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The hairy bear

The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie [SPOILER THREAD]

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Just finished the book, and I've got a very bittersweet feeling. I think there were things that worked brilliantly in the trilogy, and there are also big failures. Plus, I'm emotionally sunken. I'll need some time to put some thoughts in order, but...

On 9/16/2021 at 5:03 PM, Ninefingers said:

Gunnar's arc was kind of a let down. A lot of time spent on him for his purpose to be "don't push them off the tower"

I agree that Gunnar's POV has been, all books considered, a waste. Not interesting at all. His character was boring and unoriginal, his arc weak and repetitive, and he didn't provide any interesting insights.

9 hours ago, SeanF said:

I ended up loathing Leo with a passion.  Leo, Nice-But-Dim, became Leo the Piece of Shit.  I expect he won’t last long.  His wife hates him, his mother despises him, I presume Terez and her daughters hate him;

I'm with you here. But it must be admitted that he was right in what he told Savine in their final chapter: She is even worse than him (in the moral scale. Obviously not in intelligence).

Edited by The hairy bear

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1 hour ago, The hairy bear said:

Just finished the book, and I've got a very bittersweet feeling. I think there were things that worked brilliantly in the trilogy, and there are also big failures. Plus, I'm emotionally sunken. I'll need some time to put some thoughts in order, but...

I agree that Gunnar's POV has been, all books considered, a waste. Not interesting at all. His character was boring and unoriginal, his arc weak and repetitive, and he didn't provide any interesting insights.

I'm with you here. But it must be admitted that he was right in what he told Savine in their final chapter: She is even worse than him (in the moral scale. Obviously not in intelligence).

I think she made him worse, even as she improved a bit, like Monza/Shivers

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31 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

Just finished the book, and I've got a very bittersweet feeling. I think there were things that worked brilliantly in the trilogy, and there are also big failures.

Yeah, this. 

Joe's at his strongest when he's in the North. He's brilliant at pushing action and plot, and I find his voice in the North to be hilarious. 

As for the industrial revolution backdrop, well, it was clear he had commentary to make, but I think in an effort to make sure he was understood it got overlong and overworked. I hid this comment behind spoiler tags in the other thread, at at times it felt like reading an essay and he got to a place where the story was serving the backdrop rather than the other way around. 

Lastly, I think Joe has fallen in love with the plot twist a little too much. When everything is so twisty, we're robbed of narrative tension because we've been taught to view each development with a very skeptical eye. 

BUT, all that being said, I enjoy the hell out of his work. They're fun reads, and Joe is on my "immediately purchase and consume" list until further notice.  

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24 minutes ago, Elaena Targaryen said:

Orso deserved so much better...

I would be interested to see why you think so!  Would it be possible to say so (inside spoiler of course) w/o having to take a lot of trouble? Thanks!

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5 hours ago, Ninefingers said:

Yeah, this. 

Joe's at his strongest when he's in the North. He's brilliant at pushing action and plot, and I find his voice in the North to be hilarious. 

As for the industrial revolution backdrop, well, it was clear he had commentary to make, but I think in an effort to make sure he was understood it got overlong and overworked. I hid this comment behind spoiler tags in the other thread, at at times it felt like reading an essay and he got to a place where the story was serving the backdrop rather than the other way around. 

Lastly, I think Joe has fallen in love with the plot twist a little too much. When everything is so twisty, we're robbed of narrative tension because we've been taught to view each development with a very skeptical eye. 

BUT, all that being said, I enjoy the hell out of his work. They're fun reads, and Joe is on my "immediately purchase and consume" list until further notice.  

I agree with the twist comment. The narrative momentum of the story faltered in part because you're waiting for Glokta to re-emerge the entire time; the longer he's out of the way, the more obvious it is that he's behind everything. Then the reveal happens and the story ends, and it's all very anti-climactic, feeling like setup for more books rather than an explosive conclusion.

The Rikke betraying Orso twist was better, because that stemmed naturally from the character arc and wasn't something that you expected for hundreds of pages.

I think part of the reason the revolution felt like an essay at times is because all the characters have the same perspective on it: cynicism, dread, fear, disgust. This is where Broad's disappointment as a character really makes a difference, because he could have had a very different perspective on things than the aristocratic characters. 

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1 hour ago, Caligula_K3 said:

The Rikke betraying Orso twist was better, because that stemmed naturally from the character arc and wasn't something that you expected for hundreds of pages.

But why is she the owl?

Because of her big eye? Did she ever in two books compare herself to an owl?

