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Publisher's Summary

Bitter and merciless war is coming to the frozen north. It's bloody and dangerous, and the Union army, split by politics and hamstrung by incompetence, is unprepared for the slaughter that's coming. Lacking experience, training, and in some cases even weapons, the army is scarcely equipped to repel Bethod's scouts, let alone his elite forces.

In the heat-ravaged south, the Gurkish are massing to assault the city of Dagoska, defended by Inquisitor Glokta. The city is braced for the inevitable defeat and massacre to come... but a plot is festering to hand the city to its besiegers without a fight, and the previous Inquisitor of Dagoska vanished without trace. Threatened from within and without the city, Glokta needs answers, and he needs them soon.

And to the east, a small band of malefactors travel to the edge of the world to reclaim a device from history - a Seed, hidden for generations - with tremendous destructive potential. A device which could put a end to war, to the army of Eaters in the South, to the invasion of Shanka from the North - but only if it can be found, and only if its power can be controlled.

©2007 Joe Abercrombie (P)2010 Orion Publishing Group Limited

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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    3,605
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Performance

  • 4.8 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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  • David
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 01-10-11

This is heaven

Abercrombie plays hardball. The moment you think you are getting ahead of the plot; as soon as it becomes obvious who is going to survive and who is not; an instant after you sigh with understanding and a knowing nod of the head, a new window opens, perspective changes, and everything in the room makes a new and different kind of sense. Finally you just quit trying to suss it all out, accept the fact that you are in the hands of a master, and listen--rapt. I have finished the first two books now and have no idea where this is going. I just know that I will be fascinated and satisfied when we arrive.
Steven Pacey is flawless. Exactly the narrator Abercrombie deserves. And all for less than ten dollars a book. This is heaven!!
Two caveats: under no circumstances should you read these books out of order, and if you have problems reading descriptions of brutality or tolerating common, sexually descriptive language, just don't bother starting.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Marcheta
  • Suffolk, VA, United States
  • 09-21-10

Great story, excellent narration

Joe Abercrombie is now on my list of writers to watch and Steven Pacey is superb. I've recommended this trilogy to friends, and the audio version is a must. Thanks to audible readers who mentioned Joe Abercrombie in their comments on other books or I would never have stumbled across this great trilogy.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Lore
  • SAN JOSE, CA, United States
  • 04-27-13

Back to the Mud

Much like at the end of the first book in this series, I found myself completely caught by surprise when this book ended. Once again I was entranced by Joe Abercrombie’s characters and the life infused into them by Steven Pacey and it was jarring to abruptly be forced to return to real life. I say abruptly because there is no closure to the story arc with this book. If you decide to come this far then you will need to go further to sate your hunger for an outcome to the many story threads.

Book two follows Bayaz, Logen, Jezal, and Ferro on their quest to the edge of the world for a powerful artifact. Of course this is a volatile mix of personalities and the only time they aren’t close to killing each other is when someone else is trying to do the job for them.

The Union’s war in the North continues and Collem West finds himself entangled within a dysfunctional military leadership group facing a deadly enemy in Bethod and his assembled armies. With two Generals that spend more time opposing each other than the enemy and a useless, spoiled Prince the Union army is primed to destroy itself.

And finally, our old friend Glokta finds himself in the South tasked with preventing the Gurkish from taking the city of Dagoska. As a war starts up on a second, much less defended front, Glokta must fight his own demons from the past as a prisoner of the Gurkish in addition to the Gurkish themselves.

I was pleased with the increased amount of time spent with Logen’s former band of Northmen, which is now led by Threetrees. As with all of the other story threads I was always eager to find out what happened to them next and was always saddened anytime someone was sent back to the mud.

So if you enjoyed book one, I see no reason why you would not enjoy book two. As with book one, I am once again only handing out 4 stars overall because of how I was left hanging at the end. I was shocked when it was over and felt there should have been more to the book and more closure to the story threads before moving on to book 3. That being the case, I did not hesitate to fire up book 3 because I need to spend more time with my new friends, no matter how flawed they are. And I must know what happens...

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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As Good or Better than The Blade Itself

My overall review of this book pretty much mirrors The Blade Itself - which is the first in the series. Mr. Pacey continues his outstanding narration work only solidifying my opinion that he is indeed one of the best in the business. The way he portrays Inquisitor Glokta makes this character come alive and one of the most interesting in the story and there are many. Abercrombie breathes life into so many characters regardless of how long they are part of the story or their significance to the main plot. If you've read the first book you need to continue on. If you have not...you should stop and go back to the beginning. It will be worth every credit you spend.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Continues an outstanding series

