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Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)
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Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2)

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  52,737 ratings  ·  1,773 reviews
Superior Glokta has a problem. How do you defend a city surrounded by enemies and riddled with traitors, when your allies can by no means be trusted, and your predecessor vanished without a trace? It's enough to make a torturer want to run - if he could even walk without a stick.

Northmen have spilled over the border of Angland and are spreading fire and death across the fr
Paperback, 543 pages
Published March 2008 by Pyr (first published March 15th 2007)
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Frank Steele Hi Niels,
I'm actually finishing the second one today- 15 pges left. And yes, the first book sets up the second two so you'll see more action. But the…more
Hi Niels,
I'm actually finishing the second one today- 15 pges left. And yes, the first book sets up the second two so you'll see more action. But the book doesn't just flit from one action sequence to another--the evolving relationships and evolution of the characters is central. So many books have thin characters just carrying the action, never learning or growing or developing. These characters are different. Orson Scot Card treats his characters the same way. Does that help at all?(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Jun 02, 2013 Joshua rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone waiting for "Dance of Dragons"
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
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
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
Joe Abercrombie is fast becoming my new fantasy god. After loving The Blade Itself, I immediately started reading this one, and was a little worried that I would be disappointed. Turns out I was wrong. I was very, very wrong.

This book is even better than the first book, something I would not have thought possible. I want this book to have my babies. However, I'm going to hold off on sleeping with it, in case book 3 is better still.

On second thought, screw it, if book 3 is even better than book
"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
Jan 07, 2015 Nate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
The exposition, setup, and introductions are long past and we're left with 500+ pages of brutal, cynical and witty fun. This book hit the ground running and never looked back for me. All the characters are deep into the shit and there's absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel, which is how Abercrombie fans want it. Whatever you liked about The Blade Itself is gonna be here in spades. Even the "quest" storyline I wasn't particularly into at the start turned out awesomely. One of the things I ...more
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
Buddy Read with my Fantasy Crew.

“Fearlessness is a fool's boast, to my mind. The only men with no fear in them are dead, or the soon to be dead, maybe. Fear teaches you caution, and respect for your enemy, and to avoid sharp edges used in anger. All good things in their place, believe me. Fear can bring you out alive, and that's the very best anyone can hope for from any fight. Every man who's worth a damn feels fear. It's the use you make of it that counts.”

Sequels are always the worst to revi
May 29, 2015 Carmen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who read THE BLADE ITSELF; Fantasy fans
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
Ok, two books down and only one to go and still i have scarcely any idea what this series is really about.

I often hear that the characters in the First Law trilogy is rather unpleasant and despicable. Bullshit. This series has the most fascinating set of main characters. My favorites so far are Glotka and Jezal. Glotka used to be a dashing soldier of the Union. One of the best. And then he was taken captive by enemy, tortured for two years. Now he is a bitter cripple and a torturer. Jezal is a
6.0 stars. On my list of "All Time Favorite" novels. This has become one of my top five "all time" favorite fantasy series. One of those rare books that are both in depth and yet NEVER boring. The characters are as good as they get and "the Feared" is a nominee for the single best villian of the 21st century. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

Nominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (2008)
Voted to SFSite Readers Poll Top 10 (2008)
So this was me while reading this entire series so far:

I usually find that the second book in a trilogy is the weakest, functioning basically as filler until the author wraps up the various storylines in the final book. Before They Are Hanged is definitely going on my list of exceptions to this rule though and it is once again because Abercrombie is an absolute genius with flawed characters. Before They Are Hanged continues the story from The Blade Itself as the adventuring party gathered by Ba
"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
Executive Summary: Even better than the first entry in the trilogy, a dark and fun ride, not for the feint of heart.

Full Review
I enjoyed this entry even more than The Blade Itself. With most of the setup out of the way, Mr. Abercrombie now switchs to developing the characters and progressing the story further.

Parts of this book reminded me of Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller chronicles. Stories shared within the main story building the lore and giving the reader clues as to just what the heck mig
Mr. Matt
Before They Are Hanged is a transitional volume, between the first book and the last. We've been introduced to the world and the characters and great events are now in motion.

Glotka is sent to Dagoska to hold off the Gurkish. Collem West goes north to Angland with the Union's armies and Crown Prince. And Bayaz, first of the Magi, drags Logen Ninefingers, Ferro and Jezal across the known world on a mysterious quest. Everything is in motion and everything is a swirl of chaotic action.

