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Before They Are Hanged (2007)

Before They Are Hanged (2007)

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4.25 of 5 Votes: 1
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0575077883 (ISBN13: 9780575077881)

About book Before They Are Hanged (2007)

Joe Abercrombie has given me what I enjoy most in a novel: character growth and development.It has me on the edge of my seat to see those jerks from THE BLADE ITSELF learn and grow: a brain, a spine and a heart.Superior Glokta, the heartless cripple who tortures others and has no mercy or remorse, is growing a heart. He is starting to care about whether the confessions he tortures out of people are true or not. He is sparing certain people's lives when before he wouldn't have hesitated to kill them. He is acting as Ardee's protector, shielding the young woman from the harshness of the world. He's still not A Good Man - he still tortures, kills, sentences innocent people to death - but I can see compassion and mercy in him now, where before there was none. He's starting to heal (mentally) from being tortured those two years in the Emperor's prisons. He also, in this book, acts out against racism and forces the people around him to respect the 'natives' and give the 'natives' back their basic rights. He also stops the ghettoization of the 'natives' and opens the city gates to them again.Jezal, the pretty, arrogant, self-centered, whiny spoiled brat from the first book learns A LOT in this novel. He experiences battle firsthand. He kills two men. He's wounded - in a terrible way for him - they wound his beautiful face. His companions, people who he looks down on and treat like crap, patched him up and helped him. Now he is no longer so pretty. He's humbler (although still full of himself) and he's learning to value the 'barbarians', ugly people, and people of low birth who he would have spit on, previously. Slowly but surely, he's growing a brain. He also has killed two men now, so that makes him a little more wise about battle and what it really means to take a life.Logen Ninefingers - I liked this character since the beginning of THE BLADE ITSELF, so I can't really say I've enjoyed watching him change and grow - he's a pretty Good Man, you know, except for being a merciless and brutal slaughterer of thousands. In this book I loved to see his and Ferro's relationship grow.Ferro, the scarred barbarian ex-slavewoman, is slowly, very, very slowly learning how to trust again. Logen Ninefingers is so, so, so careful and patient with her. He does little things to make her life easier. He shows time and time again that he's got her back in battle. This is seduction. Forget about pretty boys, these arrogant jerks I see now that are so popular in YA and New Adult fiction. Logen is certainly not pretty, but he makes it clear that Ferro is the center of his world. He is always respectful of her. Respectful, kind, patient, trustworthy, and slow-moving - it's no wonder that Ferro's defenses are slowly crumbling in the wake of this overwhelming Good being aimed directly at her. He isn't looking for sex, actually even just getting her to sit next to him at the fire seemed like a lofty goal. He just wants her to be happier and wants to help her join the human race again. Hot, hot, hot! Doesn't matter to me that they are both ugly, scarred, tormented people who are used to killing and even more used to being betrayed - this love story (which is miniscule in the book, totally a small little side-plot) makes my heart melt. I hate in stories where people instantly fall in love - I am glad Abercrombie made me wait a book and a half for this. I also hate when sex and lust are in the forefront - some hot guy shows up and makes a few sarcastic remarks and the next thing you know the couple are having (excellent) sex right and left, even though the girl is a virgin. This love story between Ferro and Ninefingers is realistic. It's hard, it takes work, it takes time, and the sex isn't instantly amazing either. Not only is the sex a work in progress, getting better and better each time, but Ferro is so harsh and bitter and angry that it's hard for her to have a normal conversation. She lashes out - a lot - and then doesn't know how to apologize. Ninefingers really has to be extremely patient and cautious with her, and it's a constant struggle. Both are people who have been really beat up by life, and I liked seeing them make a connection.I want to stress that this book is in no way a romance, this is a tiny little subplot that's barely on the radar, but it made me extremely happy, so I had to talk about it.Who else? Oh yeah, Colonel West. He's going to war with a bunch of morons leading the troops. Needless to say, the Union - civilization, the people who look down on the Northern barbarians - picks men to lead battle and rule the country based on birth, not on any sort of merit. As a result, the King is moron, his sons are morons, the Generals (who are Generals because of their ancestry) are inept and petty. It's all West can do to keep some semblance of order. The best part of West's story is when he and the barbarians have to travel a bit by themselves after a horrifying battle. Dow, Dogman, Cathil (the blacksmith woman), and West travel together for a time and West learns a lot. He learns to respect the barbarians. He kills some of Bethod's men in a very vicious manner and earns the name Furious. He catches Prince Ladisla just as he's about to rape Cathil so he kills him. Before this, he was taking every risk to protect the Prince, giving him his coat, slowing the barbarians down to the Prince's pace, etc. etc. I'm was so glad to see West finally grow a spine and save Cathil from that scumbag.It's also fair to note that I love how Abercrombie makes this play out. West has had his eye on Cathil since he first met her (not in an icky way - in a love way). After he saves her from her would-be rapist, he grows more and more accustomed to the idea that he might be in love with her. One night he goes looking for her and finds her having sex with Dogman. Needless to say, he's shocked and disappointed. Much, much later in the book, he and Cathil have a mini-conversation about it - and Cathil admits that she's not attracted to West because he's too angry.This blew my mind. I really appreciate this tiny side-plot by Abercrombie, and I thought it was masterfully done. So often in books the woman who either was raped or was almost-raped falls into bed with the man who rescues her. It's not even a question, usually, it's just assumed that the man who rescues her from being raped is going to end up in bed with her. And I loved that Abercrombie just spit in the face of that trope. BECAUSE CATHIL IS RIGHT. West is angry. He's a man with a temper, and a big problem controlling that temper. He never raised his voice or his hand to Cathil, but she can see that he has a problem and she doesn't want that mess. She makes a good, intelligent decision and I respect Abercrombie so much for making such a great female character. No reader will forget the scene in the first book when West comes home from a bad day at work and beats the sh*t out of his little sister, almost choking her to death and punching her repeatedly in the face. And Abercrombie does make it tempting to forget this - after all, most of the time West is a really stand-up, do-right, sensible, helpful guy who treats barbarians, foreigners, and women with kindness and respect. He saves people's lives and shows mercy when others wouldn't. It would be almost easy to forget the darkness and horrible temper that lurks inside of him, just waiting for the wrong woman to say the wrong thing.This kind of excellent character development and growth is the reason I am staring to adore this trilogy. And it's not the kind of trilogy I would usually pick up - it's dark, it's grim, it's got torture, attempted rape, graphic war scenes. Not to mention a pretty bleak outlook on life. However, Abercrombie tempers all this with such a glimmer of hope that I'm just about going crazy with anticipation to see how the characters, who I once despised, will become better people. Perhaps they will never be 'good people', exactly, but much-improved versions of their former selves - people capable of mercy, trust, love, and respect.If I like the third and final book in the series, I will go back and give each book in the series 5 stars.

