By Joe Abercrombie
Published: Orbit, Sept 8, 2015
Page Count: 514
Rating: 5 out of 5
If you read my review for The Blade Itself then you know that it was a slow burn for me. I was probably about 70% through the book before I felt completely invested in the story, and the only reason I made it that far is because the characters were so well written. I absolutely loved the book by the end though.
With Before They Are Hanged, I was hooked from page 1. Abercrombie continues to write these characters with fascinating detail and I found myself enjoying my time with each and every one of them. Our main protagonists are generally the same people we met in book 1, however, we do get a more intimate look at Ferro and West. I also found myself really enjoying the chapters from Jezel’s point of view as his character began to change for the better. He still maintains some of that dreadful pomposity, but he is much more likeable in this book because he starts to see the world for how it really is. Superior Glokta continues to be my favorite character as he wades his way through politics and war in Dagoska. I absolutely love his chapters.
Oh and the world! The worldbuilding in this novel is fantastic. Half of this story shares similarities with a ‘quest story’, while the other half is heavy on military and political tactics, and large-scale, bloody battles. There is a great deal more action in this book, which gave the overall plot a feeling of constantly progressing forward. This is something that I felt was lacking for me in The Blade Itself, so I was very happy that this was not the case with Before They Are Hanged. Don’t get me wrong, this is still very much a character driven story, but the plot has a much stronger sense of purpose than before. With all of these tools Abercrombie is able to very effectively build his world in a way that feels natural. So often in fantasy the reader is forced to read pages of exposition. This is not the case with Before They are Hanged, or at least the information dumps never feel like exposition. Abercrombie is, simply put, an incredible author as he is able to naturally weave information dumps about the history and lore in a way that makes everything feel as real as the wind outside, and the mountains I am looking at through my bedroom window as I write this review.
I do not want to go into the plot itself, or even any of the information you will learn through Abercrombie’s masterful worldbuilding skills because I think it would take away from the experience of sitting down and reading the book yourself. I loved every second of this book, and I cannot wait to read book 3. If you haven’t experienced the First Law Trilogy, you need to.
5 out of 5 on this one.