Continuing in the First Law Series, Before They Are Hanged will have you hanging on to every word.
Joe Abercrombie picks up directly following the ending to The Blade Itself, keeping to the point-of-view characters Superior Sand dan Glokta, Logen Ninefingers (or as we’ve come to recognize him, The Bloody Nine), Ferro Maljinn, Jezal dan Luthar, Major Collem West, and the Dogman.
While we got a good introduction to the Dogman and Collem West in the first book, Before They Are Hanged lets us spend a little bit more time with these two as battle wages in the North. Where as the first book The Blade Itself made them feel like secondary characters, Joe Abercormbie’s storytelling and Steven Pacey’s voice talent consistently impresses, and instead of missing what’s going on with Logen, Ferro, and Jezal in the Old Empire, one is itching to know what’s happening to West and Dogman in the war with King Bethod in the North.
We’re not quite certain what to make of West in the first book, and the second book doesn’t make things any less complicated. The promoted Captain in the King’s Own warms to his new position, so to speak, in the frosty and miserable North. He’s faced with challenges both military and personal, and how he comes to deal with them will doubtlessly leave you slack-jawed.
We track through the Old Empire with Ninefingers, Ferro, Jezal, Bayaz, Malacus Quai, and the Navigator in search of the Seed. In order not to ruin anything, and for fear that speaking too long on their quest will give away all kinds of spoilers, I will only say this: through actions during the day and story times at dinner, the listener learn all kinds of things about Ninefingers, Ferro, and Bayaz that at the very least will cause one to raise an eyebrow. Say one thing for Logen Ninefingers, say he’s a lucky bastard…and possibly a wicked one, at that. Jezal and the Navigator also have a few stories, but…well…they’re not quiet as hair-raising as the other three. Much like all other quests, this treacherous journey shows the colors of some people, and gives a little more backbone (and character) to others. Joe Abercrombie does a fantastic job at keeping the quest pace quick, jumping between characters, and giving details only as details are needed that makes this months long journey pass without any dragging. Definitely an artist indeed, as even some of the best writers have overly drawn out traveling sequences that tend to bore.
And so that leaves us with the promoted Superior Sand dan Glokta of Dogaska. Not everyone is qualified to run a city, but as the former Colonel had basically brought ruin to his army in the past, he now at least knows what not to do as the Gurkish march to take the city. We seem to spend a lot of time with Glokta in this book, and it’s time well appreciated. Granted Steven Pacey’s toothless imitation of the man is gruesome, that is exactly how Glokta speaks, so we can never forget for a moment through all his actions and speeches that he is, still, disfigured, and through Joe Abercrombie’s incredible writing skills, we can never forget that Glokta is never without physical, torturous pain. I wrote it in The Blade Itself review and I’ll write it again: Glokta is one of the best literary characters I’ve ever encountered, and the time we’re given with him in the hot and seemingly-doomed city to the South is curious, interesting, and exciting to say the least.
Before They Are Hanged is fascinating, gripping, action packed, and engaging. Again, it is only enhanced by Steven Pacey masterfully lending his voice to truly incredible characters that makes this audiobook so intriguing. Certainly without Pacey’s voice talent the book would be fascinating, but I know I’d never fully incorporate Prince Ladisla’s sloppy pomp, Old Empire highwaymen’s cockiness, and without a doubt Glokta’s toothless dialect would slip my mind.
I truly wish I could say more, that I could go on about the great deeds these characters attempt and sometimes manage, but that would give away too much too soon. Trust me when I say Open Your Ears To Before They Are Hanged and you won’t be disappointed.