Other Sellers on Amazon
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.
Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing "Send link," you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message & data rates may apply.
Before They Are Hanged (The First Law Trilogy, 2) Paperback – September 8, 2015
Enhance your purchase
Superior Glokta has a problem. How do you defend a city surrounded by enemies and riddled with traitors, when your allies can by no means be trusted, and your predecessor vanished without a trace? It's enough to make a torturer want to run -- if he could even walk without a stick.
Northmen have spilled over the border of Angland and are spreading fire and death across the frozen country. Crown Prince Ladisla is poised to drive them back and win undying glory. There is only one problem -- he commands the worst-armed, worst-trained, worst-led army in the world.
And Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a party of bold adventurers on a perilous mission through the ruins of the past. The most hated woman in the South, the most feared man in the North, and the most selfish boy in the Union make a strange alliance, but a deadly one. They might even stand a chance of saving mankind from the Eaters -- if they didn't hate each other quite so much.
Ancient secrets will be uncovered. Bloody battles will be won and lost. Bitter enemies will be forgiven -- but not before they are hanged.
The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
Last Argument of Kings
For more from Joe Abercrombie, check out:
Novels in the First Law world
Best Served Cold
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
Frequently bought together
"Bold and authentically original."―Jeff VanderMeer on The Blade Itself
"Abercrombie has written the finest epic fantasy trilogy in recent memory. He's one writer that no one should miss."―Junot Diaz
"If you're fond of bloodless, turgid fantasy with characters as thin as newspaper and as boring as plaster saints, Joe Abercrombie is really going to ruin your day. A long career for this guy would be a gift to our genre."―Scott Lynch, author of The Lies of Locke Lamora on The Blade Itself
"Compelling characters, a complex plot, and style to burn."―Strange Horizons on The Blade Itself
"Pointed, driven, and sharp."―Locus on Red Country
"Magnificent, richly entertaining"―Time on The Heroes
"Imagine The Lord of the Rings as directed by Kurosawa."―Lev Grossman, Wall Street Journal on The Heroes
"[Abercrombie has] begun breaking his own rules. And succeeding wildly at it. ... Rarely has Abercrombie had so much fun while rollicking through his colorful cast's foibles and witty dialogue - and rarely has he dished out so much straight-for-the-heart poignancy."―The A.V. Club
"New, fresh, and exciting."―The Independent (UK)
"Exhilarating... Abercrombie's knack for wit and grit holds your attention throughout, and his eye for character means that there's heart as well as muscle."―SFX (UK)
"Lord of the Rings as directed by Kurosawa."―Wall Street Journal on The Heroes
About the Author
- Publisher : Orbit (September 8, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 560 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316387355
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316387354
- Item Weight : 1.55 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.5 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #31,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
And yet, for all of that, Before They Are Hanged works not just as a middle book, but as a book on its own terms, delivering an even better tale than The Blade Itself, outstanding character work, incredible action, great plot development, and such rich worldbuilding and evolution that you’ll be hard-pressed to stop for even a moment.
Much of that joy comes from author Joe Abercrombie’s outstanding ability to let his characters live and breathe, and more than that, to let them evolve and change. If The Blade Itself represented the setup for the series, Before They Are Hanged is the section where the characters begin to be shaped by – and shape – events around them in fascinating ways. Logen “Bloody Nine” Ninefingers begins to reveal exactly how he became the leader he once was held to be, as well as showing signs of the human being under the grizzled warrior. Sand dan Glokta, the mutilated prisoner, is still capable of brutal and horrendous acts, but also shows himself capable of incredible leadership – and surprising mercy. And Jezal dan Luthar, the arrogant swordsman, begins to see the world beyond himself for the first time. It’s all done wonderfully, with care and slow patience, and it gives the book a richness and warmth that’s often lost in the plotting of an epic fantasy trilogy.
But Abercrombie proves to be no slouch at all the trappings of the genre, either. Before They Were Hanged delivers some absolutely fantastic battle sequences, and Abercrombie shows himself equally capable of handling both the big picture as generals watch the fronts battle and the up-close and personal one-on-one combat, with the latter delivering some truly brutal and disturbing violence at times. More than that, he knows when to use it and when to leave it offscreen, allowing the incidents to occur when they matter most, and when they can impact the story or the characters as much as possible.
And then, beyond that, there’s the rich story, which manages to follow two very different martial fronts and a quest to the edge of the world, and weave between them effortlessly and yet perfectly, allowing each plot to come in at the maximum point where tension can be drawn out. More than that, Abercrombie lets each story follow its own pace, which lets the books feel less plot-driven and more driven by the characters and the world, something that so often fails in epic fantasy series. And yes, it’s all done with Abercrombie’s pitch-perfect mix of cynicism, black humor, character work, and skilled writing.
As I’ve said, I’m still not entirely sure where The First Law trilogy is going…but that’s okay. Because every storyline, and every character in them, is riveting enough on any number of levels to keep me reading, and render me excited that there’s more books set in this world, and had me opening up the third and final book within seconds of finishing this one. It’s all really become one of my favorite fantasy series in recent memory, one that draws on any number of inspirations while still feeling like its own unique, standout creation.
It's a pretty typical middle book in a fantasy trilogy, with lots of wandering around and many battles. I did like the backstory drops we got from Bayaz as his group traveled across the continent. They fill in some of the gaps in lore from the first book. There aren't a lot of surprises but there is some character development, especially for Dogman and Jezal.
