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The Wisdom of Crowds

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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 Broc 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...


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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 Broc 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...

30 review for The Wisdom of Crowds

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    ARC provided by the publisher—Gollancz—in exchange for an honest review. Joe Abercrombie is a genius storyteller. The Wisdom of Crowds is one of the best books of the year, a masterfully crafted conclusion to The Age of Madness trilogy. “What is the point of gathering knowledge if one does not pass it on? What is the point of growing old if one does not try to shape the future?” For years I’ve mentioned the Last Argument of Kings as Joe Abercrombie’s best book; it is a masterwork in gr ARC provided by the publisher—Gollancz—in exchange for an honest review. Joe Abercrombie is a genius storyteller. The Wisdom of Crowds is one of the best books of the year, a masterfully crafted conclusion to The Age of Madness trilogy. “What is the point of gathering knowledge if one does not pass it on? What is the point of growing old if one does not try to shape the future?” For years I’ve mentioned the Last Argument of Kings as Joe Abercrombie’s best book; it is a masterwork in grimdark fantasy, in my opinion. For years I’ve said Abercrombie probably won’t be able to come up with a novel that matched—or topped—the Last Argument of Kings. Today, that unbending situation changed; I’m gratified to say that Abercrombie has done it. The Wisdom of Crowds, the last book in The Age of Madness trilogy, is up there with the Last Argument of Kings as the best book in The First Law World and his career. And I dare say it’s indeed his most well-written book so far. Last week, I did an interview with Joe Abercrombie on my YouTube channel, and it is one of my most treasured experiences as a book reviewer. I hope to have the chance to do that again in the future because The Wisdom of Crowds is one of the best books I’ve read, and I have some burning questions regarding the revelations unveiled in this novel. Anyway, that’s for the future, now let’s begin with the review. “Sometimes, the only way to improve something is to destroy it, so it can be rebuilt better… Sometimes, to change the world, we must first burn it down.” Chaos, fury, and destruction; this is how The Wisdom of Crowds starts, and it’s also how the narrative progresses. The Great Change is here, and our beloved main characters—voluntarily or not—are all caught in its sweeping madness. Abercrombie didn’t waste time shifting the story and characters into their crimson path. Right from their respective first chapter, everyone’s plunged into this uncontrollable vicious frenzy. If you’ve read A Little Hatred and The Trouble with Peace, then you’ll know what the chapter “Little People” signifies. Unlike the previous books, the first out of two “Little People” in The Wisdom of Crowds happened in chapter 3; it is that soon. “How could one man keep his oath when everyone else was breaking theirs, after all? An army very much relied on unity of purpose.” From the beginning to the end, not a single page in this novel ever felt dull to me. I know that every author writes differently, but I do wish more authors write and structure their series the way Abercrombie or Michael Sullivan did with their trilogy. For those of you who don’t know, Abercrombie finished writing the entire The First Law trilogy first before he focused on polishing one book at a time. This method was reimplemented for The Age of Madness trilogy, and same with the Last Argument of Kings, this kind of storytelling planning and structure allow Abercrombie to fill the pages of his concluding volume with an incredibly engaging—and believable—revelations and narrative. The Wisdom of Crowds proved that The Age of Madness trilogy has some of his most meticulous plotting so far; revelations are done in abundance, and they never felt out of place. This is a novel—or trilogy—that successfully captured a myriad of relatable themes and character’s actions such as freedom, betrayals, loyalties, conspiracies, leadership, responsibilities, survival, politics, war, ambitions, and the price of progress. “Have you been outside lately? Wisdom is not at a premium, madness is the fashion, the balance sheets are all torn up and the friends that were assets have become liabilities… Threats for tomorrow don’t cut very deep when today is so damn threatening.” I won’t lie; as a long-time and diehard fan of The First Law World, there’s always a part of me that feels gleeful when characters or backgrounds attained from reading the previous six novels plus one collection of short stories appeared. This isn’t to say that I didn’t love or care about the new main characters of this trilogy; if that were the case, I doubt I’ll be giving each book in this trilogy a 5 stars rating. However, prior to reading The Wisdom of Crowds, I never felt like the new main characters could compete with Abercrombie’s previous main characters. Again, I was gladly proven wrong. I’m being truthful when I say there are no characters in The First Law World that I love more than Logen Ninefingers or Sand dan Glokta; they’re too iconic and unforgettable for me. But I’ll be lying if I say that I didn’t immensely enjoy reading the journey of Rikke, Orso, Leo, Savine, Broad, Vick, and Clover. They’re not Logen Ninefingers, and they’re not Sand dan Glokta; they’re never meant to be, and that’s completely okay. By this concluding installment, I personally think these new main characters—especially Rikke, Orso, Leo, and Savine—have earned their spot as some of the most well-written characters in fantasy. I mean, Rikke and Savine have both became some of my favorite characters, too. Say one thing for Abercrombie, say that his level of characterizations is unmatched in grimdark fantasy. “The past has never interested me. For better or worse it is done, and set, and littered with disappointments as a battlefield is littered with the dead. But the future is a ploughed field, full of potential. The future we can twist into wonderful shapes.” I never thought I would end up caring for all the characters in this trilogy this much, but now that I finished it, I felt like there’s a gap inside of me that won’t be filled until Abercrombie write more characters for me to feel invested in. The main characters underwent tremendous character development in The Wisdom of Crowds. The lawless chaos and savage circumstances they’re in have pushed all of them towards becoming a better or cruel version of the person they were. Almost all the main characters realistically changed from their first appearance in A Little Hatred. Wishes buy nothing, and good luck is always in limited supply. Alliances constantly shifted, betrayals and tough decisions have to be unflinchingly executed in order to survive. I loved reading the character’s developments and the conclusion to their story; some made me surprisingly happy and satisfied, and some depressed me. This is an entry in The First Law World, after all, and you have to be realistic about these things. “It’s a comfort, telling yourself there’s some big right thing out there. That you could seek some wise old bastard in the mountains who’s got the answer. Then there’d be no need for doubts and regrets… But far as I can tell it ain’t that simple. Right things, wrong things, well… it’s all a matter of where you stand. Every choice is good for some, bad for others. And once you’re chief, you can’t just do what’s good for you, or those you love. You have to find what’s best for most. Worst for fewest.” The action sequences in The Wisdom of Crowds, once again—I know I sound like a broken record here—established Abercrombie as one of the two best close-quarter combat scenes writers; the other author being John Gwynne. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, The Wisdom of Crowds started with an explosive bang, but it felt relatively small compared to the third and final act of the novel. The end of the second act was pulse-pounding, and it seamlessly transitioned into the non-stop barrage of mayhem and devastations—emotionally and physically—of the final act. It was all so relentlessly brilliant and insane; the immersion I got from reading Abercrombie’s compelling dialogues and battle scenes are vivid and rare to find in other books. Having read so many fantasy books now, it’s getting harder for me to feel like I’m inside a battle scene with the characters experiencing the glory, terrors, and brutal bloodbath. And reading The Wisdom of Crowds has all these immersion effects on me. “The sad truth is, men love to follow a man other man fear… Makes them feel fearsome, too. We tell the odd fond story of the good men. The straight edges. Your Rudd Threetrees, your Dogmen. But it’s the butchers men love to sing of. The burners and the blood-spillers. Your Cracknut Whirruns and your Black Dows. Your Bloody-Nines. Men don’t dream of doing the right thing, but of ripping what they want from the world with their strength and their will.” The Wisdom of Crowds is, at the moment, the peak of quality in Abercrombie’s prose. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true; Abercrombie has written more than ten novels now, and he somehow keeps getting better and better with each book he wrote. It’s so astounding to me. “Better to do it than live with the fear of it” that’s penned in The Blade Itself remains as one of the important mottos I use to motivate me in my daily life. And in this novel, I highlighted 36 passages. No kidding; there were so many well-crafted sentences and passages I wish I could share with you all, but I’ll leave those for you to find out for yourself. “History is not the story of battles between right and wrong, but between one man’s right and another’s. Evil is not the opposite of good. It is what we call another man’s notion of good when it differs from ours.” Lastly, before I end this review, I’ve mentioned and praise the hell out of Abercrombie’s trademark skill in writing magnificent characterizations, dialogues, battle scenes, and all the grim and dark content. But there’s one more trademark of Abercrombie’s prose to mention: humor. The Wisdom of Crowds is the darkest novel in the trilogy, but this doesn’t mean it’s deficient in its humor. I can’t believe how many times I laughed out loud reading this book; I’m pretty sure most of them were during scenes I shouldn’t laugh about, too. Seriously, there was a chapter involving Clover and Downside that made me laugh out loud. And believe me when I say that I rarely laugh when I’m reading a novel. But that’s the thing; the superb characterizations and humor are what separated and elevated Abercrombie from other grimdark fantasy authors. Amidst the character’s bloody ambitions, ruthless violence, and horrific tragedy, Abercrombie’s cunning capability to insert dark humor at the right—or inappropriate—moment and time made the pacing in his books so captivating. “Don’t matter how savage a face you show the world, few men dare look the Great Leveller in the eye once he comes calling.” Following a comparable contrasting fashion Abercrombie employed in The First Law trilogy, Abercrombie started and concluded The Age of Madness similarly. The first chapter in The Blade Itself is called “The End,” and the last chapter in the Last Argument of Kings is called “The Beginning.” The first chapter in A Little Hatred is titled “Blessings and Curses”, while the last chapter of The Wisdom of Crowds is titled “Curses and Blessings.” And when it comes to reading Abercrombie’s books, this title couldn’t be more apt. It’s a blessing to have read every book in The First Law World, and it’s also a curse to have read them all. Same with the Last Argument of Kings written by the same connoisseur, The Wisdom of Crowds has joined the same esteemed rank of fantasy masterpieces. This is the end of The Age of Madness trilogy, but I doubt this will mark the end of The First Law World. The ending showed glimpses of super exciting things to come in the future of this world. But if this somehow ended up being the end, I truly don’t mind. I’m an extremely happy and satisfied reader to have read all the available nine novels and one collection of short stories in The First Law World. The entirety of The First Law World—The First Law trilogy, the standalone trilogy, and The Age of Madness trilogy—is the greatest grimdark fantasy series that I’ve read. Bravo, Joe Abercrombie; the bar for grimdark fantasy has been raised again. And you, Lord Grimdark, remain absolute as one of the greatest fantasy authors of all time. “Great folk are great ‘cause they plant new footsteps. Not ‘cause they blunder through the same mistakes some other bastards made.” Series review: A Little Hatred: 5/5 stars The Trouble with Peace: 5/5 stars The Wisdom of Crowds: 5/5 stars The Age of Madness: 15/15 stars You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Blackwells (Free International shipping) You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing! My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Element, Ellen, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Hunter, Jimmy Nutts, Jennifer, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Shaad, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.

