The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and there’s only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. It’s past time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.
With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no one is safe, and no one can be trusted. His days with a sword are far behind him. It’s a good thing blackmail, threats and torture still work well enough.
Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is far too painful, and turned his back on soldiering for a simple life with the woman he loves. But love can be painful too, and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it.
While the King of the Union lies on his deathbead, the peasants revolt and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is falling across the very heart of the Union. The First of the Magi has a plan to save the world, as he always does. But there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, after all, than to break the First Law…
Well, I made it. The First Law is so highly regarded within the fantasy book community that I had really high expectations for it and chose to read them back-to-back so as not to forget anything. I am pleased to say it did not disappoint at any point.
I really loved the book before this, Before They Are Hanged. It was an S-Rank read for me which is like giving it 6/5 stars. It was perfect. I’ve only given that to a few books that I thoroughly enjoyed. Last Argument of Kings is not quite as good but once again showcases Joe’s ability to write tremendous characters that feel real (and this still got 5 stars from me so take that for what it’s worth).
When reading this story I felt that there was slightly less plot in it than Before They Are Hanged surprised us with after The Blade Itself, but it is there. It does help to push the story forward but if you’ve got this far without your usual level of plot then it shouldn’t make a difference now since the main draw here is the characters and they are fantastic.
They completely carry the story once again, and capture your attention as if you yourself were sitting in a chair being asked to sign a confession by Glokta and his practicals. Speaking of the cripple, I would say that the biggest/best arc throughout this trilogy is him. He’s the Tyrion Lannister of this series and if there was inspiration drawn from him it wouldn’t surprise me. In Before They Are Hanged he was one of my favourite characters but in this story, he really is the best one. Things never seem to go his way and he is constantly finding himself deeper and deeper in the shit.
This isn’t to say that the other members of this cast aren’t worth reading about, the opposite can be said actually, they have some very exciting and unfortunate arcs between them. One of my two favourite characters actually changed after reading this book. This is testament to the way Joe writes his characters. In this one book he has completely changed my opinion of the various characters after favouring one of them in the previous installment.
I felt like there was more magic in this and Bayaz’s story is explored further which I really liked to see. I felt that he was an integral part of this world, the only person who actually shows us that this world does have magic (if we discount Logen speaking to spirits ever so sporadically) and for me, magic in a fantasy world is always welcomed, even when it’s as rough as Bayaz’s own. I feel that anyone who has yet to read this final book will be equally impressed and shocked when it comes to Bayaz.
There is a chapter at the end of the book called Loose Ends which does exactly what you think and it actually really helps to set up some future stuff (I assume at time of writing) and also close off some, well, some loose ends.
I did immersive reading again with this book, and the whole trilogy in fact, (immersive reading is listening to the audio and reading a physical at the same time) and Steven Pacey once again blows it out of the water. He is incredibly talented as a voice actor and brings all of the characters to life. Voices, sexual sounds, death gurgles, war cries, desperate pleading – he really does it all and does it well. If you ever get the chance to listen to the audiobooks then you treat yourself to some audio sex.
There really isn’t much that can be said for this story that someone else hasn’t already said so I will just say this:
This trilogy is by far one of the best fantasy trilogies you can spend your time and money on. It grabs you from the get-go and never lets go, like an old lich king with its bony fingers gripped around your wrist, The First Law will hold you tight until the last words are spoken.
The Blade Itself is a great book but the second and third books take everything to a new level. If you enjoy fantasy, you should be reading this series.
Now I’m off to start Best Served Cold.