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Before They Are Hanged: Book Two Of The First Law (Gollancz SF S.) Paperback – 15 Mar 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (15 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575077883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575077881
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 3.2 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 530,345 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) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Striking, character-driven and cynical noir fantasy

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 59 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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4 of 4 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada on 14 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
After making the mistake of reading book one of Abercrombie's The First Law Trilogy, The Blade Itself, without having book two and three at hand, when I went on my London book splurge I made sure to not only buy those two books, but the first standalone novel in Abercrombie's world, Best Served Cold, as well. I quickly read this book, but then the dreaded morning sickness took over and well, you know the rest of this story! I loved getting back to these characters, however, and I hope to get stuck into the next book fairly soon after the baby gets here.

As with the first book there are three main arcs: one that follows Glokta, one that follow Major West, who's joined by Logen's band, and an arc that follows Bayaz whose party includes Logen, Jezal, Ferro and of course his apprentice and the guide Longfoot. And, again as in the first book, all the arcs are entertaining, though my personal favourite parts were Glokta's stay in Dagoska and Logen's crafting of bonds with Jezal and Ferro. Especially the romance thread between Logen and Ferro is at once hilarious, touching and heartbreaking. I also liked spending so much time with West, he's awesome and one of the few truly honourable men in the books so far.

Before They Are Hanged is very character driven. We see far more of the world than we did before, but even through these travels - which are mainly focused on West and Bayaz' group; Glokta moves around, but we don't see him travel - the characters and their development and interactions remain key. While most characters show growth, in my opinion, Jezal dan Luthar shows the most. Not surprising as he needed to do a lot of growing up. But it goes beyond just that. He seems to find his better side and learns loyalty to other people than himself.
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