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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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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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The cast of characters meet each other, sometimes on the same side, sometimes opposite sides and still, things are not clear cut; you find yourself rooting for one or other of them and then they come into conflict. Glokta at the siege of Dagoska shows his honourable side, but in such a way as to leave you wondering just what all this obedience to some set of ideals is all about. Pairing up, or at least, coupling goes on, but the book ends without hope that there is anything lasting... And the quest itself seems hopeless to and I wait with bated breath for the last book :) Again! ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
Ok, where to start with this review for the second book in the First Law trilogy...

It has already been mentioned in other reviews that it picks up immediately after the first book, with Glokta heading south to Degoska (spelling names in this review is a challenge, since I'm listening to the books instead of reading them) to prevent the city from being overrun by the Gurkish army, Collum West heading north to prevent Adua from being overrun by Bethod, and Bayaz, Logen, Jazel, Quay, Longfoot, and Ferro heading to the edge of the world for... something.

At this point, the characters are well-known, and I wasn't expecting much in their development, but boy, was I surprised! I especially liked how Glokta's character developed over the course of this volume. I was also surprised at how much I dislike Bayaz, who has turned into something of a conniving manipulator, failing to give the "whole truth" or worse, only giving enough information to get his team into some deep, life-threatening trouble.

As several reviewers already mentioned, this book overcame the "second-book-in-a-series" curse very well, and the tension is ratcheted up significantly towards the end of the book, with several characters being killed (a couple shocked me), intense palace intrigue, shady dealings, and double-crosses happening in spades throughout. Of course, it ends on a series of cliff-hangers, too.

The narrative is outstanding, and Stephen Pacey has got to be one of the best at this. His ability to differentiate the dozens of characters is simply amazing!

On to the next book! ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 31, 2016 |
Part two of The First Law trilogy. Our anti-heroes of The blade itself find themselves in really unpleasant situations - warfare in the north against threatening barbarians having more than one surprise ready for their enemies, a quest towards the end of the world with a lot of nasty encounters and the order to hold a town under siege, which proves to be an impossible job at best. The tone of this book is darker, more gritty, but the author still adds a good deal of humour (especially in the plotline about Glokta, the cynical inquisitor). The mixture works for me.

There is quite a lot of character development in this book - unpleasant circumstances make you grow or fail. Luckily most of the characters grow. The pace is much faster than in the first volume, the author moves back and forth between three plotlines. The fighting scenes are well written, although dirty and bloody (but that's how it is - as Logen, the barbarian, would say - one has to be realistic about this).

One last remark: A map would have been a nice addition - I did not miss it that much in the last volume of the trilogy, but it would have helped to keep track of the characters and opposing forces in this book. ( )
  Ellemir | Feb 1, 2016 |
The 1st Book (The Blade Itself) was good, but Before They Are Hanged is great. Whereas I found the The Blade Itself a little slow to start, Before They Are Hanged hits the ground running and never lets up. I didn't want this book to end, and will be jumping into the next book ASAP. I love Ambercrombie's vivid characters and their rapier wit. This book is all meat, no carbs. ( )
  CMSkiera | Jan 26, 2016 |
This is the second volume of The First Law trilogy. I read the first book [b:The Blade Itself|944073|The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)|Joe Abercrombie|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1284167912s/944073.jpg|929009] in early March 2012, today is 27th July 2012 so the two books were read five months apart, I wonder if I will finish the trilogy by the end of the year. In any case, even with a memory like a sieve I had no problem getting into the second book after the 5 months gap. This is not a standalone book so you need to read [b:The Blade Itself|944073|The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)|Joe Abercrombie|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1284167912s/944073.jpg|929009] first which should be no great hardship unless you received "Before They Are Hanged" as a present then you'd need to cough up the dough for the first book, it won't break the bank I'm sure (no, pirating is not an option).

"Before They Are Hanged" continues the adventure of three groups of characters introduced in the first book. One group is on a quest for a magical artifact, a traditional fantasy trope but with some unconventional character developments, events and eventual outcome. The second group is focused on a soldier and a group of mercenaries and their participation in a war against foreign invaders, the third is centered on the complex and fascinating Inquisitor Glokta and his effort to defend a city also under attack by invaders and the aftermath of his success / failure (don't ask).

I suspect some people will underestimate this series mistaking it for just another "gritty fantasy" with a lot of swearing, sex, and violence, certainly those elements are there in plenitude but there is also an undercurrent of some themes being subtly explored. Like how heroism - like greatness - is often thrust on reluctant people. How people sometime do despicable things just to survive and hate themselves for it. I wonder how many people are aware of the compassion and humanity in Joe Abercrombie's books? In my estimation he is a terrific writer, his prose style may not be lyrical but it is often very witty and the book is well balanced with action, violence, pathos, romance and humour. His greatest strength may well be his characterization, the main characters are complex, believable, interesting and often very funny. I have often seen his characters described as "unlikable", if this is true I must have been reading it wrong because I like all of them and find it hard to pick a favorite.

For the faint of heart I should mention that this book, like its predecessor, include a couple of torture scenes which I got through with a little flinching. My only concern about these scenes is that they will alienate readers who would otherwise love the book and Abercrombie deserves a wide readership.

I normally prefer narration from a single point of view, which I find easier to follow, and with multiple points of view some of the protagonists are so much more interesting than others that I often feel like I am wasting my time following the lesser characters. However, multiple POVs tend to be necessary for epic tales, to cover all the different events and locations. For this book I find all the POVs enjoyable and I don't really mind moving between them. The description are generally very vivid, you can really feel the cold, the hunger and the pain that the characters go through. Magic is utilized very sparingly in the story and there is no "magic system" worth mentioning because its appearance is so infrequent.

As with the first book this one is highly recommended for fans of heroic fantasy. The third and final volume of this trilogy is called [b:Last Argument of Kings|944076|Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3)|Joe Abercrombie|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1302062699s/944076.jpg|929012], come to think of it I don't want to wait to long before I dive into that one. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 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.
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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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