The Joe Abercrombie First Law Trilogy Reread

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Last Argument of Kings: “Sacrifices”

Point of personal privilege. Last week, the literary program draft for ConFusion 2016 was due. This is a somewhat nonevent for 99.9999% of the population, but a rather significant one for me. I’ve been tasked with chairing said program. So, I’ve been furiously writing panels and the like. This has meant less reread time.

But, more awesome thinking about stuff time, which means that ConFusion 2016 is going to kick ass. It’s already one of the best local cons in the country, but this year will be particularly impressive. Guests like Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ann Leckie, Kelley Armstrong, and agent Cameron McClure headline the event, but dozens of stand-out writers will be there like John Scalzi, Cherie Priest, Victoria Schwab, Brian McClellan, Wesley Chu, Jim Hines, Diana Rowland, Kameron Hurley, Tobias Buckell, and many, many more. I’d encourage any of you to check it out and see if you’d be able to attend. You won’t regret it.

While you consider that, and forgive me for being less prolific in my rereading, check out this week’s chapter.

 

“Sacrifices”

Summary: Logen and his men enter the city, where confusion reigns among the Union army. Without an assignment, Logen decides to press on toward the Agriont. His men follow. As they walk, Dogman falls back to talk to Shivers about his beef with Logen. He urges the young man to forget it. Shivers swears he would if it were possible.

Beneath the city, Glokta finishes his journey toward the House of Questions. Brother Longfoot requests his freedom as payment for his guidance. Glokta agrees. What harm could there be in it? He motions to Cosca who then orders his men to change their clothes. Dressed like Practicals of the Inquisition, and Ardee as their prisoner, they enter the House of Questions with Glokta.

Lord Marshall West finds himself short of information to conduct the battle. He cannot make contact with General Poulder. In the harbor the battle rages, marked by Union and Gurkish ships, but also another force unknown to both. The largest of those ships sits at the docks, disembarking a group of black clad guards. In their midst is magnificent nobleman. They march to West and declare themselves of Talins, here to protect their Queen. Grand Duke Orso himself offers West 10,000 troops and promises the western flank will no longer be a concern. As the Duke leaves, Poulder arrives–dead at the front of his bold charge.

Glokta barges into the Arch Lector’s office, the man’s assistant visibly distressed at the prospect. Inside, Goyle sits at the desk. The Arch Lector’s pet is confused. Glokta should be dead. Instead, he orders Goyle bound and begins to work on him. He demands to know what game the Arch Lector is playing. Under Glokta’s ministration, Goyle admits Sult is at the University, where he’s been working the Adeptus Demonic (Administrator Silber) on occult rituals to contact the Other Side. They plan to bring them through as Gludstrod once did. Glokta marches off, confession in hand, to the High Justice—the torture’s hopeful third suitor.

Atop the Tower of Chains, Jezal paces. Down below in the square, Gurkish continue to advance. In among the smoke, figures move that wear pearly armor edged in gold. Behind them comes cannons. Varuz and Marovia urge Jezal to retire inside. Things are about to get worse.

At Marovia’s office, Glokta attempts to present Goyle’s confession only to find a meat locker where the High Justice should be. Marovia’s body parts are cast about, gnawed here and there and preserved in ice. Horrified, Glokta negotiates further commitments from Cosca and his men. They much go to the University and discover what Sult and Sibler are up to.

Important Characters Introduced: The Adeptus Demonic (Cool ass title, right? We’ve heard of him before, but not under this guise.)

Minor Characters Introduced: Scurrying Assistant (Sult’s! Marovia’s! Glokta is an expert at sending flunkies scurrying. It’s delightful.)

Quotes to Remember:

‘…Some men always want more, I guess.’

What’s super awesome about this line from Logen, is that the next line in the book is Glokta saying almost the same thing about Brother Longfoot. It juxtaposes the idea that “more” is defined entirely by the person’s point of view. And everyone wants more. Longfoot wants to get out of prison. His desire seems reasonable, even if it is “more”. Meanwhile, the Gurkish who have an entire empire want to conquer the Union. This seems unreasonable. But really, isn’t it just a matter of perspective?

Fear has made them sloppy. The world teeters at a precipice. All scared to take a step in case they put a foot into empty air.

Sounds quite a bit like the Republican and Democrat debates, doesn’t it? Everyone is scared to be unique. They all pander to their base. This concept of stepping out and doing something different is impossible. I realize I’ve just compared the next President to a bunch of scurrying lackeys in the House of Questions. Oops. Sorry (not sorry).

Analysis: Riddle me this, Batman (shout to the new Batman rewatch)! Would you ever have imagined the Sult would be in deep with the occult? The entire time he’s been a skeptic about Bayaz and magic. And now, he’s collaborating with the University to pull demons from the Other side to defeat the Gurkish? Seems like quite the leap to me.

At the chapter’s end, Cosca makes a connection between the severed body parts in Marovia’s office and the Adeptus Demonic. Based on my analysis in the previous chapter, that Marovia is now inhabited by the same person who was the Tanner, who was complicit with Bayaz, this appears to be an erroneous statement… unless the Adeptus Demonic is also this same shape shifter (who I suspect is Yoru Sulfur).

This makes some sense, considering Bayaz not knowing of an Adeptus Demonic is unlikely. I guess we’ll see.

Outside of Glokta’s machinations, this chapter gives us a little bit of everything. We see Logen entering the city, with copious amounts of foreshadowing toward a resolution with Shivers. At this point I’m pretty convinced they’re either going to stab each other or make out (kind of a missed opportunity that they never make out, right?).

We’re about to get some gunpowder from the Gurkish, per Jezel’s observation. What took so long? Why weren’t they using this stuff from the minute they showed up? Maybe it’s super rare and expensive. We simply don’t know enough.

And Talins showed up! What the hell? I guess we have to give Jezal some props. Talins came to rescue his daughter. None of that would be necessarry with Jezal’s petulant insistence that his lady wife stay in Adua against all reason. Good for him! Er… I guess? To me, getting your ass rescued by your wife’s daddy is a pretty sure way to end up a puppet king. And Jezal is already Bayaz’s puppet. Is there room for another hand, in you get my drift, up there?

 

Next Week: I give you three chapters to make up for my one chapter effort this week!

Justin Landon used to run Staffer’s Book Review. Now he kinda blogs at justlandon.com. Find him on Twitter for meanderings on science fiction and fantasy, and to argue with him about whatever you just read.

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