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Publisher's Summary

The second novel in the wildly popular First Law Trilogy from New York Times best seller Joe Abercrombie.

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.

©2015 Joe Abercrombie (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Exhilarating.... Abercrombie's knack for wit and grit holds your attention throughout, and his eye for character means that there's heart as well as muscle." [ SFX (UK)]

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The single best fantasy experience I've ever had

I've read many fiction series, fantasy, and science fiction both, and I've seen associated movies when they're available.
This audio book experience has made tham all pale by comparison. It is astoundingly immersive. The next best thing to being in the world oneself.
The writing itself is amazing. By leaps and bounds the most plausible, emotionally realistic fantasy I've ever read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic Characters

The first book in this series never seemed to reveal a plot and I was very concerned. However the deep character back stories really paid off in this volume. Highly recommended.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A gem!

Both the story and the narration are top notch. Listened to it inthe car, took detours so I could listen longer.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story with a FANTASTIC narrator

Great story with a FANTASTIC narrator. Best narrator I've listened to hands down, really makes the characters come alive.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing Sequel

This is an amazing second book in the series. In many ways it is even better than the first. If you like Grim Dark Fantasy, this sets the standard.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Devoted the first book. Inhaled the second...

Writing this review while the third one downloads. Excellent story. Sort of Game of Thrones meets the Dark Tower. Excellent reader. There are a dozen or more characters, each with his or her own distinct voice, accent, speech impediment, tone... I listen in awe... wearing a steady grin!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The plot thickens

Binge worthy trilogy.
Superior Glokta is given the impossible task to defend a city sure to fall, realizing he can trust no one. Plots within plots on both sides of this battle, where you can't tell a good guy from a bad guy, and maybe it doesn't matter with the foe that mankind is facing.
Ferro, Nine Fingers and Luthar find themselves on a quest that threatens their lives, not finding out it's purpose till nearly the end. The depth of each character grows along the way though, making it a memorable journey. We do discover the background of each, and why Bayaz has chosen a couple of them to accompany him.
West is given orders to serve under the worthless Prince, keeping him well away from the fighting, or so it was thought, while Three Trees, Dogman and the crew decide to take a different path.
All and all it's a thoroughly enjoyable ride, with lots of battles, conspiracy, intrigue and a laugh or two, as the saga continues.
Steven Pacey is excellent!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 04-30-17

A Story Inventing Itself Throughout

Any additional comments?

This is a lo-o-o-ng book. And by “this,” I mean the three combined. There’s really no trilogy here; one book leads into the next without pause. Given that, it’s hard to distinguish this middle piece from the one before and the one that’s coming. It’s a series of chapters that could, if you shifted where the covers happened to fall, fit into either of the others.

Still, fifty or so pages in, I sighed into acceptance, figuring Abercrombie had gotten lost in what he was doing and that he’d found his way into familiar patterns The different threads started to feel like slices of genre. We get it set up with Glokta as a detective, trying to figure out who killed his predecessor. We get the convention of the fellowship marching through a wasted ancient land, complete with a Moria-like lost city and with a corollary coming of age story for Jezal. And we get a campaign story through the eyes of West. Everything felt “done before,” and I pushed on over the next 100 or so pages mostly just because of momentum. (Though, to be fair, the writing was solid even in the parts that felt headed toward cliché.)

Then, to my pleasant surprise, Abercrombie redeemed things. Glokta solved his mystery. The quest resulted less in the lost mystical object and more about a reveal of Bayaz’s error-filled past. And the campaign took a strange and compelling turn with West turning into the Furious of the North. We’d moved from the generically predictable back into a story revealing itself piece by surprising piece. As I read, I heard Abercrombie enjoying things with me, working to invent his story rather than recycle it.

This is hardly the place to stop, and things could easily go otherwise, but, all told, this volume may actually be stronger than the first. Abercrombie seems to be finding his voice as he goes. Add that drama to the separate threads of the story, and there’s always something to be struck by.

This is still far short of the at times literary excellence of Game of Thrones, but it’s also vastly superior to much of what the genre has to offer. If the Wheel of Time books started stronger than these, they got lost in tangents and space-fillers. Abercrombie has a plan, and this is part of its filling out. I’m still in the dog days of the academic year, and this is a perfect, fun distraction.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Exciting and fun

greatly performed with a engrossing story. Violent battle and sharp wit made it a joy to listen to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful series

Abercrombie has written a wonderfully engaging story with dynamic characters. Pacey is an amazing narrator

1 of 1 people found this review helpful