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Before They Are Hanged: The First Law: Book Two: 2 Paperback – 13 Mar 2008

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Before They Are Hanged: The First Law: Book Two: 2 + Last Argument Of Kings: The First Law: Book Three + The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.): 1
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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (13 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575082011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575082014
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, as well as the standalone fantasy Best Served Cold.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, and his daughters Grace and Eve. He still occasionally edits concerts and music festivals for TV, but spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels.

Here are the First Law Trilogy in series order:

The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
The Last Argument of Kings


Best Served Cold

Product Description


Before They Are Hanged is an excellent sequel from an author writing compelling, character-driven, adult fantasy, for readers who want to be entertained as well as challenged. (SFF WORLD)

In my opinion, Joe Abercrombie possesses all the qualities that made David Eddings such a powerhouse during the 80s and 90s. Before They Are Hanged is a satisfying sequel which should establish Joe Abercrombie as one of the bright new voices of the genre. (FANTASY HOT LIST)

Before They Are Hanged grabs you and drags you along. (SFF SITE)

Dark, deeply ironic and full of character gems that will appeal to your cynical side, Before They Are Hanged is as brilliant as its predecessor. (John Berlyne SF REVU)

"We're right there in the heads of these dudes, thanks to the author's style of showcasing their thoughts. His knowing turn of phrase means that situations often appear ironic, with peripheral characters verging on the Dickensian. This follow-up is crammed with unexpected betrayals, murders and liaisons, often catching us off guard." (Dave Bradley SFX)

Book Description

Striking, character-driven and cynical noir fantasy

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Jun 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before They Are Hanged is the second book in The First Law Trilogy and the sequel to The Blade Itself. In this middle volume of the sequence, Before They Are Hanged picks up the storylines left dangling from the first novel and develops them further. As with the first book, this volume often feels like a 'standard' fantasy novel with lots of standard tropes in use, but Abercrombie successfully continues to put a subversive spin on events which keeps things fresh and interesting.

There are three main plot threads in the book. In the Northlands, the Union Army prepares to face the forces under Beothed. They have enlisted the aid of Threetrees and his band of cutthroats and warriors, but Marshal Burr and Colonel West find their hands full with just keeping their feuding generals from each others throats and babysitting the preening, useless Prince Ladisla.

Meanwhile, in the South, the city of Dagoska falls under siege from the army of the Gurkhal Empire. Inquisitor Glokta, in the city to investigate the disappearance of his predecessor, finds himself orchestrating the defence of the city against a vast and powerful foe, but is also forced into making alliances with suspect agents in order to ensure the city's survival.

In the West, Bayaz and his band of unlikely companions continue their journey to the edge of the Circle of the World, to recover a weapon of tremendous power. Their journey will take them through the fallen remnants of the Old Empire, an ancient city and a towering mountain range before their goal can be achieved.

Abercrombie's story rattles along at a fair old pace. With the characters introduced, there is no more need for scene-setting and the plot explodes with vigour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By russell clarke TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Fantasy is a much maligned genre , yet it has given us a slew of hugely gifted writers. George RR Martin, Robin Hobb, Steven Erikson, Clive Barker, China Mieville to name some of the top of my shiny bonce. There is a new name to add to that list. Joe Abercrombie is a freelance film editor but on the evidence of The Blade Itself, the first of The First law trilogy , of which Before They are Hanged is the second, he has a new career as a writer . Like the first book this is terrific stuff.
There are three threads to the story featuring more of the wonderful array of characters , introduced to us in the first book . Some of these are developed further as you would expect ,but one or two even undergo unexpected character arcs that are importantly wholly believable. Plus there are several new characters introduced and Abercrombie is even confident enough to kill one of these off after developing an enthralling sub -plot around them.
The barbarian Logen Ninefingers, first of the Magi Byaz , his apprentice Quai and navigator Longfoot are joined by the perma-scowling misanthropic Ferro and arrogant aristocrat Jezal Dan Luther pining for the lady he left behind on a long journey to the island on the "Edge of the world" where Byaz is seeking "The Seed"- a magical weapon that could end all the conflict.
Union armies meanwhile are preparing to face the massed hordes of barbarians led by Bethod. Colonel West has reservations about his superiors and with good reason , finding to his surprise that the barbarian troop led by Threetrees are far greater fighters than his Union soldiers and he will need all their guile and ferocity to survive.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Patrick St-Denis on 13 Mar 2007
Format: Hardcover
A lot has been said about Joe Abercrombie's debut, The Blade Itself. Contrary to those who found its characters lame, its dialogues trite, and its plotlines uninteresting, I enjoyed The Blade Itself. To me, it felt like a throwback book, a work which was reminiscent of what used to dominate the fantasy genre during the 80s. Okay, so it's a far cry from Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen, George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, or Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. So what? That doesn't mean that a "lighter" work cannot be a fun reading experience.

If you expect to see a masterpiece like Schindler's List every time you go to the movies, you might as well stay home and not bother. Likewise, when you sit down to read a novel, well not everything can be a GRRM read. Today's SFF market is diversified enough to allow disparate authors to have their own niche.

Let's get one thing straight: If you didn't like The Blade Itself, don't expect Before They Are Hanged to win you over. On the other hand, if you enjoyed Abercrombie's debut, I daresay you will love the sequel.

Before They Are Hanged is comprised of all the aspects which made its predecessor a good read, yet it is also a marked improvement in every department. The author moves the story forward with more aplomb, all the while maintaining the "gallows humor" which has become his hallmark.The worldbuilding plays a larger role in this one, especially in the story arc that shows Bayaz, Logen, Ferro, Jezal and the others travel to the island at the edge of the World. The imagery is more colorful and arresting than in The Blade Itself. The absence of a map is particularly confusing in this sequel, however.
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