The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie (The Age of Madness: Book 3)

9/10 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!

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1 positive reader review(s) in total for the The Age of Madness series

Our interview with Joe Abercrombie

In 2002 Joe Abercrombie began the writing of a fantasy trilogy based around the adventures of Logan Ninefingers. The First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings) has since been publi [...]

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Joe Abercrombie's The Age of Madness series

A Little Hatred

The Age of Madness: Book 1

The Trouble with Peace

The Age of Madness: Book 2

The Wisdom of Crowds

The Age of Madness: Book 3

The Wisdom of Crowds reader reviews

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