After getting hooking on Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Seas trilogy and reading through The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged, the second book of the First Law trilogy continues to cement Abercrombie as one of my new favorite authors.
As with the previous novels I have read, Abercrombie’s primary strength continues to be his ability to create unique and interesting characters along with fascinating worlds. In Before They Are Hanged, we are treated to more the world beyond Adua.
Bayaz, Logen Ninefingers, Captain Jezal dan Luthar, Ferro Maljinn, Malacus Quai, and Brother Longfoot embark on their journey starting in Auda to the End of the World. For what purpose? The characters and readers generally don’t know. Only Bayaz knows and he does not disclose this information until halfway through the novel. Meanwhile, these varied characters are like the Breakfast Club. Each has preconceived opinions of the others and generally do not like each other until they are united through the hardship of travel, various battles, and through the realization, they are truly reliant of each other while on their quest.
Meanwhile, Inquisitor Glokta has received a promotion to Superior and was sent away to Dagoska to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his predecessor. While trying to solve this mystery, Glokta must also contend with the inner politics of the small council of Dagoska who cannot get their act together while preparing to defend the city from the Gurkish army who wish to take the city by force or submission.
Lastly, West must reign in Prince Ladisla before he ruins the campaign against Bethod’s army. Unfortunately, he is unable to prevent Ladisla from making a grave mistake and is forced to traverse the frozen wilderness with the newly joined Northmen and a pair of convicts he freed from a penal colony nearby.
Altogether, these primary characters push forward the narrative on their journeys. This time there is plenty of action on all sides, intrigue into what is happening around the world behind the scenes, and a bit more explanation into the real purpose of their journeys.
As with the last book, it is still a bit vague with regards to what the purpose of all these journeys is. The characters have their wants and desires, and some of them match together with their actions while others still seem to be along for the ride. However, like the previous book, the vagueness of the plot is overshadowed by the well-developed characters, the action scenes, and admittedly, the vagueness of the plot also makes me want to continue to read to figure out just how everything is connected.
Moving onward to The Last Argument of Kings!