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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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2,642732,263 (4.18)78
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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This is a well-written tense grimdark novel, though it feels like middle book in a trilogy. Major issues are left unresolved, and one of the largest subplots in particular ended in a failure that felt rather... deflating at the end of the book. That said, I admire that Abercrombie write the book in that way. These novels haven't been quite as much of a blood bath as GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire, but he is still ruthless in his own way: his characters fail in profound manners, and deal with those repercussions. Along those lines, I remain most intrigued my Glokta, the war hero turned cripple torturer who is despicable and yet complex and relatable. ( )
  ladycato | Oct 8, 2016 |
4.5 ( )
  Amanda105 | Sep 5, 2016 |
Before They are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie is the second in The First Law trilogy. The first novel I bought on a whim at a bookstore in Oxford while I studied there. I knew some of my favorite authors recommended it (and a good friend) and I thought the cover was pretty (it was shiny!) and I wanted a British fantasy author to buy before I went back to America. The first book was entertaining enough so I needed to read the rest.
As I started reading the book my thoughts were: interesting characters, interesting development, very dark, but nothing extremely innovative or creative to me. I noted the repeated use of certain descriptors and I thought that this was indicative of lazy writing, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that this was a clever tactic to get us into the heads of the characters. Glokta’s italicized thoughts to himself show us his isolation, his conflict, the only person he can talk to is himself. Dogman’s use of dialect and vernacular shows us his difference between the Union citizens, how he stands apart form them. Jezal’s prose is the most “traditional” because he is a nobleman raised in the way we would expect someone to write. But when we read Ferro’s story we find her very style of speaking to be abrasive, enforcing the idea of her own abrasiveness.
Abercrombie offers us a chance to have a conversation about voice, style, and form. There is something much deeper to the characterization in these books than just another fantasy novel. Abercrombie’s strength rests in his ability to create deeply character driven novels. The language of the narrative itself informs and shapes the characters. It is an amazing gift and talent. For me, nothing makes a novel more compelling than good characterization. The way Abercrombie can use the exact voice of his characters as the narrator is absolutely brilliant. Other writers try to do this, but so few actually succeed so well. My reading experience was one of submersion into the minds of these characters and each experience was realized fully.
His books are a beautiful thing, although very dark. The darkness in some ways was only able to be communicated by being so deep in the character’s minds that things that were truly able to as devastating as they were. Yes, the actions were not nice, especially involving Glokta, but the things that were so horrible and dark were made all the more traumatic because the reader is so deeply embedded into the character’s mind, every single hurt because the character and you morph together. It is a beautiful and truly authentic reading experience. ( )
  EruditeVolatility | Jul 12, 2016 |
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 |
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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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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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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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