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Publisher's Summary

The final novel in the First Law Trilogy by New York Times best seller Joe Abercrombie.

Logen Ninefingers might have only 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 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. As his days with a sword are far behind him, it's fortunate that he's deadly with his remaining weapons: blackmail, threats, and torture.

Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is too painful an undertaking 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.

The king of the Union lies on his deathbed, the peasants revolt, and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is about to fall across the heart of the Union. Only the First of the Magi can save the world, but there are risks. There is no risk more terrible than to break the First Law....

©2015 Joe Abercrombie (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Exhilarating.... Abercrombie's knack for wit and grit holds your attention throughout, and his eye for character means that there's heart as well as muscle." [ SFX (UK)]

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So sad it's over

Amazing... As good as game of thrones, easily. Steven Pacey's reading is nothing short of brilliant.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 05-08-17

Anti-Genre within the Genre

Any additional comments?

OK, on the down side, this remains really, really long. As much as I enjoyed it through the end – and I did – I was also wishing it were over. I know it’s the genre, but I think we could have gone without 300-500 pages (of the trilogy) here and still gotten all its many virtues.

Still, that aside, this really does hold up. Abercrombie may not be challenging the structures of the genre, but he is very much going after its implicit values. This is dark and apocalyptic. There’s no Tolkien-esque sense of a fundamentally benign universe. Instead, like George R.R. Martin, he is upending the conventions and giving us a universe that does not particularly love us back.

At the heart of all this is Bayaz, the aged, sometimes gentle-seeming wizard. As it turns out – in ways that Abercrombie has been hinting at from the start – the entire story here is a showdown between powerful wizards. This is not about the bravery or politics of ordinary humans, not even of humans as extraordinary as Logen or Ferro. Instead, people are a kind of “cattle” to Bayaz, and he is willing to sacrifice any and almost all of them in his millennium-long showdown with his rival.

In other words, Bayaz is not Gandalf. He’s like Jaffar from Aladdin except that he has no desire to wear the crown himself. He’s even more like Henry Kissinger or Dick Cheney or Steve Bannon. He’s an advisor wedded to realpolitik. He sees the world in terms of power relationships and, in a world of wizards, no one has any real power except him and his ancient adversaries. He’s an autocrat of the worst kind, philosophically opposed to the tendrils of democratic representation and equitable distribution that Jazel (modestly) and High Justice Marovia (tangentially to the plot) put forward.

[SPOILER] In that light, it makes perfect sense that Bayaz is the only one who sees anything like a “happy ending.” He gets to return to his library where, presumably, he can recruit a new apprentice who may or may not survive – an outcome of only minor significance to him.

I’ve seen some reviews that bemoan the way everything ends, but I say respectfully that I think people who feel that way don’t see what Abercrombie’s been up to from the start. This has always been about an indifferent history, an indifferent universe.

None of the apparent couples wind up together. Once Ferro discovers that some of the seed’s powers have remained part of her flesh, she pursues her vengeance without a thought for Logen. Once Jazel acknowledges the truth of Bayaz’s charge – that he is a coward at heart (a truth the novel bears out from the beginning) – he settles into his marriage with the Princess, unable to distinguish the sex Glokta has extorted from her from anything like real love; and, with him losing all thought of Ardy (who is wonderfully drawn at the beginning of this volume), she accepts Glokta. And Glokta, who’s loved the spice merchant from the start, returns to his heartlessness long enough to terrorize her into becoming his informant. Things don’t even work out for West who, briefly, seems to survive with the promise of marrying his old comrade’s wealthy and beautiful cousin; in the end, though, he’s another casualty of Bayaz’s arrogance, sickening under the Nagasaki-like aftermath of the wizard’s boundless self-centeredness.

