Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Last Argument of Kings
Last Argument of Kings marks a new standard in the fantasy genre. The war against Bethod continues in the North and soon the Gurkish will bring war to the very heart of the Union. With the King on his deathbed the power struggles intensify and Glotka struggles to satisfy two conflicting masters. Failing to find the seed, the travel group breaks up with Logen returning to the north to settle with Bethod, while Bayaz schemes to put Jezal on the throne. The last book in the First Law Trilogy is chock full of battles, betrayals, and machinations.
When I read other reviews saying Abercrombie took the fantasy tropes and completely tore them up in Last Argument of Kings, I wasn’t sure exactly what they meant. I have to admit I was shocked at how events turned out. The battles were amazing, the character machinations and revelations even more so. What really surprised me was how the reader’s preconceptions of the characters and the world were totally turned on its head.
Thus, The only complaint I have of Last Argument of Kings is that the world-view is too cynical for my tastes, but I think that’s Abercrombie’s point. Idealism is one extreme and cynicism is the polar opposite. Those who have power don’t want to lose it and view those who don’t as less than they are. Bayaz has survived so long because he’s the meanest, most manipulative guy on the block. We don’t see anything of Khalul so it's hard to make any judgments, but the implication is that he is not any better. The battle in the series is not between good and evil but rather between those with the ultimate power.
Last Argument of Kings is fantastic and one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in a long while. Abercrombie has established himself as a giant in the genre. I get shivers thinking of the next book, Best Served Cold. An absolute must-read.