I think it would be a nice touch if she takes an owl as her emblem to put on her banners from now on. As a reminder to herself of what she decided to do/give up to be a leader. 
 

Edit: That’s just Tricky Ricker I suppose. Who is also Sticky.  Sticky Ricker. 

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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1 hour ago, A True Kaniggit said:

But why is she the owl?

Because of her big eye? Did she ever in two books compare herself to an owl?

I think it would be a nice touch if she takes an owl as her emblem to put on her banners from now on. As a reminder to herself of what she decided to do/give up to be a leader. 
 

Edit: That’s just Tricky Ricker I suppose. Who is also Sticky.  Sticky Ricker. 

Owls see far and Rikke has the long eye? That's my best guess.

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Like others so far,  I have some mixed feelings on the trilogy. I still come away mostly positive. 

Overall, I think it came together better than I was expecting. The second book had pacing/plausibility issues in the middle/late sections that took me out of it a bit. But I think the third book did a good job in returning to his usual competence at keeping things plausible without the need for tons of volume spent in exposition. 

In terms of characterization, I think he did a great job. I did a reread in anticipation of the release. I understand why the Broad arc in particular has come in for criticism since he's done a bunch of these types of characters before. I feel like there's more differentiation there than the surface indicates. I also thought that while it's probably a good point that Abercrombie has gone twist-happy to some extent, I thought the twist of Broad's "redemption" being a lie in the form of the fake letter was very well executed and complex in what it ended up saying about not only Broad, but Savine and May and Liddy. 

I thought the Leo thing was well done because it seems inevitable in retrospect but didn't on first read. I'm more mixed on Rikke. The thing with the Owl was fine from a plot perspective. But even though the text told us over and over that the "make your heart a stone" stuff was the theme of her arc, I feel like the narrative meandered from that a lot. About 80% of Rikke's plot in this book was about deceiving an enemy into making a mistake. The hardening stuff it was supposedly all about comes from an Adua sideshow that was an epilogue of the rest of her story. The Long Eye being mostly a red herring is also uneven. She's supposed to have made this tough choice to keep the Long Eye and then it did nothing but give us a coming attraction on the third to last page. 

I was in the camp that Bayaz was going to have the last laugh/be behind all/most of it. I think the way that Abercrombie dashed this was decently done ) but it's probably the area I'd criticize the most. While I was reading, I thought Pike's quest to uproot the banks was fairly ridiculous. I thought the punchline was going to be that the vault would be empty and that he was grasping at shadows. But then the vault ended up being empty and it was laughed off like Bayaz's power was fake. Sure, in a sense. But that's true of all financial power. They didn't abolish the Union's need for economic activity and credit etc. Making the Valint and Balk alter ego poisonous wouldn't suddenly destroy Bayaz's financial leverage. Even if you can argue that its realistic that Bayaz could drive the Union to the brink with his greed (because many prominent rich people are like that) and be taken off guard by a revolution resulting from it, it is hard to believe that his financial wizardry could be routed so efficiently. 

 

 

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Good book, the great change became a bit of a slog to get through, essayish as some have mentioned, the need for Broad also escapes me, a lot of stuff was telegraphed or we have become better at figuring out Joe, I wasn't fooled by Rikke's so called falling out for a minute. Where Joe got me was Orsos eventual fate, that was a sucker punch, I thought a last minute reprieve was on the cards.. I remember wondering how Hild would make anyone pay if anything happened to Orso and I guess we can see now how that is going to go..

I don't know if Joe is finished with the First Law world.. I personally would hate to leave things as they are..greedy I guess.

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2 hours ago, shortstark said:

Good book, the great change became a bit of a slog to get through, essayish as some have mentioned, the need for Broad also escapes me, a lot of stuff was telegraphed or we have become better at figuring out Joe, I wasn't fooled by Rikke's so called falling out for a minute. Where Joe got me was Orsos eventual fate, that was a sucker punch, I thought a last minute reprieve was on the cards.. I remember wondering how Hild would make anyone pay if anything happened to Orso and I guess we can see now how that is going to go..

I don't know if Joe is finished with the First Law world.. I personally would hate to leave things as they are..greedy I guess.

There was an inevitability about Orso’s execution, once Leo usurped the the throne, just as there was an inevitability about the murders of Elia and her children, once Robert Baratheon claimed the throne.

That doesn’t make Leo’s behaviour any less evil, however.

