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The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie [SPOILER THREAD]


The hairy bear
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1 hour ago, A True Kaniggit said:

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?

 

Orso was condemned as a traitor, and the children would be products of incest.  There are two children of Jezal with better claims, something their husbands would be well aware of.

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45 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Orso was condemned as a traitor, and the children would be products of incest.  There are two children of Jezal with better claims, something their husbands would be well aware of.

Orso was condemned/hanged by a usurper.

And the two children you speak of our were born from Jezal's bastard daughter. (Grandchildren. Grand-Bastards?)

Edit: Ooooooh! Do you mean Jezal's daughters? Yes.  I agree they would have better claims than young Harod and his twin sister Ardee.

I can totally see the Governor of Starikland proclaiming his child King of the Union in opposition of Harod/Leo. Why wouldn't he go for it? He would have all of his province's resources at his disposal, as well as the Orso loyalists still in Midderland.

Edited by A True Kaniggit
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1 hour ago, A True Kaniggit said:

Orso was condemned/hanged by a usurper.

And the two children you speak of our were born from Jezal's bastard daughter. (Grandchildren. Grand-Bastards?)

Edit: Ooooooh! Do you mean Jezal's daughters? Yes.  I agree they would have better claims than young Harod and his twin sister Ardee.

I can totally see the Governor of Starikland proclaiming his child King of the Union in opposition of Harod/Leo. Why wouldn't he go for it? He would have all of his province's resources at his disposal, as well as the Orso loyalists still in Midderland.

Yes, that's how I see it.

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16 hours ago, A True Kaniggit said:

I can totally see the Governor of Starikland proclaiming his child King of the Union in opposition of Harod/Leo. Why wouldn't he go for it? He would have all of his province's resources at his disposal, as well as the Orso loyalists still in Midderland.

Yup. And at the end of the trilogy, Starikland has refused to recognise Harod, and we know they have rebellions there pretty easily even without that kind of excuse.

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20 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Yup. And at the end of the trilogy, Starikland has refused to recognise Harod, and we know they have rebellions there pretty easily even without that kind of excuse.

I don't know which daughter is the elder, but in all likelihood Starikland would gain support from Sipani in the event of a fight.  Perhaps from Talins, too, given that King Jacopo didn't trust Leo one inch. Not to mention Bayaz.

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Over on Reddit, Joe notes that he is well into writing the next thing (vampires and elves in a parallel-universe Italy, from the sound of it, which may or may not be the same world as the one in the Shattered Sea books) but he has some ideas for what happens next in the First Law, and he is currently debating that being a new trilogy or three stand-alones which build up to a new trilogy, which he notes is thematically appropriate but I guess also a buttload more work.

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

Yup. And at the end of the trilogy, Starikland has refused to recognise Harod, and we know they have rebellions there pretty easily even without that kind of excuse.

It definitely seems like it will be a dynamic in the future. I would note though that the past rebellions in Starikland were against the Union regime- meaning there’s a large contingent that doesn’t see the Lord Governor and Orso’s sister as legitimate rulers of their region anyway. While Orso’s execution might put the Lord Governor and Orso’s sis in a position to cozy up with their former rebels, those rebels might not necessarily embrace them. Can’t see those folks caring if their governor’s wife has a claim to the Union throne if they don’t want to be in the Union in the first place. 

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In Red Country, there were suspicions that Zacharus was giving support to the rebels from Starikland who wanted to secede from the Union and enter the Old Empire's area of influence. Geographically, it would make plenty of sense for Starikland to associate with the Old Empire, and I'm sure that now that he has the perfect excuse, Lord Governor Skald will make the move.

If Joe decides to continue with standalones exploring new parts of the world as he has done in the past, right now Starikland is without doubt one of the most interesting places to go.

Edited by The hairy bear
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I enjoyed the book a lot.  A few thoughts.

  • Orso was definitely my favorite character, and I'm wondering if he might be the most sympathetic POV character in any of the First Law books.  Or at least up there with The Dogman, Craw, and Shy?  I'm probably forgetting a few others.  Anyway, kept hoping he'd escape, but knew deep down it was unlikely, and was very sad to see his end.  In the three days since I finished the book, the feeling has stayed with me - just kind of down about how things played out for him.
     
