Book Review for The Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

After getting hooked on Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Seas trilogy, I decided to go further down the rabbit hole and picked up The Blade Itself, the first book in the First Law Trilogy. Getting hooked on the fantastic characters and worldbuilding, I continued onward into Before They Are Hanged and journeyed across the world with this vast cast of characters. I fell in love with their world and came to love the characters even more despite their flaws, temperaments, and propensity towards violence. Once finished with Before They Are Hanged, I felt immensely disappointed in finding out the long and dangerous journey had all been for literally nothing. 

I put down Before They Are Hanged and wondered, what was this all for? While I absolutely adored the characters and their development, enjoyed Bayaz’s tales of the world and the worldbuilding surrounding it, I still had no grasp of where the overall plot was going. It felt as if the snippets in Bayaz’s tales would soon reveal the vast conspiracy, but I was unable to put the pieces together. The Union was under attack from two enemies. Everything was looking bleak. All I could gather was that there were higher powers at work and our cast of characters were merely pawns in this game. 

Oh, how terribly terribly right I was…

The Last Argument of Kings concludes the First Law Trilogy and addresses the vagueness of plot issue I’d been contending with throughout the first two books. In essence, the ambiguity is used as a means to preserve the incredible twist revealed halfway through the end and then Abercrombie continues to dig and drill at the reader’s emotions and the terrible outcomes these characters must endure. While I did not expect a happy ending, I was not prepared for how bleak and hard to swallow it would be. I felt angry and disappointed. Sad and sympathetic. And left with questions I hope are answered in later books. Honestly did not see any of it coming, which is rare these days. 

This isn’t to say it was a bad ending. Not at all. As Logen says throughout the series, “You have to be realistic about these things,” and reality is often cruel, messy, and leaves unanswered questions behind. Hopefully, we’ll get more answers in the upcoming trilogy, but for now, I’ll move onward into the other books related to the First Law.

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