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8 hours ago, Dez said:

 

I was in the camp that Bayaz was going to have the last laugh/be behind all/most of it. I think the way that Abercrombie dashed this was decently done ) but it's probably the area I'd criticize the most. While I was reading, I thought Pike's quest to uproot the banks was fairly ridiculous. I thought the punchline was going to be that the vault would be empty and that he was grasping at shadows. But then the vault ended up being empty and it was laughed off like Bayaz's power was fake. Sure, in a sense. But that's true of all financial power. They didn't abolish the Union's need for economic activity and credit etc. Making the Valint and Balk alter ego poisonous wouldn't suddenly destroy Bayaz's financial leverage. Even if you can argue that its realistic that Bayaz could drive the Union to the brink with his greed (because many prominent rich people are like that) and be taken off guard by a revolution resulting from it, it is hard to believe that his financial wizardry could be routed so efficiently. 

 

 

I agree.  Loathe banks as much as one likes, but every economy needs credit to function.  Destroying Valint and Balk would cause a massive recession. 

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7 hours ago, shortstark said:

I don't know if Joe is finished with the First Law world.. I personally would hate to leave things as they are..greedy I guess.

The book couldn't have ended on a more obvious "TO BE CONTINUED" if it had been written on the page in 20-point bold type, so yes, I think there'll be one more trilogy to round things off, after he's written this new book or series in a new world. The question is whether he'll immediately then write the third series or might drop in a couple of stand-alones to bridge the gap like last time. I kind of hope he gets into it ASAP, since the way he outlined the story for it in Rikke's prophecy seems promising:

  • The Union will continue to industrialise, and railways are the next big thing.
  • The North will accept aid and economic development from the Union, and it sounds like railways will be used to help span the wild distances in the North. But these things will also enchain the North and degrade its culture, which I assume will be the spark for the next rebellion against Rikke.
  • The fact that Orso is the father of Savine's children is a ticking plot bomb, which will no doubt explode at some point to destroy their legitimacy, which will either matter massively or not one jot.
  • Bayaz's plans are fucked temporarily, but he's also going to repair them, aided by Ardee Jnr. and the boy, either King Harod II or Calder Jnr (I suspect Calder Jnr, since he's also referred to as "the black-haired boy" almost immediately beforehand).
  • It sounds like Ardee Jnr. will become instrumental in a new slave trade ("a million golden chains") which may employ slave labour taken from either the North or the Far Country (or both). I'm assuming the new semi-alliance with Gurkhul will prevent them from taking slaves from down that way.
  • Calder Jnr. will spark a war in the North with a ton of blood-letting, which is par for the course.
  • The bald weaver (Bayaz) is working towards the awakening or arrival of a powerful entity, who oddly says it is "returning." This sounds very much like Euz.

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I don’t think Orso is the father of Savine’s children. I thought I remembered her having her period after Valbeck, which was the last time they were together. 

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25 minutes ago, Werthead said:

The book couldn't have ended on a more obvious "TO BE CONTINUED" if it had been written on the page in 20-point bold type, so yes, I think there'll be one more trilogy to round things off, after he's written this new book or series in a new world. The question is whether he'll immediately then write the third series or might drop in a couple of stand-alones to bridge the gap like last time. I kind of hope he gets into it ASAP, since the way he outlined the story for it in Rikke's prophecy seems promising:

  • The Union will continue to industrialise, and railways are the next big thing.
  • The North will accept aid and economic development from the Union, and it sounds like railways will be used to help span the wild distances in the North. But these things will also enchain the North and degrade its culture, which I assume will be the spark for the next rebellion against Rikke.
  • The fact that Orso is the father of Savine's children is a ticking plot bomb, which will no doubt explode at some point to destroy their legitimacy, which will either matter massively or not one jot.
  • Bayaz's plans are fucked temporarily, but he's also going to repair them, aided by Ardee Jnr. and the boy, either King Harod II or Calder Jnr (I suspect Calder Jnr, since he's also referred to as "the black-haired boy" almost immediately beforehand).
  • It sounds like Ardee Jnr. will become instrumental in a new slave trade ("a million golden chains") which may employ slave labour taken from either the North or the Far Country (or both). I'm assuming the new semi-alliance with Gurkhul will prevent them from taking slaves from down that way.
  • Calder Jnr. will spark a war in the North with a ton of blood-letting, which is par for the course.
  • The bald weaver (Bayaz) is working towards the awakening or arrival of a powerful entity, who oddly says it is "returning." This sounds very much like Euz.

I think you mean Hildi, not Ardee junior.  I thought the million golden chains were metaphorical - ie the chains of indebtedness to the revived Valint and Balk.

I’m not sure about Sabine’s children, although it would be a great “fuck you” to Leo.

I wonder if the return of Euz (and I agree with that interpretation) is Bayaz’s fear, rather than his aim.

