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Come si fa a difendere una città accerchiata dai nemici e zeppa di traditori, quando non puoi assolutamente fidarti dei tuoi alleati e il tuo predecessore è svanito nel nulla senza lasciare traccia? Ce n’è abbastanza da far venire all’Inquisitore Glokta una gran voglia di darsela a gambe, se non dovesse appoggiarsi al bastone anche solo per stare in piedi. Eppure il tortur Come si fa a difendere una città accerchiata dai nemici e zeppa di traditori, quando non puoi assolutamente fidarti dei tuoi alleati e il tuo predecessore è svanito nel nulla senza lasciare traccia? Ce n’è abbastanza da far venire all’Inquisitore Glokta una gran voglia di darsela a gambe, se non dovesse appoggiarsi al bastone anche solo per stare in piedi. Eppure il torturatore dovrà restare e trovare le risposte di cui ha bisogno prima che l’esercito dei Gurkish arrivi a bussare alla sua porta. Gli Uomini del Nord hanno violato il confine dell’Angland e ora stanno mettendo a ferro e fuoco quella gelida terra. Intanto il Principe Ereditario Ladisla si prepara a ricacciarli indietro e a guadagnarsi la gloria eterna. C’è solo un problemino: il suo è l’esercito peggio equipaggiato, addestrato e comandato del mondo intero. Nel frattempo Bayaz, il Primo dei Magi, guida una spedizione di avventurieri in missione fra le rovine del passato. La donna più odiata del Sud, l’uomo più temuto del Nord e il ragazzo più egoista dell’Unione formano proprio una strana compagnia, ma se solo non si disprezzassero così tanto l’un l’altro sarebbero letali. Antichi segreti verranno rivelati. Saranno perse e vinte sanguinose battaglie. Acerrimi nemici riceveranno il perdono, ma non prima che siano impiccati.


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Come si fa a difendere una città accerchiata dai nemici e zeppa di traditori, quando non puoi assolutamente fidarti dei tuoi alleati e il tuo predecessore è svanito nel nulla senza lasciare traccia? Ce n’è abbastanza da far venire all’Inquisitore Glokta una gran voglia di darsela a gambe, se non dovesse appoggiarsi al bastone anche solo per stare in piedi. Eppure il tortur Come si fa a difendere una città accerchiata dai nemici e zeppa di traditori, quando non puoi assolutamente fidarti dei tuoi alleati e il tuo predecessore è svanito nel nulla senza lasciare traccia? Ce n’è abbastanza da far venire all’Inquisitore Glokta una gran voglia di darsela a gambe, se non dovesse appoggiarsi al bastone anche solo per stare in piedi. Eppure il torturatore dovrà restare e trovare le risposte di cui ha bisogno prima che l’esercito dei Gurkish arrivi a bussare alla sua porta. Gli Uomini del Nord hanno violato il confine dell’Angland e ora stanno mettendo a ferro e fuoco quella gelida terra. Intanto il Principe Ereditario Ladisla si prepara a ricacciarli indietro e a guadagnarsi la gloria eterna. C’è solo un problemino: il suo è l’esercito peggio equipaggiato, addestrato e comandato del mondo intero. Nel frattempo Bayaz, il Primo dei Magi, guida una spedizione di avventurieri in missione fra le rovine del passato. La donna più odiata del Sud, l’uomo più temuto del Nord e il ragazzo più egoista dell’Unione formano proprio una strana compagnia, ma se solo non si disprezzassero così tanto l’un l’altro sarebbero letali. Antichi segreti verranno rivelati. Saranno perse e vinte sanguinose battaglie. Acerrimi nemici riceveranno il perdono, ma non prima che siano impiccati.

30 review for Non prima che siano impiccati

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    Before They Are Hanged succeeds over The Blade Itself wonderfully. “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”—Heinrich Heine I’ve mentioned in my review of The Blade Itself that although I highly enjoyed it, Abercrombie’s debut felt like more like a setup book; a necessary installment for the remaining two books in the trilogy to shine. Before They Are Hanged is where Abercrombie starts progressing the storyline and the third book is where he wraps things up explosively. Before They Are Hanged succeeds over The Blade Itself wonderfully. “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”—Heinrich Heine I’ve mentioned in my review of The Blade Itself that although I highly enjoyed it, Abercrombie’s debut felt like more like a setup book; a necessary installment for the remaining two books in the trilogy to shine. Before They Are Hanged is where Abercrombie starts progressing the storyline and the third book is where he wraps things up explosively. On this reread, I’ve come to realize that The First Law trilogy can be defined as one gigantic volume divided into three; the conclusion of the first two books in the trilogy continues immediately in their respective sequel as if it’s a simple chapter change and there were no definite conclusive storylines until the end of Last Argument of Kings. This storytelling style makes binge-reading the trilogy such a great experience, and I love this book more than The Blade Itself. Picture: Before They are Hanged by Alexander Preuss Before They Are Hanged starts from where The Blade Itself left off. The narrative was told from six POV characters and the majority of the plot takes place in three different areas in the Circle of the World: the west, the north, and the south. The slow setup in The Blade Itself pays off magnificently here. Abercrombie once again tells a character-driven story that never loses each character’s distinctive voice and personality. Every perspective was immensely enjoyable to read. Although I can easily vouch that both Logen and Glokta are included in my favorite grimdark fantasy characters list, choosing which perspective I loved reading the most in this installment is an entirely different matter; the pacing and the progression of every storyline were utterly engaging. Before They Are Hanged was full of unpredictable twists and turns that kept me at the edge of my seat repeatedly. Loyalty, greed, unlikely friendship, money, responsibilities, and war were embedded tremendously into the narrative; I loved reading every single scene and discussion in this book that involved these themes. “Those with the least always lose the most in war.” The characterizations were, once again, my favorite part of the book. Abercrombie successfully used the foundation he established in the first book and developed his characters accordingly; revealing their backgrounds and making them more empathizing. Seeing these characters—both old and new—try their best in the direst of circumstances were intense, at times hilarious, and delightful. Logen, for example, is an extraordinarily powerful warrior but he’s also tired from encountering war and death in his path. Before They Are Hanged showed Logen doing his best to be good and kind; witnessing this supposedly savage barbarian do his utmost best in building friendships with the new people in his mission made me smile. However, the happiest surprise in this book to me was realizing how much I grew to care about Jezal and the side characters of the series. Practically all characters in this trilogy suffered, a LOT. Abercrombie isn’t afraid to maim or put his characters through intense suffering. Rest assured that none of the character’s pain was put there just for the sake of gore. One of the best striking example in how Abercrombie displayed his skill on this particular subject is by showing the deadly capability of hard life and war in changing people; for better or worse. The immense difficulties that the characters faced in their respective mission brought spectacular character developments to each one of them with splendid precision. “Anyone can face ease and success with confidence. It is the way we face trouble and misfortune that defines us.” Say one thing for Abercrombie, say he knows how to repeat catchphrases at the right time to enhance memorable moments. Logen’s catchphrases like “Still Alive” and “You can’t have too many knives” or Glokta’s “Why do I do this?” may seem simple but they’re truly some of the most memorable phrases that made this series more unique and distinctive from other grimdark fantasy series. Plus, there’s Glokta. I immensely enjoyed reading Glokta’s perspective in Before They Are Hanged. He’s such a joy to read; the complexity of his character, the contrast between his spoken words and internal thoughts were hilarious, and I found myself always looking forward to his next chapter. The quantity and quality of the action scenes—both skirmishes and larger-scale battles—have also improved. Picture: The Road to Victory by Alexander Preuss The first book only showed glimpses of the world-building and lore of the series. This installment revealed some of the histories of the Circle of the World, mainly regarding The First Law, Juvens, Gulstrod, and Kanedias that explained and influenced Bayaz’s motivation in the series. The world-building was immersive and detailed but never went into world-building overkill level as some authors did. Jealousy, corruption, and revenge drove the histories of the world; despite the passage of time and the changes that come with it, it’s intriguing how things, somehow, haven’t changed at all. I believe that this is something that can be easily applied to our real-life history and current situation. “One should learn the lessons of history. The mistakes of the past need only be made once. Unless there are no other choices.” There’s no infamous middle-book syndrome here, Before They Are Hanged is an amazing sequel full of unpredictable plot progressions and incredibly well-realized character developments. I’m going to admit that some of the powerful pulse-pounding moments in the book during my first read was missing on my reread because I already know what will happen, but it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book. Being back with these morally grey characters feels like a reunion with twisted friends, and I’m glad for it. Onwards to the next book, Last Argument of Kings, which, in my opinion, is the best book Abercrombie has ever written so far; it’s also one of my favorite grimdark novels at the moment. You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping) You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Tivendale

