Before They Are Hanged

“Nobody writes grittier heroic fantasy that Joe Abercrombie …
Abercrombie is headed for superstar status.”
Jeff VanderMeer, author of Cityof Saints and Madmen, for Realms of Fantasy

Book Two of The First Law

We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.” – Heinrich Heine

Before They Are Hanged, UK PaperbackSuperior 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.

Book Details

UK / ANZ Print
Publisher: Gollancz
Date: (First Published in Hardcover, March 2007)
ISBN: 9780575082014
Format: Medium (B-format) Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99 / $AUS22.99

North American Print
Publisher: Pyr
ISBN: 9781591026419
Format: Large (Trade) Paperback
R.R.P.: US$17.00

North American Limited Edition
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Format: 500 Signed Hardcover / 26 Leatherbound Traycase

Publisher: Gollancz
ISBN: 9780575091511

Publisher: Orion Audio (UK)
ISBN: 9781409111450

German Edition
Publisher: Heyne (

Dutch Edition
Publisher: Boekerij

Spanish Edition
Publisher: Alianza Editorial (

French Edition
Publisher: J’ai Lu (

Russian Edition
Publisher: Eksmo

Cover Gallery

US Paperback, Orbit edition 2015UK Paperback, Alt CoverAudio EditionUS Limited Edition HardcoverGerman EditionDutch EditionSpanish EditionSpanish Edition, 2013 reprintFrench EditionRussian Edition

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Buying Info

UK Print & Ebook | Book Depository | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith

North American Print & Ebook | | |

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Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)

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Reviews and Plaudits

“Nobody writes grittier heroic fantasy that Joe Abercrombie, and the second book in his The First Law series just proves the point in spades … When Abercrombie’s characters ride for glory, you might as well be there with them, he does such a good job of putting the reader in the scene. Immediate, daring, and utterly entertaining, this second book provides evidence that Abercrombie is headed for superstar status.”
Jeff VanderMeer, Realms of Fantasy

“This grim and vivid sequel to 2007’s The Blade Itself transcends its middle volume status, keeping the reader engaged with complicated plotting and intriguing character development… Abercrombie leavens the bloody action with moments of dark humor, developing a story suffused with a rich understanding of human darkness and light.”
Publishers Weekly, 21/1/08, Starred Review

“Marvellously self-aware, character-driven stuff.”
– Dave Bradley, SFX

“The story is by turns darkly humorous and incredibly well observed. The sheer number of brilliantly drawn characters is a joy to read and Abercrombie once again proves he is deft at changing voice as he changes point of view.”
– Den Patrick, Dreamwatch

“Dark, deeply ironic, and full of character gems that will appeal to your cynical side, Before They are Hanged is as brilliant as its predecessor. Highly recommended.”
– John Berlyne, SFRevu

“I’m not usually a fantasy fan, but Before They Are Hanged is one of the rare books that I didn’t want to put down and pulled out to read whenever I could. It’s certainly a worth addition to the series and if you like great stories, fantasy or otherwise, pick up this book and the first if you haven’t already.”
– J. P. Frantz, SFSignal

“Abercrombie injects his sense of humour throughout but these laugh-out-loud moments do not detract from the fact that Joe has an incredible insight into the human condition … Before They Are Hanged is an excellent sequel from an author writing compelling, character-driven, adult fantasy, for readers who want to be entertained as well as challenged.”
– Justin Thorne, SFFWorld

“A tight little piece of fiction. Before They Are Hanged grabs you and drags you along.”
– John Enzinas, SFSite

“This is a brisk tale and well-told … these are some of the most cynical people ever to appear in fantasy-fiction, and they spend a great deal of time striking sparks off each other with their doubts and skepticism, to great narrative effect.”
– Simeon Shoul, Infinity Plus

“It’s the fascinating figures populating these books that make them compulsive reading and I can’t wait to get my hands on the last in the series.”
– Tom Lloyd-Williams, SF Crowsnest

“A rewarding read with the main strength of the book being development of the protagonists … so far these novels are most rewarding.”
– Sue Griffiths, Concatenation

“In my opinion, Joe Abercrombie possesses all the qualities that made David Eddings such a powerhouse during the ’80s and ’90s. Before They Are Hanged is a satisfying sequel which should establish Joe Abercrombie as one of the bright new voices of the genre.”
Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist

“A fine book it is too; a very worthy sequel to The Blade Itself with some much more assured writing and continued character development, it was a hard one to put down.”
Sandstorm Reviews

“It’s a kind of no-holds-barred, in-your-face fantasy epic that takes all the typical fantasy tropes and says – I’m not going to do what you think I’m going to do, and you’re gonna like it.”
Fantasy and Sci-Fi Lovin’ Book Review

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