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

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  85,248 Ratings  ·  2,900 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
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,…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

(showing 1-30)
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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
Bookdragon Sean
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
mark monday
Mar 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantastical
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
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.
Dirk Grobbelaar
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, books-i-own
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
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
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
Ɗắɳ  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
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 shame
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
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
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%
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
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
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)
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lema by: Petrik Leo
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
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
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks, favorites
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.
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.

Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dana Ilie
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Volumul doi mi-a placut cel mai mult. A fost carte in care unele personaje bune devin rele, unele personaje rele devin bune; avem parte de actiune si violenta, dar si momente tandre; e familiar dar unic; iti creste asteptarile pentru ca deodata sa le darame, dar fara a te lasa frustrat sau confuz; e magic, dar realistic; este intunecat dar hilar; inteligent si abordabil; te tine treaz toata noaptea.
Este o trilogie cu personaje foarte bine create, plotul se vede ca lipseste, dar chiar nici nu ma
"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
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
خب، بریم سراغ ریویوD:

قبل از هر چیزی باید بگم من چندان از ترجمهی جلد اول راضی نبودم که آقای سیمرغ توضیح دادن یکسری مشکل پیش اومده که دلیلِ اون اشتباهات بودن، حرفشون منطقی هم به نظر میرسه. این مشکلات خیلی زیاد پیش میان. خیلی خوشحال کنندهس که این جلد اشتباهاتش از انگشتهای یک دست هم کمتر بود و مترجم تونسته بود متن رو خیلی یکدست و خوب در بیاره. فکر کنم میشه گفت این مجموعه هم یکی از اون فانتزیحماسیهاییه که با ترجمهی خوب توی ایران چاپ شده. (بین اونایی که خوندم فقط ترجمهی اربابحلقهها و گروهان سیاه رو پس
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Daniel, Amar, Kristijan, Vladimir
Pa da se vratimo malo recenzijama...

Da li postoje savrsene knjige? Naravno da postoje.
Da li je ovo jedna od takvih? I te kako.
Abercrombie je uspeo da nadmasi sebe i napise jos bolji nastavak.
Ako smo u prvom delu imali malo manje fantastike, ovde je i to ''ispravljeno''. Carobnjaci, drevni gradovi, put na kraj sveta, natprirodna bica, svega ovde ima. Svega.
Humora, jos vise. Jos boljeg. U pojedinim trenucima sam se toliko smejao da vise nisam znao da li citam ep. fantastiku ili komediju.
Scene izm
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this review and listen to the podcast discussion at Book Geeks Uncompromised.

I liked this book better than the first.

Where The Blade Itself seemed fairly directionless to me, this one seemed to have more actually going on. Looking back, it seems like The Blade Itself was almost entirely just setting the stage for the story to actually begin. And I appreciate the time taken to get everything just right to be able to tell the story. I have to say though that this one actually having bigger co
Dragan Medić
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well none of our heroes have been hung yet. That's the first out of many good things in this book. I can't get away from the comparison with SOIAF once again. Not delving into similarities and differences too much, in my humble opinion and only having read two of Abercrombies' books so far, these two are the best epic fantasy series ever. Sorry Wheel of Time fans. There is one massive difference though, while Martin creates this beautiful, enormous, diverse world through his wast amount of chara ...more
Marko Radosavljevic
Za nekog ko ne čita epsku fantastiku WOW!
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
The Shayne-Train
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
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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)

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“We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.” 254 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.” 161 likes
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