Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bittersweet



Having finished The First Law Trilogy, I am a little sad. Oh, I know there are further installments on the way, but this particular story ended in bittersweet fashion. That is to say that, in many ways, it ended just as it began. While each character had a particular ending that was entirely believable, and strangely appropriate, it was hard not to hope for "the happy ending" (no, pervert, not that kind of happy ending).

For all his drooling, King Goslav probably had as much insight into the inner workings of the kingdom as Jezal dan Luthar does. Concerning Logen Ninefingers the reader is introduced, and left, with an image of a long fall into waters of questionable depth. Glokta seems to have traded a set of title and leash in for another. While Bethod may be dead in the north, Black Dow is on no one's list for ideal replacement. Ferro was found in Gurkhul with nothing but a heart full of vengeance for the rulers of that realm. She ends up leaving for the south with the same (imploring demons not withstanding). Bayaz, previously in command of Adua through a puppet government, returns to Adua. Ultimately, Bayaz leaves Adua, once again in command through a puppet government. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

What gives me hope for revisiting this particular cast of characters is that, despite the new title and responsibilities, Glokta is a man of questions, and a man used to getting the answers. While he seems to have plenty of answers to previous questions, I would imagine he's only just gotten started. What questions could Glokta still possibly have? Oh, that's easy. I'm sure they all revolve around self-acclaimed First of the Magi, Bayaz.

While Bayaz has been interrupted to replace one puppet government with another, he's also given a glimpse behind the curtain to Glokta, the least predictable character I've ever read. Least predictable, did I say? Yes, because as the reader begins to attune to Glokta, and the trend of his thoughts and actions, Glokta does something even he is left to wonder over. I get a feeling that, before the end of his writing career, Joe Abercrombie will have used Glokta to stump even the most intuitive of readers. That day, and story, alone are worth waiting for.

Throughout the trilogy, the formulaic approach is employed, at least superficially. The superficial use of the formulaic approach is used to, in fact, mock the formulaic approach. The subtlety of the pattern used, throughout the entire trilogy, to deposit the reader precisely where they began, is nothing short of wonder. These are only items observed analytically, however profound they be. It is to say nothing of the humor, action, drama and characterization that are displayed.

I feel like Inigo Montoya, after having read The First Law trilogy. "I hate waiting."

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