I am amazed once again by the high quality of this trilogy! Rather than disappoint, like so many sequels, Before They Are Hanged is even better than its predecessor! Joe Abercrombie's writing and characters are so interesting that I really have no 'favorite' parts. No matter which group of characters or storyline the plot is following, I am totally entertained and invested and can't wait to find out what happens next! Abercrombie's battle and fight scenes are particularly well written and evoke strong pictures in the mind- many better known authors would do well to study his style.
And Steven Pacey is a MARVEL. His vocal characterizations and accents are so solid, he brings each character to unique life, easily recognizable just by his voice. If you are looking for a new narrator to follow, look no further than Steven Pacey. I cannot give this book high enough marks for both story and reader!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Kevin
  • Dominion, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 07-04-10

Do yourself a favor and get this book

Finest author in the genre. This is not a novel for children, or for fans of unicorns and pixies. As fantasy books go, Mr Abercrombie writes his novels with an amazingly realistic portrayal of his many flawed but entertaining characters. Dark, gritty full of black humor, these books actually get better as the series progresses. Fantastic narration.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Previous Book Incomplete

Just finished The Blade Itself - the first book in this series.

Beware: The audiobook for Blade Itself does not include the entire book and is missing the last 3 chapters. Audible has removed, I'm assuming to fix the issue. If you have not read the first book I would wait until they fix the audiobook before starting this one.

With that said, I just started this book and am really liking the continuation of the story. The narration is fantastic (as in the first book) though read a little choppy during battle sequences. The narrator does a great job with the dialogue and infusing different character into each of the voices, especially Glokta. The writing style and dialogue is top notch. Anything Abercrombie has written to date is a treat. Note: not for the faint hearted.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Ryan
  • CA, United States
  • 12-03-11

Excellent continuation of Fist Law saga

Joe Abercrombie is now one of my favorite authors, Steven Pacey one of my favorite narrators, and The First Law series one of my favorite sagas.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Billy
  • Pendleton, OR, United States
  • 05-18-11

Amazing with GREAT narrator

Great, engaging story with a GREAT narrator. SO good I can listen to it on a stairclimber and get through an hour wanting to work out more so I can keep listening. Very gritty story, not for delicate audiences.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Mirrabooka, Australia
  • 07-16-14

taken for a great ride

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

yes great story interesting compelling story

What other book might you compare Before They Are Hanged to and why?

game of thrones

What does Steven Pacey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

listening is a great time saver I would rather read and let my imagination create scenes but Steven does a marvelous job of painting a great story with his wonderful style

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

no but a great listen

Any additional comments?

give it a go if your a fantasy fan

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tom
  • 08-23-10

An EXCELLENT trilogy, BRILLIANTLY narrated

An excellent audiobook brilliantly narrated.

This is the second book in Joe Abercrombie's 'First Law' trilogy and it is important to read/listen to the books in order to get the most out of them.

The book picks up more or less when part 1 ended. There are now three distinct story lines involving Glokta, Major West and the Byas expedition and they are pretty much separate throughout. There is also a lot more action. But the main strengths of the first book continue: well written, excellent characters and plots and a tour de force of narration by Stephen Pacey, who brings the book brilliantly to life. Stunning is the only word to describe his performance.

A five star listen - I'm already onto to part 3!

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Robyn
  • 08-30-16

Excellent

I have just been hunting through my favourite authors, looking for some new releases from them, and realised that I hadn't rated this book yet!! When it comes to a Joe Abercrombie-Steven Pacey combination, I feel it part of my listener's duties to at least rate it, even if I don't write a full review.

Five stars it is. All round! Story, Performance, Overall! I've just re-read my review of the first book in the series, and realise how lukewarm it sounds. Clearly book one was just the warm up. Book 2 (and 3!) were outstanding. Steven Pacey brought it all to life with what must surely be an award-winning performance. Joe Abercrombie's writing is gritty, colourful, and positively alive. This is one of my favourite series.

When I'm trying to encourage somebody to try an audiobook for the first time, and if they're into fantasy, then Joe Abercrombie is always in my top three suggested! Always. And an Abercrombie-Pacey combination is hard to beat.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-20-11

Fantastic stuff

Gripping to the end - fantastic stuff! Brilliant story and brilliant narrator. I usually only listen to Audible stories while driving (on my sat nav) but this one was so good I took the sat nav out of the car and listened to it straight through.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 02-05-14

How to apply dark comedy to a gritty fantasy


Joe Abercombie continues on top form with his second installment.

Story – 4.5/5

I did feel like a lot of the story was unnecessary to the overall aim, but what it did help to do was develop the characters, and this was clearly Joe Abercrombie’s intention, as he has set it up for one hell of a ride in the conclusion to the trilogy (which I have already read)

Each of the characters becomes even more likeable, and the dark comedy becomes even funnier as you learn more and the story develops. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect, and I found I couldn’t turn the audio book off.

This story has more action and violence than the first, concentrating on both the battles themselves as well as the politics behind them.