  • Was happy that Vick did make it out alive and that she set out to start a new life.  By the end, felt like she had grown a lot and at least tried to do the right thing.  Overall, felt like she was an interesting character, in that I was cheering for her in the present, but always had a small lingering question in the back of my head after the reveal in the 2nd book, wondering how she could have betrayed her brother. 
     
    • Vick's ending immediately called to mind both Shivers and Logen, in that they had both tried to escape the past and set off for a better life in a new country.  With Shivers, it almost immediately went to shit.  For Logen, at least he had some peaceful years before things fell apart.  I hope things go better for Vick, but knowing Abercrombie, we'll end up seeing her again down the line as a secondary character. 
       
  • Savine is interesting.  Great character.  On the one hand, she's so manipulative and selfish, and her hunger for power led to a lot of horrible things.  On the other hand, she really does do a lot of good in the world, and her ending up on the throne might actually be a pretty good result for people in the long run.  When you read things like her buying up a bunch of land cheap at the end, its hard to say if she's headed right back to her exploitative approach to everything and the good parts are only a facade, or if she has grown a little and will at least continue to mix in some good acts - maybe benefit herself while also benefiting other people too?  I don't know. 
     
    • As a side note - I'm very prone to viewing progress as a negative thing, especially when you see the destructive impact of things like the factories.  Would be cool to see some positive elements added in as the story continues, like improvements in medicine - just to make people (like me) feel more conflicted about it all.  In the case of Savine, when she pushes for progress, I immediately have the reaction that she is ruining the world.  But stuff like that would make me have a harder time figuring out how I feel about it.
       
  • I wasn't as bothered by Broad's character as some of you, but I did kind of hate how easily he fell into going along with Judge and the Burners.  I guess I just can't see the appeal or why anybody would want to align with them specifically.  The Breakers, yeah, to some degree.  But the Burners?  If I view it in the most sympathetic lens, would say that maybe Broad hates himself for what he did in the war and how good he was at killing, and sometimes when people hate themselves they rationalize it by saying that's who they are at their core, and they allow themselves to sink even deeper into it, as if its out of their hands.  And so Broad constantly tries to do better, but ultimately when he ends up back in the same situation, he has already beaten himself down psychologically to such a great degree that he just thinks its inevitable and gives in.  But not sure that really covers it, because if I remember right its not just him getting stuck with Judge and the Burners and going with it.  He is actually drawn to her, and in the Court of the People he makes the choice to side with them.  So.....yeah.  I can't really relate to him, and I think I liked his chapters more in the first book than I did by the third one.  But I didn't feel as negative as some other people posting.
     
  • I think my least favorite part of the book was the section in the first half from about 20% complete to 40% complete.  The book started fast, and the second half was great.  But that part that was filled with Risinau settling into power, Sworbreck falling into his zealous fervor, Judge and her court taking over, people denouncing each other, and tons of executions.....felt kind of repetitive to me.  I completely understood the need for it - I know Joe was connecting it to real historical events like the French and Russian Revolutions.  And I saw some really interesting parallels to things currently going on in today's world.  If there's a theme that nothing ever changes, power corrupts and the people who get it almost always do horrible things, and the common person just gets shit on - then yeah, that definitely rings true.  Just felt mixed about reading similar council/court scenes 4-5 times, even knowing that there was a purpose to it (and also recognizing that it was used to show a descent into further chaos as they transitioned from the Breakers to the Burners).
     
  • I continued to enjoy Rikke's chapters and character.  Agree with a few others that her falling out with Isern and the Nail and sending away Hardbread was pretty predictable as a trap for Calder.  But liked her story in the North regardless.  Her betrayal of Orso - I don't know.  Was it really necessary to protect the North?  Would Leo and Savine have really turned to the North looking for more war?  I guess Leo's last chapter shows that he's searching for a fight, and there's obviously a long history there, both in terms of the Union fighting the North and also on a personal level with Leo and his family governing Angland.  And Rikke did betray Leo and Savine, so maybe they'd want revenge.  Just kind of felt to me like she took a step that she didn't need to take by turning Orso in.  Maybe she didn't want to save him and declare herself an enemy of the Union, but she could have at least let him slip away back into Adua, so he could make another run at finding a different way out of the city.
     