I wish the author wouldn't insist on character repetition. If I had a nickel for each time Glota sucks his gums or rubs his bad leg or Lord Marshal Burr burps or farts, I could have got this book for free. Some good editing could have cut a lot of that out; the battle scenes could have also used some judicious editing.
My biggest problem is that I don't see any real threat coming. Yes, there's Bethod in the North and the Emperor in the South, but I'm not feeling the dread one gets from the Nazgul or other magical threats that menace the populace. And I honestly don't care if the Common Council, king or his lords, and the Guilds get wiped out. Who's to say that Bethod might not be a better ruler? Or the Emperor?
Anyway, I'll read the next book and hopefully I'll find out.
Speaking of new characters: Nicomo Cosca, anyone? He might be one part stereotype and one part necessary evil for plot and technical purposes, but he is an entirely welcome addition to the cast. The Council of Dagoska also had some notable persons, even if they were not long-term players in the story. Practical Vitari, Collum West and the Dogman certainly come into their own. Signature characters from "The Blade Itself" progress smashingly, as well. Ninefingers develops as you may expect, as does Ferro. And Glokta. Oh, Glokta. Abercrombie excels at so many elements of character: introducing them in interesting and often believable ways; making them quickly compelling; offering unique identity; developing them smoothly and consistently. Indeed, his characters are so effortlessly written it is surprising to think that this is only his second published work.
Oh, and the story moves along, as well. Not just in terms of plot, but by showing more of the world of The First Law. The reader learns more about the mythology of this universe and how that mythology impacts the characters. Some of these developments are original and some are more archetypical. In any case, enough information is offered to answer a few questions and ask still more; isn't that one of the hallmarks of quality entertainment? The pacing is still a bit off; there are sections where the characters seem to be wandering through the story instead of moving through it. These sections are few and far between and never boring. If anything, they are worthy of attention only in contrast to how focused and on-point the rest of the work is.
A few quotes, for good measure. Perhaps they will entice you to continue traveling with Ninefingers, Ferro, Dogman, Glokta and the rest.
"'Course. Doing better next time. That's what life is."
"Her questions galled him. That was good. That meant they were the right questions."
"The Crown Prince and the real world, as Lord Marshal Burr had observed, were entire strangers to one another."
"Why could she not have said different words. Some breath, and a shape of the mouth, and everything is changed. It would have been easy."
"We are leaders. War is what happens when we fail. Or are pushed into failure by the rash and the foolish. Victory is better than defeat, but... not by much."
Top reviews from other countries
Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a band of adventurers on a perilous mission to distant lands. The most hated and deadly woman in the South, Ferro, the most feared man in the North, Logan Ninefingers, and the most selfish boy in the Union, Jezel, make a strange alliance. Their ability to inflict brutal damage to opponents is tempered with their loyalty and sense of justice. As a band of warriors, their cohesion and diversities continue to captivate. We get to see deeper into their nature and the subtle charisma with several is surprising.
Several other characters are so intriguing including Glokta, the Inquisitor. Having to defend his city knowing it is full of traitors that he must root out, where no-one can be trusted and where failure means execution. We will have our favourites but imagine feeling empathy and fond gravitation towards an Inquisitor!
This is an amazing fantasy adventure that is full of wonderfully drawn characters, a landscape that comes alive in the writing, and a plot that is ridiculously imaginative.
I would highly recommend this book, and the whole First Law trilogy
Another brilliant decision by Abercrombie was not to make Bayaz a POV character. This helps in keeping the character, his powers, his motives, and his back story all very mysterious, apart from what he personally decides to reveal. This makes Bayaz, in my opinion, the most intriguing character in the book, and I can’t wait to see what the final book in the trilogy has in store for him, and the rest of the cast.
My biggest disappointment? This really should’ve been a ten book series (at least), and not a trilogy. Because what on earth do I read when I’m done with this series?
My favourite is probably Sand dan Glokta, once a dashing young army officer and fencing champion, now a crippled Superior of the Inquisition. The fascinating thing about him is not his talents as a torturer, but the amount of humanity he retains in spite of his brutal profession and the brutality he himself has experienced. I did find myself asking 'Is this realistic? Could someone live this sort of life and not become totally calloused?' Not an easy question to answer, and to be fair, not one that came to mind while I was reading. The pace and depth of the writing are far too absorbing to allow for extraneous questions of that sort. And even afterwards, I have to admit that however authentic Glokta's character might or might not be, it is certainly much more interesting as Abercrombie portrays him.
The same could be said of all the other main characters - and many of the minor ones for that matter. The whole thing adds up to an excellent fantasy adventure, and I shall be moving on to the next one ASAP!
The characters are superbly written and I am thoroughly invested in their stories. Logen and Bayaz are particular favourites of mine, however its Glokta who steals the show yet again. I don't feel as though I'm exaggerating when I say that Glokta is my favourite character in all of fiction. If I had one complaint, it would be that some of the side characters are a little underdeveloped by comparison but this is only in terms of this series. By any other series they would be more than developed enough.
If you have even a passing interest in Fantasy novels I can heartily recommend this series without reservation. You will be hard pushed to find a better written and more compelling series than this. Treat yourself to the audio book as well: the performance by Steven Pacey matches the quality of the book!
If I try to put my finger on why the book feels like not much happens, I think it has to be the numerous POV changes. I'm not usually against POV changes and they are handled well enough but I think they diluted the content too much.
Glokta has to be one of my favourite written characters. I enjoy hearing his internal monologue and the contrasting elements of his personality.
Finally, I wish the books had a summary of the previous book. Its been years since I read the first one and I'd forgotten pretty much everything!
I'll be pausing a while to read some other things before the next book.