Performance – 5/5

Steven Pacey is one of the best narrators out there. His character acting was flawless, each having a distinctive and believable voice. His narration enhanced the dark comedy and whit of Joe Abercrombie’s writing

Music/sound effects between scenes/chapters was a nice touch as well

Overall – 4.5/5

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 06-10-12

These books are the reason I need more credits !!!

This second part of the trilogy is not the "mark time till the finale" filler usually found in fantasy trilogies. The characters are solid and the story makes turning off your mp3 player very hard.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • 01-18-11

An excellent sequel.

This book continues the brilliant form of the first. There are some new characters introduced but mainly it continues the stories of the diverse and varied cast from the first book. It is bloodier than the first, with more battles and action, but retains the intelligence and humour of the first. A remarkable series of books so far, made all the more enjoyable by the narrator. An excellent effort all round!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Darren McGuire
  • 06-22-17

The narration is a delight

I have already read all of abercrombie's novels and I liked them so much I decided to get the whole series on audio.
The story is as wonderful as I remember it but what makes this so good is Steven Pacey's narration, he is brilliant. As soon as he starts talking you know exactly who is speaking and his accents are wonderful. Quite simply Pacey is one of the best narrators working today I cannot compliment him enough.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-17-17

awesome book

An excellent book with awesome narration. The narrator brings the book to life with distinct voices for every character. I laughed out loud in a way I likely never would if I'd have been reading this book myself. Highly recommended!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • pearse
  • 04-26-17

somehow better than the first

seriously. just read (listen) to this. it's great fantasy with some of the best war scenes I've read (listened to). and I've read almost three other books so I know what I'm talking about. (one of them was a where's wolly book)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nina
  • 01-15-17

A good middle book to a well written trilogy.

Joe Abercrombie's "The First Law" trilogy is really growing on me (I have not read the 3rd book yet).

The second book in the series picks up where the first left off, upping the tempo on our journey of intrigue and danger, developing the main characters further and thrusting them deeper into the vortex of events which will leave the world around them forever changed.

The book has elements of surprise, and its only when you reach the end the that thing do not quite turn out as you expected.

The description of the war is realistic and portrayed in all it's horror. Let's be honest, war is ugly and this is where the author shows his great story writing skills.

Steven Pacey's narration is one of the best. He is soft, he is scared, he is dangerous, he is a man of many distinctive voices.

I would recommend this book to any fantasy fan.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • John G. Walker
  • 01-08-15

Pacey is brilliant!

The second instalment of the series speeds up its pace, with a lot of character growth. The story gets more riveting, and remains as funny and brutal as ever. Pacey's narration is some of the best I've ever heard!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nathan
  • 10-13-16

a gripping tale.

the story itself isnt anything new but it is written very well. told even better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 05-28-16

Outstanding

The perfect combination of author and voice. Abercrombie delivers something truly original in a genre saturated with bland tropes and predictable characters. This trilogy is bursting with flawed heroes, dark humour and unexpected turns.
Steven Pacy's interpretation is masterful. Distinctive accents and voices bring the characters to life and perfectly captures Abercrombie's taste for dark and bloody irony.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 05-10-16

Quite simply, the best audiobook I've listened to.

Even better than the first book, I've read many books over my time but this is one of my favourites. Joe Abercrombie is a talented author and I find him to have his very own unique style which I appreciate. I often find myself finding similarities between authors, but Abercrombie stands on his own pedestal. The characters have developed amazingly well in the second book as well as the story and the pace makes you not want to put it down. Quite simply this is a masterpiece imo and this is the first time I've written a book review. I just had to!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 11-25-17

brilliant book, brilliant narration.

read the series years ago, and just happened to see it on the audible store. utterly brilliant narration makes a fantastic story even better; The characters, already very well developed in the book, are brought to life.

TLDR; The First Law trilogy is easily in my top three audiobook series of all time, and I consume audiobooks at an alarming rate.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-04-17

Bloody awesome

Absolutely awesome Joe Abercrombie, thank you. Steven Pacey ... what can I say, I’m speechless, could not have been narrated better. Thanks mate.
Overall a five star audiobook.

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  • Campbell
  • 05-01-17

Can't recommend it enough.

Pacey is an absolute genius. Kills it in this one. if you haven't yet, so yourself a favor.

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  • dave
  • 04-25-17

Amazing such a great tale cant wait for the third.

the reasing in this audio book is exceptional. breathes such depth into the story. i have read all Joe Abercrombies novels and hearing them while i paintwarhammer is exceptional. I never realised how much of the lore from Byaz i missed on my first reading.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-23-17

Fantastic story and awesome narration

Fantastic story and even better storytelling. The narration by Steven Pacry truly sets this apart and sucks you in, giving a brilliant fire to all the cast.

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  • Daniel
  • 02-08-17

As good as the first!

I love the characters that Joe Abercrombe has built. The story is written through the eyes of these characters and the language of the storytelling has been adapted to suit each one. However it is the superb voices and narration of Steven Pacey that takes it from story telling to feeling like you are in the world itself!