So I expected to enjoy Last Argument of Kings, the last book of the series. I did. What I didn’t expect was how good the ending would be. More than good – perfect.
The ending clears up an inconsistency that bothered me earlier: The use of heroic fantasy themes in an otherwise realistic story. By realistic I don’t mean naturalistic, but that people act as people do. Abercrombie is skeptical of “heroes”, and sees the good in every “villain”.
So it was odd to see the story apparently build up towards a standard heroic climax, with even a sort of Fellowship of the MacGuffin in book two. Would it all end in Glory?
The answer is no. Looking back, everything makes sense. Every use of heroic fantasy tropes is eventually undermined or sullied in some way. The ending isn’t tragic, but it reveals the heroism to be a facade. A tale for the gullible.
Abercrombie’s cynicism isn’t the kind that believes there is no good in anyone, or that there’s no difference between right and wrong. It’s the kind that says that great leaders and warriors are not likely to be altruists, humanists or democrats.
As one character says: Only people who mean to deceive you ask you to trust them.
These are Abercrombie’s first books. I look forward to his next.