  2. 5 out of 5

    weirdfish

    That feel when Abercrombie writes and publishes an entire trilogy before GRRM or Rothfuss get a single book out

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike's Book Reviews

    I was provided an ARC of The Wisdom of Crowds via the courtesy of Orbit Books US, per the request of Joe Abercrombie, in exchange for an honest review. Many a thanks to Orbit & Mr. Abercrombie for the opportunity. Video Review: https://youtu.be/-s-yqoqlncU Spoiler Talk (w/ special guest Philip Chase): https://youtu.be/fr0yhfBBCg0 "It’s a comfort, telling yourself there’s some big right thing out there. That you could seek some wise old bastard in the mountains who’s got the answer. Then there’d be I was provided an ARC of The Wisdom of Crowds via the courtesy of Orbit Books US, per the request of Joe Abercrombie, in exchange for an honest review. Many a thanks to Orbit & Mr. Abercrombie for the opportunity. Video Review: https://youtu.be/-s-yqoqlncU Spoiler Talk (w/ special guest Philip Chase): https://youtu.be/fr0yhfBBCg0 "It’s a comfort, telling yourself there’s some big right thing out there. That you could seek some wise old bastard in the mountains who’s got the answer. Then there’d be no need for doubts or regrets. But far as I can tell it ain’t that simple." At the end of another Joe Abercrombie First Law trilogy I found myself in a state of euphoria, denial, and struck by a wave of nostalgia. As a loyal advocate for all things The First Law since 2008, this felt different than going through the end of Last Argument of Kings for the first time. Because this felt like it could truly be the end. With the set up leading to The Wisdom of Crowds, Abercrombie has successfully passed the torch to “the kids” in the sequel trilogy. No more longing for the legacy characters, as I had gotten fully invested in the struggles of Orso’s kingship, the doubts of Leo’s rebellion, and the desires of Rikke to fulfill her father’s dream of a united North. I’m all aboard without wondering when Sand dan Glokta is going to show up or if Logen is related to Gunnar Broad. However, what you think you know, just forget it. Abercrombie burns it all to the ground in the first 50 pages and gives us somewhat of a reset from where we were at the end of The Trouble with Peace…and that’s a good thing. This may be the best representation of what things are like at ground level when the whole world descends into chaos. The panic, the desperation, and the destruction at that level is captured brilliantly and Abercrombie’s talents as a writer have somehow gotten even better describing these situations. The Wisdom of Crowds asks those questions like what you would do in their stead if given the keys to the kingdom. Change is difficult and sometimes needed, but when do you know if you jumped the gun on just how bad things actually were? Each of our POV characters take a journey in this one that makes them feel like completely different versions of themselves than they were in A Little Hatred. All of them have grown, for better or worse, into their own identity. You will find yourself laughing, crying, and sharing in the best and worst of times with all of them. Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie; say that he still has the best character work in the game. If this truly is the end, First Law goes out on top of the genre. You get answers to the prophecies and the character theories (I was right on two out of the three really big ones…wait for the spoiler talk) as well as the usual amount of action, betrayals, and politics we have come to expect from a First Law book. As well as some openings left in the ending to question if our characters are doomed to repeat history. If this is truly the end, thank you, Joe. It has been one hell of a ride.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Holly (Holly Hearts Books)

    The Age of Madness series has kept me more emotionally invested than any First Law story since reading the original trilogy. It does so in a way that feels fresh and modern while still maintaining everything that made its predecessors so special – from its strange but lovable characters to the insane mental power struggles inside their heads. While every book in this fantasy world is good in its own way, this one proves to be one of the best thanks to consistent writing for both main and side ch The Age of Madness series has kept me more emotionally invested than any First Law story since reading the original trilogy. It does so in a way that feels fresh and modern while still maintaining everything that made its predecessors so special – from its strange but lovable characters to the insane mental power struggles inside their heads. While every book in this fantasy world is good in its own way, this one proves to be one of the best thanks to consistent writing for both main and side characters, a compelling political story with good pacing, mysterious magical abilities that surface evermore slightly, and perhaps most importantly, character dialogue that offer more depth and complexity with big and most small decisions that actually impact the story in meaningful ways throughout the course of all 3 books. Most of its fresh ideas go a long way toward elevating the First Law formula into the modern era. Joe Abercrombie has also done a great job of expanding this universe toward both grander and more intimate threats without losing the humor of the original. Most importantly. The Wisdom of Crowds is a not so gentle sendoff to the rag-tag group of characters we’ve known for years and the ones we have only known for a limited time. A worthy end, indeed. Full review to come on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/hollyheartsbooks

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    What the eff! I loved the first book, mostly loved the second book and could barely get through this book!! That’s it!! I’m not trusting anyone but my favorite authors and I’m not wasting my money anymore. I could have bought at least three of the many books I want and love off my wishlist instead!!! Damn it!! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 What the eff! I loved the first book, mostly loved the second book and could barely get through this book!! That’s it!! I’m not trusting anyone but my favorite authors and I’m not wasting my money anymore. I could have bought at least three of the many books I want and love off my wishlist instead!!! Damn it!! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  6. 4 out of 5