    "We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged" - Heinrich Heine Before They Are Hanged is Abercrombie's second entry into the twisted and grim world of The First Law. It follows on from the three story arcs that The Blade itself stylishly led towards. Bayaz, the first of the Magi is venturing to the end of the Earth with his bizarre collection of distinctive personnel for reasons unbeknown to all apart from the Mage himself. Superior Glokta has traveled South to infiltrate the p "We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged" - Heinrich Heine Before They Are Hanged is Abercrombie's second entry into the twisted and grim world of The First Law. It follows on from the three story arcs that The Blade itself stylishly led towards. Bayaz, the first of the Magi is venturing to the end of the Earth with his bizarre collection of distinctive personnel for reasons unbeknown to all apart from the Mage himself. Superior Glokta has traveled South to infiltrate the politics of an allied nation, hoping to find out what happened to his ill-fated predecessor and preparing defences for the attacks soon to be initiated by an advancing and ultimately imminent rival army. The remaining narrative intertwines the stories of the rough-living, legendary warrior group of Threetrees and the Dogman with the troubles in the North where the Union is tackling the Northern King's great forces. Here we follow the action of "the worst-armed, worst-trained and worst-led army in the world" For one of the narratives arcs, three points of view presentations are followed, often within the same chapter switching between actions and opinions. The second has two viewpoints from very different characters summarising the happenings in the unwelcoming harshness of the cold real world with battles looming. The final is presented by Superior Glotka alone. A former dashing fencer who was tortured, crippled and now is an inquisitor/ torturer. Trust me, you would have to wake up pretty early in the morning to outsmart this gentleman! He is perhaps the finest creation in this series, for his tortuous past, achingly uncomfortable present and also his internal monolgues which are as highly gritty as they are humorous. I mentioned he is the only POV section in this arc, but his internal thoughts are often so comically different from his statements and actions that it is like two amazing viewpoints. His character is outstandingly well written. There is also a pretty distinctive juxtaposition in his presentation of events and environments. He still sees beauty in the world in his descriptions of things and then a second later could be commanding a subordinate to cut off a traitors body part. I very rarely read other reviews before writing my own, but I did catch one snippet from a status update that was very apt. It stated that Abercrombie's stories are full of "bastards that grow on you." I think that that is a perfect analogy. I honestly shouldn't care about most of the people written here. Why do I truly care about vain, flamboyant, selfish officer Jezal when something bad happens to him? Perhaps he deserves all he gets for his previous outlook and analysis of existence. Why do I care about Logan Ninefingers? He seems like an average warrior guy with scars encompassing his body, who people say was pretty handy with a sword and did some damning things in the past. I really cared about the majority of the main characters. Although a few fantasy character tropes are presented, spoilt King in waiting, mages, Devils etc... Nothing at all seems cliche and that cannot be said for a lot of modern fantasy works. My review of The Blade Itself raved about the characters and from my previous paragraph, you can see my opinions there haven't changed. If anything, my views have been reinforced and heightened about how much of a knack Abercrombie has for this aspect of his fantasy work. Although not really too negative and off-putting, I did comment on the lack of action throughout the first book. Action wise, Joe truly has raised the bar high here. Battles, sieges, and The Bloody Nine - all are expertly presented and adrenaline pumping. It doesn't all need to be full guts gory and bloody to have an emotional dark impact either, and there are a few moments here that are poignant in their effectiveness for that reason. I call this the (just made this up but it sounds cool) "pushing Bran from the Tower technique," very intricate actions that have long lasting effects even though the act in question was simple. In addition to the lack of action, my other grating issue with The Blade Itself was the world and the histories, although not hollow, did seem a bit unfulfilled. I was unsatisfied that there was still no map, but a lot of the above has been rectified here. Most of Bayaz et al's scenes are travel based (the end of the world isn't close) so we are presented cool stories by the characters to pass the time at campfires. Bayaz talking about the history of the world, his relationships with other important, almost legendary figures and his past failings are memorable. A scene that stood out to me was very simple, perhaps twelve pages where an ensemble discusses their scars. So not only have the already complex characters become deeper, the world and its past are filled in pretty well here. There is also a bit of a "love story" here to look forward to. I was highly satisfied with the majority of what I read here. Abercrombie is a genius is his moulding of characters and of all things "grim". Normally, the ending of a story can add a star to my rating. The finale to one of the arcs of this book had the opposite effect. I will not go into details but I will be interested in the comments to see if people agree and/or know the narrative I am discussing. I felt let down and almost like I had wasted my time waiting for that culmination. This is probably a 8.5/10 but "Last Argument of Kings" must give me a reason for the arc ending this way. If it does, I will re-evaluate what I have written in this little section. To conclude, this trilogy seems to be a character driven fantasy that is unequaled in the genre. Gripping, thrilling, gritty and pretty damn awesome. www.youandibooks.wordpress.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    okay enough with the reviews and comments from folks saying that there aren't any likeable characters in this series! what we have here are: (1) a barbarian with a heart of gold. sure, he can turn into a mass murdering psychopath when pressed, but my gosh, that doesn't happen too often! (2) an ex-slave who lives to destroy her former abusers. yes, she's grouchy & savage & suspicious of everyone, particularly white people. do you blame her? she was a former slave, abused and raped repeated okay enough with the reviews and comments from folks saying that there aren't any likeable characters in this series! what we have here are: (1) a barbarian with a heart of gold. sure, he can turn into a mass murdering psychopath when pressed, but my gosh, that doesn't happen too often! (2) an ex-slave who lives to destroy her former abusers. yes, she's grouchy & savage & suspicious of everyone, particularly white people. do you blame her? she was a former slave, abused and raped repeatedly. come on! (3) a centuries-old sorceror, also very grouchy. hey, he's been alive for centuries. he's seen the rise and fall of men. he's trying to stop the world from ending. give him a break! (4) a spoiled nobleman. he doesn't stay spoiled for long! the reader clearly sees him grow and discover new-found empathy, freshly-discovered understanding of the world and the people around him. a person can change, can't they? these are all completely loveable and endearing creations; i understood their bitterness and suspicious nature and off-putting high-handedness, but i also cheered their slow movements towards understanding each other, towards kindness (of a sort), towards decency. their courage has always been obvious, but with this novel, they become much more recognizably human. reading about their journey was pure pleasure. and the end of that journey? a great bit of dark, dark irony. it is a rather a brave and surprising thing for Abercrombie to pull off. although i am confident more will come out of that journey. also pure pleasure: the continuing misadventures of the torturer Glotka. i was pleased to see a decrease of his italicized snarkiness. it is still there, of course, but it is not everywhere and no longer functions as a kind of shorthand for actual characterization - it is just a part of who he is. was anyone reminded of Tyrion at King's Landing when reading about him seeing to the city of Dagoska? i was. Glotka remains a wonderful and unusual character. as do West and Dogman and all the rest. sure these are all some bitter folks, but they barely even qualify as anti-heroes. to me, they are heroes. Before They Are Hanged is a great middle book. unlike many second novels in a series, it does not feel at all like it is treading water. if anything, this is where the action of the series truly begins. the description of the various travels, battles, and siege are all riveting and Abercrombie retains his status as a writer who truly knows how to describe action. the depiction of magic and of mythology remain compelling. the mysteries remain mysterious - but not in a confounding way; we learn more but just enough to keep things tantalizing. and the writing remains "muscular". i usually hate seeing that word to describe prose because i'm often not sure what it even means, but in this case, the word fits. the writing is tight, sardonic, self-aware, and muscular. this was more than a good read, it was a wonderful experience and i am really stoked to see how it all turns out in the third book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    Glokta is an excellent torturer. Some would even say the best, but somewhere down his crooked path he made some rather nasty enemies. Such is life...... So, as a polite death sentence, he gets sent on a mission that is suicidal and near impossible to complete. Anybody else would fail. However, this is Sand Dan Glockta: the most ingenious torturer and manipulator to ever wear the Union’s colours. You can’t simply get rid of him. His enemies have made a terrible mistake in underestimating him. Phys Glokta is an excellent torturer. Some would even say the best, but somewhere down his crooked path he made some rather nasty enemies. Such is life...... So, as a polite death sentence, he gets sent on a mission that is suicidal and near impossible to complete. Anybody else would fail. However, this is Sand Dan Glockta: the most ingenious torturer and manipulator to ever wear the Union’s colours. You can’t simply get rid of him. His enemies have made a terrible mistake in underestimating him. Physically, he is very weak. Mentally, he is brilliant and ruthless. You’d be a fool to cross him. A party of haters Abercrombie certainly likes to give a dark twist on what could have been a conventional fantasy series. Instead of having a company of friends and allies, there is a company of misfits who absolutely detest each other. Bayaz, the first of the Magi, has brought them together to recover a deadly weapon; it’s clearly for his own ends, but he has concocted a persuasive lie about his intentions. Despite his supposed moral superiority, he is just as bad as the rest. Indeed, the group’s members are mean, selfish and they’re all killers. This makes for an amusing, and somewhat unusual, group of travelers. The chances of a member being murdered are just as high as the party working together. As the novel progresses this dynamic begins to shift. The hatred doesn’t evaporate, though it does develop into a mutual need to succeed and survive. They learn to rely on each other’s talents, and even go as far as to pay the odd compliment on each other’s killing skills. Such comradery! In the end, they’ve got each other’s backs. Either that or there all dead. It was a slow development that was appropriate to their personalities; it would have been very strange if these guys suddenly became best mates overnight. These just aren't the sort of people that have friends, at least, not for very long. It’s all about Glokta, the nastiest bastard in fantasy. Superior Glotka was once a hero. Those days are long gone. He now enjoys to torture in the same ways he was once tortured. But, he’s not malicious. It’s his job to torture. Someone’s got to do it, right? So why not an expert? Why not get some fun out of it? Except on his mission he learns to torture people in another way; he manipulates them emotionally and forces them to aid in his hopeless defence of Dogoska whilst he tries to uncover who murdered his predecessor. It’s not an easy task, but Glokta can handle it. He’s one tough, remorseless, bastard. "Honour, eh? What the hell is that anyway? Every man thinks it's something different. You can't drink it. You can't fuck it. The more of it you have the less good it does you, and if you've got none at all you don't miss it." I love his characterisation; it’s dark and powerful, but most importantly it’s utterly unique. I feel like I should hate this guy, though somehow he comes across as sorrowful. He’s a pragmatist; he knows what his weaknesses are, and he knows what he is. No other writer I’ve come across in fantasy can write such villainous characters that can so easily be sympathised with. Mark Lawrence certainly couldn’t pull it off in his Broken Empire Trilogy. I think Abercrombie has earnt his reputation as King of grimdark fantasy. What’s not to love? There’s war, political drama and evil vs evil. These early books are so much better that his newer stuff! The First Law Trilogy 1. The Blade Itself- A bloody four stars 2. Before They are Hanged - A gritty fours stars 3. The Last Argument of Kings- A strong four stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Celeste