4.5 With Characters Like These Who Worries About the Plot Stars Buddy read with Athena, Alexa, Ashley, Eon, Anasylvia and MichelleThe Blade Itself was a complete character study without a lot of plot, Before They Are Hanged has a little more plotting involved but for me it was still all about the characters. I travelled with them, I worried for them, I hoped for the best even in the midst of the worst and at the end I’m left wondering how they will ever get out of the complete mess they are all in.Glotka Strange how, with time, even the most terrible suffering of others can become . . . tediousGlotcka has proved again what a complex character he is. Is he the misunderstood hero or is he the villain? I’m never quite sure myself. He can torture better than anyone but still it seems that he has a conscience and I love the inner dialogue he has. I look forward to his chapters because even though in so many ways he is awful he is also extremely clever and knows the true score. He might be dead as soon as the other players in this dangerous game he is playing. If he can’t keep on the right side of the people in power he will be the body floating in the docks. So he plays his part of the game better than anyone else and proves that just because you are horribly crippled the mind is a dangerous thing and being smart will save your ass more than a solid sword arm.Logen and Ferro + the rest of the travelers (Bayaz, Jazel, Quai and Longfoot) I ship Logen and Ferro so hard. Both are fierce warriors with horrible pasts. Again we get to see Logen and the burden he has carried by having Ninefingers as a traveler in his head. Logen is calm, smart and collected. He hands out great advice and seems like the true leader of the pack. But when 'The Bloody Nine' comes out to play no one is safe, even his allies. Ferro, I just want to hug you, but you’d probably slit my throat if I tried. Learning about her past made me feel so much for her character. She is a feral beast to be sure but I loved the time she and Logen spent together and how close they became. Jazel surprisingly has grown on me, all it took was a near brush with death and some real pain to make the boy grow up a bit. He might be a decent person after all and it just make me wonder what is Bayaz grooming the boy for. ‘Easy, now, and listen to me. It hurts, yes. Seems like more than you can take, but it isn’t. You think you’re going to die, but you won’t. Listen to me, because I’ve been there, and I know. Each minute. Each hour. Each day, it gets better.’ Bayaz is still a huge mystery to me and everyone else he is traveling with so I guess it is only fair I’m in the dark about his character as well. It seems that Quai has started to question his master a little more and the First Magi must tell stories of his past in order to convince the group that he is prepared and will not make the same mistakes again. “All the great heroes of old, you know - the great kings, the great generals - they all faced adversity from time to time.” Jezal looked up. He had almost forgotten that Bayaz was there. “Suffering is what gives a man strength, my boy, just as the steel most hammered turns out the hardest.”Wow what a journey these characters had and I will say at the end of it I was beyond surprised with how it all turned out. With all they went through to get where they were going I didn’t expect the outcome and can’t wait to see what the band of brothers + Ferro will do now.The Northmen and West The Named men from the north have found a common ally against Bethod, but the crafty king has a lot of tricks up his sleeve and things might just get a little bloody. ”It was a bad day for men, all in all, and a good one for the ground. Always the way, after a battle. Only the ground wins.”I was so upset with West at the end of The Blade Itself but seeing him in his new position and having to deal with the Prince and a few other circumstances I really began to like him again. He has practically redeemed himself to me and I honestly felt extremely bad for him at one point (view spoiler)[She winced and stared down at the ground beside his feet. ‘I didn’t mean to . . . well. I owe you a lot, I know. It’s just that . . . you’re too angry for me. That’s all.’West stared at her as she trudged off up the hill after the Northmen, hardly able to believe his ears. She was happy to bed that stinking savage, but he was too angry? It was so unfair he almost choked on his rage.So no love for West yet. (hide spoiler)]

