‘We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.’ Heinrich Heine
The second in The First Law trilogy, Before They are Hanged picks up where The Blade Itself (read my review of that here) left off, and we are thrown straight back into the adventures of the mismatched band of characters we know and love.
Maimed inquisitor Sand den Glokta has been seconded to the southern Union city of Dagoska to investigate the disappearance of his predecessor, as barbarian Gurkish hordes threaten to overrun the city. Who can he trust as he tries to get to the bottom of things and keep the city safe? Warrior Logen, ex-slave Ferro and petulant nobleman Luthar have accompanied the sorcerer Bayaz to the edge of the world on his mysterious quest that will push them to the limits of who they are, and soldier Collum West finds himself having some tough choices to make as he babysits the Crown Prince as the northmen attack.
This might all sound like run-of-the-mill fantasy fiction fare, but Abercrombie’s deft touch, knack for dialogue and eye for human nature elevates it. As you might expect from the middle volume of a trilogy, much of the story is set-up for the final book. What pushes this forward is the development of characters you have already invested in. There are battles, murders and love affairs; loyalties are tested and unexpected allegiances form. I LOVED this book.
Steven Pacey (the cute curly-haired guy from Blake’s Seven) gives an awesome performance in reading the book. I was an audiobook virgin and I wasn’t sure if I’d like listening rather than reading, but staring down the barrel of training for another marathon with the associated three hour runs, I needed something to get me through. Pacey is brilliant, investing both the internal and external voice of each character with distinctive mannerisms and motivations. His reading is a masterful interpretation of the menacing and mysterious world Abercrombie has created.