so After the 2006 Success of The Blade Itself The First Law trilogy was well and truly on its way to a popular succession and so after a mere gap of 1 year came the 2nd installment in the Trilogy – Before They were Hanged , With fans waiting in anticipation to find out just how did their favourite characters fare in the next installment and with high hopes of fans and critics alike resting on the book which was following suit of probably one of the most successful Dark Character driven Fantasy book of it’s time . Many Authors in the past and present have crumpled under such anticipations and expectations , countless other Authors have managed tame follow ups but Joe Abercombie is not Just any Author .
Those with the least always lose the most in war
With success of the first book , Joe Abercombie published his Second book in March of 2007 and surprisingly this time took his band of misfit protagonists* on journeys away from the land he so masterfully architected in the first book . So while the most feared man in the north , the most hated woman in south , the first magi , a highly ambitious but annoying and narcissist captain all go on a perilious journey the wicked inquisitor is sent on a suicide mission to hold a land that’s already on the verge of being conquered and yet the land of Angland , The Union is still at War and Captain West is leading an army that hates him for being a low born .
*not sure If you can call them protagonist , but oh well if I start debating where these characters stand then I might have to spend a few fortnights here
Yes on the surface of the story itself so much is happening in this book that you maybe forgiven for criticizing the first book now in hindsight coz when compared the level of activity and action that proceeds in this book is almost too much and that in the first book is too little . And as usual the Dark environment , The Dark yet Witty humour , and unlimited well timed, well explained , detailed action sequences are of top notch and keep you glued on your seats and kept wanting for more .But where the book truly excels is the Characters , Just like the first book and yet so much better .
We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged
Characters such as Logen and Bayaz who were seen as powerful good guys show glimpses of their dark sides . Whereas the likes of Jezal Dan Luthor & Ferro Maljinn turn out to be much better souls than what we first thought . The slow and steady turn of Jezal especially is a sight to behold as the former self obsessed Captain starts gaining serious pity points with this book . Meanwhile although I fell in an instant admiration for Inquisitor Glokta in the first book it was no doubt that he was wicked to the bone but with his Characters finally shows the guile and wits and the persistence that wins him the award for probably the most brilliant character written in Fantasy ever *.
In also a first for the trilogy the involvement of previously fringe characters such as Major West , Ardee West , Nicomo Cosca, The Practicals etc etc were a gracious welcome . The involvement was timed such that by the end of this book you can almost feel and relate to these so called Fringe characters as equally as with the aforementioned main characters .
Anyone can face ease and success with confidence. It is the way we face trouble and misfortune that defines us
The mystery of the goals of each and every character also becomes more fascinating in this book with a lot of hints ,clues and past affairs explained but the mystery barely solved . The antagonists of the series also take centre stage and their immense potential not only keeps you excited for the duration of this book it also considerably wets your appetite for the next book where the involvement of these antagonists is imminent.
Sadly a few glitches that were seen in the first book still remains such as the near inarticulate sentences formed by the author may still make you feel a tad bit dizzy sometime however things do massively improve in this context when compared to the first book and ofcourse it’s still not a writing praiseworthy of many but hey when you get a story and characters as good as these I believe this to be a very minor flaw in the bigger scheme of things . The previous complains of some that the book is not dark enough for some remains but again it remains in very few audiences and while I could accept the criticism for the first book it becomes very hard to explain in this book since many other criticize the book for being overly dark and the making all of it’s characters unlikeable .
People love to see death. It reminds them that however mean, however low, however horrible their lives become… at least they have one
I guess overall if you don’t like a dark , character driven, action filled plot than you may as well drop the idea of ever picking these trio of books but as a fantasy fan this is a must read . Meanwhile those who don’t mind Darkness or Morally ambiguous characters would absolutely cherish this book . In hindsight this book explains the details in the first book and makes the first book feel like a book that was gearing the readers up for this one and in the similar scenario this books sets you up for the unforeseen conclusive events of the third book. So while I am baffled by the haters of this book If you like this book I truly admire your taste in books and if you haven’t read the book than go for it , if your tastes matches anything like mine you won’t come out disappointed
All an arsehole knows about is shit. ~ Dogman