Joe Abercrombie is a bold writer. I knew this about five minutes into "The Blade Itself" - but he proved it with his approach to ending the trilogy. I am SO glad that I persevered through the more gruesome and spine-tingling passages. It was worth every second.
Steven Pacey is a phenomenal narrator. His narration gave so much life to these novels, it was as though they were being acted out, not merely read aloud.
But more to Abercrombie's writing - he utilizes a couple of literary devices that I appreciated. Maybe that's the wrong term, but it's the one I shall use to describe two parts of his style:
1. Shifts in perspective. This began in Book 1 and continued seamlessly through Book 3, further enabled by the expert narration. Each character takes on different life depending upon through whose eyes he is being viewed. Glokta becomes more or less revolting, Jazel becomes more or less whiny and annoying, Logan more or less barbaric ... I thoroughly enjoyed seeing each character through his own eyes, and through the eyes of the others. The subtle shifts between characters were very bold, anticipating the reader's ability to quickly follow along and catch the changes (though these shifts may not have been so subtle in print ...) I enjoyed catching a change in pitch in the narration of a voice, to realize that the perspective had changed. Although this style was used throughout the trilogy, it became most pronounced in this third book as the action and suspense increased.
2. Use of themes/repeated phrases. Glokta repeats the phrase, "Body floating by the docks" to illustrate when he is in danger of reprimand, or to point out (subtly, yet not so subtly) when another is in equal danger. Logan has the "say one thing about Logan Ninefingers..." attached to his character. These repeat themes were witty and wise, yet not so over-used as to become cliche, annoying, or a vice of the author. Instead, they were just plain clever.
Although the third novel was not my favorite of the trilogy (that prize goes to "Before They Are Hanged"), it was expertly written and concluded with such audacity that I felt not a twinge of disappointment at finishing the trilogy, though I thirsted for more of Abercrombie's refreshing style.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
I decided to keep with the pattern of review titles I had adopted in the first two books; that of completing the quote used in the name of the book. But here are some great quotes from this novel that would have made great review titles:
Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.
The good thing about every step being an ordeal: You learn to tread carefully.
Life is a series of things we would rather not do.
You’re never alone if you bring laughter with you
Life is the misery we endure between disappointments
In war the only crime is to lose
God smiles on results
You have to be realistic about these things
There are many small surprises in this last book in the trilogy. Some of the behind the scenes maneuvering is revealed and I like the long range planning involved. The strong suit of this series is characterization. I will long remember Logan, Jezel, Bayez and the twisted Glokta; all of whom undergo significant life changes, and all of whom are forced to do some serious soul searching. All the people are flawed, just like real life. All the people have something to contribute to one’s own introspection. This is an excellent series. I liked each book more than the last as the story grew in the telling it grew in my estimation as well. This is good enough to revisit again in the future.
And in the end Logan is…
Stephen Pacey gives a performance worth of an Audie award. He was great in the first two books and is even better here as the story builds toward the conclusion. He is adept at the variety of characters here. His voice for Superior Glokta is so very sarcastic. He does a fine job at portraying Jezel dan Luther, the selfish dandy that has greatness thrust upon him. He is even great in voicing the female characters. This is one of those books that I will be listening to again just to hear the one-man-show that is Stephen Pacey.
Say he can write a damn fine book. I loved everything about this series. I loved the depth, the seriousness, the humor, the pace, and the gritty, 'rawness' of the writing. Joe pulls no punches. He knocks you down and drags you into his amazingly detailed, amazingly brutal world. A world built on war, violence, politics, betrayal, revenge, ruthlessness, and a touch of magic.
Each of the characters is a fully formed individual. There are no cookie cutter stereotypes here, no "overcome all the odds" superheros or nice guys. Each one has their own voice, their own perspectives, their own faults (loads of faults), and their own motivations that remain consistent the whole way through the adventure.
The narration is absolutely flawless. Steven Pacey does an amazing job in giving voice to each of the characters. There are no weak points in the performance and his voice fits the grittiness of the story.
If you are looking for an absorbing trilogy and aren't the queasy type then The First Law series is definitely worth listening too. I will be re-listening to them all again in the near future.
With this series I have never experienced such longing, despair and depression upon the conclusion of a trilogy--I so much loved the characters, the story line, the fantastic dialogue, and the reader Steven Pacey that when my sustained immersion ended this loss was quite dramatic.
With the list of all the awards this series has received, I don't know how I missed reading it sooner--perhaps because series don't always hold up throughout, so I choose other reads first. Every book in this series is extremely strong.
