Bill's Reviews > Before They Are Hanged

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
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's review
May 02, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read from May 10 to 30, 2012

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 its secrets. And of course, I need great characters and interesting character interaction.
This is paramount.

Unfortunately, I have to accept that the best writers these days are
writing sweeping epics resplendent with battles and the anticipation of battles. So why do I bother?

I guess it's because these best writers are coming up with amazing characters.

Glokta the torturer is one of the best characters I've come across. I still don't know how to take him. I pity him at times, like him at times, and yet by the nature of his profession he can become a deplorable human being.
I can't go into details, but - oh, wait I gotta mention this:

(view spoiler)

There are many other well crafted characters as well: The Northmen (Logan, Dogman, etc), and the interaction between Logan and Ferra is a hoot.

There are a couple of mysteries for Glokta to unfold, and this intrigue makes for a story that begs resolving.

And the dreaded and inevitable battles? Well, I have to admit, no one does it better than Abercrombie. At no point was I confused or bored with what was going on, and this, my friends, is no small feat with yours truly.

So, this is one of the rare series that I will be finishing. I will read a few other novels and will come back to this enjoyable tale.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Stephen Great review, Bill. I can't wait to hear what you think about book 3.

Bill Thanks Stephen! The past few books have had the unfortunate task of measuring up to The Devil All the Time and my anticipation of Knockemstiff, which I am reading now.

It says a lot that a 'middle' book of a fantasy series held my attention despite those books niggling at me!

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