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14 minutes ago, SeanF said:

I think you mean Hildi, not Ardee junior.  I thought the million golden chains were metaphorical - ie the chains of indebtedness to the revived Valint and Balk.

I’m not sure about Sabine’s children, although it would be a great “fuck you” to Leo.

I wonder if the return of Euz (and I agree with that interpretation) is Bayaz’s fear, rather than his aim.

I think it's arguable, but the bald weaver has his hands on two young children who grow a lot older before they start causing mayhem, which fits very young children better than the already almost-adult Hildi. However, it does fit better that Bayaz already has Hildi and Calder Jr. in training when the book ends, whilst he'd have to engage in some scheme to manipulate the babies.

It also means that the time gap until they can cause trouble will be shorter than waiting for the babies to become adults, which implies a further 20-year-plus time gap, so characters like Shivers and Glokta can still play a role in the former case but not the latter, when you'd assume they'd be dead of old age.

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1 hour ago, Werthead said:

 

  • The fact that Orso is the father of Savine's children is a ticking plot bomb, which will no doubt explode at some point to destroy their legitimacy, which will either matter massively or not one jot.

Even if this is true, why would it destroy their legitimacy?

Their claim to the throne comes from being descendants of Jezal anyway. Nothing to do with Leo.

Or do you think people would decide not to follow incest babies?

 

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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Yeah, the book really did end with a massive "to be continued;" there's 100% going to be more First Law books. I have nothing against more books set in the First Law world, but to be honest, at this point I find it hard to get excited for a promise of yet more wars in the North and more Bayaz plotting behind the scenes. I think Bayaz needed more payoff in this trilogy than he ultimately got, and I was disappointed that mysteries/plotlines that were set up in A Little Hatred (what's the deal with the black-haired boy? What are the Eaters and Khalul up to?) are being shunted off to another trilogy.

About the prophecy, my impression was that Hildi was the woman Rikke saw. Her showing up at Bayaz's village and then in the prophecy felt very random to me, but I think she was who Abercrombie wanted us to think of.

I feel like my past few posts in this thread have been more negative than positive about this trilogy, so I do want to balance that out, because there was so much I enjoyed. Especially the characters. A poster in the other thread complained that Abercrombie's character arcs have gotten predictable and one note. I see that with Broad, and I'm still a little skeptical of Leo's transformation, though I think I'll want to read the whole trilogy at once to decide how well it works. But otherwise, the characters in this trilogy were fantastic, and I think they did break new ground for Abercrombie. For example, you did have characters who simply became better people over the course of the trilogy: Orso and Vick come to mind. Aside from Temple in Red Country, that's not the usual progression for Abercrombie characters. And if Broad didn't work so well, he's not the first Abercrombie character to need more depth: Ferro from the original trilogy wasn't great.

Edited by Caligula_K3

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1 hour ago, Caligula_K3 said:

Yeah, the book really did end with a massive "to be continued;" there's 100% going to be more First Law books. I have nothing against more books set in the First Law world, but to be honest, at this point I find it hard to get excited for a promise of yet more wars in the North and more Bayaz plotting behind the scenes. I think Bayaz needed more payoff in this trilogy than he ultimately got, and I was disappointed that mysteries/plotlines that were set up in A Little Hatred (1)what's the deal with the black-haired boy? 2) What are the Eaters and Khalul up to?) are being shunted off to another trilogy.

About the prophecy, my impression was that Hildi was the woman Rikke saw. Her showing up at Bayaz's village and then in the prophecy felt very random to me, but I think she was who Abercrombie wanted us to think of.

I feel like my past few posts in this thread have been more negative than positive about this trilogy, so I do want to balance that out, because there was so much I enjoyed. Especially the characters. A poster in the other thread complained that Abercrombie's character arcs have gotten predictable and one note. I see that with Broad, and I'm still a little skeptical of Leo's transformation, though I think I'll want to read the whole trilogy at once to decide how well it works. But otherwise, the characters in this trilogy were fantastic, and I think they did break new ground for Abercrombie. For example, you did have characters who simply became better people over the course of the trilogy: Orso and Vick come to mind. Aside from Temple in Red Country, that's not the usual progression for Abercrombie characters. And if Broad didn't work so well, he's not the first Abercrombie character to need more depth: Ferro from the original trilogy wasn't great.

1) That's Calder's bastard son, isn't it?

2) Not sure about Khalul, but as for his Eaters, Bayaz killed most of them. At least 3 of them have become disenfranchised with Khslul's message and have decided to make their own way. Kind of like Shenkt from A Best Served Cold.

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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