    Books with Brittany

    Best of the best. Don’t have comprehensive thoughts yet

  7. 5 out of 5

    mina reads™️

    Holy fuck this was a rollercoaster of emotions… Updated descriptions of all the pov characters: Orso: my baby, light of life, my sunshine prince who did no wrong Leo: gay glokta junior but without the humor 😑 Savine: my new favorite fictional milf, she is truly the moment 😁🥰 Rikke: I don’t know a better person, truly the smartest bitch in the circle of the world Clover: i loved this treacherous fuck! He’s so fun Broad: literally what was his purpose?? His three character traits were: wearing glasse Holy fuck this was a rollercoaster of emotions… Updated descriptions of all the pov characters: Orso: my baby, light of life, my sunshine prince who did no wrong Leo: gay glokta junior but without the humor 😑 Savine: my new favorite fictional milf, she is truly the moment 😁🥰 Rikke: I don’t know a better person, truly the smartest bitch in the circle of the world Clover: i loved this treacherous fuck! He’s so fun Broad: literally what was his purpose?? His three character traits were: wearing glasses, fighting and his dick getting hard sometimes because of fighting Vick: I’ve had a change of heart i really liked her in this installment Full review to come

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dale Thompson

    Isnt it weird you can review a book before its released. Im going to pre-empt this book a sweet five stars, why? Because its Joe Fucking Abercrombie. Cant wait to read this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nils | nilsreviewsit

    Please note this review will contain spoilers for A Little Hatred and The Trouble with Peace, but it is spoiler free for The Wisdom of Crowds. ‘Wisdom is not a premium, madness is the fashion, the balance sheets are all torn up and the friends that were assets have become liabilities.’ Vic kept walking, ‘Threats for tomorrow don’t cut very deep when today is so damn threatening.’ The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie is the last book in the Age of Madness trilogy, and for now at least, marks th Please note this review will contain spoilers for A Little Hatred and The Trouble with Peace, but it is spoiler free for The Wisdom of Crowds. ‘Wisdom is not a premium, madness is the fashion, the balance sheets are all torn up and the friends that were assets have become liabilities.’ Vic kept walking, ‘Threats for tomorrow don’t cut very deep when today is so damn threatening.’ The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie is the last book in the Age of Madness trilogy, and for now at least, marks the end of our time within the world of the First Law. Before I began this book I was apprehensive about what kind of ending these beloved characters would meet, but I needn’t have been, say one thing for Abercrombie, say he knows how to create a showstopping finale! On the cover of my ARC the words Chaos, Fury and Destruction dominate, and these are apt words, civil war ravages through the lands and the Great Change is fully upon the citizens within the Union, for better or worse. Much like during The French Revolution, the time of Social Revolution has finally come and the oppressors have become the oppressed. The Breakers and Burners have seized power and the nobility must cower before them. Anyone with wealth and prosperity are brought under a knife’s edge and either must be seen as less than they are or face a long fall from grace. The Age of Madness certainly reflects all that this book stands for. Yet there are those who find opportunities even amongst the ruin. Leo Dan Brock, beloved by many, seeks to be the hero for the new age, and Savine must turn her talents for business into talents of survival, she must truly become ‘the darling of the slums’ in every way. Orso finds that being a king has landed him with the worst possible fate, and in the North, Rikke faces a battle all of her own as Black Calder plots his revenge. The time of judgement is upon all. As our characters face an uncertain future, they must also reflect, even learn from the deeds of the past, the once legends now long buried beneath the mud. The past now comes to heads with the future. In my review for The Trouble with Peace I had said that the narrative had leaned more towards the political intrigue side, and even though that was entertaining in its own right, I did miss the action. This time around I felt the balance hit the exact right spot for me. The proud forcefully became humbled, and the poor and lowly suddenly found themselves powerful, yet they were also capable of the same cruelty that was bestowed upon them by the nobility. The ‘new leaders’ also held little knowledge of what to do with their newfound power or even how to run the country. The ‘Great Change’ was not all it was cracked up to be; put simply, everyone was fucked. Abercrombie became the weaver of politics and chaotic battles, each scene expertly builds upon the tension and is doused in his trademark of dark humour, repetitions and a cynical view of the world. The world has literally gone to shit, and the aftermath is nothing but sheer entertaining. ‘The Great Change’ was not only symbolic of the world but of its people too, especially some of our main protagonists. The dynamics between the characters is once again fantastic, and I loved the way Abercrombie hits us with multiple twists throughout the book. Loyalty and treachery hang in balance and at every turn our main protagonists tip the scales in surprising ways. Rikke remained my favourite character throughout the entire trilogy. From A Little Hatred we watch Rikke as she comes out from behind her father’s shadow and becomes an absolute force not to be rivalled with, yet even when she finally gains power in her own right, her fundamental caring personality wars with what is best for her people. She vies for fairness, when her people look to her to rule with a firm hand. Rikke is the most vulnerable, and heartfelt character within the book, she genuinely cares for the people who show her loyalty, no matter the deeds they’ve done. Abercrombie has always explored found families within his books, and Rikke’s relationship with Shivers and Isern-i-Phail, which goes from strength to strength in Wisdom of Crowds, made for one of the weirdest but most sincere found families within the series. Not to mention how entertaining they were too, Abercrombie absolutely hit the nail on the head with the banter between these characters. ‘Did I do the right thing, Shivers?’ ‘You’re asking the wrong man, I reckon.’ ‘I’m asking the only one I trust.’ ‘‘Cause I done so much o’ the wrong thing?’ ‘Shows you know the difference, don’t it?’ ‘Not sure there is one.’ Savine was a character I had previously disliked but Abercrombie crafted her story arc so brilliantly that I couldn’t help but care for her in this last instalment. Her desire for self preservation and self profit never quite leaves her, but without giving away too much, her priorities change and her motivations, at least on some level, are for a better life all round. This sense of purpose in my opinion made her a much more likeable character. My sympathies fell wholeheartedly with Gunnar Broad, a man with a history of warfare, always called to do the deeds no one else was willing to do, a man utterly haunted by his past. Once again Gunnar’s vow to keep out of trouble, and to ensure his family’s safety means he has to sacrifice his own morality, his own inner peace, and do what must be done. This time it seems executing the nobles falls in his hands, and now driven to a constant state of drunkenness, Gunnar struggles to find a way to end this cycle before it destroys him entirely. “He drank again, spirit burning his sore gullet. It was like taking the lenses off his mind. Make everything a blur. So he didn’t have to see Liddy’s face, or May’s. Didn’t have to think of what they’d say. Didn’t have to put ‘em next to what he was now. Didn’t have to fear what he might do to ‘em. Made it easier, being drunk. Or did it make it easier to have something to blame?” I also felt for Orso and Vick who both seem to get the raw deal throughout Wisdom of Crowds. However, no matter what was thrown at Orso, he kept his quick witted nonchalant attitude, and I loved him all the more for it. Vick was perhaps the only character trying her utmost best to solve the disaster of the uprising she had played a part in, perhaps the only character to feel remorse. This may be a dark book set in a brutal violent world, but even so, these characters all still withheld their charm. “They’re monsters,” Orso heard her whisper. ‘I almost wish they were,’ he muttered. ‘That would be easier. But they’re just people.’ ‘They’re the worst people I ever saw.’ ‘Of course they are. We hanged all the best ones.’ Abercrombie will always be the staple example for why I love the Grimdark genre, his stories are never one dimensional. In his world, his characters and his plot, there are no good deeds, no bad deeds, no heroes, no villains and certainly no justice. There are only people with reasons. ‘Take it far enough, freedom becomes chaos. The voice of the people… is just noise. It is the blather of the lunatics in the madhouse. It is the squeal of the pigs in the slaughterhouse. It is a choir of morons. Most of them don’t even know what they want, let alone how to get it.’ The Wisdom of Crowds is a worthy ending, one in which Abercrombie excels himself and proves to be a wizard of words. Although I am sad to say goodbye to these characters and the world of the First Law, the ‘Great Change’ is now upon us readers too, and I can’t wait to see what stories Abercrombie will conjure up next. ARC provided by Will at Gollancz in exchange for an honest review. All quotes used are taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. The Wisdom of Crowds is out now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dave Edmunds

