Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy. I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them. In this latest Waiting on Wednesday article I take a look at the epic upcoming conclusion to legendary author Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness trilogy, The Wisdom of Crowds.
Cards on the table: I already know that The Wisdom of Crowds is going to be an extremely impressive and intense five-star read, and I have already prepared a place for it on my top reads of 2021 list. While some may think this could be a bit of a rash decision, I think that anyone who is familiar with Joe Abercrombie and his outstanding contributions to fantasy fiction will soundly agree with my decision and are probably sharing my overwhelming excitement that his next book will be here in a few short months.
Joe Abercrombie is a talented and exceptional author who has been the measuring stick of the dark fantasy/grimdark fantasy subgenres ever since he burst onto the scene with his amazing 2006 debut, The Blade Itself. The Blade Itself was the first entry in the extended The First Law series of novels, which follow an eclectic group of damaged characters as they attempt to survive the schemes and bloody wars of a dark and uncaring fantasy world. The First Law series has so far featured eight separate novels, as well as a good collection of short stories, and all of them have been amazing and captivating fantasy reads. I have been a major fan of the author ever since I read the first few pages of The Blade Itself, thanks to its entertaining and brutal writing style, as well as its great characters. I have been particularly getting into his latest entries into this overarching series, The Age of Madness trilogy.
The Age of Madness trilogy is set over 20 years after the events of the original First Law trilogy and follows the children and younger associates of the original protagonists as they deal with the sins of their parents. Containing all of Abercrombie’s outstanding writing style, a great collection of new damaged characters and an intriguing backdrop of industrialisation and revolution, The Age of Madness trilogy has featured some exceptional reads, including the first book, A Little Hatred, and last year’s sequel, The Trouble With Peace. Both of these books have been absolutely incredible, and I consider both of them be amongst the best books I read in 2019 and 2020 respectfully (The Trouble With Peace was also one of the best audiobooks I listened to in 2020).
Due to how epic this fantastic trilogy has so far been, I have been really excited to check out the final book and I was very happy when all the details, including the above cover, came out. The Wisdom of Crowds is currently set for release on 16 September 2021, and is easily one of the books I am most looking forward to for the next half of the year. The Wisdom of Crowds looks set to continue right after the violent revolution that occurred in the closing moments of The Trouble With Peace once the identity of the secretive revolutionary, the Weaver, was revealed, and it will be interesting to see what is happening in the final chapter of this trilogy.
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…
I really like the sound of this cool synopsis; this upcoming novel is going to be pretty damn awesome. From what is featured above, it looks like the entirety of the Union is going to be overwhelmed by revolution and all the various characters are going to have to deal with the consequences of the Weaver’s bloody plan. I am deeply intrigued to see how each of the impressive character arcs introduced in the previous novels in the series conclude. It is going to be particularly interesting to see how Orso, the soon-to-be deposed king, will deal with everything, especially as its going to be a major comedown from his impressive arc in The Trouble With Peace. It is interesting to see that Brock is going to be a major feature in this novel after his literally crippling defeat in the previous novel, and Savine, the ultimate opportunist and survivor, is going to have to deal with once again being in control of the revolutionaries who have traumatised her so severely in the past.
I am also very intrigued to see how characters like Vick dan Teufel and Gunnar Broad survive in this new version of the Union. Vick, a spy and clever Inquisitor, is probably going to find her loyalties extremely tested in this book, although she will probably end up being a major part of its conclusion. Gunnar Broad, the dangerous soldier and former revolutionary is probably going to be the most conflicted character in the entire novel, especially as he will likely be called up to do violence for the Breakers and the Burners, despite his efforts to avoid all of that.
The story in the North should also prove to be quite interesting. Rikke’s great arc surrounding her battle to claim the constantly warring North was really good in the previous book, especially as she was able to outsmart one of her most dangerous enemies. I look forward to seeing how her war continues and I will be intrigued to see how it combines with the story set in the Union. I am also curious about how Abercrombie will wrap up her abilities surrounding her magical Long Eye, as that has proven to be a complex and compelling storyline in the past. The other character situated in the North who I want to see more of is Jonas Clover, the wily old veteran who is easily my favourite person in this entire trilogy. Clover has had some amazing appearances in the previous two novels, and I really loved the great twist at the end of The Trouble With Peace. It will be fun to see him teaming up with Rikke in this final novel and it should lead to some very entertaining moments.
As you can see, I am exceedingly invested in all the above characters, mainly because Abercrombie has done such a fantastic job setting them up and turning them into such compelling people. You have to know that some of them are going to die in this final novel (Abercrombie is cruel like that), and I have no doubt I will be both saddened and surprised with where everyone ends up. I am also curious about whether some of the remaining characters from the original First Law trilogy will show up again. Abercrombie has been progressively killing off or retiring several of them in the previous The Age of Madness books, but this upcoming third novel seems like the perfect opportunity to bring some of the remaining ones back. I have a strong feeling that Bayaz, the kindly old mage who is really the murderous shadow ruler of the Union, will return to reclaim his influence and power, and any storylines surrounding him are guaranteed to be compelling and clever.
Based on the synopsis and the continuing character arcs from the previous entries in this series, I am exceedingly excited to get my hands on The Wisdom of Crowds. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this final entry in The Age of Madness is going to pure, dark fantasy awesomeness that I will enjoy immensely. I look forward to giving this book a five-star rating in the near-future and I cannot wait to see all the madness and bloodshed that is to come.