Non writing pursuits

Best of 2008, #4 – Before they are hanged, by Joe Abercombie

Yesterday (the day before?) I talked about a good old sci fi book, how the genre was before it became mostly science fantasy. Well today, in continuation of my Top 5 books of 2008 (bought to you by, I have fantasy, how the genre was. Or at least how I remember it from my teenage years.

Before They Are Hanged is actually book number two, in a series called The First Law. Book three is out, so committing to this series on the strength of my rants about how cool this one is wouldn’t be wasted.

So, what makes this one such a good read? Well, it’s fantasy as I remember it. But having said that, it’s also very much ‘guy fantasy’. The main characters are mostly guys. And there’s a somewhat vast cast of characters, that end up playing a large part in each others lives as the plots weave and dance. It’s a big world, with many cultures (and no map, actually) on the brink of all our war. It played well across the big screen of my mind.

What appealed to me about this particular series is the grit. Combat is violent and bloody. War is nasty, with this particular volume detailing the front lines of the war between two nations. It’s nasty. Cold. Wet. Bloody. How you would probably expect it. Even more cool is the fact that there’s even a siege!

As I mentioned, the cast is somewhat large, with some characters bugging me, while others I just love. They grow though, mostly getting more battered and worn by the wars. The quests feel like theres distance covered. It all just feels right.

I haven’t read the third book yet, but I’m eagerly awaiting our local library finally getting it’s copy. Very much a man’s fantasy book, with all those wimpy fairies and crap cut out.


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