These ‘about me’ sections, or even sections that inform you about blogs, have never been my forte. Much to my chagrin, I was never taught the unwritten rules of what you are supposed to say. The links at the side of the blog – Twitter and Goodreads, for example – are liable to tell you more than I could ever say in words.

Mostly, this will be a book blog. I read a lot, and I love to share my views on my most recent reads. I try to read a little bit of everything, but if you look closely you’ll notice I will occasionally become obsessed with one specific genre for a short period of time. Old books, new books, yet to be released books – I read them all. If you’re an author looking for advance readers or just wish for more reviews of a book you’ve already released, please feel free to contact me. There is a contact form at the side of my blog – if you scroll down below the Twitter and Goodreads sidebar you will find it – so drop me a message and I’ll be sure to get back to you in double time. After all, finding new authors is what makes the book world go around.

Thanks for taking your time to read this. With a little bit of luck, you will find my blog much more interesting than this mundane introductory section.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Review: Before They Are Hanged

Before They Are Hanged Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t quite as pleased with the first book in this trilogy as I had hoped to be. It was an okay read, but I was left wanting more. Despite this, I had high hopes for the second book. There was much promise. Fortunately, I can say I enjoyed this one a lot more.

You see, Joe Abercrombie sat on my to-read list for a rather long time. I had many internal debates in bookstores as to whether or not I was to pick up his books. Whenever there is a Goodreads giveaway for one of his books, I enter. It is through one such giveaway that I came to be reading this series – well, at least partly.

Allow me to tell you a short story, before I get down to writing my review of this book, just so you better understand how I feel towards it.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine offed me a collection of his fantasy books. He was cleaning out his house, making more room, and wanted to unload some of his books. Who better to hand them to than little old me? Everyone who knows me is aware of my love for books, of how I will nab any and all offered. I asked him what was included and he gave me a wonderful list (at this point I would like to point out the embarrassing fact of how he has only read a couple of them, thus leaving me to question our friendship). There were many squeals as names were read out. Patrick Rothfuss. Joe Abercrombie. Robin Hobb. Scott Lynch. The last easily brought out the biggest of squeals because the first two Gentleman Bastard books were being handed over. Still, I was pretty excited by a lot of the names.

Now, obviously, I jumped into the Scott Lynch books first. Such a thing goes without saying. Yet, I was interested in many of the other books. My problem, however, was I didn’t know where to go after finishing the two Scott Lynch books (other than ordering book three and awaiting book four, that is).

Enter another friend, this one being someone who spends all their free time reading high fantasy. Most of the names she had either read or they are on her to-read list. Thus, she was happy to make suggestions. To begin with, she told me Patrick Rothfuss. This changed when she realised I’m an impatient soul, and she had no wish to force another wait on me. Thus, she told me to read Joe Abercrombie. Before I could do such a thing, though, she wanted to borrow the last two books. Whilst she has read his other series, she had only read the first of this series. I allowed her to borrow the books, and my reading was to be put aside.

Whilst waiting for her to finish with the book, I saw a giveaway for Sharp Ends. It’s a collection of short stories set in The First Law world. Knowing I now had the trilogy waiting to be read, I entered the giveaway. I was more than a little bit surprised when I won. I informed my friend, highlighting how I needed her to speed up her reading because I needed to get on top of things before my winning arrived. It arrived quite quickly, though, and she wasn’t quite done.

Finally, however, I got the books back. Upon return, my friend informed me of how I would love the books. They’re very character driven, and right up my street, she told me. Basically, she fangirled and I took her word for it.

Now that I have read book two, I can say I’m more inclined to mirror her view. I’m not as crazy about it as she is, but I admit that this second book was an improvement on the first.

As my friend informed me, the first book is very character driven. I loved this about the story, to a degree. We found out so much about the characters, with them really coming alive. It doesn’t matter whether a character is a main character or a side character – they are very much brought to life. However, in doing so, the story was lacking in the pace I like. For me, far too much time was spent creating the characters. This is fine, so long as the story progresses with the creation. The two should happen together. Instead, we had a lot of one and not much of the other.

In other words, I loved the characters yet the story let me down. For a lot of the story, I had no idea where things were heading. This is wonderful for suspense – but I like to have a general idea of what is going on. Some characters are on some kind of quest. Some characters are set out to cause trouble. Some characters are preparing for war. Everything seemed to be going in different directions, and I wasn’t sure what I expected for any of them. I grew tired of waiting for things to come together, for things to become clear.

This changed for the last part of the first book, with finally things coming together. I became a lot more interested in the story, the last half of the book being a four star rating. In the end, I could only give the first book three stars. However, due to the last half, I was hopeful that all of the second book would be a four star rating. Whilst this wasn’t entirely the case, it was for most of the book. There was just a little bit at the start where things seemed a little bit slow, but once things were reintroduced everything moved at a wonderful pace. The story was great, clearly heading somewhere, and I knew what I was dealing with when it came to each character. That isn’t to say the book was predictable, merely I was no longer lost in the wind when it came to working out what was happening.

Each character’s story goes in a different direction, a wonderful direction, without any confusion being caused. Moreover, the development we had so much of in the first book continues on. Characters grow and continue to come to life, as more and more is found out about characters. Characters whom had somewhat limited roles in the first book play a larger role in this one.

All in all, it was a great second read and I cannot wait to see how the trilogy ends.

View all my reviews

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