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Before They Are Hanged

(The First Law #2)

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  106,866 ratings  ·  3,849 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
...more
Trade Paperback, First Edition, 441 pages
Published March 15th 2007 by Gollancz
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Popular Answered Questions
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)
stuart b I think the answer is both.

In book 2, and without spoilers, West and the named Northmen war with Bethod; Glokta adventures in Dagoska and Bayaz, Ferr…more
I think the answer is both.

In book 2, and without spoilers, West and the named Northmen war with Bethod; Glokta adventures in Dagoska and Bayaz, Ferro, Jezal, Quai, and Longfoot go on a long journey.

As their stories progress, you learn more about some of them, others develop and mature, and their dialog moves the plot of all three books further along.

The first book was character introduction, and setup
The second book "begins" to explain where it's all going
I'm about to start the third book where I suspect it will all wrap up.

Hope this helps. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  106,866 ratings  ·  3,849 reviews


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Petrik
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grimdark fantasy fans
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 explo
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James Lafayette 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
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mark monday
Mar 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-modern
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
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Sean Barrs
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 4-star-reads
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
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Edward
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews, favorites
Check out my review for this fantastic book on Booknest at: Booknest

Before They Are Hanged was SO GOOD! I really have no idea why it has taken me so long to get round to continuing the First Law. I enjoyed the return to this world so much that I have already started book 3, Last Argument of Kings.

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

If you haven’t heard of the First Law, Logen Ninefingers or Joe Abercrombie then you’ve probably been living in some sort of dark cave
...more
Celeste
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Dan Schwent
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[4.5/5 stars] The first book was good, with flashes of brilliance… this one was better.

I’ve heard so much about this series. When talking to normal people (those who don’t read more than just casually), Abercrombie’s name comes up a lot. It’s a mainstream series that, for the most part, lives up to all the hype. It’s credited as one of the first Grimdark novels, and that sentiment is much more apparent in this second book than the first. Authors these days are taking things a lot further, but yo
...more
Choko
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fantasy-grim
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!!!
Dirk Grobbelaar
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, fantasy
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
...more
Jokoloyo
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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)
But as book two of a trilogy serial, the plots are still far from finish. At least some
...more
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
...more
Ɗẳɳ  2.☊
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-fantasy
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 ...more
Markus
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
...more
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
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Nimrod Daniel
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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%
...more
Evgeny
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
...more
Joshua
Nov 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Stjepan Cobets
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of fantasy
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 ...more
carol.
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
"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
...more
Deborah Obida
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, fantasy
'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 s
...more
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
...more
Peter
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, mystery
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
...more
TS Chan
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is when I start to bemoan about picking up this trilogy so late. To think that I actually met Abercrombie at WorldCon last year before completing The First Law. What a travesty of the opportunity, and I'm hereby repentant.

Before They Are Hanged is a fantastic sequel that picked up immediately from the previous book and the story really took off from here. The Blade Itself introduced the main characters of the trilogy and brought them together in one superb scene towards the end of that boo
...more
ChopinFC
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
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.
...more
Lema
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lema by: Petrik Leo
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
Guys! This book is so awesomely non-cliché I can't even..!

description

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
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2), Joe Abercrombie
Before They Are Hanged is the second novel in the First Law Trilogy. 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 th
...more
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)
Hamad
May 02, 2020 marked it as to-read
I would give my heart to Glokta (Quite literally!!)
Adam
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What goes on inside someone’s mind as they are about to fight for their life? This book answers that question a dozen different ways, through a stellar, nuanced cast of brilliant characters. Sure, there’s a fetch quest, and wars, and sieges, and battles aplenty, none of which are particularly new to fantasy. But this story lives and breathes through its characters, how alive and well-developed and painfully, wretchedly, human they are.

Onto book threeeee....
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: Before They Are Hanged [May 5, 2019] 53 61 Mar 05, 2020 07:56AM  
Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. change the title of the series 7 35 Apr 08, 2019 01:00PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Before They Are Hanged [Nov 27, 2017] 148 90 Jun 16, 2018 08:21AM  
"Oh the irony", she hissed. 43 408 Jan 15, 2018 07:02AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: Before They are Hanged -First Law trilogy Book 2 10 54 Dec 04, 2015 01:42AM  

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17,906 followers
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

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)

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