by Joe Abercrombie
A dark, bloody, impressively written wrap-up to a stellar trilogy that leaves room for other books to pick up the action again. I had a hard time getting into this trilogy but in the end all I can say is: it’s one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read. Definitely the second-best trilogy I read this year after the Gentleman Bastard trilogy (crying intensifies will I ever get The Thorn of Emberlain?).
What sets Abercrombie apart from other players in the genre is his magnificent character work: each of those protagonists is original and unforgettable. They all have their flaws, even former posterboy Collem West, and just that makes them so very human. We don’t have Mary Sues here. We have real people who struggle with real problems, who often enough do terrible things, but in the end we still find ourselves rooting for them. I don’t know how many teeth Glokta has pulled out of people’s mouths within this trilogy, but I still like him as a character.
The worldbuilding is, hm. It’s good, I guess. This takes place in an interesting world with a huge, meaningful back story, but that’s just not what Abercrombie focuses on. His focus is on these awesome, impressive characters: on Logen’s struggles with the monster inside, on Jezal trying to stop being a piece of shit, on Glokta and on all the others. If you want to read something that’s different from good, old, traditional black-versus-white Fantasy, you needn’t look further: this is the series for you. Well, if you’re okay with a lot of violence in a book.
Plot: epic and well-written, but not as epic as I expected. I was expecting the big Mage Bowl: Bayaz, First of the Magi versus Khalul, the Prophet Supreme. Who will be the winner? We still don’t know, but the grand battle at the end of this one is epic enough. Abercrombie leaves a lot of storylines open, so this isn’t really the ending of the series. Maybe it’s the end for most of these characters, I’ll know when I’m done with reading Best Served Cold which I ordered without knowing what it’s about – I’ll just see who pops up, it’ll be a nice surprise. Of course I nearly got a heart attack when that election scene came up because well, that’s basically the heart of my upcoming novel and I was freaking beyond measure before that scene (WHAT IF IT’S THE SAME? WHAT IF I’M NOT ORIGINAL? GAAAH!), but everything was fine, calm down, it’s not the same, you haven’t stolen anything that’s been written before, Klaus. Er, anyway.
All in all: highly recommended to anyone who likes ambivalent characters, anti-heroes, and lots of blood and fighting. Abercrombie’s character sets a new standard, he is Lord Grimdark for a reason. The trilogy got better with every book, this one is the coronation of it all: five very deserved stars.
by Joe Abercrombie