Review: Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) by Joe Abercrombie

Thanks to Hachette Audio & Orbit for my review copy of the audiobook

This is how I feel after finishing this book:

Needless to say, a TON of stuff happens. This is a beefy book with a lot of characters. It’s a testament to Abercrombie’s pacing that this book didn’t drag nor sprint through its events, because there was a lot to cover and it was a great read from start to finish.

Where to begin? Before They Are Hanged is the second book of Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy. The same cast as The Blade Itself, along with several new characters, are back for another adventure in Adua. Only this time around, daggers once hidden in the darkness come out to strike.

“You have to be realistic about these things.”
-Logen Ninefingers

Logen Ninefingers, Jezal dan Luthar, Ferro Maljinn, Brother Longfoot, Malacus Quai, and the wizard Bayaz undertake one of the longest, most grueling journeys imaginable. They seek to find an old weapon of Canadius, one that could turn the tide of the impending war. The only problem is, the weapon is hidden across a vast continent with peril hidden at every turn. To make matters worse, the party is at odds with one another. When strong personalities clash, it could take more than just luck to see the party through to the other side of their quest.

“As for being a good man,’ and Glokta curled his lip, ‘that ship sailed long ago, and I wasn’t even there to wave it off.”
-Inquisitor Glokta

Sand dan Glokta has been sent by Arch Lector Salt to root out a traitor in the southern city of Dagoska. To make matters worse, he’s tasked Glokta with not only ferreting out the traitor, but defending the entire city from the Gurkish assault. With a gang of motley practicals, Glokta has his hands full with enemies both without and within. Can Glokta outwit his enemies and his allies simultaneously?

Amidst all this, the war in Angland is coming to a head. Colonel West does his best to keep his head above water while essentially babysitting Crown Prince Ladisla and his regiment. With Bethod’s forces breathing down the regiment’s neck, West might need some unlikely allies if he means to survive.

My Take

Before They Are Hanged is just as good as The Blade Itself. But, that’s not to say it’s more of the same. Where The Blade Itself worked the entire time to establish character motivations, Before They Are Hanged is all about smashing those characters into one another in interesting ways. Surely I’m not the only one that enjoyed the spark of romance between [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], right?

This book rocks just as hard as The Blade Itself does. Alliances shift, mysteries are revealed, bigger mysteries are created. Big huge wars happen. People get it on. Other people get smashed in the face with maces. Dogman makes poop jokes. Everything you’d expect from a good Abercrombie tale.


The text below is white, so just highlight to read:
Is it just me or did simpering little student Malacus Quai TOTALLY change his demeanor since Logen and Ferro’s fight in the last book? Dude is serious af and suddenly super knowledgeable about mythos and Canadius’s hidden weapon. I’m beginning to think there’s an Eater who’s stolen his body or taken his place somehow while no one was looking.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Leona says:

    I want to reread this series so bad. I’m missing Glokta and his musings.


    1. “Body found floating by the docks…”


      1. Leona says:

        Oh yes! “Why do I do this?”


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