    You can find this review and more at Novel Notions. “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.” I am astonished by how much I loved this book. I went from thinking that grimdark wasn’t for me to being an unapologetic convert to the genre. Whatever the cause for my change of heart, I’m insanely glad it happened, because Before They Are Hanged is absolutely fabulous. Brimming with humor and overflowing with compelling characters, the second installment of The First Law quenche You can find this review and more at Novel Notions. “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.” I am astonished by how much I loved this book. I went from thinking that grimdark wasn’t for me to being an unapologetic convert to the genre. Whatever the cause for my change of heart, I’m insanely glad it happened, because Before They Are Hanged is absolutely fabulous. Brimming with humor and overflowing with compelling characters, the second installment of The First Law quenched a thirst for high stakes and long odds that I didn’t even know I had. “Honour, eh? What the hell is that anyway? Every man thinks it's something different… The more of it you have the less good it does you, and if you've got none at all you don't miss it.” First, I’m crazy impressed that Abercrombie was able to pack this much character development and engaging plot into a second installment. With so many trilogies, book two is something to struggle through, bogging readers down in overly extensive world building and an awkward trudge from the introductory plot points of book A to the concluding plot points of book C. There are exceptions, of course. City of Blades, Words of Radiance, Valor, and Bloody Rose are among some of the best books I’ve ever read, and they were second installments, though not exclusively for trilogies. It looks like I can now add Before They Are Hanged to that list, as it kept me completely enthralled from start to finish. “People love to see death. It reminds them that however mean, however low, however horrible their lives become… at least they have one.” Abercrombie could (and should) give classes on crafting amazing character development. Every single perspective character grew by leaps and bounds in this book. Even those whose point of view chapters were scant in The Blade Itself (Ferro, West, and Dogman) were incredibly compelling and vibrant and sympathetic. I cared about every single perspective character, and was always a teensy bit desperate for my time with them to last a little longer before the point of view shifted. Abercrombie did an amazing job of imbuing each plot line with a sense of urgency that kept me on the edge of my seat for the duration of the book. It was honestly a little exhausting, but in the best way possible. While all of the characters grew tremendously and felt almost tangibly real, the award for the most character development in this book and possibly in any book I’ve ever read has to go to Jezal Luthor. I don’t want to spoil anything by getting into how he grew and why, but I was astounded by his alteration. “Anyone can face ease and success with confidence. It is the way we face trouble and misfortune that defines us.” Something that is always hit or miss for me is an author’s presentation of sex scenes. Some are beautiful, like those written by Nora Roberts, emphasizing the emotion of the act more than the mechanics. Some are painfully awkward, like just about every sex scene I’ve ever read by Stephen King. (The man is insanely talents with words, but they fail him when it comes to sex. I wish he would just…not.) Abercrombie’s sex scenes are hands down among the funniest I have ever read. There was one scene in particular that was perhaps the angriest mutual sex act I’ve ever read, and it had me laughing so hard my sides hurt. “A choice between killing and dying is no choice at all. You have to be realistic about these things.” Also, I’m not usually a fan of fiction this militaristic; I tend to get lost in the details. However, Abercrombie excels at that as well, and really makes me care not only about the outcome but about the battles themselves. Is there anything this man can’t do? “An open mind is like to an open wound. Vulnerable to poison. Liable to fester. Apt to give its owner only pain.” I don’t know if I’ve ever rated another book with 5 full stars and placed it among my favorites that left me so unsatisfied. There were decisions made and outcomes reached that were incredibly anticlimactic and had me groaning in disappointment. However, I knew from the warnings of friends (Petrik and Emma in this case) not to expect rainbows and unicorns. This is grimdark, after all. The name of the genre should tell you not to hope for a happy ending. Because I was warned, that frustration that I felt at said outcomes only added to the reading experience for me. There were no neatly tied conclusions to the plot lines Abercrombie followed throughout this book. I have a feeling that I’ll feel the same except to a greater extent about the final installment. And I’m actually okay with that. While I still have my fingers crossed that SOMETHING will turn out okay for at least one or two of the characters, I have no illusions of a happily ever after. I actually think that it would cheapen the entire story if everything worked out in the end, and I don’t know that I’ve ever felt that way before. I love happy endings, but such an outcome wouldn’t be at all believable in this case. “There was no such thing as luck. Luck was a word idiots used to explain the consequences of their own rashness, and selfishness, and stupidity. More often than not bad luck meant bad plans.” I’m so glad that I decided to give this series another chance, and that I happened to be in just the right mood for it when I picked it up. If The Last Argument of Kings is as good as its predecessors, it looks like I’ll be rearranging my already stuffed living room shelves to make room for another favorite series. Here’s hoping it blows me away!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. While Superior Glokta holds Dagoska against the Gurkish, Collum West endures untold hardship in the north in the companion of the Prince and Logen's six barbarian friends. Meanwhile, Bayaz, Logen, Luthar, and Nessa head toward the edge of the world for something that should best be left buried... As Elizabeth said in her review of The Two Towers, middle books in a trilogy are tricky business. While you occasionally get one the literary equivalent of The Empire Strike Back, most of them are more l While Superior Glokta holds Dagoska against the Gurkish, Collum West endures untold hardship in the north in the companion of the Prince and Logen's six barbarian friends. Meanwhile, Bayaz, Logen, Luthar, and Nessa head toward the edge of the world for something that should best be left buried... As Elizabeth said in her review of The Two Towers, middle books in a trilogy are tricky business. While you occasionally get one the literary equivalent of The Empire Strike Back, most of them are more like Temple of Doom. This one is way closer to Empire in terms of quality. It even has an ending as shocking as "Luke, I am your father." Where do I start? How about Glokta? Glokta is the Tyrion Lannister of the First Law trilogy as far as I'm concerned. He's crass, crippled, and very complicated. His protectiveness toward Ardee and dedication to the hopeless task of defending Dagoska against overwhelming odds won me over. More Glokta in the next book, please! As for the other characters, I love how Bayaz keeps trickling out details of the history of the Magi, all the while not being completely trusted. The friendship between Logen and Nessa seemed fairly natural and I love what's going on with Luthar. The events in Aulcus were gripping page-turners. It was really hard to put the book down at the end of my lunch break. Qwai and Longfoot could be fleshed out a bit more but you can't have everything. Where would you keep it all? Colonel West and the barbarians enduring the hellish Northern winter made King Stannis' march toward Winterfell seem like a breeze. West pushing the Prince off the cliff was one of my favorite parts of the book. The ending was better than my highest expectations. I wonder how Bayaz and company will rebound from that, as well as Glokta and the mess he's found himself ensnared in. In closing, no sophomore jinx here! Before They are Hanged was even better than The Blade Itself. Five gore-spattered stars!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Choko

    Well, let's be realistic about it, this book is awesome! Disgusting, bloody, violent, hard, gritty, showing no mercy to anyone, murderous and hope shredding... And yet, it is addictive and leaves you craving your next dose!!! I am filled with adrenaline from reading it, but there are no rainbows and comfort foods on my mind. I want some relief from the darkness and despair, but the only way to get it is by getting the next book and annihilating it - no other way!!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dirk Grobbelaar

    Don’t write off the fantasy tropes just yet, all you unbelievers. This trilogy shows that there is still an enormous amount of life left in some of them. This dark sequel to The Blade Itself is everything I hoped it would be. I would be hard pressed to select a favourite out of the multiple plot threads featured in Before They Are Hanged, but I’m probably partial to the sequences featuring the Named Men. Again, there is an old school sense of wonder to this novel, despite the modern fantasy grit Don’t write off the fantasy tropes just yet, all you unbelievers. This trilogy shows that there is still an enormous amount of life left in some of them. This dark sequel to The Blade Itself is everything I hoped it would be. I would be hard pressed to select a favourite out of the multiple plot threads featured in Before They Are Hanged, but I’m probably partial to the sequences featuring the Named Men. Again, there is an old school sense of wonder to this novel, despite the modern fantasy grittiness. There are some nasty surprises between these pages and many issues aren’t resolved in quite the fashion that the reader might have expected, or even had hoped for. But, as Logen Ninefingers would almost certainly say: you have to be realistic about these things. A great mix of epic and heroic, fantasy-heads can do far worse than giving this trilogy a spin. Unless they are averse to some swearing, violence, dark humour and the occasional rather, um, unrefined and comical hop in the sack. It is at times an uneasy and unsettling read, yet I can’t help but feel that this is part of its charm. The action scenes are relentless and splendidly written, albeit somewhat gruesome on occasion. The book showcases everything from minor skirmishes to full scale pitched warfare. There is even a siege thrown in for good measure. Two wars being fought on two separate fronts inevitably equal a high body count. Abercrombie certainly appears to have a knack for this kind of thing. You’d think that the character development would suffer in all this chaos and madness. Oh, how wrong you’d be! As the second novel in a trilogy, this could easily be seen as a bridging work. However, I enjoyed it even more than the first. There’s certainly a lot more going on. The Blade Itself was very good, but it didn’t really go anywhere and left the reader somewhat mystified as to where the story was headed. Before They Are Hanged rectifies this in spades, and there is a lot of progression. Here’s hoping Last Argument of Kings continues this run of good form and closes the trilogy in spectacular fashion. Capital!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jokoloyo

    The fun continues!!! I give a high rating due to its page turning storytelling, dark humour, fight/battle scenes, and characters. Especially characters! There are new interesting characters made first appearance on this book. (view spoiler)[For example Nicomo Cosca and Caul Shivers. They will have more important roles on Best Served Cold. You'll love Cosca although he is an unreliable drunkard. (hide spoiler)] But as book two of a trilogy serial, the plots are still far from finish. At least some The fun continues!!! I give a high rating due to its page turning storytelling, dark humour, fight/battle scenes, and characters. Especially characters! There are new interesting characters made first appearance on this book. (view spoiler)[For example Nicomo Cosca and Caul Shivers. They will have more important roles on Best Served Cold. You'll love Cosca although he is an unreliable drunkard. (hide spoiler)] But as book two of a trilogy serial, the plots are still far from finish. At least some questions/mysteries from book one are answered on this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robin (Bridge Four)

