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Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

Before They Are Hanged (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Joe Abercrombie

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2,312622,739 (4.19)69
Title:Before They Are Hanged
Authors:Joe Abercrombie
Info:Gollancz (2007), Edition: 1ST, Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library

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Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (2007)



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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
This is the second book in the First Law trilogy, and I enjoyed it equally as much as the first book. The first book had the advantage of the newness factor -- a new story, new characters, and a new world to learn about. This second book had the advantage of familiar characters. I was able to jump right into the story, already invested in the characters, and they often made me smile with their favorite sayings and their quirks.

The story continues to build and, just like in my review for the first book, I’m not even going to attempt to summarize it. This is an epic fantasy type of story which encompasses a variety of different plot threads in different parts of a fictional world with lots of political machinations, wars, and adventures. In this book we primarily follow three plot threads involving a war to the south, a war to the north, and a small party’s journey through dangerous territory to the west. All three story lines were interesting to me, as were all of the main characters. I think there were about six different point-of-view characters.

Since this is a well-read series, I don’t want to mention character names because that could spoil book one for anybody who’s reading it by telling them who survives to participate in the second book. I’m going to put the rest of my review in spoiler tags, so that I can speak freely about some of my thoughts.

There are spoilers for both books one and two here, and some of them are pretty major, so please don’t click unless you’ve either already read the books or you don’t care about the spoilers.

Logen is still my favorite character so far. I like his humorous (and realistic, of course!) way of looking at things, and the way he treats the people he’s traveling with. Despite his occasional issues where he becomes a crazy person, he seems like the most well-balanced of all the characters. I could see where he would have been a great leader. I was hoping that Dogman and his people might learn he was still alive in this book, especially since they were hanging out with West who had conversed with Logen during Jezal’s celebratory feast in book one. I guess I’ll have to wait until book three for the reunion. I’m assuming it will surely come eventually!

Dogman and the others are definitely starting to grow on me also. We didn’t really get to know them very well in book one, but I feel like I know them better now and I was surprised by how sad Threetrees' death made me.

I was happy that Jezal started to get a reality check in this book. He certainly needed one! It will be interesting to see how he behaves when he gets back home to familiar surroundings. Will the changes stick, or will he go back to his old ways? Ferro was also more likeable in this book, mainly because we learn more about her and start to understand her better.

The character of Quai is driving me a bit crazy. In this book he’s not at all the friendly, funny character he seemed to be when we first met him in the first book. He’s more angry and sullen and I can only speculate as to what’s going on. I’m not sure it’s just anger at Bayaz’s choices, although that would be a reasonable explanation. I suspect Quai isn’t the clueless and innocent apprentice that he appeared to be at first but rather has his own agenda, but he isn’t hiding his hostility toward Bayaz so Bayaz must be keeping him around for a reason. We know exactly what Bayaz’s reasons were for bringing Logen and Ferro on the quest, and there have been vague hints about Jezal, but we really have no idea why he brought Quai. It’s odd that I’m so interested in Quai’s story considering he gets almost no page time. He’s mentioned just often enough to keep me curious.

I liked Glokta a lot more in this book than I had in the first book. Sometimes I’m not entirely sure why he makes the decisions he makes, but then he doesn’t seem to be entirely sure either so I guess I’m in good company. He seems to think that he lacks the ability to really feel emotions, and yet his actions often show compassion. I think he’s just so tired and worn out from the constant struggles, both physically and politically, that he’s a bit numb. Emotions take energy and he doesn’t have much energy to spare.

It was refreshing to see a war lost (the one in the South) by the side from whose perspective I was reading. It often seems like hopeless fictional wars are eventually won by heroic efforts and unexpected interventions, but in this case the heroic efforts and unexpected interventions only prolonged the end result. I was also surprised by just how much sense Eider made when she explained why she had betrayed the Union to the Gurkish, and I liked Glokta’s reaction to her explanation and the choices he made in his dealings with her. I mentioned in my review of book one that this series didn’t have any strong women. Eider might be the first who I would consider to qualify so far in this series, even though she was a pretty minor character. Regardless of whether her decision was the best one or not, she made her choices for noble and logical reasons, she carried them out with conviction and cleverness until Glokta foiled her, and she faced the consequences of being caught bravely.