What makes t
M. I like this series. It's a good one. Very good. What I like most about it is probably that I don't feel the need to sprint through it. I can if I want to, but it doesn't hurt to have to break after finishing a chapter. What I like most about the story is the characters. They're such fascinating people, and somehow he (Abercrombie) manages to make them all likable, despite flaws, faults and suspicious behaviour. I suppose because they are very real and human, with strengths, weaknesses and fee ...more
Before They Are Hanged in many ways is a grimdark version of The Lord of the Rings. The majority of the main cast of characters (Logen, Jezal, Bayaz, and Ferro) head off on a quest for the Seed a weapon powerful enough to stop the Gurlish threat. In classic grimdark style some ugly things ensue on this quest. While all that is happening Glokta gets a promotion and the nearly impossible task of defending Gurla from the Gurkish with no funds, a crumbling defense, and traitors all around.

I know Bef
Ok, where to start with this review for the second book in the First Law trilogy...

It has already been mentioned in other reviews that it picks up immediately after the first book, with Glokta heading south to Degoska (spelling names in this review is a challenge, since I'm listening to the books instead of reading them) to prevent the city from being overrun by the Gurkish army, Collum West heading north to prevent Adua from being overrun by Bethod, and Bayaz, Logen, Jazel, Quay, Longfoot, and
I've come to the realization (and reluctant acceptance) that the "best"
fantasy novels are going to have one or both of the following attributes:

1) a quest
2) battles

Quests are fine and cool, but let me get this out in the open right now: I hate battles. I find nothing more mind numbing and sleep inducing than having to slough through pages of battlement placements, movements of units, and the actual fighting.

What I really look for when I choose fantasy is a world unlike ours, which slowly unveils
What an epic second book.
Certain quest with most interesting characters, cities under siege, schemes within guilds and nobles, Glokta's at his finest, bloody fights and after all Bloody-Nine.

While first book gave us insight into the world, second one expands it really well, explaining lots of things and to be honest I really like my fantasy like this one (Erikson is good but sometimes you wish book like this one, straight to the point with enough mystery to keep it going).
Of course, since this
Much better than the first. In fact this leaves me with a sour taste for The Blade Itself. After reading Before They Are Hanged I know now that the first book is complete introduction. It introduces the characters, the world, and the plot that is to be moved, albeit not in the first book.

The book is very similar in style to the first. However, it concentrates more on the characters that move the plot forward, and it actually MOVES the plot forward. A nice change from the first. It continues to b
Athena (Shardbearer)
Epic/Dark Fantasy Buddy Read Robin, Alexa, Jessica, Kat, Jennifer, Ashley, Eon, Michelle, Anasylvia Abercrombie Fever, I gotz it!

Loved it!

I thought second books in a trilogy were supposed to be the weakest of the series, the one that links the threads from the first and builds for the climatic finale? What the hell was Joe Abercrombie thinking of messing with the rules! I guess if you want to be picky we can call the first book a massive prologue so that those rules don't apply.

This book was the bomb! I'm not massively well versed on the fantasy genre (although I'm reading more of late) but this has to be up there with some
This is the second volume of The First Law trilogy. I read the first book The Blade Itself in early March 2012, today is 27th July 2012 so the two books were read five months apart, I wonder if I will finish the trilogy by the end of the year. In any case, even with a memory like a sieve I had no problem getting into the second book after the 5 months gap. This is not a standalone book so you need to read The Blade Itself first which should be no great hardship unless you received "Before They A ...more
Andrew Obrigewitsch
I don't know why I waited 9 months between reading this and the first book. But this is the first truly good fantasy book I've read in a while. The last two books by RR Martin where pretty disappointing and everything else I've read in the genre either seemed juvenile or just not that well written. I was beginning to think that I was outgrowing fantasy. However, it's just that the vast majority of fantasy is not that good.

I'm not going to wait 9 months to read the 3rd book in this series. I pla
Mar 15, 2013 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans
Recommended to Eric by: Max Kotelevets
Shelves: fantasy
I enjoyed the story told here a great deal, but it took me a long time to read it. It seems like every time a particular character's tale got interesting, the story would switch to a different plot-line, which made the book easy to put down. That being said, Abercrombie is telling a hell of an epic tale, and I am looking forward to reading the conclusion in Last Argument of Kings.
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Joe Abercrombie was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Manchester University, where he studied psychology. He moved into television production before taking up a career as a freelance film editor. During a break between jobs he began writing The Blade Itself in 2002, completing it in 2004. It was published by Gollancz in 2006 and was followed by two other books in The First Law Trilogy ...more
More about Joe Abercrombie...

Other Books in the Series

The First Law (3 books)
  • The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)
  • Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3)
The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1) Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3) Best Served Cold The Heroes Red Country

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“We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.” 171 likes
“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.” 118 likes
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