Before They Are Hanged (Joe Abercrombie)

Befor The Are Hanged is the second book in Joe Abercrombie‘s The First Law Trilogy. [Here’s my review of the first Book in the series: The Blade Itself.]

I’ll try to keep this post spoilerfree for The Blade Itself, but I can’t really guarantee it. So, if you don’t want to know anything at all about TBI, please don’t read on.

Bayaz has collected his group of travellers – Logen, Jezal, Ferro, Malacus and the navigator Brother Longfoot. Together they depart for the Edge of the World, but what they want to find there, only Bayaz knows.
Inquisitor Glokta is sent to the South, to Dagoska, to defend the city of the Gurkish and uncover what happened to his predecessor, who disappeared from his room without a clue. 
Colonel West in the meantime is sent to the North with the army, to fight against Bethod, who threatens to invade Angland.

Again, Abercrombie manages to keep away from the path of stereotypes that seem so close to the short description of his books. He continues to engage the reader, with both an exciting story and a sly sense of humour. Oh, and of course his great characters.

before_they_are_hangedAnd another gorgeous cover. Maybe even more gorgeous than that of The Blade Itself.

The characters… Though I don’t very much like neither Jezal nor Glokta, I want to find out more about their stories and their adventures. But I really love Logen, Ferro, West and The Dogman and therefore I’m even more glued to what’s happening to them. [SPOILER] And I loved the “love story” developing between Ferro and Logen. I so hope that they get a happy ending! [/SPOILER]
Bayaz is kind of weird – on the one hand, he’s one of the coolest characters ever, on the other hand, he’s a meddling asshole and it’s getting harder and harder not to hit him in the face.

I can also compliment Abercrombie again on keeping his narrating voices distinct and clear and fitting for the characters. [Actually, I think it’s quite sad that I have to emphasise this – this should actually be a standard in writing. But it isn’t and therefore it’s great to find someone who does it. And that deserves praise.]

I loved the ending of Bayaz’ trip. And I loved that we get to know more about the history of this world, which is interesting and thoroughly thought through.

Again, I feel obligated to point out that the books don’t shirk from the violence, quite to the contrary. So if you can’t stand reading about arrows and knifes in various body parts, the splitting open of heads or blood flowing around in generous quantities, these books may not be for you.

If you can stand it, or even enjoy it – go and read this series.

[I’m currently reading Last Argument of Kings, the third and last book, and it continues to be good.]

9 thoughts on “Before They Are Hanged (Joe Abercrombie)

  1. (SPOILER)
    I also think that Logen and Ferro make a sweet couple.
    I thought that “the Seed” that can only be touched by Ferro would be Logen’s. (The only thing about the plot that I did not guess correctly.)
    And I really appreciate how Abecrombie does not use gibberish fantasy-language when people from outside the Union talk. He just uses a sentence like “and he answered in Northern”.
    And I love how the characters, especially Ferro, use their “Ssssh” and “Uh” instead of words.

    I found the constant violence annoying. I oftentimes just scanned to the end to find out who won or who confessed what. Not because I’m squeamish, because I was bored.

  2. I just thought “Oh, the hammer. There we go again…” and continued to read 1-2 pages after the last sentence or wherever I found a paragraph or double quotes.
    The constant Glokta vs stairs annoyed me, too.
    I guess it adds to the atmosphere for most people, but it didn’t really work for me.

    I liked the books but it’s not like I’m hooked to the series.
    Which means I’m still looking for a book/series to obsess about. Do you have other suggestions?

    • Alright, lemme see.

      If you want something a little more romance-like/young adult-y, though certainly not without action, you shoud try the Kristin Cashore books. (Start with Graceling.)
      Another excellent young adult series is the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix.

      You might also enjoy the Rothfuss books, which are more along the lines of Abercrombie, with a dash of Harry Potter and without the violence, though it could be that you won’t like the main character as he’s pretty full of himself. I was hooked despite of that (also despite of the woeful lack of good female characters in the first book). Also, fair warning: there’s only 2 books out yet in a planned trilogy. (Start with The Name of the Wind.)

      Did you ever read anything by Neil Gaiman? He doesn’t have any series but his novels are excellent. I’d say, start with Neverwhere. My personal favorite is American Gods, but people are torn about this one. It’s a love-or-hate kind of book.

      You could give the Hunger Games books a try. I thought the first book was really good. Though they then get gradually worse, they were still pretty engaging.

      I read the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson and loved the first book, the others not at all, but maybe you could get more into them.

      You said you ordered something by China Miéville? Which book was it?

  3. Graceling: I’ll give them a try.

    Neil himself: I’ve read American Gods and I liked it very much. I love mythology, especially Norse mythology. And I knew who Low Key was and what Hintzelmann was up to – but I loved it how smoothly all the mythologic input makes a damn readable story.
    I’m definitely going to read a few others (I think Neverwhere is next, as suggested by you.)

    CM: I’m currentlx reading “Embassytown” (I like it so far). I chose it because I loved the title and I wanted to try something by him because you like him so much.

    Rothfuss: I think I will not like him, just a feeling. :P Mistborn doesn’t interest me.
    Hunger games: I read all three books, it’s a quick read. Book 1 was ok, believable and exciting. Book 2&3 were not so good.

    Any suggestions what I should read by Mr.Fry? :) I so loved “the liar”. I tried “Revenge” (ok) and “Moab” (didn’t really like it) and now I don’t want to be disappointed again.

    • By Revenge do you mean The Star’s Tennis Balls (his take on the Count of Monte Christo)? I’d recommend that you read The Hippopotamus, which is probably closest to The Liar.

      Let me know how you like Embassytown!

      If you want a really big series, you could give The Wheels of Time a try. I haven’t read those books myself, but I have heard good things about them.

      • The new edition’s title is “Revenge”(I guess it’s the same book, it has the quote about the stars’ tennis balls somewhere in the text.) … Did you like it?
        Ok, Hippopotamus it is. :)

        I’ll let you know about Embassytown – I’m quite a slow reader (to be exact: a fast reader with little reading time).

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