Before They Are Hanged
The second novel in the wildly popular First Law Trilogy from New York Times bestseller 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.
First Law Trilogy
The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
Last Argument of Kings
For more from Joe Abercrombie, check out:
Novels in the First Law world
Best Served Cold
This grim and vivid sequel to 2007's The Blade Itself transcends its middle volume status, keeping the reader engaged with complicated plotting and intriguing character development. As savage Northmen invade Angland, the northernmost province of the unwieldy Union, honorable, hard-working Union soldier Colonel West watches his notions of civilized warfare erode in one horrible battle after another. In Dagoska, a southern city threatened by Gurkish soldiers and left undefended as Union troops head to Angland, dreadfully maimed Inquisitor Glokta employs tortures and deceptions to ferret out conspiracies against the king. Ignoring these worldly concerns, disreputable magus Bayaz of Calcis drives a squabbling little band through a wasteland in search of a relic that can open a gate to the realm of demons. Abercrombie leavens the bloody action with moments of dark humor, developing a story suffused with a rich understanding of human darkness and light.
Not your dads fantasy
This is the other end of the spectrum for fantasy. All the blood, the cold wind, the sleepless nights are in this world. There is anxiety, hatred, egotism, and mercilessness. Wizards will cuss you out, throw fits and do things for themselves. Must read.
Abercrombie is one of the best authors I have read in a long time. This book, this series and all that follow this character set are excellent. He challenges a lot if the worn out tropes that we have seen in this genre.
In particular he turns the kindly, benevolent wizard trope on its nose. Such interesting characters, particularly Glotka.
I have read hundreds of books in this genre. I started out with the Hobbit and my thirst for these types of books has never waned even after 43 years.
Lately, I find my beloved genre overtaken with books that are barely worth the appellation of “fantasy” or “sword and sorcery”. If I had my choice I would put 90% of the recent award winning books in the category of “drivel”
With that said, I this recommend this book and series. Joe Abercrombie is an author who stand head and shoulders above his “peers”. Also try Steven Erickson.
I love this series. Great characters. Great writing. Deep world building.