    “Sometimes, the only way to improve something is to destroy it, so it can be rebuilt better… Sometimes, to change the world, we must first burn it down.” "Arrrrrgh" oh the pain. Please don't for one second think that my pain has been caused by reading the final installment in Joe Abercrombie's scintillating Age of Madness series, the Wisdom of Crowds. If you're apprehensive about what ending is in store for our beloved characters then don't be. It's simply the fact that this book marks the en “Sometimes, the only way to improve something is to destroy it, so it can be rebuilt better… Sometimes, to change the world, we must first burn it down.” "Arrrrrgh" oh the pain. Please don't for one second think that my pain has been caused by reading the final installment in Joe Abercrombie's scintillating Age of Madness series, the Wisdom of Crowds. If you're apprehensive about what ending is in store for our beloved characters then don't be. It's simply the fact that this book marks the end of our time within the world of the First Law. And that leaves a huge void in my life. A void that cannot be filled by beer, football or other inferior fantasy series. Seriously, Joe Abercrombie is the reason I'm even reading fantasy. He writes this stuff better than I thought was possible. How does he do it? By making amazing characters the focus of the story and mixing pulsating action with lots of dark comedy and perfectly timed heartfelt moments. He really is the Tarantino of the fantasy genre. "Wisdom is not a premium, madness is the fashion, the balance sheets are all torn up and the friends that were assets have become liabilities." But if you're reading this review then you're probably up with all the things this fantastic series has to offer. So you just need to know if this book is any good. Yes it is... brilliant in fact. End of review... ... oh you want more. The previous book, The Trouble with Peace, ended on the verge of The Great Change, and this one kicks off exactly where it left off with full on civil war and open rebellion.  Yes, the oppressors have become the oppressed and finding out just how equal we all are when the chips are down. The Breakers and Burners have continued their determination to break the system and are now destroying the city and their places of work.  The Age of Madness is now looking a very apt title for where this series is at. By now we all know this author's strengths and he's honed them to a fine art. As per usual, Abercrombie treats us to phenomenal characterisation with a keen insight on the human condition.  Good people commit awful acts, and awful people become heroes.  It's all a matter of perspective in Joe's books and everything depends on what side of the fence you're on or what end of a blade. It's great to spend time with these morally grey characters and you can't help but wonder if you sometimes see a bit of yourself reflected there. Hopefully not too much though! Leo Dan Brock, left shattered at the end of the last book, is determined to become a new hero of this volatile age, while his wife Savine is suffering a complete character makeover as she switches her passion for profit to simple survival. Sticky Rikke faces a battle to hang on to the North with the craftiest Northman of them all Black Calder and my favourite character Orso is beginning to learn that being the King of the Union is not all its cracked up to be.  The dynamics between them are absolutely fantastic as the plot constantly twists and turns making this one an absolute page turner. That's as far as I'm going though and I'll leave it up to yourself to find out which of the characters come out on top as they struggle to keep their heads above water. Suffice to say that Abercrombie works his magic by keeping us absolutely enthralled regardless of which POV is being used. And while we're on the subject of magic, the quality of writing is absolutely magnificent.  Joe is punching write at the top of the fantasy genre and for pure readability it's up there with the very best.  It's dark, it's violent and very humorous and the prose just draw you in, take tight hold of your eye balls and don't let go until the very end. My only criticism is that one characters arc for me was a bit unrealistic and things changed a little bit to rapidly and without much adversity.  I'd of like to have seen victory earned particularly when you consider what they were up against. I'll leave you to work out which one I'm talking about. “They’re monsters,” Orso heard her whisper. ‘I almost wish they were,’ he muttered. ‘That would be easier. But they’re just people.’ ‘They’re the worst people I ever saw.’ ‘Of course they are. We hanged all the best ones.’ But that's a very small criticism amongst all the praise I have for this book and the series as a whole. It's been a huge part of my life for the last six months and I'm going to miss it.  Far more than all those ex's that dumped me.  But before I go you'll want to know if Joe landed the ending? Of course he bloody did and you'll be stoked to know he left plenty of threads open for a sequel.  That's what I'm hoping for anyway. I can't cope without First Law in my life. Might mean I have to go out and get a girlfriend to fill my time.  You've got to be realistic. All hail Lord Grimdark!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Klaus

    28/25 (112%) 6 stars. This is, once again, Abercrombie's best book yet, and at this point it's like watching Michelangelo repaint the Sistine Chapel. Where there was perfection before, he still has managed to improve. It's just incredible - the Age of Madness is the best trilogy I've ever read. Period. If you haven't read Abercrombie, you should, because otherwise my practicals will be coming for you. Honest. I'll try to keep this short because if I were to talk about all the reasons why this is on 28/25 (112%) 6 stars. This is, once again, Abercrombie's best book yet, and at this point it's like watching Michelangelo repaint the Sistine Chapel. Where there was perfection before, he still has managed to improve. It's just incredible - the Age of Madness is the best trilogy I've ever read. Period. If you haven't read Abercrombie, you should, because otherwise my practicals will be coming for you. Honest. I'll try to keep this short because if I were to talk about all the reasons why this is one of the best novels I've ever read, this review would be longer than the book. So I'll pick a few highlights out of the long, neverending list in my brain and be done with it. Bottom line is: you have to be realistic abut this thing, this is a fucking masterpiece that is the perfect capstone not only for this trilogy but everyhing that's happened in the First Law world so far. Dialogue. People talking as people talk, the dialogue supporting the worldbuilding and adding to the master's outstanding character construction - glorious, surpassing everyone else, yes, Scott Lynch, you've found your master. Prose. Character voice like noone else can do, dripping with excellence, feeling like all of these characters have a link to the reader's brain and whisper their thoughts in you ear, nonstop, boom, brilliant. Nobody in the genre has better prose than Joe Abercrombie. Nobody in contemporary fiction writes as intense, as visceral, as perfectly measured. There's not a fucking comma misplaced, not a fucking "fucking" wasted here, it's an art, wordsmithy at its best, read the fucking book already, why isn't this man the most popular writer of our time, why do I have to convince people to pick these up? Yes, there's plenty of violence, but trust me, the humour is what sets it apart. The dry, smart, biting cynism in every single conversation of the book. Setting: booooooom. He has nailed the industrial revolution, now he's nailed the French revolution. Purrfect - here, have a kitten. Progress versus tradition, greed versus ethics, magic versus science, and just one jealous piece of shit against the next one - it's epic in its scope, glorious in its... I'm running out of nouns to describe this outstading embodiment of brilliance. There's really no need to talk about Abercrombie's character work at this point. Even if you've never read one of his books, you must've heard that it's the best in the genre. Nobody writes them like he does, and there's no need for me to add to all the incoherent blathering of my other First Law reviews, only this: Bremer dan Gorst's character arc is the most beautiful thing in fiction, I've hated Leo dan Brock from day one, and I was right about Zuri. But Joe, must you tease us with the Bloody-Nine so much? Finally, the plot. Perfect execution: perfect promise, payoff, progress for every single character. Have another kitten. He brings it all together, both for the individual book and the trilogy as a whole, all the carefully hinted clues and red herrings, and while I saw most of them coming, there were still some surprises along the way. None of it is convenient, none of it doesn't make sense, none of it comes out of the way. So let me finish this ode to the master's peerless proficiency with an appeal to Her Majesty, the Queen: Please make your industry produce more Joe Abercombies, Ma'am. One is simply not enough, Britain has a duty to the rest of the world. ---- YouTube Review: https://youtu.be/Jp-3epuE7wc ---- Dialogue 6 Setting 5 Characters 6 Prose 6 Plot 5

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hamad

    Best Abercrombie books I ever read!!!