    4.5 With Characters Like These Who Worries About the Plot Stars Buddy read with Athena, Alexa, Ashley, Eon, Anasylvia and Michelle The Blade Itself was a complete character study without a lot of plot, Before They Are Hanged has a little more plotting involved but for me it was still all about the characters. I travelled with them, I worried for them, I hoped for the best even in the midst of the worst and at the end I’m left wondering how they will ever get out of the complete mess they are all 4.5 With Characters Like These Who Worries About the Plot Stars Buddy read with Athena, Alexa, Ashley, Eon, Anasylvia and Michelle The Blade Itself was a complete character study without a lot of plot, Before They Are Hanged has a little more plotting involved but for me it was still all about the characters. I travelled with them, I worried for them, I hoped for the best even in the midst of the worst and at the end I’m left wondering how they will ever get out of the complete mess they are all in. Glotka Strange how, with time, even the most terrible suffering of others can become . . . tedious Glotcka has proved again what a complex character he is. Is he the misunderstood hero or is he the villain? I’m never quite sure myself. He can torture better than anyone but still it seems that he has a conscience and I love the inner dialogue he has. I look forward to his chapters because even though in so many ways he is awful he is also extremely clever and knows the true score. He might be dead as soon as the other players in this dangerous game he is playing. If he can’t keep on the right side of the people in power he will be the body floating in the docks. So he plays his part of the game better than anyone else and proves that just because you are horribly crippled the mind is a dangerous thing and being smart will save your ass more than a solid sword arm. Logen and Ferro + the rest of the travelers (Bayaz, Jazel, Quai and Longfoot) I ship Logen and Ferro so hard. Both are fierce warriors with horrible pasts. Again we get to see Logen and the burden he has carried by having Ninefingers as a traveler in his head. Logen is calm, smart and collected. He hands out great advice and seems like the true leader of the pack. But when 'The Bloody Nine' comes out to play no one is safe, even his allies. Ferro, I just want to hug you, but you’d probably slit my throat if I tried. Learning about her past made me feel so much for her character. She is a feral beast to be sure but I loved the time she and Logen spent together and how close they became. Jazel surprisingly has grown on me, all it took was a near brush with death and some real pain to make the boy grow up a bit. He might be a decent person after all and it just make me wonder what is Bayaz grooming the boy for. ‘Easy, now, and listen to me. It hurts, yes. Seems like more than you can take, but it isn’t. You think you’re going to die, but you won’t. Listen to me, because I’ve been there, and I know. Each minute. Each hour. Each day, it gets better.’ Bayaz is still a huge mystery to me and everyone else he is traveling with so I guess it is only fair I’m in the dark about his character as well. It seems that Quai has started to question his master a little more and the First Magi must tell stories of his past in order to convince the group that he is prepared and will not make the same mistakes again. “All the great heroes of old, you know - the great kings, the great generals - they all faced adversity from time to time.” Jezal looked up. He had almost forgotten that Bayaz was there. “Suffering is what gives a man strength, my boy, just as the steel most hammered turns out the hardest.” Wow what a journey these characters had and I will say at the end of it I was beyond surprised with how it all turned out. With all they went through to get where they were going I didn’t expect the outcome and can’t wait to see what the band of brothers + Ferro will do now. The Northmen and West The Named men from the north have found a common ally against Bethod, but the crafty king has a lot of tricks up his sleeve and things might just get a little bloody. ”It was a bad day for men, all in all, and a good one for the ground. Always the way, after a battle. Only the ground wins.” I was so upset with West at the end of The Blade Itself but seeing him in his new position and having to deal with the Prince and a few other circumstances I really began to like him again. He has practically redeemed himself to me and I honestly felt extremely bad for him at one point (view spoiler)[ She winced and stared down at the ground beside his feet. ‘I didn’t mean to . . . well. I owe you a lot, I know. It’s just that . . . you’re too angry for me. That’s all.’ West stared at her as she trudged off up the hill after the Northmen, hardly able to believe his ears. She was happy to bed that stinking savage, but he was too angry? It was so unfair he almost choked on his rage. So no love for West yet. (hide spoiler)] But I like West and the Named men together and it seems they have a lot to teach each other. The Rest of the Story There was a lot going on in this and at the end of it and well to be honest, it seems hopeless for everyone. The deck is definitely stacked against them all and I’m not sure how they will win let alone survive the upcoming battles. There are so many players, old debts to be settled, new terrifying adversaries how many more will die??? That said I still can’t wait to see how everything plays out and I am crossing my fingers and hoping that at least of few of my favorite characters, if not all, will make it out alive. Buddy Read of the next book cannot come soon enough.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ɗẳɳ 2.☊

    Having waited nearly two years to delve back into this series, I was a bit concerned about picking up the thread of the storyline without becoming overly confused. Surprisingly, that never proved to be much of an issue at all—a true sign of a well written tale. Another surprising revelation was that I enjoyed most all the characters this time around, which was one of my big complaints from book one. I basically hated two of the points of view in that one. Jezal was such an insufferable snob, but Having waited nearly two years to delve back into this series, I was a bit concerned about picking up the thread of the storyline without becoming overly confused. Surprisingly, that never proved to be much of an issue at all—a true sign of a well written tale. Another surprising revelation was that I enjoyed most all the characters this time around, which was one of my big complaints from book one. I basically hated two of the points of view in that one. Jezal was such an insufferable snob, but nothing that a little smack in the mouth couldn’t fix. Both he and Glokta became much more sympathetic characters over this leg of the journey. However, I was still aggravated with Glokta’s constant bellyaching—I get it, you’re crippled, your body is wrecked in a thousand unspeakable ways, every movement is pure torture, but can you, for the love of God, man, give it a rest already! Thankfully, it was toned down somewhat from book one, which was torturous to read at times. The story picks up right where book one left off, and soon finds the cast split into three main groups. The core group of Bayaz, Logen, Ferro, and Jezal is led by a navigator to the edge of the known world on a quest to acquire an ancient weapon capable of destroying the Gurkish emperor—a powerful magi at odds with Bayaz. Meanwhile, Glokta is tasked with an impossible mission of not only holding the port city of Dagoska, which is currently under siege, but also rooting out any Gurkish sympathizers within the high council. Then lastly, Jezal’s old friend Colonel West welcomes Logen’s pack of barbarians (whom Logen still believes to be dead) into the ranks of the Union army to scout out a way to defeat the Northern savages . . . The story was told, once again, through the multiple points of views. Although, the author adapted a technique that I wish all writers would follow: Whenever the action perked up, he stayed with that particular POV until the scene reached its natural conclusion, rather than building to some cliffhanger only to jump to another storyline. That’s a cheap and vastly overused ploy to make a story appear to be more compelling than it actually is. I always hate to be manipulated in such a manner. Often, the second novel in a trilogy is a lesser work, typically populated with backstories and filler material to set the stage for the finale—not so here. This book, in my opinion, was superior to book one in every conceivable way. Not to mention, the ending to one of the POVs was such a lark that I felt compelled to say, kudos to Mr. Abercrombie for having the cajones to pull that rug out from under us. I found it oddly hilarious. Bottom line: There are so many threads left dangling here that it just begs you to jump right into the third and final book, but since I’ve already managed to hold out for two years between reading books one and two, I think I can resist the urge to wrap things just a tad bit longer. After all, my TBR pile is not getting any smaller. Bonus: In the mist of all this killing and savagery two of my favorite character managed to hook up, in one of the most awkward sex scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIrm0... My review of book one, wherein I ramble for way too long over matters entirely unrelated to the story. ;)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joey Woolfardis

    I skived off work to read this. Okay, so I'm my own boss and I can afford a day off since I work every day, ten hours every day, but still. Skived off, ya hear? I was a little hesitant to keep this at five stars to begin with, straight after I finished it and was basking in the afterglow but also cursing myself for not having done anything productive that day (except some admin, ugh) but I will keep it at five stars. It gave me a feeling which is my criteria for giving a book five stars. It's not I skived off work to read this. Okay, so I'm my own boss and I can afford a day off since I work every day, ten hours every day, but still. Skived off, ya hear? I was a little hesitant to keep this at five stars to begin with, straight after I finished it and was basking in the afterglow but also cursing myself for not having done anything productive that day (except some admin, ugh) but I will keep it at five stars. It gave me a feeling which is my criteria for giving a book five stars. It's not always the same feeling and sometimes it is as simple as being the only book to ever make me cry. In this case, the feeling was I do not want to put this book down all of my deadlines be damned. I love that feeling: that's why I read. Before They Are Hanged is the second book of the First Law Trilogy, and we are still following the same characters but their threads have weaved together nicely and the plot is beginning to thicken. I must confess I didn't recall half as much as what happened, but there were unusual memories that bubbled to the surface every now and then and I kept on guessing where we were heading. We are also passed between main characters really nicely: sometimes it is one chapter, sometimes it's two, but I never feel lost. Each character has their own way, their style and that really entices me. I am still in love with Sand dan Glokta and know I shouldn't be. We are starting to see each character discover their redeeming features: Luthar is becoming less of an arsehole, Ferro a little less cold, Quai a little less pathetic, Glokta a little less torturer. I like that last one less than the others, because my darling torturer is perfect the way he is, hobbling and tapping about scaring everyone, but we can't have everything. The political intrigue and the magical undertones are bubbling away nicely, sometimes in the background, sometimes in full view. There are clues being dropped everywhere and I find that exceptional. That is a mystery murder kind of plot device and yet it fits in perfectly here. I still cannot tell where this is going, despite having read it before. Maybe that says more than I can see, but 9 years is a long time and I could not tell you what I had for breakfast two days ago. And, I would like to express my gratitude and offer my applause to Joe for removing the superfluous exclaimation marks from some characters dialogue. That was the main reason the first book irked me and he has amended it very well here: still, some characters use them too much, but that fits their personality. Maybe there are still a little too many as well, but it is so much better than before that it appeases me. About the grimdarkness? I don't really see it. It's grim, yes. People are dying and swearing and I would say it is more realistic in some ways than a lot of battle books, but I thought that was life. To see the hope you do need to look carefully with a magnifying glass maybe, but it's there. I see nothing more than a cleverly constructed, well-written High Fantasy novel; with some clichés but also some nice twists; some darkness and some light relief; some detestable characters yet whom have hearts just as the rest of us. The serial killer brakes for the ducklings crossing the road.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Markus

