Review: Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie


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 frozen country. Crown Prince Ladisla is poised to drive them back and win undying glory. There is only one problem – he commands the worst-armed, worst-trained, worst-led army in the world.

And Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a party of bold adventurers on a perilous mission through the ruins of the past. The most hated woman in the South, the most feared man in the North, and the most selfish boy in the Union make a strange alliance, but a deadly one. They might even stand a chance of saving mankind from the Eaters. If they didn’t hate each other quite so much.

Ancient secrets will be uncovered. Bloody battles will be won and lost. Bitter enemies will be forgiven – but not before they are hanged.

My Thoughts

People love to see death. It reminds them that however mean, however low, however horrible their lives become… at least they have one.

Before They Are Hanged, Joe Abercrombie

I now finally understand why The Blade Itself focused solely on building the idea of the characters to their very core with so little plot, because Before They Are Hanged continued on with that direction but now explored the dynamics and relationships between all characters. I really enjoyed myself a lot with this installment more, especially since the readers are finally getting a bit of plot and story going on (a little bit, but it was still present).

Joe Abercrombie is a master in character work. Still taking his expertise in doing his character work, the author really knew how to build up his characters, and this is so far the most entertaining book I’ve read on all of them. Everyone is just as awful as they were in the first book, but this was the time they were all slowly unraveling at the seams and readers are finally able to see a totally different side of them that was truly shocking. The first book had already stamped a definite idea of a particular character in a reader’s head, but this book cemented those ideas firmly and wove more complexities around them. It was really amazing to see it all unfold together. But what sealed the deal for me were all the characters’ interactions and connections with one another, and there was no dull time in between that I’m either laughing so hard or wanting to strangle all of them.

My absolute favorite POVs are always going to be Logen and Glokta’s, but Jezal and the Northmen’s POVs are a close second. They were just all *chef’s kiss* and I need more of their chapters.

The two plots we followed in this book was somewhat at least a bit concrete now, but in the end, it will provide even more questions than answers – and I already had a ton of questions in desperate need of answers from the first book. But at least now in this book, the world is slowly starting to expand further from its confines, and even though it’s still weird and confusing as hell, it was nice to finally go further beyond and explore what this world has in store for the story.

I feel like this trilogy is just one big confusing mess and all answers will be withheld until the last possible second in the last book – but I’m already deeply invested in this journey.


My Rating

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

About The Author

T.J. Klune (Author of The House in the Cerulean Sea)

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 trilogyBefore They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings. He currently lives and works in London with his wife and daughter. In early 2008 Joe Abercrombie was one of the contributors to the BBC Worlds of Fantasy series, alongside other contributors such as Michael Moorcock, Terry Pratchett and China Mieville.

Author Website | Twitter

One thought on “Review: Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

  1. Pingback: The Last 10 Books Tag + The Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award – The Character Study

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