  13. 5 out of 5

    William Gwynne

    WHAT A MONTH SEPTEMBER IS GOING TO BE! I have binged every book in the First Law world in about a month, and now have to wait two weeks for The Wisdom of Crowds to be released. Would have been terrible to have to wait a year like most people. Cannot wait!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Eames

    I mean...I already thought Joe Abercrombie was one of the best fantasy writers of all time...and yeah, he just is. This series was phenomenal, and the narration is second-to-none.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    A cutting satire of political revolution with wonderfully dark humor and a grim mess of an outcome that will leave you wanting more. 'The Wisdom of Crowds' is Abercrombie's most political book to date - some of it subtle, some of it banged over your head with the flat of a blade before it guts you with sharp commentary. 'The Trouble with Peace' ended on the cusp of The Great Change, and I thought 'Wisdom' would take some time before the Change itself became the centerpiece to the story. But there A cutting satire of political revolution with wonderfully dark humor and a grim mess of an outcome that will leave you wanting more. 'The Wisdom of Crowds' is Abercrombie's most political book to date - some of it subtle, some of it banged over your head with the flat of a blade before it guts you with sharp commentary. 'The Trouble with Peace' ended on the cusp of The Great Change, and I thought 'Wisdom' would take some time before the Change itself became the centerpiece to the story. But there was no time wasted, as the big battle was gotten out of the way early. I was surprised to see a lengthy 'Little People' section (a consistent favorite of mine) occurred so early in chapter 2 when the narrative hopped around POVs during the madness of a battle. It was at that point in time when I realized that the book wasn't going to focus on the war itself, like his standalone, 'The Heroes,' but rather the aftermath of it, while attempting to answer the question on everyone's mind -- what now? And as expected, it all turns to shit. The Great Change is a change alright, but if you think it's for the better, then this must be your first rodeo. 'Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss,' rings true as new figures come into power, and the sadly laughable truth of hopeful democracy versus the greed of plutocracy comes to light. And with it, the horrific violence of an angry, repressed people who have decades of scores to settle. In the North, both Rikke and Black Calder are attempting to out-maneuver each other for full control of the North. Although I love Rikke as a character, I found this to be the weakest section of the book. The planning and execution of their battle strategies and war preparations felt like we’ve gone down these paths before. It’s all very well written, but plot-wise it didn’t feel that different from many other North battles we’ve read since The Blade Itself. There are tragic characters, such as Gunnar Broad and King Orso, who try to be good but cannot escape their cruel fates. There are characters who were heroes of days gone by that morph into despicable beings by book's end. There are long-simmering revelations, and loose ends that are tied. You will find that some people who should have learned the most will never learn. And there is an exciting passage toward the end of the story that leaves me thinking that the author has the bones of the next trilogy already in mind. Although Abercrombie's plot twists were a bit predictable this time around, 'Wisdom' easily stuck the landing of this dark, grim, political satire, rife with Shakespearean tragedies and sneaky gallows humor... … and they all lived happily ever after! 4.5 / 5

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    A bit disappointing in the sense that the pre-release hype of twists etc turned out to be quite predictable as whoever you expect to live and rule, lives and rules, whoever you expect to die, dies and of course, nothing in the big picture is settled as the finale - while ending conclusively this series pretty much as the original trilogy ended except with the next generation now in charge - shows that more books in the series are sure to follow with the next-next-generation now and maybe for onc A bit disappointing in the sense that the pre-release hype of twists etc turned out to be quite predictable as whoever you expect to live and rule, lives and rules, whoever you expect to die, dies and of course, nothing in the big picture is settled as the finale - while ending conclusively this series pretty much as the original trilogy ended except with the next generation now in charge - shows that more books in the series are sure to follow with the next-next-generation now and maybe for once there will be genuine twists; this being said, the prose, irony and dark humor was as expected and made the book enjoyable to a large extent but it also made it a repeat of the previous many similar books in the series and I think that the original Glotka-NineFingers-Jezal etc beats the cast here

