Before They Are Hanged - Joe Abercrombie

Cover Art - Before they are hanged


We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.

—Heinrich Heine

Honour, eh? What the hell is that anyway? Every man thinks it's something different. You can't drink it. You can't fuck it. The more of it you have the less good it does you, and if you've got none at all you don't miss it.

—Logan Ninefingers

Before they are hanged is the second book in the First Law series and it continues the enchanting stories of Glokta, Jezal, Logan and Ferro. The story is as brutal and the humour is as sarcastic as ever.

Glokta is assigned the impossible task of defending Dagoska from the Gurkish and he's tempted with an offer from the mysterious bank Valint and Balk. What will he do, and will become of Dagoska?

Bayaz and he's crew including Jezal, Ferro, Logan along with the annoying Brother Longfoot embark on a mission to retreive "The Seed" - a nuclear bomb-esque weapon. Will their adventurous journey to the End of the World through the ruins of Aulchus bear fruit?

Major West is tasked with the daunting task of defending Angland against Bethod and his powerful army of northmen. He's surprised with an unexpected alliance from Logan's long lost gang of rowdies, but will they stand against Bethod and his witch?

We see a change starting to grow in all the major characters - Jezal begins to outgrow his vanity as he's rescued by Ferro and Logan; Logan and Ferro fall in love - if it could be called that; Glokta shows his soft side as he forgives a known traitor, Majester Aida, instead of sticking her head on a spear as Arch Lector Sult would have wanted it.

A little philosophical rant by Bayaz on how a king should rule and the history and re-telling of the rivarly between Juvens and Kanedius adds and keeps the mystery alive.

4/5 - nice read.