    Arguably even better than the previous instalment, Before They Are Hanged is another suspenseful, action-packed, intrigue-filled piece of entertainment. This is far from high-level literature, but it's a damn good fantasy series. Inquisitor Glokta's difficulties practically ruling a besieged city, the woes of good old West in saving a military campaign from a spectacularly incompetent commander, and our dear party of adventurers venturing forth into the ruins of the Old Empire to dig up some forg Arguably even better than the previous instalment, Before They Are Hanged is another suspenseful, action-packed, intrigue-filled piece of entertainment. This is far from high-level literature, but it's a damn good fantasy series. Inquisitor Glokta's difficulties practically ruling a besieged city, the woes of good old West in saving a military campaign from a spectacularly incompetent commander, and our dear party of adventurers venturing forth into the ruins of the Old Empire to dig up some forgotten mysteries - all compelling stories setting up everything wonderfully for a grand finale.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say that he's a hell of a writer. With this, he proves that he earned his status as a Named Man of fantasy. This picks up where "TBI" left off, and carries the characters and plot away in new and unpredictable directions. There's political intrigue, betrayal, torture, fights galore, broken hearts and twisted limbs, love, sex, laughs, and going back to the mud. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll refrain from talking about the travails of Collem West in Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say that he's a hell of a writer. With this, he proves that he earned his status as a Named Man of fantasy. This picks up where "TBI" left off, and carries the characters and plot away in new and unpredictable directions. There's political intrigue, betrayal, torture, fights galore, broken hearts and twisted limbs, love, sex, laughs, and going back to the mud. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll refrain from talking about the travails of Collem West in Angland, of the Dogman and the rest of Ninefingers' old crew, of Glokta in a no-win situation on the edge of the Gurkish Empire, and of Logen and Bayaz's group on a journey to the End of the World. Once again, Abercrombie deftly uses the tropes of heroic fiction in ways both satisfying and surprising. The fight scenes are top-notch, approaching the Bernard Cornwell-level of excellence. Abercrombie keeps the story moving, but it is driven by the characters. He never falls victim to the fantasy trap of privileging world-building over character and plot, or of using made-up words when perfectly good English ones will do (Stephen Erikson, I'm looking at you!). I learned more about the social structure of the Union and the North, but it was through the characters and not through needless exposition. The violent meritocracy of the North is contrasted with the rigid class stratification of the Union, with serious results.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Evgeny

    This book picks up right where the previous one left. In fact, the only reason to split this tale between two books I see was the length. There are three major plot-lines in here. The first one is a defense by Union forces of its northern territory against an invasion by barbarians united by a ruthless and cunning leader. The Union has an advantage in numbers, but the majority of its soldiers are ill-equipped peasants who never wielded any weapons in their lives. The high command of Union consist This book picks up right where the previous one left. In fact, the only reason to split this tale between two books I see was the length. There are three major plot-lines in here. The first one is a defense by Union forces of its northern territory against an invasion by barbarians united by a ruthless and cunning leader. The Union has an advantage in numbers, but the majority of its soldiers are ill-equipped peasants who never wielded any weapons in their lives. The high command of Union consists of scheming politicians who do not care about the outcome of the war except to advance their own ambitions. The second subplot is a defense by Union forces of its southern territory against an invasion of a mighty Empire united by a ruthless and cunning leader. Did you notice a similarity with the previous one? Everything I mentioned regarding north can be said about south as well. The last subplot is a quest for an artifact by an extremely diverse group of people. This reminds of The Lord of the Rings somewhat, but the outcome of the quest is quite different. Usually the middle book of the trilogy is the least exciting one of it. In this case the author cheated to avoid this: I already mentioned before that the first book feels like a giant prolog, so the second book is the place where things started getting interesting. Most of the characters are very memorable and feel like living people with seemingly bad guys showing traces of humanity and good guys developing their dark sides. The writing quality remains very good and for the most part the book does not disappoint. I still find some kind of exciting is missing - I cannot even name it exactly and this is the reason for the book losing 1/2 of the star from perfect 5 star rating. Thus the final rating is 4.5 stars. This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/875944...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Obida

    'We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.' Heinrich Heine Sadly I didn’t enjoy this as much as I did the first book, not that it wasn’t good but I felt as if it was missing something vital. World building and Writing The author didn’t disappoint in this aspect, the world building is superb. Same goes for the writing, third person multiple POV. 'The failure of something great is never a simple matter, but, where there is success and glory, there must also be failure and shame 'We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.' Heinrich Heine Sadly I didn’t enjoy this as much as I did the first book, not that it wasn’t good but I felt as if it was missing something vital. World building and Writing The author didn’t disappoint in this aspect, the world building is superb. Same goes for the writing, third person multiple POV. 'The failure of something great is never a simple matter, but, where there is success and glory, there must also be failure and shame. Where there are both, jealousies must simmer. Envy and pride led by slow degrees to squabbles, then to feuds, then to wars. Characters and Plot The plot didn’t really progress much, more than half of the main characters(Logen, Jazel, Ferro, Bazel) are on a journey, it took 90% of the whole book before they reached where they were going, the whole journey was kind of boring, just few occurrences that was fun to read. And what happened when they got there was so underwhelming. There was good character development for Jezal, Logen and Ferro, I think Bazel is one dimensional, there was no progress whatsoever in his character. A choice between killing and dying is no choice at all. You have to be realistic about these things. It was the part of Glokta my favourite character in the series that have a major progress in the whole book, I was always glad whenever it was his POV. What I love more about Glokta is his tendency to always surprise me by doing good things. That of Collem West and the Dogman wasn’t bad either, with these two I got to know how the war was progressing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stjepan Cobets

    The second part of the trilogy “Before they are hanged” takes us into the wastelands of the old empire. Glokta gets impossible and a suicide mission to save the city Dagoska from the attack off Gurhul Empire. Meanwhile, Glokta must find out who killed his predecessor and uncover the conspiracy. Meanwhile fueling the war with northerners, Major West went to fight with unprepared units and mutually antagonistic generals. The only hope is supreme commander Burr that keeps them together. One thing i The second part of the trilogy “Before they are hanged” takes us into the wastelands of the old empire. Glokta gets impossible and a suicide mission to save the city Dagoska from the attack off Gurhul Empire. Meanwhile, Glokta must find out who killed his predecessor and uncover the conspiracy. Meanwhile fueling the war with northerners, Major West went to fight with unprepared units and mutually antagonistic generals. The only hope is supreme commander Burr that keeps them together. One thing is certain, the leader of northerners Bethod is relentless and his enemies can only hope for death. First of the Magi Bayaz led his small group, over the old empire that has all but not hospitable. Who will live and who will die, no one knows. Writer Joe Abercrombie experienced, as well as in the first part takes us through the story where you can expect the unexpected. I honestly could not wait to buy this book because I enjoyed in the first part and I was not wrong, this is really a fantastic book and soon I intended to buy the third book. The book I would gladly recommend to all fans of fantasy because this is now excellent series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kells Next Read

    Hope. Arch lector. Patience. Glokta frowned. Never have three ideas belonged together less This second book....dare I say was even better than the first. It was and had every freaking thing I could possibly want in a book. The characters were in ripping form and I'm still at a lost as too who I love more. Glokta is my hero in every aspect of the word. He's witty, raw and down right nasty...and I love him for it Logen, the deadly brute...that's *realistic about things* is hard not to love. His pers Hope. Arch lector. Patience. Glokta frowned. Never have three ideas belonged together less This second book....dare I say was even better than the first. It was and had every freaking thing I could possibly want in a book. The characters were in ripping form and I'm still at a lost as too who I love more. Glokta is my hero in every aspect of the word. He's witty, raw and down right nasty...and I love him for it Logen, the deadly brute...that's *realistic about things* is hard not to love. His personality is down right wonderful and love to see how he continues to grow and bring the group closer to each other. Jezal character did not fail in the least to have me laughing out loud throughout this Epic read. With all the fighting and killing his humor was most welcomed and necessary. In All, this was a Hell of a book and I can't wait to move unto book three. Joe Abercrombie has definitely become one of my fave authors. I'm looking forward to reading more of his work

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nimrod Daniel

    Joe really shines when it comes to his characters, his writing and his style. His characters are what makes the book so enjoyable, with lots of funny/cynical moments. A few times while reading the book I just felt like saying “haha, I like this character, he/ she is super- awesome”. Joe’s style is unique, and that’s what I like in his books, he can write a great book without pulling off lots of sophisticated tricks (plot-wise). There’s more plot here in comparison to the first book (the first 30% Joe really shines when it comes to his characters, his writing and his style. His characters are what makes the book so enjoyable, with lots of funny/cynical moments. A few times while reading the book I just felt like saying “haha, I like this character, he/ she is super- awesome”. Joe’s style is unique, and that’s what I like in his books, he can write a great book without pulling off lots of sophisticated tricks (plot-wise). There’s more plot here in comparison to the first book (the first 30% was another exposition, though), and the book has a great ending, while Joe pulled-off an Abercrombie-trick from his hat (which is not the Butcher/Sanderson-trick), and with a moving scene afterwards. But still, it’s a four-stars plot, so that’s why I reduced half a star from the overall rating. 4.5/5.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lema

