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Before They Are Hanged (The First Law: Book Two) Paperback – March 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This grim and vivid sequel to 2007's The Blade Itself transcends its middle volume status, keeping the reader engaged with complicated plotting and intriguing character development. As savage Northmen invade Angland, the northernmost province of the unwieldy Union, honorable, hard-working Union soldier Colonel West watches his notions of civilized warfare erode in one horrible battle after another. In Dagoska, a southern city threatened by Gurkish soldiers and left undefended as Union troops head to Angland, dreadfully maimed Inquisitor Glokta employs tortures and deceptions to ferret out conspiracies against the king. Ignoring these worldly concerns, disreputable magus Bayaz of Calcis drives a squabbling little band through a wasteland in search of a relic that can open a gate to the realm of demons. Abercrombie leavens the bloody action with moments of dark humor, developing a story suffused with a rich understanding of human darkness and light. (Mar.)
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Before They Are Hanged is an excellent sequel from an author writing compelling, character-driven, adult fantasy, for readers who want to be entertained as well as challenged. SFF WORLD In my opinion, Joe Abercrombie possesses all the qualities that made David Eddings such a powerhouse during the 80s and 90s. Before They Are Hanged is a satisfying sequel which should establish Joe Abercrombie as one of the bright new voices of the genre. FANTASY HOT LIST Before They Are Hanged grabs you and drags you along. SFF SITE Dark, deeply ironic and full of character gems that will appeal to your cynical side, Before They Are Hanged is as brilliant as its predecessor. -- John Berlyne SF REVU "We're right there in the heads of these dudes, thanks to the author's style of showcasing their thoughts. His knowing turn of phrase means that situations often appear ironic, with peripheral characters verging on the Dickensian. This follow-up is crammed with unexpected betrayals, murders and liaisons, often catching us off guard." -- Dave Bradley SFX --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 543 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591026415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591026419
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (416 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe Abercrombie is a freelance film editor, who works on documentaries and live music events. He lives and works in Bath. THE BLADE ITSELF, his debut novel, is the first novel of The First Law trilogy, followed by BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED and LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS. His new stand-alone bestseller is BEST SERVED COLD.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Anthony M. Hildebrand on February 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm an avid reader - in fiction, specializing in science fiction and fantasy. However, while I tend to try to find the more cerebral, cutting-edge or challenging SF, I've often treated fantasy as a guilty pleasure.

Not so with Before They Are Hanged or its predecessor, The Blade Itself. There is no escapism here, no dialog that would be found only at the Elizabethan court. This is rough-and-tumble fantasy, only earning the label because there are swords and sorcery.

And this sequel is not fluff or a fond return. Abercrombie, if anything, has fit 1000 pages of story into one-half of that, as the architect of an amazing tale that builds on the solid foundation of the first novel. The story is tight, exceedingly well-written, and has one of the most realistic and believable (if dark) worlds I've ever seen created. The same goes for the characters.

There are no knights-in-shining armor. If you prefer flawless heroes and damsels in distress, this book is not for you. However, if you want a well-written story full of insights into human nature, the world at large, and the art of storytelling, I can think of few other books that deliver like this one has.

These books have the capacity to redefine and revolutionize the fantasy genre. Abercrombie, while young, is an amazing and innovative writer that I look forward to reading more of in the future.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Gamma Mouse on June 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Before They Are Hanged" is the second volume in the First Law Series by promising young British writer Joe Abercrombie. The first novel, the wonderful "The Blade Itself" was a fantastic introduction to a series featuring brutal, hard-boiled characters, excessive profane language and copious amounts of violence. It was dark fantasy at its best--nasty and brutish.

Well I am here to say that "Before They Are Hanged" is an even bigger, meaner and better story as things get kicked up here to another gear.Inquistor Glokta and the barbarian, Logen "The Bloody Nine" Ninefingers are anti-heroes for the ages. Abercrombie turns all of his characters, who are filled with violence, maliciousness and machinations, into guilty pleasures. You know you should feel shocked and offended at some of the things the characters say or do, but it is just too damn hard not to enjoy it. While it may be good to be the King, it is also good to be bad.

As the novel begins, the Union finds itself at war on its Northern front against Bethod and his massive horde of battle-tested barbarians. Impending war with the Gurkish also threatens the southern city of Dagoska.

Inquistor Glokta has been dispatched to Dagoska to solve the mysterious disappearance of the previous Inquisitor of Dagoska. He finds he must overcome the corrupt and incompetent leadership of the city in order to achieve his objective, and defend the city from the impendingGurkish attack. Deadly backroom political intrigue ensues as forces within and without battle for their own agendas, causing Glokta to use his wits in order to keep control.
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39 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Andy Gray on March 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie is the second book in the First Law trilogy, the first being The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One). The third, and final book, Last Argument of Kings is scheduled for release in the United States in September, 2008. The First Law Trilogy is not your run of the mill, cliché ridden fantasy series. It is dark, twisted, and unlike most of the `traditional' fantasy books being published.

The plot, or should I say plots, of this book pick up right after The Blade Itself. There are three separate plots, that center on separate characters or a group of characters. There is the plotline of a character trying to hold a city under siege and the measures he undertakes to keep the city from falling. There is a plot revolving around a group of characters seeking an artifact to aid them in a greater task, I won't say anymore about that because of spoilers. Lastly, there is a plot about the pending invasion by the Northmen and how the Union soldiers can combat the attack. These are the three plot lines that essentially tie the book together, however, there are countless subplots woven into the book as well. There is a great deal of political underpinnings in two of the three plot lines as well as betrayal and other manners of one-up man ship between a couple characters.

The characters in this novel are essentially the same characters that were present in the first novel. Some of the returning characters are Glokta, Logen Ninefingers, Bayaz, Ferro, Jezal, and Colonel West among others. They are all complex characters and most, if not all, go through a great deal of character development in this novel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By April on May 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
THE BLADE ITSELF was excellent (readers should start there, with the first book, not here), and though it was basically the set-up of the plot, it established the characters wonderfully. Here, the plot moves into high-gear as the Union Armies move to Angland, where Major West attempts to keep the spoiled and useless Crown Price from leading his troops to disaster. West meets up with the hardened Northmen warriors, the renegade Named Men: Threetrees, Dogman, Black Dow and Grim, who have been battling the inhuman Shanka as well as King Bethod's well-trained, magically aided army.

Instead of facing the cold and death and incompetence in the North, pampered nobleman, Captain Jezal, finds himself instead on the far side of the world with the First of the Magi, Bayaz, the legendary Northman, Logen Ninefingers and Ferro, the tireless former-slave who only desires revenge. They are on a quest in the Old Empire, replete with grand ruins of an ancient civilization, to recover a magical artifact that may change the balance of power among the Magi and the warring Empires and many hazards stand in their way.

And in the South, Superior Glockta of the Inquisition is charged with holding a city, an outpost of the Union, against an overwhelming force, the vast armies of the Gurkish Empire who are besieging it. He must also find out who is responsible for the disappearance of his predecessor and who may be plotting treason against the Union. And in a city that is virtually doomed to fall to the enemy, almost anyone could turn traitor.

If you liked the first book, you should like this as much or better. The characterization continues to deepen and grow in a satisfying way that makes the book worthy all on its own.
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