I am finally back, I feel like I haven’t written a review or one of my features in such a long time! But hey, a girl has to have some time off over the holidays, right?! Lord knows I didn’t get it at work.
Today I am going to be reviewing not one but two books. I always find it hard to review books the further into the series I get because a lot of the time the same praises from book one still stand and so I just end up repeating myself. So, to avoid that I am going to review book two and three of the First Law Trilogy together and it will likely be a wee bit shorter. Maybe.
A few facts about Book Two and Book Three of The First Law Trilogy:
Titles: Book Two | Before They Are Hanged & Book Three | Last Argument of Kings
Here are a few things you can expect from these two books:
Books that live up to the hype;
Dry and witty humour;
Remarkable characters you can’t help but root for despite their lack of morality;
Exceptional storytelling; and
Epic bloody battles.
On to the review…
I finally made my way to this series, and I finished it. Shit, folks, I gobbled this up like a woman starved.
I’m so glad I listened to the audiobooks, I have so many books I HAVE to read that I allow audiobooks to be MY books and because of that I was able to go through the trilogy one book after another!
Both Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings are such good books. Abercrombie set up an incredible set of characters in The Blade Itself and they continue to shine in the following books and remain so captivating. They have so many positives and they are so well crafted, none seem out of place in the world Abercrombie creates including the tone of the book too, while not coming across as copies of each other or too dark. He teases you with a glimmer of hope for al of his characters, whether they get it or not is a whole other kettle of fish.
The plot in books two and three certainly picks up, and shows a good degree more progression than book one. It takes unpredictable turns and stays true to its gritty and darker tone while still keeping one of my favourite aspects…the humour. I was chatting in a forum about The First Law the other day and got to talking about the British feel to Abercrombie’s writing and it is true for the humour too. It is that dry and witty humour the I just cannot get enough of!
Something Abercrombie really excels at in this trilogy is his ability to write brilliant action. I have seen so many YouTube videos about ‘action packed’ books and Abercrombie always popped up. Though, having not read them I was like ‘mmm, can it be that good’…
So, yeah. It is that good. From the larger battles to the close quarters combat, he does it so well. It is vivid and terrifying and done oh in such a brilliant way the action jumps from the pages.
From book one right through to book three you see such growth. Book one is arguably my favourite and it is such a foundational book. Book two moved forward with such amazing relationship building and character depth and the book three solidly concludes everything, it ties up all little threads superbly.
I’m not really sure if I can say anything beyond what the masses have already said for book one, two or three! Just know Abercrombie is a fab writer, he is stupidly talented and these books are simply brilliant.
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If you haven’t already got your copy of this book then you can pick one up here.
Before They Are Hanged opens with The Dogman, still travelling southwards when him and his crew stumble upon a recent battle with bodies strewn everywhere. I guess that means Bethod is ploughing southwards to and with little resistance from Union sops. Which a little bit over is causing West and Lord Marshall Burr quite a headache. After the loss to the Union West and Burr, among other petty nobles who care more for bickering with each other than winning the war, get to deciding on a strategy.
West and Burr bugger off on a ride only to be ambushed by The Dogman and his crew. Turns out they didn’t quite like the reception they got from the Union and sought to take matters into their own hands forcing an audience with the lead sop to offer their aid.
Meanwhile Glokta is now living the fine life in Dagoska, poverty, sadistic inquisitors, seedy council members and more. What is not to love? Glokta then begins his investigation into the death of his predecessor. Glokta soon meets the governing council and much to his shock they don’t want him there. He is happy however to float around his power and whip the ship into shape.
Jezal, Bayaz, Logen, Ferro, Brother Longfoot and Malacus are now on their way to the end of the world. While passing through Calcis the group separate, and also disguise as merchants though not to any success as they are soon intercepted and given three days to leave. Bayaz, being the high-rate magi he is, gets his grump on and says they will leave right away.
Glokta takes a tour of Dagoska, as he suspected it is paradise…the walls are crumbling, there is a Gurkish horde on the horizon, supplies have stopped coming in and he has very few soldiers to defend Dagoska, half of which are drunken mercenaries who will switch sides to the highest paying boss at any time! One of which is Cosca.
