The Wisdom Of Crowds - Joe Abercrombie
'Grimdark' is a genre many whatiread visitors and followers of my usual reviews may not be familiar with, but I'm a huge fan of this fantasy genre - a warning though...it's definitely NOT suitable for primary classroom bookshelves!
Joe Abercrombie is an absolute master of this genre, and I've been a fan for a long time since a friend recommended 'Logen Ninefingers' as one of his favourite ever characters in 'The Blade Itself', and on reading it, I agreed (and this is a great excuse to share a favourite quote from that book!).
I'm sure many will disagree with a simplistic definition or comaprison, but in layman's terms for those not familiar, think 'Game of Thrones', 'Lord of The Rings' type world-building, quests, battles and rivalries, with power-hungry kings, flawed heroes, back-stabbing, front-stabbing (in fact just lots of stabbing!) and all set in fantasy land where the past plays heavy on the characters' motives and actions. This is especially so in this, the third and final book in this trilogy, following on from 'A Little Hatred' and 'The Trouble With Peace' in this, the 'Age Of Madness' series, set in The First Law World.
Chaos. Fury. Destruction.
The Great Change is upon us . . .
Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: the Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.
With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies . . . while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance.
The banks have fallen, the sun of the Union has been torn down, and in the darkness behind the scenes, the threads of the Weaver's ruthless plan are slowly being drawn together . . .
The three words at the start of that extract basically sum up this book, and I don't mean that in any way disrespectfully at all! The book really is full of those three things, as the events of the first two books are brought to a close and ended, rivalries renewed and resolved, scores settled and much of it in bloody and violent ways (Joe Abercrombie doesn't half know how to put you right in the midst of a blood-filled battle - not for the faint-hearted!). That said, there are plot twists and reveals aplenty, too, and the discovery of what befalls some much-loved characters from previous tales will both please and break the hearts of their fans from the first two books.
The usual mix of Joe Abercrombie's dark humour, gritty description, treachery, trials, and life-or-death decisons are evident in the writing throughout - fans who have been desperately waiting for this finale will not be disappointed or at all let down in the quality of the plot and writing it contains.
I'm trying not to give any spoilers away in this review (tricky, but trying to be fair on readers who haven't finished yet, or are based in regions where the release date is later this year!), but the characters of Rikke, Orso, Savine and Leo and their journeys and the changes that take place as they find their place in the new way of the world around them are what makes this book for me. Joe Abercrombie creates such a range of characters entwined in his story that you can't help be drawn into their circumstances and narrative, and read along desperate to find out what will happen and how they will end up! The dialogue between characters is intense but at times also darkly hilarious, and the internal battles they face as they make their decisions about what to do create real depth and connections with them.
But as far as I can tell it ain't that simple. Right things, wrong things, well...it's all a matter of where you stand. Every choice is good for some, bad for others.
Given the ending and the way the book is left, I suspect that there may be more from some of these characters or this world, but I recommend a visit to this Joe Abercrombie trilogy as soon as you are able and ready. I would read the entire trilogy in order to really get to grips with the who, what when, where and why to gain maximum satisfaction from reading, though.
Brutal, blood-filled, but bloody brilliant...Joe Abercrombie is on top form in this latest and last in the trilogy - order your copy now from publisher Gollancz at: https://www.gollancz.co.uk/titles/joe-abercrombie/the-wisdom-of-crowds/9780575095991/
The brilliant audiobook, read by the fantastic Steven Pacey, is available here: https://www.gollancz.co.uk/titles/joe-abercrombie/the-wisdom-of-crowds/9781473228535/
You can listen to an audio extract here as part of the blogtour for the book, which I am thrilled to be a part of (thank you Will!):
Author Joe Abercrombie can be found on Twitter as @LordGrimdark, and via his website, https://joeabercrombie.com/
Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot)