The torturer Glokta returns to his home Kingdom of the Union to help prepare for an approaching war with the rival Empire of Gurkhul, while the barbarian berserker Logen returns to the North to defeat the army of the self-proclaimed King of the Northmen Bethod. Last Argument of Kings is the final book of Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, and it follows the same format breaking the story into parallel arcs told through the eyes of three main point of view characters: the barbarian soldier Logen Ninefingers; the crippled torturer of the Union Inquisition, Glokta; and the pompous Union swordsman Jezal dan Luther.
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With the old king of the Union finally dead, and both of his male heirs gone as well, the Union is in a predicament. Several noble lords squabble over who should be elevated to the throne. Enter Bayaz, the ancient First of the Magi, and the historical founder of the Union Kingdom. Bayaz begins the meticulous process of weaving a mythology around Jezal, the young swordsman who won a famous dueling tournament with a little help from Bayaz's magic. Bayaz uses Jezal to quell an uprising among the common people of the Union. Buoyed by the success of that campaign, Bayaz reveals that Jezal is actually the bastard son of the old king, and thus has a rightful claim to the throne of the Union.
Having finished his errant mission in the Old Empire with Bayaz, Logen Ninefingers returns to the North to settle a score with King Bethod. He rallies an army of both rebel Northmen and union soldiers and stages a stand against Bethod's army in the northern mountains known colloquially as the "High Places." After his defeat in the High Places, Bethod retreats to his fortress of Carleon. Logen has to defeat Bethod's champion in hand-to-hand combat in order to solidify his victory, which he does. With Bethod's champion felled, Logen scales the walls of Carleon hand over hand and crushes Bethod's skull. He is declared de facto King of the Northmen.
Glokta returns to the capital city of the Union, the Agriont, having lost the city of Dagoska to the invading army of the Empire of Gurkhul. Despite having failed in his mission, Glokta is given credit for defending the city as long as he did. Using experience from the siege, Glokta helps the city prepare for the Gurkish invasion. The armies of Gurkhul finally attack in a massive final conflict. Things look dire for the Union, but the Agriont is ultimately saved by a combination of Bayaz's magic and the timely arrival of Logen Ninefingers and his seasoned Northern warriors.
With the armies of Gurkhul shattered, Logen returns North to claim his throne at Carleon. Bayaz solidifies King Jezal as the rightful ruler of the Union and installs Glokta as his proxy on the Closed Council. It's revealed that Bayaz has been meddling in Union politics for centuries, and that Glokta is simply the latest in a long line of proxy advisers. The story of the First Law has ended, but the struggle between the Union and Gurkhul is only beginning.
Best part of story, including ending:
Last Argument of Kings is the strongest novel in the First Law trilogy. All the disparate storylines are pulled together in a climactic battle that provides an uncomfortable kind of dark closure that is as unsatisfying as it is appropriate for the tone of the books.
Best scene in story:
Logen taps into his berserker mode to destroy Bethod's champion in hand to hand combat. After the bruising duel he climbs the walls of Carleon barehanded and crushes Bethod's skull.
Opinion about the main character:
By the end of the third book Abercrombie does the impossible--he manages to get the reader to sympathize with Glokta the torturer. Glokta gets the only thing close to a happy ending. He is rewarded for his noble service with a position on the Closed Council as Bayaz's puppet.