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    "Equality never quite comes in equal shares." The Wisdom of Crowds is the showstopping finale in Joe Abercrombie's Age of Madness trilogy - a masterpiece of a trilogy full of chaos, revolution, masterful character arcs, brutal battles and iconic humour. This series has quickly become one of my all time favourites and safe to say it definitely stuck it's landing. The Wisdom of Crowds is heartbreaking, relentless and has some incredibly satisfying reveals and betrayals that make it clear the author "Equality never quite comes in equal shares." The Wisdom of Crowds is the showstopping finale in Joe Abercrombie's Age of Madness trilogy - a masterpiece of a trilogy full of chaos, revolution, masterful character arcs, brutal battles and iconic humour. This series has quickly become one of my all time favourites and safe to say it definitely stuck it's landing. The Wisdom of Crowds is heartbreaking, relentless and has some incredibly satisfying reveals and betrayals that make it clear the author knew exactly what he was doing with his vision for the trilogy. Everything culminates in a perfect storm of destruction and upheaval. This installment has some of my favourite scenes of all time, Joe Abercrombie always manages to make his battle scenes feel fresh and exciting; the twists and heartstopping moments will keep you on the edge of your seat. Since my favourite thing about this series has always been its characters (they are all such messy bitches and I love them for it), I thought I would start my review by breaking down my thoughts on each characters journey in this book: Savine I honestly think Savine is one of the greatest female characters of all time. Her complexity and nuance are unparalelled. She is ruthless, ambitious and cunning and I love her for all those qualities but in this book I really enjoyed getting to see her more vunerable side, especially in regards to motherhood. I was very satisfied with how her arc played out and where she ended up. I think Savine is an excellent character study in how we present ourselves to the world and how this influences our vision of ourselves and is relevant more than ever. Leo I could write an entire essay on Leo's character, he is another character that I think there is no-one quite like him in all of adult SFF. Having a messy queer character who is allowed to *seriously* fuck up is very refreshing. He has been through a LOT in this series, and probably changes the most throughout the course of this book - his arc is unexpected, tragic, poetic and at times very frustrating. I also think the paralells between Leo and Glokta are very interesting and wonder if this will be explored more in future first law books. Leo's relationship with Jurand is another one of my favourite things about the series, Leo's painful repression of his queerness is back in full force lol but I do think he is slowly getting there. (view spoiler)[ While they did not end up exactly where I wanted them to, I think it's pretty much invetiable they will become lovers given how things end so I am happy (ish) - provided Leo does not go full villain. (hide spoiler)] Orso Orso continues to be an absolute delight to follow and read about, he is charming, humourous and honestly way too good to be in the first law world. His relationship with Hildi and Tunny in this book was so precious and made me so emotional at times. His POV is often a much needed breath of fresh air it what can feel like a very oppressive book. Rikke Rikke is well and truly in her girlboss era in this book and her chapters (and the chapters in the North in general) were some of my favoruites in the whole series. I love her sense of humour and her dynamic with Isern and Shivers in particular. I also really like how through Rikke's story we explore the challenges women in positions of power can face (especially those historically occupied by men). She is constantly being underestimated and challenged at every turn but she twists it to her advantage. I also really liked the theme of trying to be better than the leaders of the past and not follow in their footsteps but forge her own path. Additionally the role of the Long Eye in this book was fascinating, and I think supported one of the overarcing themes of the whole of first law - that people just want someone to tell them what to do and seem like they know what they are doing. Vick Vick has massively grown on me throughout the series and I really loved her arc in this book. Through her we explore the ember of hope in a world that is full of cyncism, and how often it feels like everything that happens feels like it's for nothing but sometimes you just have to take a chance on something. I also think she is a very interesting example of how shifting loyalties can influence our choices and how important it is to have someone to care for you. I'm really hoping for a future Vick standalone because I think she has so much more potential to explore. Others Other characters also have important roles to play. Both Broad and Clover go through interesting arcs (although slightly predictable) and the reappearance of Bayaz and Glotka will leave you screaming. I really liked all the different parent/child relationships explored throughout the book - highlights being Leo/Finree (one of their scenes made me SOB) and Savine/Glokta (one of their scenes was so iconic, it may have been my favourite scene in all of first law). Joe Abercrombie's prose as always is a delight to read, I love his dark sense of humour, banter between characters, and extremely frank (and often hilariously crude) ways of describing things. The themes in the age of madness books are impeccable and this installment is no exception. We spend a large chunk of the book with the breakers and burners in charge of a new regime - the parallels with our real world history of certain communist revolutions that were often sabotaged by the greed of a select few make it incredibly impactful adn interesting to read. I think the dangers of populism and the so called 'peoples justice' are explored very well and in an incredibly nuanced way, with good and evil on both sides - in typical Abercrombie fashion there are many shades of grey. The horrors and devastation that humanity can inflict on itself are not shied away from and I think the fundamental lesson of this series is even in a world with magic and monsters, humanity is the real villain and history is all to often doomed to repeat itself. The last 150 pages of this book take a slightly different turn from the rest of the book and are absolutely INSANE - the betrayals, the revelations, the sabotage, the sheer chaos. It is an incredibly emotional ride and is clearly the work of an experienced author, making it one of the most satisfying conclusions to a trilogy I've ever read, whilst still teasing and leaving the door open for more to come in the world. The book doesn't really feel like an ending for this world or our charcaters and I can't wait to see what happens next in the first law world. Overall a conclusion you absolutely do not want to miss and if you are anything like me will devour in a couple of days, leaving you a hollow shell of who you used to be.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Top-Notch Fantasy “The Wisdom of Crowds” is the penultimate volume of Abercrombie’s Age of Madness trilogy, which is one of several interlinked trilogies forming the First Law world. Like all the books in this trilogy, it is a monumental achievement, an all-absorbing fantasy adventure, and a damn good read. What makes this book so fascinating to the reader is that Abercrombie strips his characters to their cores, taking away their titles, their fame, their riches, and reveals to us the flawed and Top-Notch Fantasy “The Wisdom of Crowds” is the penultimate volume of Abercrombie’s Age of Madness trilogy, which is one of several interlinked trilogies forming the First Law world. Like all the books in this trilogy, it is a monumental achievement, an all-absorbing fantasy adventure, and a damn good read. What makes this book so fascinating to the reader is that Abercrombie strips his characters to their cores, taking away their titles, their fame, their riches, and reveals to us the flawed and desperate beings they are beneath their masks. It’s all well when you are riding high, having been dealt the winning hand, but in this world, no one can count on being on top for very long. Kings find themselves overthrown, usurped, rioted against. One leader defeats the last and so on and so forth. Each unconquerable monster eventually goes back to the mud in the face of the Great Leveller. And, it’s quite eye-opening for the characters to find themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum. A mighty warrior becomes a cripple. A princess becomes a prisoner. Every sword is pointed at someone’s back and, for some, it becomes a guessing game of how to choose the winning side. Even those who ascend to the mighty thrones find that they cannot do as they would and that perhaps they were more free wandering penniless and friendless. The action here takes place on two separate fronts. In Adua, the center of civilization, a type of Marxist revolution takes place complete with informers and secret police and a populace so in terror that everyone is willing to inform on anyone just to save their own skins. Meet the new boss, perhaps even worse then the old boss. With Half the city razed in fits of out of control madness, the old monarchy, despite its inquisition, suddenly doesn’t look half bad. This is a world of shifting alliances and trust and mistrust. Savine and Lord Brock are at the center of this maelstrom, but other characters such as Vick and Pike make important appearances. Not to be forgotten is the savage North where Tricky Rikke with the Long Eye sit in the Skarling chair, mistress of the north, but the question is how long will she hold power. Each hero who has proclaimed themselves Lord of the North sat in that same chair only to be cast down by the next hungrier Lord of the North. Jut as in the South, power has a way of changing hands here. People are fickle and always looking to ally with the next winner, leaving the losers behind. Bloody, angry, shocking, and filled with unending gallows humor, this novel is realistic fantasy filled with real authentic people who never know who to trust or who is going to betray them next. Decisions are tough and life is filled with mistakes and regrets. A novel so good that when you finish it you just want to start reading it again.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cassidee Lanstra

    “‘Thought we were meant to be free!’ he whined, a string of drool hanging from his lip. ‘Turns out liberty needs boundaries.’” Here we are, at the stunning conclusion of The Age of Madness trilogy. This trilogy absolutely solidified Abercrombie in my top five favorite authors of all time. It is some of my favorite work. I often call myself a book masochist; as much as I despair at my favorite characters being put THROUGH it, I greedily inhale more. A good author can make the emotional pain hurt so “‘Thought we were meant to be free!’ he whined, a string of drool hanging from his lip. ‘Turns out liberty needs boundaries.’” Here we are, at the stunning conclusion of The Age of Madness trilogy. This trilogy absolutely solidified Abercrombie in my top five favorite authors of all time. It is some of my favorite work. I often call myself a book masochist; as much as I despair at my favorite characters being put THROUGH it, I greedily inhale more. A good author can make the emotional pain hurt so good! Being an Abercrombie fan takes book masochism to a new level. It’s like being in an endless boxing match and eagerly getting up for another punch to the face. Or rather, it’s like being in one of Abercrombie’s infamous Circles, knowing that you’re going to end it with a sword to the heart, but letting the adrenaline carry you to the end. The Wisdom of Crowds started off at such a heightened state of terror that it caused my neck to prickle with anxiety from the beginning. This novel takes off at breakneck speed and does not let up. It might be one of the most brutal Abercrombie books I’ve read. Honestly, this whole trilogy took off into a level of brutality that is a completely new flavor than the previous novels. That’s saying something— Abercrombie is well known for his unbridled savagery in his writing. It was chaotic, messy, heartbreaking, and a hell of a ride. There are some moments that we see coming, because we know that Joe isn’t going to spare our hearts, but they are always expertly done. “‘He was dragged up again by the elbow. A strange gang. Like the people you might see at one of the cheap markets. Only furious. And [redacted] realised that ordinary people can be utterly terrifying.’” The aspect of the common people rioting and starting a revolution was a very natural progression throughout his First Law world. It has been a long time coming, but that doesn’t mean I worried over some of our characters any less. I have grown fond of some of these extremely flawed people. I maintain that Orso is one of the best characters that Abercrombie has written, and I mean that in the most literal sense. Orso has an insight to himself that is needed by a leader and also actually cares about the people he’s supposed to be ruling over. I’ve said it before, but if Orso had been allowed to rule the way he wanted to at the beginning, a lot of the destruction could have been avoided. This is Abercrombie’s world though, and there are reasons why that couldn’t happen. Also, I truly LIKE Orso. He’s witty and is constantly making me laugh. He’s much braver than he seems on the surface. I really enjoy a lot of First Law Characters and count them along my favorites; the Bloody Nine, Glokta, Savine, and Shivers, to name a few. We know that they are morally grey, though. Orso is actually endearing and almost uncorrupted—just so dang likable! This is a miracle in this world. Per usual, Abercrombie treats us to the duality of humanity; good people turn cruel, and cruel people become the saviors. The Wisdom of Crowds is a timely installment, at a point in our world where people around the globe are demanding more of the powerful people leading. Voices are being heard, insightful and ignorant alike. The common people of Abercrombie’s world are realizing how effective they can be as a cohesive unit, as well. It’s also timely in its observation of the limitations of freedom. There’s a certain level of belief in unbridled personal freedom that leads to foolishness. With this Great Change ushered in by the people, along comes gross miscalculations, destruction, and the sacrifice of innocents. Abercrombie makes us wonder: can we ever truly do something for the greater good without causing harm? At what point do we choose remaining stagnant as a society versus accepting the alarming costs of a revolution? Is there a leader out there capable of carrying out their good intentions without abusing their power or marginalizing others? Why do we succumb to the mentality of the mob? And finally, just because the voice of the ‘Crowd’ rises to the top, does that always mean they are right or know best? Ah, but that’s what I love about Abercrombie. He writes these gloriously merciless novels that are simultaneously bursting with wisdom and a sardonic view of humanity’s ability to NEVER learn from the past. I could have quoted no less than twenty highlighted moments from my kindle version that were so eloquently put and deserved to be heard, but that would have been overkill. He writes about the dangers of leaderships and the dangers of anarchy. He writes bone-chilling moments of people savagely fighting for their life; these fantastic portrayals of blood and death that are enough to make us squeamish with their honesty. Good people die, bad people live. Sometimes people get their revenge, other times they are at the mercy of another’s revenge plot. Sometimes the free people really want to be told what to do (albeit, nicely). The wheel of power keeps shifting. And as always, that damn Bayaz hangs on like a cockroach in an apocalypse. “‘The voice of the people… is just noise. It is the blather of the lunatics in the madhouse. It is the squeal of the pigs in the slaughterhouse. it is a choir of morons. Most of them don’t even know what they want, let alone how to get it. They need someone to tell them what to do.’” All hail Lord Grimdark! I’ll be anxiously waiting in the Circle for the next knife to the heart. Thank you to Angela and Orbit books for graciously sending me a gifted finished copy of The Wisdom of Crowds. It will undoubtably rank as one of my favorite books this year, if not my favorite of all. You can grab a copy of this novel on September 14th, 2021. The Broken Binding and FanFiAddict (where I blog) are partnered, so you can get 5% off when ordering from them using the code FanFi at check out. At the time of this post, they have The Wisdom of Crowds.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Luke Scull

