BOOK REVIEW: Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (4 stars)

uk-orig-before-they-are-hangedVerdict: A return to the old school. Underdog battles to the death, blood vengeance, conspiracy and personal growth. 

Before They Are Hanged is the welcome sequel to Abercrombie’s impressive debut, The Blade Itself. It follows the journey that Bayaz, First of the Magi, Malacus Quai, Jezal, Logen Ninefingers and Ferro to retrieve the Seed from the Edge of the World.

Character arcs and growth abound in this book. Jezal, in particular, grows into someone who you’re able to like enormously. Still a bit of a pompous ass, he’s taught humility and you find yourself rooting for him to continue on the path Logen has set him on – to be a better man.

Glokta shines again as the little anti-hero that could. Thrust into power in far-off Dagoska, he must defend a crumbling city from the might of the Emperor. Without funds and support, he’s forced to make a decision that could place him in a very precarious position indeed… if he survives the siege, that is.

This is the book where I really start to dislike Bayaz. I had my suspicious face on throughout the whole of the novel and it didn’t stop until the end of Last Argument of Kings. I figured out what he’d been grooming Jezal for since the first book, so this novel was more of a ‘why is he doing that?’ rather than a ‘what is he doing?’.

Malacus Quai. Come on, guys. Take a hint about your companions. When they start acting out of character, it’s time to pay attention. Poor Malacus.

Ferro is a fantastic character, and her dovetail story arc with Logen was a welcome narrative; both remaining themselves, both accepting of that fact. I’m still in two minds about what exactly is going on with Logen/The Bloody Nine. I have two theories but they’re both equally plausible… perhaps we’ll find out on the next book, but I doubt it. Abercrombie seems to like keeping things unexplained, which is great.

Jezal, bless him. Just bless his little cotton socks. The part with the split shirtsleeve really warmed my heart to him. Here’s a man who started off so selfish, and ended up grieving because he thought he was responsible for a companion’s demise.

But, as always, Glokta was the main star of this book. He is hands-down my favourite character in the series and, I think, easily in the top 5 of my favourite characters. I would rather put my life in the hands of Glokta than any other person in this book, which is saying something considering he tortures and murders people for a living.

The money-lenders/bank Valint and Balk are clearly up to no good, and I only hope that my favourite inquisitor doesn’t get squashed to death between a rock and a hard place. I have faith he’ll get out of this scrape like he gets out of all the others.

And as for the ending to the ‘Search for the Seed’ saga? Well.

Abercrombie, you git. I love it.

Go on, let me know what you think!

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