Guy's Reviews > Before They Are Hanged

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
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's review
Jun 19, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction-and-fantasy
Read in June, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I'd have given it four stars if it hadn't turned anticlimactic. I've seen the series (of which this is the second book) praised elsewhere for realism and for not following the standard patterns of fantasy... but for one thing, I like the standard patterns, and for another, it feels as if Abercrombie is intentionally looking to disappoint hopes and expectations... and I don't read to be disappointed. It may be more realistic for adult characters to remain who they are (and not change for the better), and for hopeless situations to not have miraculously positive outcomes, and for wild quests not to succeed, but it is (for this reader) both frustrating and less entertaining when these things are also true in a fantasy novel. If I want this sort of realism I can read a regular novel.

I committed the cardinal sin of reading the last 30 pages of the final book of the trilogy ("Last Argument of Kings") after finishing this one... and found that although there is a positive resolution to the major threats faced by the Union (the central country in the story), the characters themselves remain pretty much who they were at the outset and cannot really be said to have achieved happiness. You can't see me, but I'm making a sour face.

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