    My thirteenth Joe Abercrombie book - unlucky for none save perhaps the projects I've neglected while racing through this 500-page tome. The Trouble With Peace was merely very good after the stunning A Little Hatred. I'm delighted to say The Wisdom of Crowds closes out this trilogy in every bit the masterful style with which the first book opened it. This is a rollercoaster of a story that enthrals, shocks, and occasionally even saddens. It takes a masterful storyteller to craft a book that takes My thirteenth Joe Abercrombie book - unlucky for none save perhaps the projects I've neglected while racing through this 500-page tome. The Trouble With Peace was merely very good after the stunning A Little Hatred. I'm delighted to say The Wisdom of Crowds closes out this trilogy in every bit the masterful style with which the first book opened it. This is a rollercoaster of a story that enthrals, shocks, and occasionally even saddens. It takes a masterful storyteller to craft a book that takes the reader in unexpected directions while feeling authentic. Looking at the trilogy as a whole, it's a work of vision by someone who knew exactly what he was doing from beginning to end. It's a showcase of big, ambitious ideas, carefully teased out moment to moment and expertly weaved into a gripping narrative by a virtuoso. It's not absolutely perfect - one character never seemed to get the comeuppance he deserved, one other underwent a rather rapid (though understandable) shift in outlook - but these are very small crinkles in an otherwise magnificent tapestry. Finally, I was thrilled to see the meta story of Bayaz's machinations moving forward, including one major revelation that brought a big grin to my face and put paid to one of my lingering concerns about the worldbuilding in spectacular fashion. Oh, and the ending seems to suggest we haven't seen the last of the world of the First Law...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz

    3.5/5 The age of wizards is over. An age of reason has dawned. Or has it? Abercrombie excels at characterization and dialogue, and in Wisdom of Crowds, he outdid himself. It has plenty of memorable and quotable lines. He puts his characters through hell. Some of them survive, some don't. Just don't get too attached to anyone. I have a few quibbles with the story, but it's a fitting conclusion to the Age of Madness series. Perhaps too repetitive for my taste, though. I may write a longer review but 3.5/5 The age of wizards is over. An age of reason has dawned. Or has it? Abercrombie excels at characterization and dialogue, and in Wisdom of Crowds, he outdid himself. It has plenty of memorable and quotable lines. He puts his characters through hell. Some of them survive, some don't. Just don't get too attached to anyone. I have a few quibbles with the story, but it's a fitting conclusion to the Age of Madness series. Perhaps too repetitive for my taste, though. I may write a longer review but no promises.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fares

    It's over. I really have read all the books in this series, now what am I supposed to do with my life?! This was great apart from the slow and predictable second part which almost cost it a couple of stars from me. Good thing tho is things picked up in the end and I loved it. -------------------------------------- The year long BR will come to an end with this one Buddy read with She fought 11 duels in the circle and won them all! It's over. I really have read all the books in this series, now what am I supposed to do with my life?! This was great apart from the slow and predictable second part which almost cost it a couple of stars from me. Good thing tho is things picked up in the end and I loved it. -------------------------------------- The year long BR will come to an end with this one Buddy read with She fought 11 duels in the circle and won them all!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Juliano Dutra

    Still the best prose in Fantasy, but... I never thought I'd say that from an Abercrombie book: A little bit boring and predictable - especially the plot of The North. The humor - always a great point - seemed recycled from other books and repetitive in the themes... Thinking about the books of the First Law World, i think his masterpieces are the standalone Trilogy: those books are gold!!!! Still the best prose in Fantasy, but... I never thought I'd say that from an Abercrombie book: A little bit boring and predictable - especially the plot of The North. The humor - always a great point - seemed recycled from other books and repetitive in the themes... Thinking about the books of the First Law World, i think his masterpieces are the standalone Trilogy: those books are gold!!!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jake Bishop

    I like the way everyone decides that friendship is the greatest force in the universe, and then they all live happily ever after, with no possibility of hardship or suffering in the future 9.2/10 favorite First Law book

  25. 5 out of 5

    Twerking To Beethoven

    How could any fantasy author out there write something better than this? Honestly, how? I mean, I reckon it's all a matter of personal taste, give you that, but to those who've gone through the whole "Age of Madness" series, were you expecting THAT ending? Me? I didn't see what was coming, not one bit. All I'm saying is this book was a solid four star read until the "trial". From there on, it just eradicated everything, disintegrated all my assumptions. Ah shit...I'm this close to spoiling every How could any fantasy author out there write something better than this? Honestly, how? I mean, I reckon it's all a matter of personal taste, give you that, but to those who've gone through the whole "Age of Madness" series, were you expecting THAT ending? Me? I didn't see what was coming, not one bit. All I'm saying is this book was a solid four star read until the "trial". From there on, it just eradicated everything, disintegrated all my assumptions. Ah shit...I'm this close to spoiling everything, my fingers are literally itching. Joe Abercrombie, you bastards! I'm floored. Five shining, magnificent stars.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Library of a Viking