I love a good epic fantasy like this one that has lots of things going on with ambiguous events and motivations that keep me guessing and speculating. I’m really looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy, and the other three standalone novels as well. ( )
  YouKneeK | Sep 19, 2015 |
Why are these characters wandering around. I'm not aware of any goals. Why is the master wizard looking for the seed? ( )
  scubareader | Aug 2, 2015 |
Definitely an improvement over the first, finally digging the characters - most at least, I'd like to see a couple return to the mud... ( )
  dandelionroots | Jul 31, 2015 |
This book was as good as the first book. I’m becoming more and more invested in Glokta, even though I never thought I would, him being what he is. But you can see the person behind the cruel occupation. The book is more gory than most fantasy books you read because of his perspectives, and has a dark outlook, but that itself makes the books fascinating in their own way. Logan and Ferro was a surprise but at the same time, not really. I hope they work it all out. Logan and Jezal are probably my favorite characters at the moment but all the characters are becoming dear to me. Abercrombie may become a new favorite author of mine. This series is recommended. ( )
  Kassilem | Jul 23, 2015 |
Donski! Review will follow tomorrow morning on www.areadingmachine.com ( )
  areadingmachine | Jul 6, 2015 |
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"We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged." - Heinrich Heine
For the Four Readers

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First words
Damn mist. It gets in your eyes, so you can’t see no more than a few strides ahead. It gets in your ears, so you can’t hear nothing, and when you do you can’t tell where it’s coming from. It gets up your nose, so you can’t smell naught but wet and damp. Damn mist. It’s a curse on a scout.
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Aber wenn man, sagen wir mal, auf einer weiten, großen Ebene mitten im großen Nichts in einen Kampf gerät, der sich nicht vermeiden lässt, dann versuche ich, drei Regeln zu folgen. Erstens: Tut Euer Bestes, wie ein Feigling, ein Schwächling und ein Narr zu wirken. Schweigen ist die beste Rüstung eines Kriegers, heißt es. Ein hartes Äußeres und schlagkräftige Worte haben noch nie eine Schlacht gewonnen, aber einige verloren. [...] Zweitens: Betrachtet niemanden als einen leichten Gegner, ganz gleich, wie ungeschlacht er wirken mag. Behandelt jeden Mann, als sei er zweimal so klug, so stark und so schnell wie Ihr, und dann werdet möglicherweiseangenehm überrascht. Respekt kostet nichts, und nichts bringt einen Mann schneller um als Selbstbewusstsein." [...] Drittens: Beobachtet Euren Gegner so genau, wie Ihr könnt, und hört auf die Meinung anderer, aber wenn Ihr einmal einen Plan gefasst habt, dann haltet an ihm fest und lasst Euch durch nichts davon abbringen. Wenn die Zeit kommt, um zuzuschlagen, dann solltet Ihr das tun, ohne zurückzublicken. Verzögerung ist aller Katastrophen Anfang, pflegte mein Vater immer zu sagen, und glaubt mir, ich habe ein paar Katastrophen miterlebt.
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Book description
Colonel West battles Northmen that invade Angland, inquisitor Glotka has a complicated and dangerous assignment defending the Union in Dagoska, and the magus Bayaz, leading a party that includes Jezal dan Luthar and Logen, seeks a relic that will allow him to enter the demon realm.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575082011, Paperback)

Bitter and merciless war is coming to the frozen north. It's bloody and dangerous and the Union army, split by politics and hamstrung by incompetence, is utterly unprepared for the slaughter that's coming. Lacking experience, training, and in some cases even weapons the army is scarcely equipped to repel Bethod's scouts, let alone the cream of his forces. In the heat-ravaged south the Gurkish are massing to assault the city of Dagoska, defended by Inquisitor Glokta. The city is braced for the inevitable defeat and massacre to come, preparations are made to make the Gurkish pay for every inch of land ...but a plot is festering to hand the city to its beseigers without a fight, and the previous Inquisitor of Dagoska vanished without trace. Threatened from within and without the city, Glokta needs answers, and he needs them soon. And to the east a small band of malefactors travel to the edge of the world to reclaim a device from history - a Seed, hidden for generations - with tremendous destructive potential. A device which could put a end to war, to the army of Eaters in the South, to the invasion of Shanka from the North - but only if it can be found, and only if its power can be controlled ...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:13 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Superior Glokta has a problem. How can he defend a city surrounded by enemies and riddled with traitors, when his allies can by no means be trusted? Ancient secrets will be uncovered and bitter enemies will be forgiven--but not before they are hanged--in this sequel to "The Blade Itself."… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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