  • Rikke's vision in the final chapter was awesome.  I'll admit that I was hoping we'd get back to the magi/gods story in this book, and I thought it was possible something was coming when it looked like the Burners were defeated and things were wrapping up, with about one-fourth of the book still left to go (i.e. right before Leo stabbed Forest).  But in the end, I'm happy with how Joe approached it.  He got to focus on this specific story for the trilogy, but didn't just ignore the larger narrative.  Its kind of funny how I would have been pretty disappointed if it was ignored completely, but instead I was completely satisfied by the one paragraph with the god-like entity saying "I am returned."  Knowing Abercrombie, there will probably be a twist.  But for now, I'm content thinking that we'll get some sort of huge clash of titans in future books.
     
    • Any thoughts on who the "figure made of blinding light" with "smouldering footsteps" and who "spoke in thunder" was?  First reaction is Euz, which is probably the obvious answer.  Second thought was it could also be Glustrod, especially since all we know about his death is that he supposedly destroyed himself using the Seed - but there's no story of anybody finding the body or anything like that.  Either way, would be surprised if it was a force for good.  That would actually be a big twist, in and of itself, if it was some good entity.  More likely its either Euz (or Juvens) but he's actually uncaring/amoral rather than a savior, or its somebody like Glustrod who returns but poses as Euz (or is just an outright force of destruction, if he doesn't care about deception). 
       
    • I saw some disagreement over whether the girl in Rikke's vision was baby Ardee or Hildi.  Not sure we can really know the answer, but I think Joe was hinting heavily at it being Hildi.  Maybe that's a setup for a twist down the road, but on the surface it seems pretty clear.  She's with Bayaz now, same as Calder Jr.  Bayaz says she has an affinity for numbers, and she's always joking about debts with Orso.  She has curly blonde hair.  Bayaz is planning something, trying to re-assert his control over the world, and the vision shows him working to accomplish that - it all just adds up.  Again, could easily be muddied in future books, but for now, I think its Hildi.
       
  • Clover continued to be a fun character.  And I liked how his constant betrayals basically ended up backing him into a corner with no options.  Was also content with his story finishing up in a similar situation to where he started.  More importantly - (1) Downside ending potential feuds was probably the funniest part of the book; and (2) one of my biggest disappointments was Downside backstabbing Clover and siding with Calder.  Probably just because I liked the character and didn't want him to go out like that.  I guess it was used to show just how awesome Clover is with the sword, even now, because he was able to take out a monster of a fighter in spite of being surprised (with a little help from Sholla).  But was sad to see him go.
     
  • I left Leo for last, because I feel like I can offer a slightly unique opinion on his story.  About 3 months ago, I was probably the strongest I've ever been, great health, lifting weights and running 5 days a week.  Then I had a random medical emergency that came out of nowhere.  Spent 4 days in the hospital, 2 months in limbo, and then finally had a surgery in mid-August.  I'm just now getting back to about 90%, but with more scars than I had before, and a constant reminder of lingering pain.  What I've been going through isn't the same as losing a limb, but there were a lot of elements of Leo's story that really resonated with me, and I think Joe did an awesome job writing him.  Little touches like him coming up with tricks to do things that had previously been so easy, because putting on a shirt or finding a way to sit comfortably can go from an afterthought to a major challenge.  Its exhausting.  I know that for me, personally, I've had a lot of moments where I thought that the whole ordeal would give me a new perspective on life, and that I might come out of appreciating things more than ever before.  And sometimes that's true.  Hopefully, more often than not.  But there are also those moments where you can't help but wonder why things happened the way they did, and the constant pain just leaves you angry and bitter.  And sometimes, instead of feeling enlightened, you just end up as a worse version of yourself. 
     
    • Leo was always naive and ignorant, and while he had heroic moments, he was mostly pretty selfish and very rarely thought about how his actions would impact other people.  I don't think anybody should be surprised that his personal pain has left him lashing out at the world.  In spite of him turning into a villain by the end, I still felt very sad at a few of his thoughts/quotes in his final chapter -

  • He'd won.  There was no denying it.  But the stump of his leg hurt no less.  His metal-riddled arm felt no more.  There was that same bitter tang in the gap in his teeth.  His temper, if anything, was shorter than ever.

  •  
Quote

"Is this how it always is?  You get what you wanted, but somehow it's not what you wanted at all?  Every victory turns out to be another kind of defeat?"

 


Don't get me wrong.  I absolutely despise Leo for what he did to Orso.  But I get it.  He hates the situation he's in, he's angry, and he wants the world to feel it. 

