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Before They Are Hanged (2007)

by Joe Abercrombie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The First Law (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,0921172,533 (4.16)94
"The second novel in the wildly popular First Law Trilogy from New York Times bestseller Joe Abercrombie. 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. First Law Trilogy 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 Heroes Red Country"--… (more)
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English (111)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (117)
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
What an excellent book. When reading this book soon after the first, you notice a huge jump in writing quality.

No longer are the characters physical embodiments of their catchphrases and physicality, they are fleshed out and developed.

I really enjoyed this, I was given a bigger taste of the world compared to the claustrophobic character drama that was the first. That's not to say the first was bad, nor that this isn't a character drama either, but rather the scope and the events the characters react to have a wider grasp.

My biggest issue is that this book is two towered, and my emotions cannot give it 5 stars.

Time for... the last argument of kings! ( )
  zenseiii | Dec 13, 2022 |
Fantastic story. 20 hours devoured in 10 days! ( )
  Pilgriminal | Nov 12, 2022 |
Knocked this off while I was sick in bed. I'm into the third now an will review the series once I'm done with that (they pretty much run like one big book anyways). ( )
  benkaboo | Aug 18, 2022 |
This book manages to be even more interesting than the first one.
Characters that hate each other initially and then start getting along the more they know of each other are my weakness. That means that my favourite part was the adventure with that small group of characters that went to find the Seed. The mystery around Glokta was also interesting to follow and Collem West got a welcome character development.
The adventure, the mystery, the character development and the bonds that formed between certain characters are more than enough to make me love this book.
The only bad thing is that there wasn't enough Ardee. I also don't find the Dogman's point of view that interesting, but maybe I will change my mind in the next book. ( )
  elderlingfae | Aug 11, 2022 |
“We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged”

- Heinrich Heine

An ominous presage that this book more than lives up to. Before They Are Hanged, the second book of the First Law trilogy and possessor of what I regard as the most metal title in fantasy literature, picks up where The Blade Itself left off. Bayaz, the First of the Magi, has assembled an unlikely entourage to journey with him to the edge of the world: the fearsome Logen Ninefingers, the endlessly spiteful Ferro Maljinn, the self-absorbed soldier Jezal dan Luthar, the bizarrely laconic apprentice Malacus Quai, and the annoyingly loquacious navigator Brother Longfoot. Meanwhile in the North, Major Collem West and Lord Marshal Burr have been deployed to Angland to protect the province from incursions by the warlord Bethod with the help of Threetrees and the Dogman. On the other side of the world, Inquisitor Glokta has been sent to the Union protectorate of Dagoska to investigate the disappearance of his predecessor. He also has the thankless task of defending the city from the invading Gurkish empire, a battle which is expected to be pitifully short on account of the Union expending all of its strength in the defense of its Northern assets.

Abercrombie’s writing remains as strong as ever, and it does a surprisingly good job balancing three different subplots that almost feel like different genres at times. Glokta’s side of the story felt like a strange crossroads between crime fiction and a war movie, and his insights and insults remain a joy to read. It’s an excellent showcase of his greatest asset, his mind, which isn’t entirely surprising considering his limited mobility. This subplot’s also notable for introducing the mercenary Nicomo Cosca, whose arc has taken on a new context in light of reading Red Country, where he spirals from one of the funniest characters in the series to one of the most tragic and evil.

On West’s end there’s a bit of a culture shock, and the North actually seems preferable in some areas; at least in the North, you can be safe in the knowledge that your enemies are as feared and respected as they are because they worked, or maybe murdered, their way to the top, which is more than can be said of the senior officers of the Union who have no military experience and would rather one up each other than do what they’re told. As for Bayaz’ story… not a great deal happens, but it does much to expand on the history of the Circle of the World. There’s also a palpable sense of desolation, as well; the Old Empire is a place so thoroughly derelict that there is no life aside from various warlords and the odd settlement, and nothing rots, for even decomposition is life of some sort. It feels like something straight out of a work of post-apocalyptic speculative fiction, and for the locals, the Old Empire might as well be a post-apocalypse.

As with The Blade Itself, the characterization is this book’s greatest strength, and it also teases growth. Glokta seems to have something resembling a conscience, Logen might not be such a bad person after all (at least when he’s not the Bloody-Nine), Jezal learns the hard way that not everything’s about him, and West and the Dogman become more self-assured with time. Despite knowing full well that The Last Argument of Kings has already crushed my hopes and dreams and will probably do so again again, none of it feels wasted; they simply feel like people adapting to sudden changes of environment and trying to make the best of their situations. The ending is slightly unsatisfying in that middle book kind of way; there’s one moment especially that’s uncertain enough to remind me of the unsatisfactory climax of The One Tree, but at least there’s one subplot with a clear objective that hasn’t been entirely thwarted.

Though it suffers slightly from being the middle of a trilogy, Before They Are Hanged is an excellent continuation of the story established in the first book, and retains the strengths of its predecessor while raising the stakes exponentially. ( )
  collapsedbuilding | Aug 10, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Abercrombieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Borchardt, KirstenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
García Bercero, BorjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pacey, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruth, GregCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
"We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged." - Heinrich Heine
Dedication
For the Four Readers

You know who you are
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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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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"The second novel in the wildly popular First Law Trilogy from New York Times bestseller Joe Abercrombie. 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. First Law Trilogy 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 Heroes Red Country"--

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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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