Well well, look at me committing to a series for once. It certainly helps that about four of us are buddy reading on discord right now and having a good chat about the series, plus the books are just that good so far!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Before They Are Hanged
- Series: The First Law #2
- Author: Joe Abercrombie
- Publisher & Release: Gollancz/Pyr 2007
- Length: 560 pages (Orbit PB 2015)
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ yes keep going if you liked book one!
Here’s the synopsis:
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.
Disclaimer: I’m not going to give any overt spoilers but it can get tricky when talking about sequels and subsequent books in a series. I do my best!
First up, here’s my favorite quote:
Is it coming for me? Several tons of rock, about to splatter my remains across the city? What a ludicrously random way to die. He felt his mouth twitch up in a faint smile.
I think the utter randomness of events in these books, and in other military SFF, is what makes them particularly endearing to me. When books follow a set formula they get boring. I think, overall my favorite part about this series is that you never really know what’s coming next.
There’s also many healthy doses of character development, random death, bonding, falling outs, murder, politicking, savagery, and, being realistic, among other things.
Glokta carried my favorite storyline just because I love how utterly savage he is, even when he’s being a good guy. I love politics and plotting and he navigates it all rather cunningly, while at the same time he couldn’t care less if he died.
The other storylines all have their moments (and their oh-shit moments) too. The other characters all serve to expand the world, the military, and backstory of the magic.
Some characters surprised me too like West, Dogman, Pike, you never know who’s going to become a main character going forward. I think he stepped it up with the dialogue and banter in this one overall too and it’s just a more mature story in every aspect.
I have to mention the final chapters! It’s grim, it’s realistic, it’s sad, and I’m more than surprised by who had the final scene in the book. Will Dogman be a major character going forward? It seems like he will have to be! We still don’t know what’s up with the bloody-nine either, I’m excited to learn that mystery which was originally shown in book one. I love the whole ending. Not every quest and mission is going to end in some kind of prophetic victory and now going forward the characters just have to keep doing the best they can with what they’re given. It’s refreshing to see a quest fail miserably for once.
Anyway, in every aspect imaginable I am excited to read on and see how this thing ends!
Thanks for checking out my book thoughts and review of Before They Are Hanged! Have you read it? Want to chat about it? Leave a comment! I grabbed my copy via Libby and as always, all thoughts are my own.