Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lisa’s Take – Last Argument of Kings: First Law Book 3 (Joe Abercrombie)

This is a really hard review to write. When I reviewed book one I was delightedly picking it apart, finding all sorts of things to harp on – justified or not. After the second book I had a solid basis for comparison… I could revisit each of the knit-picks and talk about how they had been taken care of or improved in the second book. But now that a review for Last Argument of Kings has come around, I find myself lacking a good starting point. I can’t put together a plot summary, as that would be far to spoilery this late in the trilogy, and I don’t have any convenient lists to base things on. Hell, I don’t even have a good anecdote to start off with.

I suppose I’ll just keep it simple. I really enjoyed Last Argument of Kings a lot, and I’ll definitely be buying Best Served Cold, Joe Abercrombie’s next book. Big reversal from The Blade Itself, I know, so let it never be said that I won’t revise my opinions with good reason. That said, I didn’t like it quite as much as Before They Are Hanged. I wanted the improvement from book 2 to book 3 to be as great as the improvement from book 1 to book 2, and that just didn’t quite happen. My biggest gripe was the character POVs, yet again, as there were a couple of times where the POV would jump mid-chapter and leave me baffled. Sometimes these jumps in perspective were totally unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the story, which just frustrated me more.

Ack, let me stop before I rant, because that was really the one and only problem I had with the book. Other than that it was great – the plot was gray and gritty and had a whole lot going on. A lot of loose ends were tied up, and there were events from the first book that got tied back into the overall plot quite nicely. I called a few plot points, but didn’t call just as many. A couple of the “gotcha!”s were a little thin, but mostly they had solid foundation and made me go “No WAY!” Always a good sign. There were also some big plot points that didn’t get totally resolved – which felt right… in the end there was all this Crazy Stuff that happened, but the world didn’t really change. Cool in a real-world kind of way.

I was pretty attached to the characters by the end – not so much as in the second book, but still quite a bit. I catch myself using one of Logen’s catch-phrases sometimes, which says a lot for the writing style. There was one character that I struggled a lot with… once I thought about it I remembered that he had been mentioned briefly in book 2, but he really could have used a more solid foundation. Again, though, small gripe. I got a little teary when my favorite sub-character was killed off, and the author made me keenly aware of just how much people had changed, as well as just how much they’d stayed the same. I’d almost call it deep.

Well, I guess I did have a decent amount to say once I got going. I wish I’d written this review right after JD and I talked it over when he finished the book, because we really got going with a lot of food-for-thought. Maybe he’ll grace me with a complementary review and catch anything I missed.

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