Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #1)

902715“A man lost in the desert must accept water from wherever he can get it.”

Author: Joe Abercrombie
Category: High Fantasy
Pages: 441
Publication Date: March 15th, 2007

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Dani’s 2¢

I liked this book better than the first.

Where The Blade Itself seemed fairly directionless to me, this one seemed to have more actually going on. Looking back, it seems like The Blade Itself was almost entirely just setting the stage for the story to actually begin. And I appreciate the time taken to get everything just right to be able to tell the story. I have to say though that this one actually having bigger conflicts than a duel where the stakes are little more than bragging rights enabled me to engage more.

That said, I don’t think it is quite perfect.

I like all the individual plot lines. One group of characters is in the north fighting Bethod, one group is in the south fighting the Gurkish, while a third group is traipsing across the world to retrieve a magical item. As of yet, these three plot lines don’t intersect hardly at all. It is almost like reading three totally separate stories in one book. I am okay with this right now because there is still one more book in this storyline and I am holding faith that all the threads will be brought together.

The only plots that kinda sorta begin to converge is the war with the Gurkish and the magical item that Bayaz is leading his group across the world to retrieve. I have trouble with this though because this plotline is easily my least favorite just because I don’t feel the logic in it. I like Logen Ninefingers, I like Jezal, I like how much their characters were grown and developed in this book, but Bayaz’s whole quests just seems so vague.

There is no information on how he supposedly knows that this magical item is needed and so the motivations for the characters following him is lacking.

The other two storylines, I enjoyed very much.

Sand dan Glokta is probably my favorite character of this series and I would argue one of the best written. An ex-soldier of some renown, he was tortured after being captured during battle, leaving in crippling agony. At his heart, he is a good person that wants to find the truth and wants to do the right thing. Yet he is a torturer. He doesn’t take pride in what he does but puts his qualms aside to just do his job. He is intelligent, he is somewhat angry at just about everyone, but he continues to try and do right by his country even when his superiors keep telling him he should stick his nose out of things that smell suspicious.

Another major character, and one that really didn’t receive a lot of character development in the first book, but that shone pretty well in this book was Logen Ninefingers.

There was just nothing to him in The Blade Itself. He was mostly the hulking shadow that followed Bayaz around not saying a whole lot. We finally get some development with him though and saw from his point of view how he saw the problem with their group was the lack of trust and how much that would hurt them in the long run and so sought to make small gestures to bring them together. I liked his display of leadership even though he was in no way an actual leader of this group unless some fighting started. It made it easier to understand how the other Northmen followed him so easily.

West and Jezal’s characters also saw quite a bit of growth in this book. West as he continues to be confronted with how much anger he carries inside him even though outwardly he is a good person. Jezal’s character is sort of mirroring him in the opposite direction. In the first book Jezal is very much a pampered, arrogant rich kid that just can’t find the time of day for anyone but himself but due to his circumstances and the things that happen to him know is beginning to reflect on the person that he has been and who he wants to be.

Overall this book was far superior to the first in character development as well as in story development. I think if the final book brings all the stories together really well, this series could be a new favorite.

Rating:

8-really liked it

Greg’s Thoughts

I wish I had a lot to say about this book, but partway through I clocked out and went home. I did finish but there was nothing in this series that stood out and grabbed me. The plot lines are generic fantasy, most of the characters are boring and nothing special. Just all around could not find anything that grabbed me and kept me centered.

I hate that Dani has a whole essey for this but I just have nothing to say except I was bored. I will be finishing the series due to the fact that I like the characters like West and Glockta, but it will be under duress.

Rating:

4-boring

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