First Law Along #2: Before They Are Hanged

Tonight is the live show for the second book in the First Law Along readathon. If you don’t know what this is, I talked about this earlier in my Readathons for 2023 post and also in the first update made for this readathon, but in short the plan for this readathon is to read one book from Joe Abercrombie‘s First Law series every two months or so, until we have caught up with all 10 currently published books.

Unfortunately I will probably not participate in this live show tonight, as I prefer to wacth the final of a show here in Flanders instead to avoid being spoiled, but I still wanted to get my review for this second book online today. And, oh boy, did I enjoy this one!
Fair warning though, since this is book two in a series, my review may contain spoilers for both the first and second book!

Joe Abercrombie – Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) ★★★★★

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Superior Glokta has a problem. How do you defend a city surrounded by enemies and riddled with traitors, when your allies can by no means be trusted, and your predecessor vanished without a trace? It’s enough to make a torturer want to run – if he could even walk without a stick.

Northmen have spilled over the border of Angland and are spreading fire and death across the frozen country. Crown Prince Ladisla is poised to drive them back and win undying glory. There is only one problem – he commands the worst-armed, worst-trained, worst-led army in the world.

And Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a party of bold adventurers on a perilous mission through the ruins of the past. The most hated woman in the South, the most feared man in the North, and the most selfish boy in the Union make a strange alliance, but a deadly one. They might even stand a chance of saving mankind from the Eaters. If they didn’t hate each other quite so much.

Ancient secrets will be uncovered. Bloody battles will be won and lost. Bitter enemies will be forgiven – but not before they are hanged.

Where The Blade Itself was more of an introduction to the characters and set-up of the plot, Before They Are Hanged really started the action and amp up the stakes, while developing our characters from familiar acquaintances to almost friends (frenemies?).

I really loved the three story lines we were following, very interesting connections and rather unexpected reveals. I continue to be baffled about the fact that I really love these characters, even though none of them has all that much to be likeable. They are however all very remarkably human and each have something that makes you root for them.

This trilogy really feels like just one long book, with book one flowing seamlessly into book two. That’s why it ends a bit unsatisfactory, but that also means that I can’t wait to start with book 3, so I’m just going to do that. I have no doubt it will be everything I hope for or more.

“I have no doubt, that there will be an orgy of blackmail, bribery, corruption and betrayal. A carnival of deal making, alliance breaking, intrigue and murder. A merry dance of fixing, of rigging, of threats, and of promises.”

And these were my very general thoughts on this second book. A really strong sequel and not a typical middle book at all, as I enjoyed it even more than the first.

While reading (again while listening to the awesome audiobook at the same time), I regularly jotted down thoughts. Right now I’m too lazy to turn them into full sentences/paragraphs, so you’re going to have to make do with lists! Beware, here be spoilers!

Bayaz’s crew

  • I really loved this band of found-family
  • Really enjoyed Jezal’s development. His epiphany and how he then vows to become a better person ♥

    “Course. Doing better next time. That’s what life is.”

  • Logen is being so cute, acting like a dad for his group of misfits. How he’s protecting them and trying to connect with all of them.
  • Makes the contrast with the Bloody Nine really jarring…

    “An excessive and brutal act, but better to act with too much force than too little. Better to be held in fear, than in contempt”

  • I have a bad feeling about Bayaz’s motives and don’t really trust Brother Longfoot or even Quai.
  • Ferro really grew on me and I really feel for her struggle. I really hope she’ll stop getting in her own way, but was sad to see how book 2 ended for her.

    “Man makes his own choices, my father used to tell me. Reckon that goes for women just as much.”

  • OMG 😆, this must be one of the most uncomfortable sex scenes I’ve ever read
  • Huh, that rock really is just a rock? Why was the spirit then guarding it so diligently? I don’t know, it’s iffy and I really do not trust Bayaz (although I do love how this Merlin-trope is turned on its head)
  • On the other hand, it kind of fits in the theme of not conforming to expectations that this whole quest was basically for nothing.


  •  Ah, Glokta, you wonderful sarcastic hopeless fool 😀

    “As for being a good man” – and Glokta curled his lip – “that ship sailed long ago, and I wasn’t even there to wave it off.”

  • He has such a surprisingly soft heart sometimes. I’m afraid he’s going to regret that…

    Body found floating in the docks

West & The Northmen

  • Wow, West, I’m wondering if he has the same thing as Logen/Bloody Nine (possessed? Half demon?) or is it just PTSD?
  • Burr’s indigestion is suspicious, it’s mentioned a bit too much… is he being poisoned?
  • Hahaa, Ladisla XD. Go West!

    “Never had anyone looked more dead.”

  • I like seeing Logen’s old crew, although I have a hard time picturing them for some reason.
  • Want to know what Bethod’s doing with the witch and the shanka