I include The First Law series in my "all time favorites" for all genera.
This one will be very hard to beat. The narrator is superb, and Abercrombie is always stellar.
It is in the same vein as Malazan Books of teh Fallen or Game of Thrones. It is fantasy, but no elves or dwarves, and magic is rare and very powerful.
Best. Narrator. Ever. Great job with voices, great inflections, very engaging. Abercrombie often reveals his characters thoughts during dialog by having them thinking what they would really like to say, and the narrator does a fantastic job of keeping that separate from actual dialog. Think about that: that's no mean feat. Well done sir.
Would have loved to, but it is no short story.
Any Abercrombie book is worth the read/listen for a fantasy fan, but now I will be looking for other books by this narrator as well. That is something I never thought I would do. He sets the bar very high.
Red hair with a big head and an even bigger ego.
I assume that if you're looking at this review, you've read the last two books. If not, don't worry. I won't judge you for wanting to know how it ends before you get there. I'm going to try not to spoil anything.
Anyone who had read Joe Abercrombie before knows not to expect a happy ending. My introduction to him was Best Served Cold, so I knew to not get attached. There's nothing, though, absolutely nothing that could have prepared me for this trilogy. Best Served Cold is a single book. You read 700 pages and are done, and the whole way through you know it's not going to turn out well. This trilogy, though...
The first two books are triumphant. Sure, bad things happen. Bad things happen to good people, and bad people alike, but you know there's at least one or two more books for the protagonists to succeed. Even at the beginning of this book, you can delude yourself by saying "I still have 600 pages" or "I have 500 pages," or even "I have 200 pages." It doesn't get better, though. Successes are fleeting. The ones who end up in the best positions are the ones who deserve it the least, and the people you might find yourself rooting for, the people with a shred of good hidden somewhere in their personality, don't get their time to shine. Not fully, at least. It's always a double edged sword. Power at the price of freedom, triumph and glory at the price of health, etc etc. I found myself with about 2 hours left not wanting to keep listening. It just kept going downhill. There was no climax of victory as a reader, just constant stress as the characters failed over and over again.
But I did keep reading. Because, the characters deserve to have their whole story told and witnessed. That's what really makes this journey worth it (and it IS worth it). The characters are real. They're in a terrible world, and it's made many of them become terrible people. They have power, and that corrupts them. Plus, they're just so unique. At 2 hours left I didn't want to continue, but at 1 hour left I couldn't put it down. While your favorites may not end up better for the journey, they do all have an ending, and I found all the endings rather satisfying.
As far as performance goes, it was top notch. All the voices are spot on and really hellped me keep track of the many scores of named characters. The pacing was perfect, the timing was impecable. The voices really became the characters. I'm having a little trouble with Best Served Cold because of this. Michael Page reads it well, does great voices, but there are a couple cameos that just sounded wrong to my ears for having listened to Steven Pacey for three books.
So; if you've come this far, keep going. It's worth it just to see the end of these great characters. If you're just starting out, don't worry about the ending. The journey up to this point is awesome (and then the end is worth seeing).
The conclusion of the story. The story if superior to that of the first two books in the series. The last 5-10 hours are very interesting and exciting.
The unrevealing of the story.
Logen Ninefingers and Glotke.
The best book in the series by far. And at the same time more of the same.
The First Law series was geat, this last book was good. I think most fantasy fans would like it.
The battle storm in the city.
I thought that the author did an excellent job of writing. He made you feel that you were in the right there with the party.
The story didn't really end. It was left very open at the end. I would not be surprised if there was a 4th book someday.
Listen to books....much easier on the eyes!
Say one thing about Logan Nine Fingers, say he's the hulk! Loved the last book, predictable but a solid story. Go ahead and click the buy button, you won't be sorry!
Abercrombie's style and Pacey's acting is probably the best I've listened to. It's complex yet easy to follow. I love the humour.
Too many to mention.
His acting was tremendous and definitely elevates the series. He manages a different voice for every major character and maintains it. I think that the humour and satire satire that I loved so much in this series could not have been appreciated without great acting.
In the end, I felt that the epic needed more closure. It ended with a cliff-hanger (pun intended). While listening, I imagined numerous plot twists in the finale and wondered how it would go but my imagined timeline went months to years beyond Abercrombie's last book. I was also hoping to see the characters "grow" a little as it seemed they were on the cusp throughout the series. I feel a bit gipped. I'd be more than happy to buy fourth book in this series (or more) because it was so enjoyable right to the last page.Despite the ending it is still one of the best series I've listened to (among dozens).