Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

Rate: 4.5/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (Spoilers Abound):
As the second installment of The First Law trilogy, Before They Are Hanged doesn’t pull any punches as it is jam packed with action and adventure for each character of this extensive cast. Really, this whole book in no way feels like the plot bridge that sometimes plagues the middle novel of a trilogy. After finishing The Blade Itself, I was left with the general feeling that I’d read a prequel, with pawns being maneuvered into strategic positions for the true journey only just beginning at its conclusion. Before They are Hanged really does flourish with the elaborate, expansive foundation established by its predecessor. In every chapter, nigh every paragraph, Abercrombie continues to build not only his detailed literary realm, along with its complicated past, but also apply layers of significant depth onto ever evolving characters. Abercrombie now has the designation of writing the most uncomfortable, awkward, but 100% fitting sex scenes I’ve ever read. I’m just going to leave that claim unexplained. Read it. You’ll understand why. The battles are quite numerous throughout Before They Are Hanged, however I can’t see this trend abating as the series continues. Overall, after the whirlwind of troubles Abercrombie concocted for his harried cast, I can’t wait to read what the finale of The First Law trilogy has in store.   

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound)

  • I can’t believe I’m going to admit this but by the end of Before They are Hanged I actually liked Superior Glokta. I still can’t believe he spared Carlot.
  • When will Ardee find out her brother is still alive?I was equal parts rooting for and shocked that West actually killed Prince Ladisla. I had been hoping this trek through the wilderness might have our spoiled prince grow a spine and into a better person much as Luthar did in this book but he was likely a lost cause.
  • What is going on with Bayaz? Why does he seem to be losing his powers and simultaneously his calm demeanor as their adventure progresses?
  • My favorite chapters were those involving Bayaz, Logen, Luthar, Ferro, and Quai. I loved seeing Luthar grow and evolve after his horrific accident. 
  • The Dogman was another character who significantly grew in interest. The death scene with Cathil was another difficult one, especially as the Dogman and her had just started their relationship. Threetrees will be dearly missed but it will be interesting to see him step into the role of leader. When will they find out Logen is alive?
  • Seriously, what is going on with Quai? I’ve decided an eater has replaced the quiet scholar we’d first encountered. His personality has totally changed. Logen even has commented on it.
  • Was the relic really just a stone? Everyone was being cranky and impulsive as soon as they got to the island. Rather out of character for finally getting to the long awaited destination. The stone must still be with them, just in an unexpected way. Why else would everyone had been bickering immediately? 
  • Why was Pike in the work camp? 


  1. Good catch on Quai, though not for the reason you cited, and it’s connected with the relic they were looking for. I won’t say more than that.

    I enjoyed Glokta in this one as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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