Overview (No Spoilers):
The Last Argument of Kings likely holds the record for my longest gap between finishing a read and actually writing up the review. I’d wrapped up this read in late August, and I’m only now getting around to writing about this delightful final installment, due to dealing with some wicked morning sickness that left me barely able to keep up with my SPFBO obligations. That’s right! I’m pregnant! 🙂 Luke and I are expecting our little girl in May 2021 and we are so very excited. Will someone please pass this news on to Mr. George R. R. Martin and let him know that Winds of Winter would be a more than generous shower gift? Anyway, now that my motivation has returned with the waning nausea, it’s time to get caught back up on my backlog.
The First Law trilogy has been overall a pretty dark read, with that being said, I can’t think of a more fitting conclusion in the Last Argument of Kings. With my last sentence, I realize I’ve just drew the ire of fans of this series and the genre. Well of course this trilogy is dark, the genre is literally grimdark! Last Argument of Kings definitely lived to the dark aspect especially as the fate of character’s we’ve followed from book one, whether they survived or not, being less than cheery.
None of our favorite characters emerged unscathed. Abercrombie finished fleshing out their characters, giving us a glimpse of the evil that lurked beneath the surface or the depth of their need for vengeance, resulting in there being no true hero left standing. Each character had almost acquired a bad, bittersweet aftertaste despite their struggles and the journey that the reader had witnessed them grow and endure. That being said, I can’t say I even mind this twist on storytelling. Abercrombie stayed true to the overall feel of this series and didn’t give into the conventional happy endings.
Abercrombie also dolled out a significant death tally by the end of this read. For every time characters escaped some seemingly impossible scenario where their deaths were almost guaranteed, the next situation seemed to result in a death. This unpredictability heightened the suspense of every fight and interaction as the reader couldn’t fall into complacency with regard to the outcome, even during the most minute of fights. No one was safe.
Overall, the Last Argument of Kings was a fitting final installment to the First Law trilogy, especially with the elegantly choreographed battle scenes and the unveiling of ulterior motivations that have been alluded to since book one.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- As this series grew, I came to like Bayaz less and less. The more comfortable he grew, the less effort he put into the facade of the great and mighty, benevolent wizard. I did find it entertaining to see his long game come to fruition with his far reaching schemes.
- I loved seeing Jezal try to become a good man and a good king. I think seeing Bayaz break his spirit was my least favorite aspect of this read. Also, his wife was just awful to him despite how nice he was trying to be. Granted, it was revealed that her backstory, ambitions, and bias were much more complicated than initially assumed. Though, as she had agreed to marry a King, I don’t know how she didn’t think producing heirs would not factor into that equation. Regardless, it was a terrible situation for all involved.
- The Bloodly-Nine has evolved so much throughout this read. In this last book, his much alluded to history is laid bare as we not only learn more about his past exploits but also witness the full fury of his bloodlust as he kills friend, foe, and children. Tul’s death was especially hard!
- Ugh. When Dogman and Grim were going to kill each other under the direction of Caurib the suspense was brutal. I almost had to stop reading. Thankfully Dow came to the rescue.
- Glokta was another character who was continually growing. I was shocked to find I almost liked him by the end but his hardness would emerge at odd times. You couldn’t help but feel bad for him when his two closest colleagues turned out to be traitorous.
- West’s ending was the worst. He saves the day, only to fall victim to the wasting sickness, and is permanently debilitated.
- I wanted Logan and Ferro to reconnect, however (perhaps unsurprisingly) due to miscommunication they part ways bitterly as she is haunted by the Seed and he doesn’t realize the extent of her damage, instead taking her distraction personally.
- I knew something had happened to Quai. How did Bayaz not see it? I feel bad for the original apprentice who was surprisingly sweet among a cast of bitter, seasoned characters. I didn’t expect that he would turn out to be Tolomei, the Maker’s daughter. It was during this exchange we learned more about Bayaz’s history where we realized that the lines between good and evil are not as clear cut as we initially had been led to believe. Cementing this feeling was when Bayaz trapped his friend Yulwei in the tower despite promising to return for him. Is Yulwei still there? Is Tolomei?