    Guys! This book is so awesomely non-cliché I can't even..! Ok, first let's put some context into why I loved this so much. So I'm working like crazy and barely have time to read more than 1 hour each day, so reading these in slow doses over 1 month has been such a treat.. I would come back every day eager to jump into my pajamas and spend some time with Glokta, Logen and Jezal and see what those bastards are up to today. Can we take a second to applaud character development done at its finest? and Guys! This book is so awesomely non-cliché I can't even..! Ok, first let's put some context into why I loved this so much. So I'm working like crazy and barely have time to read more than 1 hour each day, so reading these in slow doses over 1 month has been such a treat.. I would come back every day eager to jump into my pajamas and spend some time with Glokta, Logen and Jezal and see what those bastards are up to today. Can we take a second to applaud character development done at its finest? and when I say development it could be to the better, the worse or just to the batshit crazy, which I honestly haven't seen done that much before. Let me add that this book probably contains the single most hilarious sex scene I have ever read about *slo-mo claps* This book is such an amazing blend of brutal, gory, awkward, funny, dark, touching, sad, exhilarating, I wouldn't know where to start in my review.. I'll just throw this quote at you while I try to gather my thoughts. " 'You could not even guess at the things that I have done. Awful, evil, obscene, the telling of them alone could make you puke.' He shrugged. 'They nag at me from time to time, but I tell myself I had good reasons. The years pass, the unimaginable becomes everyday, the hideous becomes tedious, the unbearable becomes routine. I push it all into the dark corners of my mind, and it's incredible the room back there. Amazing what one can live with.' " See, see?! Anyway, it may not be the best book to binge-read, but it's the best thing that happened to me during a stressful month (Petrik man, I owe you! :D), and the characters are so worth it... They all will probably be committed for intensive psychotherapy if they were real, and they do make me question my morals every time shit goes down and I cheer for those shady bastards. Only one book left in the trilogy and I can't wait to see how all the craziness that happened in book 2 will unfold! Hopefully it'll take me less than a month to finish this time :P

  21. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Heterogeneous This follow-up book in the First Law trilogy has a greater adventure than the first book. The battles and fighting continue relentlessly. The sense of expanse widens even further – to the ends of the world. The characters are further developed and nothing is predictable in their personalities. The story continues at a rapid page-turning wide-eyed pace. Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a band of adventurers on a perilous mission to distant lands. The most hated and deadly wo Heterogeneous This follow-up book in the First Law trilogy has a greater adventure than the first book. The battles and fighting continue relentlessly. The sense of expanse widens even further – to the ends of the world. The characters are further developed and nothing is predictable in their personalities. The story continues at a rapid page-turning wide-eyed pace. Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a band of adventurers on a perilous mission to distant lands. The most hated and deadly woman in the South, Ferro, the most feared man in the North, Logan Ninefingers, and the most selfish boy in the Union, Jezel, make a strange alliance. Their ability to inflict brutal damage to opponents is tempered with their loyalty and sense of justice. As a band of warriors, their cohesion and diversities continue to captivate. We get to see deeper into their nature and the subtle charisma with several is surprising. Several other characters are so intriguing including Glokta, the Inquisitor. Having to defend his city knowing it is full of traitors that he must root out, where no-one can be trusted and where failure means execution. We will have our favourites but imagine feeling empathy and fond gravitation towards an Inquisitor! This is an amazing fantasy adventure that is full of wonderfully drawn characters, a landscape that comes alive in the writing, and a plot that is ridiculously imaginative. I would highly recommend this book and the whole First Law trilogy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jaya

    4.85 stars I like reading fantasies well enough but was never too keen on those being termed as High/Epic Fantasies considering them not my cuppa... or so I thought. I am glad to be wrong in this instance :) This series is well into my favourites/re-reads shelf. My only regret is that I took so many months to finish this one off, no fault of the book just my capricious infidelities towards books O.O P.S : Glokta (No more words needed)

  23. 4 out of 5

    ChopinFC

    Full review... 5 Stars Abercrombie does it again! Before They Are Hanged is a superb follow up series with fantastic characters devious plots and schemes and volatile action that does not stop until the very end! This book is an incredible achievement for a sophomore series. Picture you live in a world much like the medieval times, with large castles and rustic brick roads and villages, where magic both pure and innocent as well as dark and omnipotent are found in the deep confines of the world. Full review... 5 Stars Abercrombie does it again! Before They Are Hanged is a superb follow up series with fantastic characters devious plots and schemes and volatile action that does not stop until the very end! This book is an incredible achievement for a sophomore series. Picture you live in a world much like the medieval times, with large castles and rustic brick roads and villages, where magic both pure and innocent as well as dark and omnipotent are found in the deep confines of the world. Imagine the church, and it's forever dominating inquisicion forge 'truths' from torture chambers and heavy hooks and chains... where battles are inundated by the sounds of crashing swords, chinks of armor and the only sound you hear are hysterical yells of pain and the squeal of dying horses... This to me is the world of the masterpiece by Joe Abercrombie Before They are Hanged Chaotic battle in 'Before They are Hanged' It's amazing how reading can take you places you never imagine existed! Joe Abercrombie's The First Law series completely blew me away from the get go! I didn't write a full review for the first book, but it was superbly written and developed. Abercrombie probably tops himself in this second installement of the trilogy, as we revisit the adventures and misadventures of such memorable characters! Abercrombie has instantly become one of my favorite fantasy authors after I read the first book in this series, The Blade Itself. The writing is like nothing I've read before in the fantasy genre. Certainly there are many elements of 'grimdark' fantasy in the story, with lots of violence, gore and awesome battle scenes. Yet, Abercrombie can interlude such brilliant moments of innocence and grandiosity, that one would think to be reading an epic fantasy novel! The action in 'Before They Are Hanged' is unrelenting and incredible! The tension in a chapter can go from tame boring to nuclear in 2.2 seconds! Certainly that is one of the addicting qualities in his writing. In one moment a group of characters are walking along a deserted road on a sunny and tranquil day, and the next a group of 'shankas' (also known as 'flatheads') can be waiting 'round the corner for a full all out death experience! Ugly but deadly Shanka The second book pics up chronologically after the end of the first book. The story is subdivided into 3 separate arcs. One follows 'Logen Ninefingers', captain Jazal and Bayaz 'first of the Magi' ( a sort of wizardry 'Gandalf) in their quest for an evil magician. The second plot follows captain 'West' and the his battle for the troop of 'Angland' against the Northmen. Finally the last arc is my favorite, as everything related to the devilishly fun character of inquisitor Glokta. A word on Abercrombie and his style of character creation: they are all unique, interesting to the core and bad asses! The dialogue between characters is ever dynamic. There are so many memorable lines, with lots of curses and grimdark themes, but never done in a distasteful way. Inquisitor Glokta, oh Glokta! What a fucked up, deranged, borderline schizophrenic character who's by far my FAVORITE character in the whole series. To understand his present horrific shortcomings one must look at his tragic past! Glokta was a master fencer, a high captain of distinguished valor in the arm of 'Angland', before he was capture by enemy troops and tortured to smithereens. After getting tortured for months, including physical, psychological and emotional abuse, the end result is the broken Glokta... a shadow of his previous self! Boy oh boy, but he is a clusterfuck mess! I always imagine Glokta after the character 'caliban' (from the movie 'Logan'). Glokta is bald, toothless, has ample physical deformities from his previous torture days which make him walk hunched back and limping... a true gruesome sight, specially as he is chosen as the major 'inquisitor' for the church! They say, 'to the victor goes the spoils'... in Glokta's case, to the 'tortured, goes a crazed and jaded inquisitor'. Inquisitor Glokta Glokta has constant internal struggles with himself. Abercrombie masterfully crafts a character who's both sadistic, angry with the world, but clearly processes an internal struggle of identity and right vs wrong. Abercrombie describe's what Glokta is thinking (on a first POV) and immediately his response to other characters! These moments of inner struggle and the ones he's having 'fun' torturing prisoners are what make him such a fascinating character! Here's an example of his constant dialogue with himself: " His grotesque, toeless left leg twitched to itself, still beyond his control. He glared down at it with a burning hatred. Fucking horrible thing. Revolting useless lump of flesh. Why didnt' they just cut you off? Why dont I still? But he knew why not... Abercrombie achieves near nirvana in this incredible follow up series with Before They Are Hanged . Incredible characters full of tension and emotion, battle scenes of epic proportions and lots of humor and grimdark moments, make this book a must read! 5 Stars

