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Book Review: The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie

Title: The Wisdom of Crowds

Author: Joe Abercrombie

Series: Age of Madness #3

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: 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 . . . -Goodreads

The Review:

I’m going to have to come to grips with the fact that I’m current with Abercrombie’s adult fantasy novels. I knew this day would come, and prepared for it a bit, but it still hurts.

Is he now my top author? He certainly has been creeping up the board lately – knocking down authors I thought would hold those spots forever. I’m not sure he’s quite managed to dethrone Robin Hobb, but damn, he has made a case for himself.

As the finale in the trilogy, Wisdom of Crowds had all of that amazing momentum I’d been hoping for. All of those moments that make you stop what your reading and just go, “wow.” There we’re so many fun plot tools used in this story that I don’t usually see done well, but here they were executed flawlessly. And I think that’s in no small part due to how rich, real, and rounded his characters are. Real people are dynamic, complicated creatures who do irrational things all the time. In books, however, it’s really difficult to convey that without making your characters come across inconsistent or under-developed. Abercrombie’s brilliant character work allowed him to showcase some amazing scenes that are now among my favorites from the whole saga. And it made this final book so, so satisfying to read.

Not that I think we’ve seen the last of the First Law world. There was definitely some compelling setup for more to come, but as I understand it, that’s a ways out.

Many people have asked me how this trilogy holds up compared to the books that came before it. I think it’s definitely more in line with the slow-burn, politically-driven novels we got in the first trilogy rather than the more action-packed stand-alones. Arguably, this was the most difficult one to read yet, as the characters are frustrating, the situation complicated and brutal (in true Abercrombie fashion), and there were several points where I both loved (because of appreciation of the craft) and hated (the awful things that happen) what I was reading. It was evoking and amazing and horrible, and I really would love nothing more than to be put through all of it again in his next book. Us Abercrombie readers are a bit masochistic, is all I’m sayin’.

Recommendations: I wasn’t a die-hard Abercrombie fan with his initial trilogy. I WAS a die-hard Glokta fan within that, but it took seeing Abe’s writing strengthen to brilliance in Best Served Cold before I was won over. And now it’s all I can do with my life not to become an blathering fangirl. If like me you thought First Law was just okay after the first trilogy, keep reading! You ain’t seen nothing yet!

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