‘Tis blog tour time again! The Wisdom of Crowds is the final book in Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness series, an epic Grimdark trilogy featuring revolution, betrayal and politicking. I’ve reviewed book two, The Trouble With Peace here, and was part of the readalong for the series in the leadup to the publication for this last volume (you can find my chunk of book one, A Little Hatred, here). So I was of course thrilled when Gollancz asked me to be part of the propaganda machine for this final installment and see what Leo, Savine, Rikke and co were up to. And don’t the three hardbacks look great together?!
Many thanks to Will O’Mullane and Gollancz for the review copy. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 14/09/2021
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: 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… (from Gollancz)
OPINIONS: Whelp, that was ending to a series, yes. I don’t think I’ve read a full series quite as grim as this one in a while! I’m actually surprised at the amount of characters that ended up making it to the finish line mostly intact, bodily or in regards to their dignity. I loved the amount of focus the book laid on Savine – she is my favourite bitch – such a complex character and one who gives zero fucks for what anyone else might want. She is ambitious and determined and will make this work her way. Just like the first two books, expect The Wisdom of Crowds to be fast-paced, action-packed and full of betrayal. The story definitely does not take any prisoners and will not go where you expect it to head.
Consider this setting as similar to the eighteenth century. So still quite rustic in many ways – there are first instances of large-scale technology but still wars are fought largely by men running at each other with swords. Communication is slow, which means machinations need to be carefully planned and betrayal lays rife. And of course the setting is ideal for the spark of revolution to catch on quickly. This is really the big arc of these books. The seed of revolution to the aftermath. And all the steps in between, all the different layers of society affected by the changes brought about, the ones driving change, the ones swept up in it and the ones who suffer when people more important than them decide to change things.
Joe Abercrombie does really well to zoom in and out of focus in his work – he doesn’t just show the perspective of one or two characters or one layer of society. Where his work really stands out is in sweeping scenes showing the impact of larger events on a whole city, a whole camp. This gives the story a really plastic character beyond just the machinations of a few elite members of society, which I really appreciate. The Wisdom of Crowds is a very good conclusion to the series set up in A Little Hatred and The Trouble With Peace. If you’re not opposed to Grimdark and you like your fantasy on the grittier end of things, I do recommend you give this trilogy a shot.