Beyond that, would just add that I don't think Leo has really turned into a skilled politician, so I didn't really have any trouble buying his transformation there.  He's trying to make his impact felt, but in the end, what did he really do?  Murdered Forest, betrayed Orso, put his son on the throne - yeah, there was some scheming involved, but mostly it was through brute force by acting quickly (i.e. before Orso could consolidate power or even regain any footing) at a time when the Union was desperate for somebody to take control.  After that, he was outwitted by Savine at every turn.  He is trying to take charge.  But ultimately he is failing, and his final chapter shows that he's still the same person in a lot of ways.  No patience for politics, no attention to detail, just wants to fight - but he's incapable of doing it in the same way as before.

 

Anyway, overall, thought it was a good conclusion to the series.  Not necessarily my favorite in the First Law world, but I enjoyed it, I'm still hooked, and I'm extremely excited to see where it goes next.

Edited by Whiskeyjack
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46 minutes ago, Whiskeyjack said:

Beyond that, would just add that I don't think Leo has really turned into a skilled politician, so I didn't really have any trouble buying his transformation there.  He's trying to make his impact felt, but in the end, what did he really do?  Murdered Forest, betrayed Orso, put his son on the throne - yeah, there was some scheming involved, but mostly it was through brute force by acting quickly (i.e. before Orso could consolidate power or even regain any footing) at a time when the Union was desperate for somebody to take control.  After that, he was outwitted by Savine at every turn.  He is trying to take charge.  But ultimately he is failing

Perhaps his successes (the betrayal of Orso, claiming power) were not really his doing, but that of Jurand(I think that's the name).

It's easy for me to imagine Leo saying what he wanted, and Jurand being the one would actually planned it/made it happen. 

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8 hours ago, Ninefingers said:

Other possibility:

Rikke is bad at interpreting her visions and is mistaken about the owl part. 

This was my thought as well.  Once she made her choice she became the owl..but that may not be what it is supposed to be.

Anyway, the other woman in the closed counsel (I am on my phone and horrible at names, Hugan or something like that?) is also carrying a child.  I can't for the life of me remember who she has been with; any chance this is also a possible royal?

It will also be interesting to see if Bayaz can rebuild his world through the North rather than Adua this time, which currently seems to be the plan.

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Finished.

It was a good read, I have some mixed feelings, like some of the other readers here, but Joe certainly left me wanting more.

I finished the book without feeling cheerful about any character, and certain disliking a few of them even more.

  • I hate that Leo came out on top, partially, but props to Joe for crafting a pretty believable story on how things shaped up.
  • I found both Broad and Clover more tedious than ever, and wouldn't have been upset if they had perished.
  • Instead one of the best characters in all his books, Orso, got done dirty. And while I felt he was a given a bit of plot armor in the early part of the book (why didn't the Breakers/Burners execute him?) there were no deus ex moments. Even Rikke's betrayal felt natural and in line with her character. 
  • Interesting that Rikke became an unreliable narrator, though her plan against Calder was clear as day. I wish Calder hadn't been killed, but once Stour died, it was clear there was never going to be a compromise. But I like that Joe didn't forget how cunning Calder could be, he was just beaten fair and square by someone with more cunning.
  • Vick was maybe the only one who grew on me, and Glokta revealing that he had seen through her was touching. Tallow was the only truly surprising twist out of all the twists. I kept expecting a dramatic moment with Vick having to choose between Tallow's life and the Union or something like that. I hope we get to see more of her in the Near or Far Country.
  • Savine was Savine. Good for her for coming out on top, but short of her luck running short, I don't see how else it could have gone. Especially once her children were born. I didn't think Joe is quite so cruel as to kill off her children at any point in the story, so they became a sort of a narrative shield for her. 

It would be nice if Joe gave us some stories (short, novellas, a stand-alone novel) that featured Bayaz in the west, what kept him busy there. Because I feel that Bayaz left the Union slip out of his fingers without enough of a fight. He relied on Sulfur to keep a hand on things, but Sulfur fucked up. I suppose they realized at some point that Glokta was behind it all, and wanted to nab him along with other major players, but it seems to me that Bayaz would have nipped this in the bud if he had been more present in Adua. So instead Glokta managed to whisk the Union from under him, and get rid of Sulfur in the process. Joe really did go all the way to the end with the Zuri reveal, making me think we had been trolled. :laugh: But it was well done. That fucker was powerful that it took three Eaters, one the East Wind, to take him down. I like that it was Glokta all along.

