Okay, this book. If I could rate it 6 out of 5, I will. It's THAT good. I swear, Joe Abercombie has a knack for storytelling.
The Last Argument of Kings is the last installment of The First Law series. Here the story is continued from Before They Are Hanged, where our group of colorful characters go back to Adua empty-handed, the tensions between the forces of the Union and the Gurkish rising higher than ever as well as between the Union and Bethod's army. In this book, we realize not all good guys are good, and not all bad guys are bad. They have their reasons for doing what they do, and they are well justified, and it's hard to side with who. We discover lies and uncover unexpected betrayal.
The ending... gosh, the ending. If you're expecting a HEA, then this may not be the best ending for you. But seriously, who would expect something like that from an epic fantasy? The ending, in my opinion, was really nicely written and nicely done. It gives you the feeling that everything that happened, from the first book, were all planned ever since the beginning, even before the first events. It's like you get an epiphany in the end and go "What the heck? So that's how it was?!" The thing is, everyone was able to get what they wanted, although not in the manner they expected. Bayaz, the scheming person that he is (and I was so very surprised! I really liked him at first!), got what he seeked - the Seed, the peace in Adua in his own terms, and a puppet on the throne he can easily manipulate as he wishes. Jezal got the fame, the glory, the power as king that he first sought after, in exchange for his freedom as he becomes Bayaz' puppet. Glokta became Arch Lector, but has to heed the advices of Bayaz, and in the end, he still has to obey someone above him. Ferro got the power of the Other Side, and uses that power to extract her revenge on the Gurkish. And Logen... gosh, the ending. :(
But overall, it's an excellent read. THIS is how an ending should be. It should give you an impact, a message. There is no sugar-coating, no unicorns and rainbows. Just a realistic message. That it never ends.