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Last Argument of Kings

The First Law: Book Three

Joe Abercrombie

639 pp • ISBN: 978-1-59102-690-7
Trade Paperback (6" x 9") • $17
September 2008
Cover Illustration: © Laura Brett



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 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...


"The sword & sorcery trilogy that began with The Blade Itself (2007) and
Before They Are Hanged (2008) comes to a violent, sardonic and brilliant conclusion....Abercrombie is a fresh new talent, presenting a dark view of life with wit and zest, and readers will mourn the end of this vivid story arc."
—Publishers Weekly

"Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie was stellar. Easily one of the best concluding volumes to a trilogy I've read in years."'s Favorite Books Review 2008

"In the two-years-plus since we lost David Gemmell at an intolerably early age, nothing, absolutely nothing, has so reassured me about the future of heroic fantasy as Abercrombie's sequence The First Law.… All 3 white-knucklers are now available in the U. S. from the Pyr imprint of Prometheus Books.… I'm avoiding the word trilogy in connection with The First Law not only because the term has become such a punchline in any discussion of fantasy as a publishing phenom, but also because I don't think Abercrombie wrote one. He might not have pulled a Tolkien by writing one long novel in its entirety before delivering any of it to his publisher, but that's what his story reads like: one long-and-proud-of-it novel.... The First Law might appear overlong to some readers, especially those with a pulp-trained attention span, but as a prodigy of heroic fantasy storytelling the 3 books are not nearly long enough. Saying goodbye to Inquisitor Glokta and Logen Ninefingers aches like a bereavement.... With Joe Abercrombie our favorite subgenre is in good, and formidably sword-calloused, hands."

"The books are good, really good. They pulled me in. Well-developed world. Unique, compelling characters.… the third book tied up the series quite nicely.… This isn't some cookie-cutter fantasy. It's refreshingly realistic, but also very gritty and dark."

"Joe delivers his normal dose of intrigue, action and black humour but ramps it all up a gear and smacks you in the gut with some stuff that I guarantee you will not see coming. And then (while you're gasping for breath) he does it all over again, rendering some of the most powerful battles I've seen in fantasy literature almost pointless with the revelations that follow."
—Graeme's Fantasy Book Review

"You should always end with the best....Last Argument of Kings is the textbook example of this theory in practice. The third in Joe Abercrombie's debut fantasy series, The First Law, reveals everything a finale should: conveys some answers, ties together the loose ends from various plot strands, knocks over pieces painstakingly set up in the preceding stories, and in the aftermath delivers the character development that surprises as well as delights. This series was always a swords-and-sorcery sequence that rejected the overwrought Tolkienesque myth building in favour of wry dialogue and tough, interweaving plotlines. Although it's never a comedy, the author's tongue lurks inside his cheek as he re-energises the fantasy staples."
—SFX (five-star review)

"A darkly humorous reality check on all epic fantasy….a modern, pragmatic tale, not a starry-eyed heroic adventure. Last Argument of Kings concludes the stories of Glokta, Logen, Jezal, Bayaz, Colonel West, Dogman, and others in just the way it should have been….I recommend reading this novel….Joe Abercrombie deserves the accolades he has been given, and in recognition of a singular achievement in epic fantasy, I think he deserves the all elusive ten out of ten stars."
— Grasping for the Wind blog

"One of the best concluding volumes of a fantasy trilogy I've read in ages."
— A Dribble of Ink (

Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie (Lancaster, England), a 2008 John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award nominee, is a freelance film editor, working mostly on documentaries and live music events for bands from Coldplay to Iron Maiden. He lives and works in London. He is also the author of Before They Are Hanged: The First Law, Book Two and Last Argument of Kings: The First Law, Book Three.

Visit Joe Abercrombie online at

Author photo ©Lou Abercrombie