I would like to apologise to Joe Abercrombie for waiting – and I’m ashamed to say it – seven years to read this book. My only excuse is that I was studying literature at the time and by the time I’d rested my eyeballs enough, I’d completely forgotten about it. That was actually what this re-read of The First Law Trilogy was about this year; to see if I’d made a mistake in stopping. Turns out, yes, I absolutely did.
ANYWAY. The story.
We last left our motley crew of so-called ‘heroes’ at the Edge of the World, where their noble quest pretty much blew up in their faces. We rejoin them back in Adua, where everything has since gone to the dogs. The whole gang is there, but not for long. Logen says his farewells to a rather dismayed Jezal, Ferro stalks off (but stays in the city for, you guessed it, revenge). Longfoot toddles off elsewhere, Quai is still lurking in the background and Bayaz, let’s face it, isn’t going anywhere. Collem West is with Dogman and co., and Ardee West is… well, with her latest bottle of wine.
Provinces in the North are under attack, Adua is under attack, Glokta is pretty sure he’s under attack, the last remaining Prince of the kingdom was under attack and now he’s dead… it’s clear something needs to be done. And this is where Bayaz reveals his plan. Jezal is caught in the middle, as usual, and there’s that ‘a-ha!’ moment when you feel completely justified for distrusting the bald man’s smarmy, gittish face.
I loved this book from start to finish. I hated it too, which is a mark of a great story, because not everything is neatly wrapped with a bow. Last Argument had hardly any bows, actually, and nothing was neat. It was raw and real and made you want to either triumphantly punch the air or (also triumphantly) punch Bayaz in the face. I won’t go into too many details because half the reason I enjoyed this book was that I didn’t know what to expect. Anyone could have died, anyone could have survived – anything could have happened because everyone was expendable because this is as true to life as fantasy can be. By this I mean that not everything is fair.
Jezal made so, so, so many bad choices but, in the end, he was the victim I felt sorry for the most. His wife loathes him (although her situation is unpleasant, granted, I’m taking Jezal’s side because she’s such a cow about it). He’s pushed into a mockery of his dream life and it’s every bit as awful, pointless and degrading as possible. To top it all off, he’s no longer the empty-headed vagrant that could have been happy in this situation, but a genuine, well-meaning and thoughtful person who wishes to do good for the people around him. Out of everyone, I think I hated the ending to his tale the most.
OH NO WAIT.
Because then there’s Collem West.
I really hate Bayaz, by the way.
I called the whole Quai situation at the start of the quest, so that wasn’t much of a surprise, but I wasn’t expecting who actually appeared to appear. And I loved the twist about the Seed, it was wonderful. And I also love Ferro, and I wish her many happy vengeance murders.
Wait! I forgot Longfoot! It seems like an absolute joke to even call him by that name anymore. I mean, I found the pompous twit really annoying the entire way through the series, but I was genuinely dismayed by what happened to him.
And then there’s Logen. I had my heart in my mouth when I was following his journey and I called him some very nasty names after That Thing That Happened happened. I’m still none-the-wiser to exactly who the Bloody-Nine is; I’m torn between spirit possession (a la ‘beloved of the Moon’) – because of all his time spent in the mountains as a child – and him just having extreme beserker type blood-lust. I hope it’s the former because, seriously, Logen. Seriously? Argh.
Did I mention I hate Bayaz? He can just go die in a ditch.
And finally, let’s get on to Glokta, shall we? My favourite fellow. I actually really liked his ending, bittersweet though it was, it was perfect. But, for the love of everything, Adua. Invent false teeth. I mean, is it really so hard?
So, yes. Traumatising, heart-wrenching, blood pumping, well-written fantasy adventure with a bit more reality than anyone could want. Give this entire trilogy your undivided attention and definitely don’t wait seven years between books, no matter what your excuse. I loved it, and you will too.
Go read it now!