Having left Calcis Bayaz and company make their way to Darmium, on their travels Ferro tries to get more information from Bayaz. He isn’t very forthcoming, and Ferro is pissed. Pissed enough to leave. Though when she tries to leave Logen persuades her to stay, a start to a wholesome and healthy relationship…
Back in Dagoska, Glokta is making the rounds of the governing council and trying to figure out who is likely to off him as they did he predecessor. He approaches Kahdia, needing as much help as he can Glokta promises him the Great Temple and Upper City access in exchange for soldiers and workers. His meeting with Harker reveals his predecessor was extorting the natives. Last but not least Glokta visits Elder, the true ruler of Dagoska, she is surprisingly supportive and while not offering financial aid does agree to give him the Great Temple. It’s the little wins in life.
During Logen’s journey he struggles with the lack of camaraderie amongst his companions, knowing he will need them to have his back in any coming fights. He slowly brings the crew closer together and carefully curates much needed camaraderie amongst them. Lord knows it is needed when Bayaz insists on throwing curve balls left, right and centre! Like changing the groups travel plans. Guess they are to just going to have to fly over the River Aos.
West, having been sent to be a part of Prince Ladisla’s regiment, is shocked to see it in such a poor state and so he slowly remedies it by acquiring some new hands, namely Pike and Cathil. West also sent The Dogman and the crew out scouting, not expecting to find much and moaning about their dwindling glory until they stumble upon a wee little adversary, known as BETHOD’S ARMY!
After being told by Sult that Glokta will not receive any aid from back home and has to make do with what he has already, he has no option but to make a deal with none other than the Bank of Valint and Balk. Though, not his strangest visitor, soon Glokta is visited in the dead of night by Yulwei. Yulwei tells Glokta the Gurkish have arrived, that they have ships and a whole host of Eaters and that Eaters killed his predecessor.
It isn’t long before Jezal and the rest of the merry gang are in trouble. Some of Emperor Cabrian’s men find them and attempt to bring them to him. Bayaz huffs and puffs and blows them all away, and then collapses himself. So, that leaves Logen in charge.
West finds himself in quite the predicament, having thought they were merely the rearguard he is soon surprised when Threetrees and Dogman tell him Bethod here. West thinks a withdrawal is needed, but Ladisla thinks a full blown assault is best. It isn’t.
In Dagoska, a Gurkish emissary arrives. He is met by the ruling council behind Glokta back, though he manages to tun up just in time. The misery offers passage to them but he wants the city, Glokta’s explains he will consider it. Instead he takes the emissary into custody and questions him. Turns out that Vurms, the Lord Governor of Dagoska’s son, and Elder are the traitors.
Ferro and the group continue on with Bayaz passed out. The group are still being followed since their last little encounter. They agree to fight them rather than try to outrun them. They make their stand but three slip through the cracks and test Jezal’s mettle. he kills two but one comes at him from behind and makes him a little less petty than he was.
As thought, a full blown assault on Bethod isn’t a good plan and they are defeated. West, Cathil, Pike, Ladisla escape only to come upon The Dogman and the crew.
Glokta attends a meeting with Elder, Vurms and Vissbruck. Skulking in the background is the Mercenary soldier Cosca. Glokta throws the head of the emissary and both Elder and Vurms know they have been outed. Vurms panics and Elder relies on her well set plans telling Glokta the gates to the city will have already been opened to the Gurkish by Cosca’s men and that the city will soon fall. Now, it turns out those mercenaries who would switch to the highest paying boss at any point…did.The highest paying boss happened to be Glokta. He then takes Vurms and Elder into custody. Though he is yet to identify the assassin, until it is that the assassin shows herself. It is Shickel, a girl Glokta saved at the start from the Inquisition and employed as his servant. She admits to killing and eating Glokta’s predecessor.
Shickel tries to kill Glokta but fails, his practical capture her and Glokta intends to question her.
Glokta, having a wee soft spot for Elder gives her a second chance at life and sets her on a ship. While Glokta has on that battle the Gurkish are still laying siege to Dagoska, it is the third day and they are losing.
Bayaz is awake and Jezal is having a bit of an epiphany about living a better life and being a better person.
Dogman and company having decided on what to do next, ignoring Ladisla who still thinks he has influence over those around him and insists on going to Ostenhorm. They ignore him and decide on following Bethod and hopefully warning Burr. On their journey Ladisla continues to be a pain in the ass, throwing himself to the floor in fatigue and generally being a whiny little bitch.