And none of the characters escapes his or her worst traits. Logen never finds the way to become a peaceful, better man. Instead, he keeps on pushing for revenge until he finally finds a battle that even he can’t win. Jazel never finds anything like an authentic self, but gives in to Bayaz’s bullying and realizes how much he has always been clay in the wizard’s hands. Even Glokta, who ‘gets’ the girl and discovers a full-blown apprentice/protégé in the closing pages of the novel, remains miserable – remains wedded to a life he’d prefer to see ended.

It’s an axiom of high fantasy that we get to escape our 20th or 21st century world to spend time in a universe where secret bravery gets recognized. Abercrombie breaks that “First Law” and breaks it mercilessly. It’s as anti-genre as is possible to imagine, with bravery, decency, and ‘goodness’ all utterly irrelevant terms. Still, the whole work remains rooted in the form and tone of that same genre. I admire this as an experiment and mostly enjoy it as a written work. I wouldn’t have given this much time to something like this if I didn’t, bottom line, enjoy it, and Abercrombie does a fine job of redeeming his purpose at every turn. Full of surprises and characters going against type, this is ultimately a lot of fun.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Love this stuff! But hated the last 5 minutes!

I like these books as much as the dark tower books. Wish I had 3 more...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Poor Ending

I listened to all three books. Terrific performance. Great characters, plot, sub plots. The fighting scenes were wonderful. After a bit some things became repetitive. The killer for me was the ending. It left me empty and unfulfilled.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wow!

Best work of dark fantasy fiction ever recorded. Outstanding narration makes It feel like you're there inside the story. More, please.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • jjyoung
  • Spokane, WA, United States
  • 08-14-16

Terrible ending

This would have been 5 stars all around but the ending was so bad. I seriously loved listening until the end. It totally seems unfinished.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A lot of people didn't like end ending, but...

You've got to be realistic. Ending seemed fitting to me. Not sure what other people expected.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

WOW. Again Please.

I can't say enough about this trilogy. I am an avid 25+ year devotee to the fantasy genre. That sounded nerdy, but true.... The author does something that I have personally never experienced -- more than Jordan, Sanderson, Rothfuss, Martin and all the rest!-- His characters are ALIVE. Real people that I can almost touch. Amazing, beautiful brutal, spectacular, endearing, pitied, hated, loved, feared and inspired people. Flawed heros... and more. They are written and I believe they are real. No one else has come this close to such amazing character development (and such a unique story!) other than perhaps Chain of Dogs from the Malazan Empire mega series (good series, but that book is a standout).

The narrator for this series certainly had an impact. That's an understaement in the extreme. This fellow is the BEST narrator of any audio book or series I have ever read.... I've not only read all the authors, and their various series noted above, many times over each (plus many more authors-- I'm a boring attorney and need an escape) but I have listened to the audio versions. This narrator is the best out there. Period. Mic drop.

Probably give it a week and listen to the series again, just for funsies. I'm smitten.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Epic Saga of Medieval Fantasy Nails the Landing!

This ambitious trilogy handily bests GoW. Never enjoyed three big books like I did Joe A.’s Blade Itself series. Final volume ratchets up the tension, suspense, and entertainment. By the story-end, most of the disparate, far-flung tale’s threads are tied up. Really great and perhaps even tame enough for h.s. kids.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Totally attached to these characters

A complete grouping of anti-heroes that attach to you from the first of the trilogy, not letting go, even as the last page is turned. I can't remember a good guy; some trying their hardest, but eventually the reality of the world catches up, and pulls them down. As a listener, I spent all three books questioning just who was right and who was wrong, who was good , who was evil, as every character seemed to change as the story progressed. In conclusion, it turns out not a one of them can be labeled, in any one way. The ending left me somewhat hollow and completely awed, as the characters linger in my mind.
Steven Pacey has to be one of the best narrators I've ever listened to, his portrayal of Glokta alone deserves an award, let alone the excellence of the remaining cast. I will definitely listen to the other " First Law" books that came after this one, just to hear more from Pacey. Hopefully those books will tie up some remaining threads left behind from Last Argument, cause like Glokta, I still have a few questions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful