The Last Argument Of Kings

There is a genre of fantasy known as grimdark, to which this more or less belongs. Game of Thrones would among the list. The granddaddy, to my uncertain knowledge, would probably be Glen Cook’s Black Company. Basically, things don’t always end nicely for everyone and many folks don’t turn out to be so nice. A bit of the old ultra violence, as Alex of Clockwork Orange might say.

This qualifies. And it is the most grimdarkest of the three in the trilogy, mainly by raising real and unanswered questions about whether you, the reader, have been culpable by having spent the whole trilogy on the wrong side. You never really get to hear the other side of the argument, as it were, which was a deliberate, authorial decision, I believe, but cannot help but suspect that the protagonists were being led along the primrose path, well paved with good intentions, but ultimately laid down by a character who, well, might be the secret villain. Another character, as well, is forced to consider that he is, in truth, a villain as well.

And I liked all that.

I did not like that insufficient time was spent laying the groundwork for this revelation. Sure, little hints placed here and there. But the reveals sometimes felt more sudden than retrospectively obvious.

Also, can we end the books faster? Once the climax has taken place, try to wrap things up quickly. And don’t complain, well Tolkien did it. Yes, he did. But number one, he earned it in a way you probably didn’t. And number two, does anyone really think his long, stuttering endings (even after the Scouring of the Shire, which I will defend as making an important point) are the best part of The Lord of the Rings? Because, if anyone does, their opinion is woefully incorrect.

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