Still losing to the Gurkish, Glokta orders everyone to the Upper City ceding the rest to the Gurkish. Soon he is back to questioning Shickel, who is hard to torture considering she heals and doesn’t really feel pain. Despite the failed attempts at torture she tells them of her life, the eaters and that those captured are eaten.
By the fire elsewhere, Bayaz begins to tell the group of his mistakes. He tells them of how he was Juven’s first apprentice though he soon recruited 11 more, including Khalul (religious leader of the Gurkish). They argued, became rivals and eventually had to be separated. Bayaz sought out a new master in Kenedias, the maker. He soon found he fancied Kanedias’ lovely daughter Tolomei. He got down and dirty with Tolomei and Kanedias wasn’t impressed so Bayaz ran away. Having told his tale the rest join in telling stories of their lives.
West and his companions are soon faced with a tough decision, they have very little to get them by but some of Bethod’s men have been spotted. They decide to fight they need what they have. As Ladisla is quite simply shit at everything he does other than being a creep he is left with Cathil away from the fight. It all goes tits up, West bites of some chaps nose and earns the name Furious. West, worried for Ladisla’s safety runs back only to find him trying to rape Cathil. West pushes Ladisla off the cliff.
Glokta is ordered by Arch Lector Sult to return to Adua. With no mention of Vitari, one of his practicals, in the letter she asks Glokta to take her with him. She ends up begging, Glokta revels in it because she is always a bitch to him and finally he relents. Soon Glokta leaves with all his practicals.
Bayaz and the rest of the company soon arrive at Aulcus, and they seem to be the only ones there. Nothing lives there, no birds, people or anything. Ferro demands information about The Seed, Bayaz tells them that the Seed is material from the other side and only Ferro can carry it. The next day the group explores Aulcus some more, and come across a rank smell. Logen knows the smell. The Shanka are here. The group flee but come across more Shanka. Bayaz uses his magic rocking the earth, into which Logen and Ferro fall. They search for a way out I the darkness only to come across more Shanka. They fight and then the Bloody-Nine makes an appearance.
Ferro and Logen are soon shivering away in the dark and being a true gent Logen offers her his coat. To Ferro that is practically a diamond ring and then sex is on the table. There is a lot of awkward decision making and the two go at it! Until Captain Cum-Quick makes an appearance. Though Logen is quick to recharge and him and Ferro get down and dirty in a cave. Th next morning isn’t as sweet and Ferro clocks Logen, the two fall out.
Glokta reached Adua with his practicals and goes to see Ardee, she has been beset upon by debtors. Glokta fixes it and upgrades her old stuff. Sult is unusually happen with the events of Dagoska, and Glokta find out West is missing. Which actually bothers him.
West and the rest of the crew finally reach Burr’s camp and provide him with some much needed intel. West keeps thinking of Cathil and goes to seek her out, only he finds Dogman fast-assing it and storms off but not before stumbling and making his presence known. The next day Dogman, as a result of getting himself some nooky, is volunteered by the rest to scout out Bethod’s base of operations. Dogman comes upon Shivers, turns out he wants to fight Bethod, so Dogman takes him to see Threetrees to decide. He accepts their service and those of the men who follow him.
Glokta, despite returning to Adua, isn’t demoted and instead is joint superior of Adua with Goyle. A Gurkish envoy comes to Adua offering peace and empty chests.
Bayaz and companions, after many days in the mountains the group males it to the Great Western Library. Inside they meet Cawneil and seek out the boat that will get them to their destination of Shabulyan. Ferro and Logen are still humping.
West has a battle meeting with Burr, Kroy and Poulder. With the plans set they go about their orders.
HOW DID BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED END?
Glokta is woken in the middle of the night by Vitari, the Prince of Adua has been killed. Glokta is tasked with investigating it but finds several clues as to the killer, which are very easily found and he has his culprit very quickly. Ambassador Tulkis, the Gurkish emissary. Not convince Glokta seek to investigate further but is shut down by a representative of Valint and Balk. Tulkis is soon found guilty and executed and war with the Gurkish inevitable.
The battle between Bethod and The Union begins, during the battle Burr become very ill! In response West covers it up and proceeds with his orders. Threetrees and Dogman, from their position, get a whiff of the Shanka and shit hits the fan. Cathil and Threetrees die. Dogman becomes chief.
Bayaz and company reach then edge of the world only to fin that The Seed is not there and all the progress they made was for nothing.