following review helpful By N. C. Smith on March 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
It was with much excitement that I opened the box that months ago I had pre-ordered and had rapid-shipped from the UK.

As with the first two books, Last Argument of Kings has superb cover-art. It's a very dashing trilogy displayed on your bookshelf appropriately.

But to the story:

In the first two installments, in particular the first, action took a back seat to characterization. You can check out my critiques of both those books if you like. Some of the most interesting and original-yet-archetypical characters in fantasy were made flesh and earned high-praise for me for that feat.

In Last Argument of Kings, action definitively steps to the fore. All of the plot-lines that were set up like dominoes in the first two books are tipped, and before you know it you're swept up in a tide of the little black bricks like Mel Brooks' entrance in the computer-animated 'Robots'. From climax to climax, Mr. Abercrombie charges you through exciting conclusions to every plot and sub-plot introduced before-hand.

This is a difficult review to write because, even more than usual, I would be loathe to give away even the slightst hint of what happens, but most of those characters from the first books that you felt needed some comeuppance get it in this book. But Joe Abercrombie isn't sentimental, and by the end of this book it will be plain that some of those that got a comeuppance didn't deserve it as much as others or as much as you might have thought they did, and those that deserved good certainly don't get it, and many of those that you used to want good things for you'll find you no longer do.
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87 of 97 people found the following review helpful By MSB on May 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When you come away from a book feeling disappointed in pretty much every character - minor and major alike, and outright wishing death upon several of them, it's hard not to feel disappointed in the book itself.

It left me wondering whether good writing was enough, or if something actually has to happen in the story itself. Ultimately, nothing changed for any of the characters. If you want to know what they are like at the end of book 3, look no further than the first half of book 1. We're left with the same characters doing the same things, just to different people.

The perverse cynicism is so unrealistic and forced that I felt a near-overwhelming compulsion to fly to the U.K., have beautiful women drag Mr. Abercrombie to a pretty garden with singing birds and bright sunlight, and force him to take antidepressants until he breaks down under the torture and lets himself smile for a moment.

**** Spoilers ****

Glokta's ending was probably the best of the bunch, but still disappointing. He ends up in the same profession, doing things that he hates for a master that he hates for reasons that he hates, and gets to babysit someone he hates for added... err, hate.

Ferro becomes an extra superhuman woman bent on vengeance. That's different because she started out as just a superhuman (notice the missing 'extra') woman bent on vengeance.

Logen kills one too many of his own friends, flip-flops between being sure he can be good and sure he can't, and really doesn't do much more than spectate. Even in his big fight, West and friends win the battle for him. He's just a leaf swept along by the wind, and I can look out my window to see that. The character didn't even contribute many hilarious observations like in past books.

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By R. Citron on April 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Like some of the other reviewers here, I agree that this series is very well-written and entertaining for the first two books. But book three is where it gets to be a joyless, depressing slog.

Now don't get me wrong -- I don't necessarily need a happy ending. And only a fool would have assumed from the first two books that this series was going to be all rainbows and lollipops at the end. But honestly, when you follow a group of characters this long and get to like some of them, you at least want some closure. Instead, in this book, you get plot by stupidity, personalities shifting 180 degrees, and main storylines coming to abrupt, unexplained endings.

It seemed unbelievably cynical that absolutely NOBODY in this book came to a satisfying or pleasant conclusion. Only one character seemed halfway content at the end, and even that was colored with continued misery. No matter what they did or how hard they tried, everyone I liked suffered horrific fates and random misfortune, and every flaw that seemed to have been overcome promptly returned just so everybody could be awful to each other.

All in all, this third book seemed hastily-written, ill-planned, grossly cynical, and just plain depressing.
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51 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Colin P. Lindsey VINE VOICE on August 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Alright, I'll confess: I loved this trilogy and I enjoyed the third installment every bit as much as the first two. This is an unconvential fantasy epic that stands typical fantasy stereotypes on their heads and I had a blast reading it and would unhesitatingly recommend the entire series. This is fantasy with dirt under the fingernails and pus festering under ragged scabs though. Sure, you have your traditional cast of characters...barbarian warrior, old wizard, handsome young captain, and a fearless warrioress, etc. but Abercrombie takes these archetypal characters and gives them deep character flaws, dodgy pasts, and poor attitudes. They must face hard circumstances in a complicated and morally ambiguous world. His books are complex and extremely well-plotted, the characterization superb, the dialogue excellent, and the writing is involving and keeps you riveted to your seat. Even though this finale ran over 600 pages I managed to bang it out in a day, partially because it is so deliciously readable but equally because I simply couldn't put it down until I finished it.

The Last Argument of Kings is a grand finale too. Abercrombie satisfactorily ties up most all of the major plot points but there is enough ambiguity at the end that additional books would not necessarily be precluded. Personally, I would have preferred a tighter, less ambiguous ending but I wouldn't be surprised if elements of the ending weren't driven by the editor/publisher. I'll forgive Abercrombie for it and, I confess!, I still loved the book and think it is a wonderful five star read.

I'd hazard a guess though that there will be some readers who may not like how this series ended...because it isn't necessarily pretty and it certainly isn't a fairy tale ending.
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