Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie continues right from where The Blade Itself left off; in this book, the story starts rolling. While all characters converged in Adua during the prequel, they now scatter in almost all directions. Collem West travels aide to Lord Marshal Burr, the army’s commander-in-chief, into the north; Bethod has finally moved his armies into Angland and forced the Union to fight back. They lead mostly untried lads, the only experienced troops under the command of two generals who put their rivalry before military sense. As if that was not bad enough, pampered Crown Prince Ladisla tags along, his mind set to harvest glory for himself.
Inquisitor Glotka heads in the opposite direction; he has reveiced a delicate mission from the head of Inquisition himself: He is to return to the country of his downfall. The city of Dagoska, won from the Gurkish during the last war, threatens to fall to its old master. Glotka is to make sure the city holds no matter what and solve his predecessor’s mysterious disappearance while he is at it.
The rest of the cast including Logen and Jezal is dragged to the far west by suspicious magus Bayaz. Their goal is to obtain a powerful magical relic with which to fight Bayaz’ former colleague Kalul who draws the strings behind the Gurkish war effort. Not exactly role-models and trusting traveling companions, the party has to meet more than one challenge on their trip, a fair number of them between the members themselves. Read more »
Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself is the fist book in his acclaimed series The First Law. Tree main point of view characters stand out from the impressive cast: Logen Ninefingers,
infamous warrior from the North, Sand dan Glotka, prodigy swordsman turned crippled torturer and Jezal dan Luthar, complacent army officer training for the yearly fencing contest.
Logen barely survives a vicious attack by a pack of Shanka, barely sentient and ever hungry creatures from another age. Certain that his mates are dead he moves south. He gets tangled in the schemes of ancient First Magus Bayaz who has special plans for the barbarian, including using his muscle and special fighting talents on their trip south to the city of Adua, capital of the Union.
Glotka used to be the army’s rising star in his time. Then he was captured by the Gurkish Emperor and broken during two years of brutal torture. When he returned home both his spirit and his body are disfigured beyond repair. His friends have abandoned him since so he has joined the Inquisition where he can put his cruel experience to use. His superior Arch Lector Sult uses the bitter cripple to advance his very own schemes for power, all too sure that Glotka will always get the desired answers out of prisoners unlucky enough to end up in his chair.
Noble son Jezal dan Luthar spends his time drinking, gambling and admiring himself. He regards his training with legendary swordsman Varuz as general nuisance if not torture and wonders whether the prospect of the honors he can achieve by winning the Contest is really worth the trouble. Only when he meets his friend’s unconventional sister does he start reflecting what he does and thinks and applying himself. Read more »