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What an epic second book. Certain quest with most interesting characters, cities under siege, schemes within guilds and nobles, Glokta's at his finest, bloody fights and after all Bloody-Nine.While first book gave us insight into the world, second one expands it really well, explaining lots of things and to be honest I really like my fantasy like this one (Erikson is good but sometimes you wish book like this one, straight to the point with enough mystery to keep it going).Of course, since this was Audible, Steven Pacey is absolutely outstanding narrator, there's no better choice for the book like this one.

Ok, two books down and only one to go and still i have scarcely any idea what this series is really about. I often hear that the characters in the First Law trilogy is rather unpleasant and despicable. Bullshit. This series has the most fascinating set of main characters. My favorites so far are Glotka and Jezal. Glotka used to be a dashing soldier of the Union. One of the best. And then he was taken captive by enemy, tortured for two years. Now he is a bitter cripple and a torturer. Jezal is a young handsome and skilled soldier. He was also an arrogant douchebag who would look down on his inferiors and fawn over his superiors at the start of the series, now after being through hell and coming face to face with death, he's somehow changed for better. I liked the new Jezal in Before they are hanged but I liked the old Jezal, for that matter. The other main characters are the centuries old powerful wizard Bayaz , Logen 'the most feared man in the North' who is a ruthless fighter, but when he's not fighting he has the most tender heart. Colonel West, an honorable commoner with a rather good military mind. Most of his superiors seem to despise him for becoming a Colonel and overreaching himself. And Ferro, who has a blood of devil. She is either frowning or sullen or grunting 99% of the time. She trust no one, hates everyone and everything, the goal of her life is to take revenge on her enslavers. Just like in the first book, Before they are hanged was full of gruesome violence and humor. I just love the way Aercrombie mixes this two unlikely element to his books. All in all, I really like JA's writing style, his characters, his dark humor. I'm still not so much impressed by it, say, as I was impressed by GRRM, to give it a 5 star but i'm definitely looking forward to reading the last book.

Before They Are Hanged is a transitional volume, between the first book and the last. We've been introduced to the world and the characters and great events are now in motion.Glotka is sent to Dagoska to hold off the Gurkish. Collem West goes north to Angland with the Union's armies and Crown Prince. And Bayaz, first of the Magi, drags Logen Ninefingers, Ferro and Jezal across the known world on a mysterious quest. Everything is in motion and everything is a swirl of chaotic action. What makes the book shine are the characters. I'm continually impressed by the author's ability to make me like a character I don't want to like - Glotka. The man is an inquisitor. He tortures and kills people he knows are innocent. Yet, in Dagoska he treats the natives with respect instead of contempt. He lets a guilty woman go free. He tries to do the right thing. He is one of the most compelling characters I've ever had the pleasure to read about. Likewise, Abercrombie makes me dislike a character I want to like - Collem West. West seems like a good man. A commoner who has risen to Colonel in the Union's armies by virtue of his courage and abilities. He tries to be fair and do the right thing. But West has trouble around women - the worst of it being the savage beating he gave his sister in a fit of blind rage. Collem also kills the Crown Prince in a fit of rage. Collem West is clearly a troubled man. Finally, there is the action itself. The author does a great job of describing the action and battles without actually over-whelming us with it. This is not a book about battles. It is a book about people. The action serves as a backdrop to help move the story along. Four and a half stars, rounded up to five on the strength of the characters.
—Mr. Matt

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