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    Joe Abercrombie has given me what I enjoy most in a novel: character growth and development. It has me on the edge of my seat to see those jerks from THE BLADE ITSELF learn and grow: a brain, a spine and a heart. Superior Glokta, the heartless cripple who tortures others and has no mercy or remorse, is growing a heart. He is starting to care about whether the confessions he tortures out of people are true or not. He is sparing certain people's lives when before he wouldn't have hesitated to kill t Joe Abercrombie has given me what I enjoy most in a novel: character growth and development. It has me on the edge of my seat to see those jerks from THE BLADE ITSELF learn and grow: a brain, a spine and a heart. Superior Glokta, the heartless cripple who tortures others and has no mercy or remorse, is growing a heart. He is starting to care about whether the confessions he tortures out of people are true or not. He is sparing certain people's lives when before he wouldn't have hesitated to kill them. He is acting as Ardee's protector, shielding the young woman from the harshness of the world. He's still not A Good Man - he still tortures, kills, sentences innocent people to death - but I can see compassion and mercy in him now, where before there was none. He's starting to heal (mentally) from being tortured those two years in the Emperor's prisons. He also, in this book, acts out against racism and forces the people around him to respect the 'natives' and give the 'natives' back their basic rights. He also stops the ghettoization of the 'natives' and opens the city gates to them again. Jezal, the pretty, arrogant, self-centered, whiny spoiled brat from the first book learns A LOT in this novel. He experiences battle firsthand. He kills two men. He's wounded - in a terrible way for him - they wound his beautiful face. His companions, people who he looks down on and treat like crap, patched him up and helped him. Now he is no longer so pretty. He's humbler (although still full of himself) and he's learning to value the 'barbarians', ugly people, and people of low birth who he would have spit on, previously. Slowly but surely, he's growing a brain. He also has killed two men now, so that makes him a little more wise about battle and what it really means to take a life. Logen Ninefingers - I liked this character since the beginning of THE BLADE ITSELF, so I can't really say I've enjoyed watching him change and grow - he's a pretty Good Man, you know, except for being a merciless and brutal slaughterer of thousands. In this book I loved to see his and Ferro's relationship grow. Ferro, the scarred barbarian ex-slavewoman, is slowly, very, very slowly learning how to trust again. Logen Ninefingers is so, so, so careful and patient with her. He does little things to make her life easier. He shows time and time again that he's got her back in battle. This is seduction. Forget about pretty boys, these arrogant jerks I see now that are so popular in YA and New Adult fiction. Logen is certainly not pretty, but he makes it clear that Ferro is the center of his world. He is always respectful of her. Respectful, kind, patient, trustworthy, and slow-moving - it's no wonder that Ferro's defenses are slowly crumbling in the wake of this overwhelming Good being aimed directly at her. He isn't looking for sex, actually even just getting her to sit next to him at the fire seemed like a lofty goal. He just wants her to be happier and wants to help her join the human race again. Hot, hot, hot! Doesn't matter to me that they are both ugly, scarred, tormented people who are used to killing and even more used to being betrayed - this love story (which is miniscule in the book, totally a small little side-plot) makes my heart melt. I hate in stories where people instantly fall in love - I am glad Abercrombie made me wait a book and a half for this. I also hate when sex and lust are in the forefront - some hot guy shows up and makes a few sarcastic remarks and the next thing you know the couple are having (excellent) sex right and left, even though the girl is a virgin. This love story between Ferro and Ninefingers is realistic. It's hard, it takes work, it takes time, and the sex isn't instantly amazing either. Not only is the sex a work in progress, getting better and better each time, but Ferro is so harsh and bitter and angry that it's hard for her to have a normal conversation. She lashes out - a lot - and then doesn't know how to apologize. Ninefingers really has to be extremely patient and cautious with her, and it's a constant struggle. Both are people who have been really beat up by life, and I liked seeing them make a connection. I want to stress that this book is in no way a romance, this is a tiny little subplot that's barely on the radar, but it made me extremely happy, so I had to talk about it. Who else? Oh yeah, Colonel West. He's going to war with a bunch of morons leading the troops. Needless to say, the Union - civilization, the people who look down on the Northern barbarians - picks men to lead battle and rule the country based on birth, not on any sort of merit. As a result, the King is moron, his sons are morons, the Generals (who are Generals because of their ancestry) are inept and petty. It's all West can do to keep some semblance of order. The best part of West's story is when he and the barbarians have to travel a bit by themselves after a horrifying battle. Dow, Dogman, Cathil (the blacksmith woman), and West travel together for a time and West learns a lot. He learns to respect the barbarians. He kills some of Bethod's men in a very vicious manner and earns the name Furious. He catches Prince Ladisla just as he's about to rape Cathil so he kills him. Before this, he was taking every risk to protect the Prince, giving him his coat, slowing the barbarians down to the Prince's pace, etc. etc. I'm was so glad to see West finally grow a spine and save Cathil from that scumbag. It's also fair to note that I love how Abercrombie makes this play out. West has had his eye on Cathil since he first met her (not in an icky way - in a love way). After he saves her from her would-be rapist, he grows more and more accustomed to the idea that he might be in love with her. One night he goes looking for her and finds her having sex with Dogman. Needless to say, he's shocked and disappointed. Much, much later in the book, he and Cathil have a mini-conversation about it - and Cathil admits that she's not attracted to West because he's too angry. This blew my mind. I really appreciate this tiny side-plot by Abercrombie, and I thought it was masterfully done. So often in books the woman who either was raped or was almost-raped falls into bed with the man who rescues her. It's not even a question, usually, it's just assumed that the man who rescues her from being raped is going to end up in bed with her. And I loved that Abercrombie just spit in the face of that trope. BECAUSE CATHIL IS RIGHT. West is angry. He's a man with a temper, and a big problem controlling that temper. He never raised his voice or his hand to Cathil, but she can see that he has a problem and she doesn't want that mess. She makes a good, intelligent decision and I respect Abercrombie so much for making such a great female character. No reader will forget the scene in the first book when West comes home from a bad day at work and beats the sh*t out of his little sister, almost choking her to death and punching her repeatedly in the face. And Abercrombie does make it tempting to forget this - after all, most of the time West is a really stand-up, do-right, sensible, helpful guy who treats barbarians, foreigners, and women with kindness and respect. He saves people's lives and shows mercy when others wouldn't. It would be almost easy to forget the darkness and horrible temper that lurks inside of him, just waiting for the wrong woman to say the wrong thing. This kind of excellent character development and growth is the reason I am staring to adore this trilogy. And it's not the kind of trilogy I would usually pick up - it's dark, it's grim, it's got torture, attempted rape, graphic war scenes. Not to mention a pretty bleak outlook on life. However, Abercrombie tempers all this with such a glimmer of hope that I'm just about going crazy with anticipation to see how the characters, who I once despised, will become better people. Perhaps they will never be 'good people', exactly, but much-improved versions of their former selves - people capable of mercy, trust, love, and respect. If I like the third and final book in the series, I will go back and give each book in the series 5 stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    Here we go... Welcome to round two of The First Law Trilogy. My lovely chocolate asortie of anti-heroes .... or as I'm starting to think of it .... The Sand dan Glokta (or how I still spell it in my head one out of ten times...Glotka) Saga. I love this guy. He's the epitome of all anti-heroes, and a delight to read. In the first book, almost all roads (save for Logen's badass ex-crew of Named Men) led us to Adua. In the second novel the characters scatter towards different sides of the world. Loge Here we go... Welcome to round two of The First Law Trilogy. My lovely chocolate asortie of anti-heroes .... or as I'm starting to think of it .... The Sand dan Glokta (or how I still spell it in my head one out of ten times...Glotka) Saga. I love this guy. He's the epitome of all anti-heroes, and a delight to read. In the first book, almost all roads (save for Logen's badass ex-crew of Named Men) led us to Adua. In the second novel the characters scatter towards different sides of the world. Logen "You-have-to-be-realistic-about-this-things" Ninefingers, Jezal dan Luthar (he is growing on me more and more), Ferro Maljinn, Malacus Quai, Brother Longfoot and Bayaz the First of the Magi, embark on a mysterious quest leading them across the Old Empire to Edge of the World. Just looking at this unlikely travelling companions, one knows it will not be a boring and peaceful endeavour. War is brewing in the North, and Major West marches with the rest of the Union troops, under the command of Lord Marshal Burr, to stop Bethod's promised invasion of Anglia. “Burr was frowning. He had been frowning constantly, as far as West could tell, for the last month or two. The man seemed to have no other expressions. He had a frown for hope, a frown for satisfaction, a frown for surprise. This was a frown of the most intense anger. West shifted nervously from one numb foot to the other, trying to get the blood flowing, wishing he was anywhere but here.” Burr leaves West in the back lines to take care of the needs of the heir to the throne, the spoiled Crowned Prince Ladisla and his fancy entourage of rich brats (and keep him safe and out of trouble). Not a position to envy, the one West finds himself in. For better or worse (definitely better, as he will soon realize) he meets there a gang of unlikely allies, Logen's old companions, Dogman, Threetrees, Tul Duru, Black Dow (I'll miss this one the most when his turn comes to go back to the mud) and Harding Grim (who manages to give us a little more than the usual "Uh"). “The Great Leveller,' Dogman whispered to himself, since he was in a thoughtful frame of mind. That's what the hillmen call him. Death, that is. He levels all differences. Named Men and nobodies, south or north. He catches everyone in the end, and he treats each man the same.” Last but no the least ... “I am here under a flag of parley, on a mission from the Emperor himself! To harm an unarmed emissary would be expressly against the rules of war!' 'Parley? Rules of war?' Glokta chuckled. Severard chuckled. Vitari chuckled. Frost was silent. 'Do they even have those any more? Save that rubbish for children like Vissbruck, that's not the way grown-ups play the game. ” Sand dan Glokta travelles South to the city of Dagoska in the company of his Practicals, Frost, Severard and the annoying Vitari (who he suspects might have orders to report on him to the boss and/or leave him as a "body found floating by the docks", heh). “The land walls were twenty strides high at the least. Glokta allowed himself the very slightest smile at the thought of the Arch Lector's favourite Practical slipping, sliding, tumbling from the wall, hands clutching at nothing. Perhaps a despairing scream as she fell to her death? But she didn't fall. Bitch.” Glokta's mission is to solve by any means necessary (as usual) the mystery regarding the disappearance of his predecessor, Superior Davoust. Until he does so, he has to keep the city out of the hands of the Gurkish forces that besiege it, fight the corrupt council, find a traitor ( or traitors) in its midst, and stay alive ... heh, a picnic. “The iron scraped as Frost dragged it from the brazier, glowing orange. Glokta could feel the heat of it even from where he was sitting. Ah, hot iron. It keeps no secrets, it tells no lies.” It has been a great ride. By half point I was pretty sure I would give a perfect five to the second book, but... To tell the truth the only story-line that kept me satisfied till the end was Glokta's. Never a boring chapter. The other two on the other hand (and I know I'm the odd one out)...*sigh*... The West/Dogman story-line was interesting till they re-joined Burr ... than my mind went on holiday. (view spoiler)[West's dark moods and jealousy and Dogman's "romance" did't cut it for me ... and I wasn't surprised one of the crew went back to the mud. I kind of expected it, and somehow I didn't care (fortunately it wasn't my favorite in the gang to bite the dust). (hide spoiler)] “Suffering is what gives a man strength, my boy, just as the steel most hammered turns out the hardest.” On the Logen and Co. front it was kick-ass fun until their exit from Aulcus, the old capital of the Empire. During their journey they were pursued by some pretty persistent bastards trying to get them. They found themselves surrounded by a city full of Shanka, Logen's old foes ... and we had the unwanted "pleasure" to see the reappearance of the Bloody-Nine (Damn, Logen's Jekyll and Hyde moments are blood-curdling). Logen provided the most funny, “The first you'll hear of the Bloody-Nine is the blood hissing out of your neck, that used to be the rumour. Say one thing for Logen Ninefingers, say that he's stealthy. He flowed up to the first wall, slid one leg over it, silent as a mouse. He lifted himself up, smooth as butter, keeping quiet, keeping low. His back foot caught on a set of loose stones, dragged them scraping with him. He grabbed at them, fumbled them, knocked over even more with his elbow and they clattered down loud around him. He stumbled onto his weak ankle, twisted it, squawked with pain, fell over and rolled through a patch of thistles. 'Shit,' he grunted, struggling up, .. all tangled up with his coat.” ... and the most chilling parts of this story-line. “The long blade whispered its secret and the Shanka split apart, clean down the middle like a flower opening, blood spraying out warm and comforting, spattering the anvil, and the stone floor, and the Bloody-Nine's face with wet little gifts.” Loved the interchanging Logen/Jezal/Ferro point of views, and I enjoyed Logen and Jezal's budding "bromance". “A family?' Ninefingers frowned, rubbing grimly at the stump of his middle finger. 'I did have one. And now I've got another. You don't pick your family, you take what you're given and you make the best of it.' He pointed at Ferro, then at Quai. 'You see her, and him, and you?' He slapped his hand down on Jezal's shoulder. 'That's my family now, and I don't plan on losing a brother today, you understand?” Unfortunately after Aulcus (at least for me) (view spoiler)[followed Logen and Ferro's a-few-chapters-too-long "let's call it romance" problems and the somewhat anticlimactic end of the Quest. (hide spoiler)] I know there's another book ... and some things are left for later, but if it wasn't for Glokta the last chapters would have been ... I don't have words. Still a great book, I was just a little disappointed, that's all. Anyway by the raving reviews, maybe it's just me. Next book soon. “Ah. Superior Glokta, I should have guessed.' His voice was deep and rich, his mastery of the common tongue predictably excellent. 'Many people on our side of the sea were very disappointed when your corpse was not among those found in the citadel of Dagoska.' 'I hope you will convey my sincere apologies to them.' 'I will do so.”

