Now that we’re all refreshed with where our characters left off in part one, time for some reckless speculation. All of this is pure conjecture. These predictions were written before I received the advance reader copy. These ideas of where I think the story is going have rattled around in my brain since The Trouble with Peace ended.
First of all, the big question: Bayaz, the First of the Magi, owner of the banking house of Valint and Bulk, the real power behind the Union who has been controlling and manipulating their royalty and government since its inception by any means necessary, will not see his downfall, but he will take a bit hit. It won’t be just because of one thing, but multiple factors that have built up. Though Savine seems to have learned how she treats people that work for her is wrong in Trouble with Peace, she has not entirely let go of her ambitions. She is going to kill two birds with one stone. After the failed rebellion with her husband, Leo dan Brock, she will side with the Breakers and the Burners to take over the Union. Savine is cunning; she knows when to make a deal when she sees one. She’ll get to be in charge, and she’ll compromise by giving the better labor laws the disgruntled industrial workers that formed the Breakers have wanted.
How can she accomplish this? Because it is not Arch Lector Pike who is the Weaver, the leader of the combined Breakers and Burners, but the former Arch Lector of the Inquisition, Sand dan Glokta, the man she believed was her father her entire life until recently. He has repeatedly told Savine to stay away from Bayaz and not to make any deals with Valint and Bulk under any circumstances. For a character that was integral to the original trilogy to fade into the background as he did when he retired in The Trouble with Peace, well, it’s not that is unheard of by Joe Abercrombie as Logan Ninefingers and Ferro Maljin all but rode off into the sunset at different parts of the series. Still, it doesn’t seem like him to repeat this story beat. I don’t think Sand dan Glokta particularly cares about labor rights too much. Still, he sees Bayaz’s true nature and wants to deliver a blow that could help get Bayaz out of the Union in the future, as the wizard still has his hands into too much of the Union to cut the fat off entirely.
This brings us to something I noticed on rereading the first two books that others have pointed out. Zuri, Savine’s assistant, is constantly quoting her scripture teacher. She has brothers that look nothing alike. In The Trouble with Peace, Savine notices Zuri is covered in bandages underneath her dress. Savine thinks this is due to injury, but I think it is because she is Ishri, the Eater who derives their magical power by eating human flesh, who advised Black Dow and Joe Abercrombie’s previous book The Heroes. I think it likely Glokta chose her on purpose, and in fact, Zuri has a specific purpose: take out the eyes of and ears of Bayaz, the Eater known as Yoru Sulfur. Sulfur can change his shape, except for his two different colored eyes, to spy for Bayaz, so taking him out would be a big blow to Bayaz’s machinations.
What of Savine’s husband Leo dan Brock, the former hero known as the Young Lion? I’m hoping he finally realizes his feelings for his best friend Jurand and gets over his homophobia, ethnocentrism, and prejudice but seeing as how this is an Abercrombie book, I very much doubt it. So instead, he’ll likely get what he’s always wanted: his ignorant idea of what it means to be a hero. Now that he’s a citizen and no longer a lord of anything, like Savine, he’ll side with the workers against the government, lead a battle, feel as if he’s doing the right thing, and serve as the right hand to Savine in power without really learning any lessons at all.
What will this mean for the current King Orso dan Luthar? Well, just like his dad, Jezal dan Luthar, the moment he becomes the most sympathetic is when everything starts going wrong. By sparing Leo at the end of the second book, he may have sealed his fate. My prediction boils down to “he’s royally fucked.” Once the shit hits the fans with the Inquisition, the Breakers, and the Burners all turning against the powers in government that Bayaz has placed there, the First of the Magi is going to feed Orso to the wolves. News of Savine being Orso’s half-sister will probably get out somehow, and the King of the Union will either end up dead defending a government he knows is entirely corrupt or in exile to Styria, where his mother and sister live. His friends and hangers-on, Forest, Tunny, Yolk, and Hildi, will likely die tragically, making Orso’s fall even more heartbreaking. Orso’s story will be a tragedy, the most self-aware character of how little power he has as a king and how badly his government does to help anyone will likely take all the blame for the problems Bayaz created.
Rikke, on the other hand, I believe, is going to come out smelling like roses when all this is over but at the cost of becoming a much more vicious person than her late father, the Dogman, would want. With her use of the Long Eye that allows her to see the future, she will out-clever the cunning Black Calder, who will seek his revenge on Rikke and her Warband for killing his son in the previous book. As a result, Calder will likely die, ending the line of Bethod, the first King of the North, for good. Rikke, daughter of one of the most beloved characters in the series, will accomplish what Bethod, Logen Ninefingers, Black Dow, Scale Ironhand, and Stour Nightfall could not, uniting all of the North. All it will cost her is making her heart a stone, which will go against her father’s memory.
I can see two endings for Gunnar Broad or Jonas Clover, similar yet widely different characters. One will go completely feral, Gunnar either embracing the rage he has been holding back for the sake of his family or Jonas Clover, having chosen Rikke’s side, will become more like the Jonas Steepfield he was before and let loose as a Named Man, a famous warrior in the North. On the other hand, Clover may quit being a warrior entirely, leaving the North due to finally sick of the war and bloodshed seeing the absurdity of it, or Broad will get a quick release of his rage, realizes his priorities, and retire with his family instead of embracing the berserker within. It could go either way for them, but one will get the sunset ending and the other the fighting to his last breath.
Vick dan Teuffel is the most challenging character to predict what will happen. Victarine has reiterated her loyalty to Glokta and the Inquisition repeatedly, but survival, no matter whose side she has to choose, has always been on her mind. If Glokta is indeed revealed as the real Weaver, is her loyalty to the Union or Glokta? I can see Vick likely to be put into a situation where she has to choose what will allow her to survive, as she always has, or save Tallow, the young man Vick sees as representing the brother she left to die. What choice she’ll make will be hard to say. For Vick, the offer to leave the Union behind and work for Styria from Shylo Vitari and Casamir dan Shenkt may still be on the table. Perhaps if Tallow dies, she’ll leave the Union behind. Sometimes Abercrombie characters choose to walk down a dark path and never step off it, while others turn just in the nick of time. Vick may finally forgive herself for ratting out her brother to survive in the labor camps only to repeat the same actions with Tallow.
However it goes, I’m looking forward to the emotional journey. Unfortunately, the author has only vaguely committed to three more stand-alone books and another main trilogy in interviews. His next project has nothing to do with the Circle of the World. So just for now, we say goodbye to this world with The Wisdom of Crowds. How it ends, we’ll see.
See my review for the first book, A Little Hatred.
See my review for the second book, The Trouble with Peace.
Joshua was provided an advance copy of the book by Orbit books.
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Follow Joshua MacDougall @FourofFiveWits on Twitter.