I went into Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie with very high expectations after The Blade Itself, and I think this one might be even better! I love the continuation of the gritty tone and atmosphere, blending classic tropes with a modern fantasy style… all of it is just brilliant.
Where Before They Are Hanged improves upon the previous book is the worldbuilding. The main characters have been introduced, some elements of the political landscape and intrigue are known to us, so in this book we can just relax a bit more and enjoy more of the story without that learning curve.
Having said that, the worldbuilding and all the other aspects are expanded upon, of course, and I loved learning more about this world, and especially the characters.
The characters in these books continue to shine as one of Abercrombie’s strongest aspects of the narrative. These feel like real people, unpredictable, volatile, with very different voices and outlooks on the world. “Morally grey” is an easy term to define this, but it is more than that.
Take Glokta, for example, an individual who has endured so much pain and is bitter, emotionally and physically scarred… his outlook on the world and his actions all stem from this turmoil that he attempts to overcome.
Overall, Before They Are Hanged is a fantastic second book for this trilogy, and somehow an improvement on the first! Pick up an Abercrombie book if you haven’t already!