As to the owl thing, I'm still not sure. I actually spent most of the book thinking that maybe vision had already come to fruition, that the owl had been the Breakers/Burners. I took it from the book title and cover - an owl on the cover, the book called the Wisdom of the Crowds, (sarcastically, I know) Owls are associated with wisdom, being one of the symbols of the goddess Athena. After all, how did the vision really translate to reality? 

  • the wolf ate the sun - well the sun wasn't a person, and all Stour did was burn Uffrith and push the Protectorate & Anglanders back for a while.
  • the lion ate the wolf - Leo beat Stour in the Circle, but spared his life. They became reluctant allies.
  • the lamb ate the lion - Orso beat Leo at Stoffenbeck, but spared Leo's life.
  • the owl ate the lamb - so when Orso surrendered himself to the crowd, I thought maybe that was it. But I did wait to see if there was going to be anything else.

So what other visions came to be? The people being thrown off the Tower of Chains was the big one. But if there were others, I may have missed them. Rikke tells Stour she saw the moment when she killed him, but I don't recall that from the previous books. Wasn't there one about the House of the Maker opening up? Was that the vault door, instead?

Funny how technology is evolving in this world. It seems Joe is leaving firearm technology behind, and the coal industry is the one that takes precedence. When the elevator is invented before flintlock pistols. :P

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The woman from the vision is surely Hildi; Bayaz is making her the public face of Valint and Balk, and the visions suggest she’ll be leading/financing the exploitation and resource-stripping of the north.

Not sure where the twins being Orso’s is stated/hinted?

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11 hours ago, Corvinus85 said:

I feel that Bayaz left the Union slip out of his fingers without enough of a fight.

Yes, but on the other hand I'm reminded of the scene from the original trilogy where Jezal is complaining about the rain and asks Bayaz to make it go away. Bayaz quips something about rain making no special dispensation for wizards. 

Point being that Bayaz likes to portray himself as the puppet master that runs the Union, but there are limits to his control and they're probably a lot more restrictive than he'd like to admit.

 

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23 minutes ago, Ninefingers said:

Yes, but on the other hand I'm reminded of the scene from the original trilogy where Jezal is complaining about the rain and asks Bayaz to make it go away. Bayaz quips something about rain making no special dispensation for wizards. 

Point being that Bayaz likes to portray himself as the puppet master that runs the Union, but there are limits to his control and they're probably a lot more restrictive than he'd like to admit.

 

True, but there was also a distinct lack of assassinations, unlike in the previous trilogy. Sulfur could have taken out the known leadership of the Great Change: Risinau, Judge, and Pike. But it seems he wanted to take out Glokta more, but it's unclear at what point Sulfur and Bayaz realized that Glokta was behind it. 

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"You must make of a stone of your quim."  :lol: 

I powered through the most of the book yesterday and today.  I did enjoy it, but really feel that most of my enjoyment was brought about more by the hints at the end than the actual book itself... so maybe thats a condemnation of the actual book.  :dunno:   

Reading over this thread and the hidden spoiler tagged stuff in the other one, I generally agree with everyone here.  Although I must say, I don't see how anyone could possibly have mistaken Hildi dan Valint/dan Balk and Shitmouth for anything else in the vision.  It was pretty obvious to me who they both were.  (Even if I have zero idea how HIldi wound up at the Great Library of the North.)  I really did like that scene at the library, strong callback to the beginning of The Blade Itself.

Orso really did steal the show.  I had a sense of dread every paragraph I read once he woke up alone at Rikke's in a chapter called "Make your heart a stone."  :crying: 

Speaking of Rikker... bullshit Joe.  I've questioned it on his office Twitter when he posted that Rikke is pronounced with an "r" at the end; but he has called her Sticky Rikke since book one and then she's Tricky Rikke here.  None of which makes sense with his statements on how you say her name.

To @Whiskeyjack;s point about feeling like the modernization might ruin the world, I thought Joe hit that almost a little too on the nose with Rikke's conversation at the "Function" when she looked at the chimney stacks and says something along the lines of "You could make the North look like this."

Count me in the category of people who would like to see the thematic balance of some standalones before his next proper trilogy.  I'd love to explore the world a bit more.

Overall, a nice conclusion to an enjoyable trilogy.  

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