Tuesday, May 20, 2008

50 Book Challenge #30 & 31: Before They Are Hanged & Last Argument of Kings

Somehow I forgot to write a review of Book 2 of The First Law trilogy, so it's getting combined with my post for Book 3. I liked Book 2 a bit less than Book 1; road-trip narratives tend to bore me. They may bore Abercrombie too, since he spends literally no time on the return voyage from the ends of the earth and begins Book 3 back in the familiar environs of the Union. In the tradition of most modern dark fantasy, there are few happy endings and blood runs in the streets. By the close of the trilogy, when a puppet king and his despised vizier must attempt to rebuild the capital after a Hiroshima-like disaster behind the back of the power-mad wizard triumphant, we grasp for whatever satisfaction we can get. Abercrombie's project of tweaking genre stereotypes is ultimately successful. Only a relative lack of complex female characters (itself a genre stereotype) mars what is otherwise a GRRM-level effort. Recommended for genre and non-genre readers.
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