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mpauli

    "Oh sir, Mr.Abercrombie. Good to have you back. The Blade Itself was fantastic." "You're right, of course. But now we have to decide on the sequel." "Naturally, may I suggest looking into plots this time?" "I suppose, having cool characters isn't enough?" "It certainly is great, but having them do cool stuff with a purpose would be even better." "Well, if you say so. So what kind of story is popular?" "Hm, CSI or NCIS?" "What's that? Sounds like learning to spell in Sesamestreet!" "No, they're tv shows "Oh sir, Mr.Abercrombie. Good to have you back. The Blade Itself was fantastic." "You're right, of course. But now we have to decide on the sequel." "Naturally, may I suggest looking into plots this time?" "I suppose, having cool characters isn't enough?" "It certainly is great, but having them do cool stuff with a purpose would be even better." "Well, if you say so. So what kind of story is popular?" "Hm, CSI or NCIS?" "What's that? Sounds like learning to spell in Sesamestreet!" "No, they're tv shows about crime and murder. Murder mysteries." "Allright, guess I'll already have my own Peter Falk." "Pardon me, sir?" "Yeah, you know this Colombo guy I invented. Missing teeth, walks slowly, always has another question..." "Glokta?" "That's him, what did I do with him? "You send him south." "Why would I do that?" "It's the middle book, guess you wanted him to do something untill he's more important in book 3 again." "Makes sense, why did I write 3 books?" "Money?" "Sounds about right. So murder mystery in the south it is with Glokta. What else?" "Maybe a quest?" "Like Froggle and the ring? I hate these heroics. Can't I just make more character development?" "Maybe a combination of both. Most of your characters were going west anyway." "Yeah, but I have to think about something with a twist. Stupid quest stories being stupid and all." "Fair enough." "So, great. That's about it then." "Well, remember the savages, who showed up at the casting? You put them in the book." "Oh those guys, damn. Where are they?" "North." "Anyone near them?" "West." "No, I know everybody is West, is someone North?" "You had this character named West, sir. He's North. "Why would I sent a character named West North? Doesn't make sense. Well, I will work something out." "Say one thing about you sir, say you'll always work something out." And again Joe Abercrombie delivered. As we are very familiar with the characters now, he puts more weight on the plot and the background of his world. We're seeing a wider scope, delving more into the history and get more character development. Nonetheless, I had the feeling of reading a middle book. Glokta's part was interesting in itself, but felt more of an occupation for the character, untill the rest of the main cast finished their journey. But that would be the only point of crtique for me. Apart from that, you're getting more from the characters you've grown fond of in the first book and get a lot of glimpses to speculate where the whole story is heading to. Another great read which I can wholeheartedly recommend to every fan of grimdark fantasy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    Middle books in trilogies are often pretty average. Not so this one. This one is brilliant! Several separate story lines run parallel throughout the book and each one features strong characters so I never minded switching back from one to another. Having said that Superior Glokta has to be one of the best characters ever written. Despite the fact that he is deformed, merciless and totally evil he makes some of the most entertaining comments and you just have to like him! I should comment here th Middle books in trilogies are often pretty average. Not so this one. This one is brilliant! Several separate story lines run parallel throughout the book and each one features strong characters so I never minded switching back from one to another. Having said that Superior Glokta has to be one of the best characters ever written. Despite the fact that he is deformed, merciless and totally evil he makes some of the most entertaining comments and you just have to like him! I should comment here that I listened to this on audiobook and the narrator was superb. He probably helped make Glokta what he was for me. There are many more great characters, Logan Ninefingers, Ferro, Jezal, Captain West and even the Dogman. I could rave on but I think I have run out of superlatives. Let me just say if you like this genre then read this trilogy. You won't be sorry.

  28. 5 out of 5

    carol.

    "Anyone can face ease and success with confidence. It is the way we face trouble and misfortune that defines us." I thoroughly enjoyed this book. BTAH continues to follow the troop of reluctant heroes, including Ninefingers, Jezel, Bayaz and Ferro; Inquisitor Glokta, defending a besieged city and hunting for a traitor; and Colonel West working to defend Angland against the Northman, along with a small band of Northmen with grudges of their own. In that sense, it's very much the second book in a "Anyone can face ease and success with confidence. It is the way we face trouble and misfortune that defines us." I thoroughly enjoyed this book. BTAH continues to follow the troop of reluctant heroes, including Ninefingers, Jezel, Bayaz and Ferro; Inquisitor Glokta, defending a besieged city and hunting for a traitor; and Colonel West working to defend Angland against the Northman, along with a small band of Northmen with grudges of their own. In that sense, it's very much the second book in a trilogy, and I don't think it would stand as well read on its own or out of order. However, there is largely a complete story arc for each of our groups, so while the larger issues of the invasions and political maneuvering continue to grow in complexity, I didn't feel as if it was a complete cliffhanger ending. I can't say enough about how well Abercrombie writes characters. They all feel so real, layered, and different. When plugged into a quest plot, there is a risk of them turning into stereotypes, but that is adroitly avoided by the depth and feeling given to them. It's interesting that we get the inner thoughts of our select few characters, but then leaving some such as Quai or Baya, devoid of any hints except through actions or the interpretations of others. It creates tension during the quest, as Quai almost seems to be baiting the mages and more of Bayaz' role in creating the conflict becomes apparent. Plotwise, the quest of the troop seemed unremarkable enough in the epic fantasy tradition--the questers entering the dead city flashed on several scenes from Terry Brooks and David Eddings--but it was still well done. Using the guise of telling stories while they journeyed, the questers and the readers are familiarized with the mythical back-story to the quest. It works well, maintaining interest in the background while avoiding the info-dump syndrome. The siege itself is not particularly unusual either, but is gritty, and the process of Glokta shoring defense of the city while rooting out the traitor is interesting and full of tension. Letter updates between Glokta and the Arch Lector are an interesting way of updating the story. The tale is full of detailed fight scenes. If that's your taste, you'll have all the more reason to love it, but if its not, don't let it put you off, as there is so much more worth reading. One quibble is the author's tendency to use both first and last names of a character, even within the same scene, which leads to unnecessary name confusion. Small complaints, however. I find this series engrossing, and am glad I have the next book ready to go.

  29. 5 out of 5

    The Shayne-Train

    Usually it's such a drag to review a middle-of-the-trilogy book. Yeah, the characters that were introduced in the first book did some things, developed some shit, made progress on whatever journey, yadda-yadda-yadda, we'll see what happens in the next one. That is so NOT the case with this book/series, that perhaps the case itself should be overturned. Man, but J-Aber (best nickname ever, thank you) makes characters you LOVE. Even the ones you don;t like very much. And boy oh boy, is there some c Usually it's such a drag to review a middle-of-the-trilogy book. Yeah, the characters that were introduced in the first book did some things, developed some shit, made progress on whatever journey, yadda-yadda-yadda, we'll see what happens in the next one. That is so NOT the case with this book/series, that perhaps the case itself should be overturned. Man, but J-Aber (best nickname ever, thank you) makes characters you LOVE. Even the ones you don;t like very much. And boy oh boy, is there some character development in this book. Another thing, he writes action/fighty-fight scenes the way Charles Bukowski writes filth: he makes it transcendentally beautiful. They can be so damn clunky sometimes, and occasionally ruin what could otherwise be a rollicking adventure. Not here, friend, no no, not here. Second-of-ly, the dialogue. DAT DIALOGUE. So spot on, never seems far-fetched. Once in a while, because I suspect I'm half-retarded, I will read a character's dialogue out loud, all under-my-breath-like, to see if it sounds like the way a person actually speaks, with throat vibrations instead of text, ya know. Joe's characters never fail to not only sound like people, but people so, so much cooler than I am. In closing: if you haven't yet, go read the first fucking book, then this fucking book, and then the last fucking book. If you already have, go fucking do it again.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Reggie Kray

    This second volume made me feel all kinds of awesomeness! Reread edit Say something about the dreaded second book syndrome. Say that this series does not suffer from that commonality.

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