Last Argument of Kings

“As if there were some new way to look at them that would alter the terrible mathematics.”

Having read and finished the third volume of Joe Abercrombie’s trilogy, Last Argument of Kings (which is what Louis XIV had his canons engraved with!), I must say this final volume redeems the series after the disastrous and uninspiring second volume, Before they are hanged. There is a lot of action, almost too much in terms of fights and battles and deaths, most characters do not end up nice and cosy as in your regular fantasy novel but instead are mostly worse than at the begining of the first volume, and those getting the upper hand do not deserve it (including the Royal Idiot Jezal!, but also the sentimental torturer Glotka). The most creative part is about the First of the Magi, Bayaz, who turns out to be anything but a benevolent Gandalf, ready to bend (real hard) any rule and to sacrifice any number of friends and strangers to keep control of everything, as he had for many centuries. That he reveals himself as the ultimate bad guy is a great ending for the book. I thus soften my previous evaluation and consider that it is, in the end, a nice enough series, plagued with inconsistencies, sudden changes in the pace of the story, and underdevelopped characters, but enjoyable nonetheless. (I do not understand the raving reviews found on some blogs though as if this was the best fantasy story of the year…)

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