Fair warning: this is going to have spoilers. I usually try not to include many spoilers, but I need to for this book, because it is seriously messed up and I need to go into specifics. The book was really well written, and I enjoyed it, but I need to vent a little about some of the frustrating parts.
The first half of the book had a lot of moving pieces, but seemed a little predictable. As soon as King Gluslav died, I thought it was obvious that Jezal was being set up to take his place. Similarly, West taking the place of Lord Marshal Burr was easy to see coming. It felt really contrived, and I thought that a lot of these changes were going to set up a nice happy ending where Jezal was able to take Ardee as his queen and West as his most trusted advisor. I thought that after Logen won his duel with the Feared and became King of the Northmen, that he would renounce the kingship and go find Ferro, leaving the Dogman in charge. In short, I thought that the book would conclude as many fantasy novels do, with each character’s story being resolved and most of those resolutions being happy.
Instead, the book got really dark, really fast. I mentioned in my post of the previous book that I was questioning Bayaz’s motives. Not only did I learn that my doubt was justified, but that it didn’t go far enough, and that Bayaz could easily be considered the villain of the series. The climactic battle between the Union and the Gurkish showed exactly who he was, and it definitely wasn’t the benevolent sage he pretended to be.
The dark turn of the book also meant that the resolutions I was expecting for the main characters didn’t happen. Jezal, Glokta, and Ferro probably had the most complete stories, with Glokta getting the happiest ending. Ferro going of to seek her revenge with her new abilities felt like a decent conclusion, but mostly because she changed so much during the final battle that she could be seen as a new character.
Logen’s story was the most unsatisfying. The fact that there’s no indication of whether or not he survives his final act was the worst part, but even if he did survive, then his situation isn’t much better. Throughout the series he speaks of trying to be a better man, but he ends up right back to where he was at the beginning of the series. Alone, disliked and hunted, and just as deadly and feared as he was at the beginning.
I’m a little angry at the series. It was really good and I liked it a lot, but because it didn’t feel complete. The endings were realistic, and I understand the purpose of writing them that way, but I can’t help but think that there could have been a better balance between giving the characters a realistic ending and concluding this portion of the world’s history. I know that there are some follow-up novels that are outside of the main series, but I’m not sure I want to read those just for the hope that they give a little more insight into what happened to the characters of the main series. If anyone has read them, let me know in the comments if they’re worth picking up.