Review: The Wisdom of Crowds, Joe Abercrombie

Rating: 5 out of 5

It is not difficult to like Mr Abercrombie. His style laughs at the world, and, well, in most cases, the world laughs back at his characters. This is the ending of the second trilogy based in the First Law world, and in many ways the ending is similar. Of course, this being the end of a trilogy, this also means that the journeys of these characters through these stories will end—in one way or another. I thought that the ending, as it was, worked well, though I can’t deny there were some things that I would have preferred had gone a different way.

That is a good thing. I was invested in these characters. Orso, the struggling monarch of the previous books, becomes a particular favourite in this final episode. Victarine is another who continuously impresses with her behaviour. The others, especially the characters in the North, are not that great in this episode. Savine I liked in the past, but her character goes through some considerable changes in this book that don’t really add up: or, rather, the first one works perfectly and is explained quite nicely, but the author makes her go through another volte-face which doesn’t stack up.

The characters in the North—where the activity is always a touch more philosophical than in the South—is more to my liking. This is despite the characters in that region being much less interesting this time around, though old Jonas Clover is my favourite amongst them. The action in the North is well-planned, and the author manages to build interest in Rikke’s survival quite nicely throughout. Shivers, always a good fellow, adds to this feeling by his honest commentary on what’s going on.

I’ve liked the First Law universe since I read the first books in this. Mr Abercrombie’s world does not pretend to solve problems: new ones arise generally before the old ones are sorted. Yet, the characters are appeasing and their tendency to make mistakes makes them human. It’s this, and the philosophising which is most evidenced by the oldest of the Northern characters who have long lives with no improvements behind them, that makes this world something I like returning to time and again.

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