    Arguably the best series I have read in 2021! Reading The Age of Madness trilogy has been an eye-opening experience for me. While I enjoyed The First Law Trilogy and Best Served Cold, those books didn't blow me away. I was hoping that The Age of Madness would finally make me fall in love with Abercrombie's writing! I am pleased to say that this trilogy is the best series I have read in 2021 and will become one of my all-time favourite series ever! Reading The Wisdom of Crowds was an exhilarating e Arguably the best series I have read in 2021! Reading The Age of Madness trilogy has been an eye-opening experience for me. While I enjoyed The First Law Trilogy and Best Served Cold, those books didn't blow me away. I was hoping that The Age of Madness would finally make me fall in love with Abercrombie's writing! I am pleased to say that this trilogy is the best series I have read in 2021 and will become one of my all-time favourite series ever! Reading The Wisdom of Crowds was an exhilarating experience! Each chapter was intense, humourous and chaotic! The plot derails into absolute madness from the first chapter! There is so much scheming, chaos and destruction going on in this book. The plot is so unpredictable! It is remarkable how well Abercrombie is at creating these complex stories while simultaneously making it easy to follow what is going on. Moreover, The Age of Madness Trilogy captures a wide range of themes, such as leadership, betrayal, progress, corruption and human nature. This trilogy has made me think deeply about human nature and the complexity of decision-making. Abercrombie's displays his best writing to date in The Wisdom of Crowds – bravo! The characters in this trilogy have become some of my favourite fantasy characters ever! Savine, Leo, Rikke and Vick (just to mention a few) are cunning, relatable, flawed and fascinating characters! These are some of the best-written characters that I have ever come across! Abercrombie masterfully displays how flawed human beings are and how difficult it is for people to change their ways. I can't emphasise how real these characters feel to me! The final act of Wisdom of Crowds is fantastic! It is shocking, heartbreaking and mad! Moreover, Abercrombie takes his time analysing the effects of the climax in this book! The reader gets insight into what happened after the climax is resolved! The Wisdom of Crowds is some of Abercrombie's best work to date! The First Law universe should be seen as one of the greatest fantasy worlds to be created, and Abercrombie should be acknowledged as one of the best fantasy authors. The characterisation, the themes and the stories set in this world are next-level! It makes me a bit sad to hear that Abercrombie will start a new project now. I am confident that his next project will be just as good, or better, than The First Law universe. Hopefully, Abercrombie returns to this universe someday! Some thoughts on the audiobook I was fortunate enough to receive both a physical copy and an audio arc from the publisher! I read the book's first half in physical form and then switched over the audio for the second half! I have listened to Best Served Cold, A Little Hatred, and The Trouble with Peace, and Steven Pacey has become one of my favourite narrators. It just feels like Pacey understand exactly what Abercrombie is trying to convey in his stories. The different voices and accents are handled masterfully, and the narration is very clear! I would honestly argue that listening to the audiobooks might be superior to reading the First Law books since the narration is so good! If you are debating which format to pick up, then I can highly recommend the audiobooks! 5 / 5

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andris

    Džo Aberkrombijs pasniedz meistarklasi savas daiļrades cienītājiem. Šoreiz ne tikai saviem varoņiem, bet arī lasītājiem viņš iebaksta ar pirkstu acī - uzmanies, ko vēlies, jo tas var arī piepildīties. -------- Hail to the Lord Grimdark! Probably the most unsatisfyingly satisfying ending of the series I have ever read. Surely Abercrombie is genius, but damn if it wasn't too happy of an ending for my tastes. I know, it's his ninth book, shame on me, but DAMN! Džo Aberkrombijs pasniedz meistarklasi savas daiļrades cienītājiem. Šoreiz ne tikai saviem varoņiem, bet arī lasītājiem viņš iebaksta ar pirkstu acī - uzmanies, ko vēlies, jo tas var arī piepildīties. -------- Hail to the Lord Grimdark! Probably the most unsatisfyingly satisfying ending of the series I have ever read. Surely Abercrombie is genius, but damn if it wasn't too happy of an ending for my tastes. I know, it's his ninth book, shame on me, but DAMN!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Veenaa Aiyer

    I'm not okay. I'm not okay.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Adam Whitehead

    King Orso has won an unlikely military victory over a rebel army led by the popular Leo dan Brock. Leo is badly wounded, his life spared only by the king's mercy (and love for Leo's wife, Savine dan Glokta). But Midderland, the heart of the Union, is in open rebellion. Revolutionary fervour has swept the island and the Great Change is underway. Fortunes rise and fall rapidly and the fate of nations will be decided by the wisdom of the crowds. The Wisdom of Crowds concludes the Age of Madness tril King Orso has won an unlikely military victory over a rebel army led by the popular Leo dan Brock. Leo is badly wounded, his life spared only by the king's mercy (and love for Leo's wife, Savine dan Glokta). But Midderland, the heart of the Union, is in open rebellion. Revolutionary fervour has swept the island and the Great Change is underway. Fortunes rise and fall rapidly and the fate of nations will be decided by the wisdom of the crowds. The Wisdom of Crowds concludes the Age of Madness trilogy, Joe Abercrombie's latest work in his First Law world. This trilogy has been a remarkable success, Abercrombie doing what he does best - cynical humour, bone-crunching action and enjoyably knotty plotting - and adding a dash of satirical intrigue. The Wisdom of Crowds goes full revolution on us, and anyone who's never studied the history of the French and Russian revolutions will be aware of how difficult it is to comprehend why a superficially well-ordered, law-abiding society will suddenly collapse into anarchy. Abercrombie used the first two novels in the series to lay the groundwork for the civil strife within the Union, which the victories in the first two novels only vaguely papered over, and here it explodes with full force. We get to see kangaroo courts, horrific crimes being justified by "the will of the people," and the walking-through-broken-glass maneuverings required by those who worked with the old order but are too useful for the new one to throw away. It's an unusual place for fantasy to go, but it mostly works well, even if the misery inflicted on specific characters and the Union in general feels like it might be a bit over-egged in the mid-running of the book. The situation in the Union is broken up by a major subplot in the North, where Rikke has taken the throne in Carleon but her rule is shaky. Enemies are marching on the city, and Rikke's inability to charm and win people over sees her losing her allies just when she needs them. The North may feel like the most cyclical part of the First Law world - we've seen battles and conflicts up there repeatedly in the original trilogy, The Heroes and in this new trilogy - but Abercrombie is still able to make the politics and conflicts interesting, even if certain plot twists can be seen from a mile off. As usual, Abercrombie's work is rooted in characterisation. The Age of Madness has probably his most complex and nuanced cast of characters to date, with it being possible to both hate and admire the likes of Savine, Leo and Orso, often in the same chapter. They are desperately flawed people who are trying to do what they feel is right, sometimes getting it right and sometimes making an apocalyptic excrement-sandwich of it, and are never less than interesting. This works better for some characters than others: the big three and Vic are very-well handled, but Broad's character development feels a bit limited and even somewhat contrived, as if he's a plot point a little too obviously being set up to do one particular thing in the finale. In addition, the character of Judge altogether lacks the rich depth we expect of Abercrombie antagonists, and comes across as just a psycho for the sake of it, which is disappointing. The ending of the book is outstanding, though, being as gloriously messy as ever, with winners and losers and those winners and losers not necessarily being the ones you expect. There are some terrific reveals and terrifying reversals, and a lot of plot guns that have been set up over not just this trilogy but the preceding stand-alone novels being fired in a satisfying manner. The only big downside from the ending is that there is a bit too much setup work being down for more books in the First Law world (and, indeed, Abercrombie has indicated another trilogy is likely, possibly with more stand-alones first). We even get a last-chapter prophecy which feels like a trailer for what comes next. With Abercrombie off to a fresh world for his next project, The Devils, it may be a while before we get back to this world. Reading like the demented literary love-child of Terry Pratchett and David Gemmell, The Wisdom of Crowds (****½) rounds off this trilogy in style.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Grimdark fantasy returns with a passion. A passion of stupidity, madness, and blood. This caps the latest trilogy by Abercrombie, continuing the legacy of this bloody land, driving what should have been a time of peace and prosperity down into the mud until we get a novel that's quite the equivalent of the French Revolution. Mob rule, high idealism turned into a mad bloodbath ruled by the angry and the virtue-signaling insane, frankly stupid, and reality-denying dog-whistlers. In other words, the W Grimdark fantasy returns with a passion. A passion of stupidity, madness, and blood. This caps the latest trilogy by Abercrombie, continuing the legacy of this bloody land, driving what should have been a time of peace and prosperity down into the mud until we get a novel that's quite the equivalent of the French Revolution. Mob rule, high idealism turned into a mad bloodbath ruled by the angry and the virtue-signaling insane, frankly stupid, and reality-denying dog-whistlers. In other words, the Wisdom of Crowds. And no, we're not seeing ANY correlations with our own world. Nope. Not here. Definitely not. Fortunately, I also thought this was one hell of a fun, dark ride. I felt sorry for some of my favorite characters in this last cycle, was surprised to see how much everything had changed, and even enjoyed the return of some old characters from the very first trilogy. Well, here's to hoping there will be at least a LITTLE stability from here on out.

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