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A True Kaniggit

The First Law- But a Second Reread (or Third, or Fourth or Fi.....) spoilers for First Law books

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After finishing book 1, my initial impression that this was the weakest of Joe's books has been reinforced. In terms of writing and characterization it's a great book, but the plotting and the pace could do with some work.

There are many repetitive scenes: there are three scenes of Glokta torturing (Salem Rews Carpi and Hornlach), three scenes of the Dogman setting ambushes (some Shanka, Groa the Mire, and Bad Enough), two scenes of Logen being ambushed (the bandits and Blacktoe), two scenes of Ferro passing through Gurkish soldiers without being noticed... The story would have benefited from some more diversity, I think.  The situations of Logen and Ferro are also too similar for my taste: violent, with a dark reputation, with self-control problems, they've have just lost their group in just before his first chapter, both have a personal feud with the region, and both find a Magus that lead them to the Union.

Some of the elements introduced are not going to deliver, IMHO, in the following books. Logen's talking to spirits, the sword of the Maker, Caurib, Bethod's control of the Shanka...

On 2/27/2019 at 12:01 AM, red snow said:

 I think my first review still stands that not a lot happens in this book and rather than a finale it's all set up for book 2 which is very frustrating and risky for a first novel.

I agree that Joe Abercrombie took many risks with his first book. The ending doesn't include any kind of acomplishment for any of the major characters. They are just embarking in a new set of adventures. I think that Joe could have improved the book by making the entrance at the House of the Maker something more relevant (perhaps establishing before that Bayaz needed the Divider for some goal), and giving some purpose to the attack by the Inquisition to Logen and Ferrro.

Another huge risk that he took is making the six characters very hard to like. Two bloodthirsty barbarians, a sadistic torturer, a spoiled nobleman, a woman with nothing in his mind but murder, and a woman beater. In any other saga, those would be the antagonists to some honorable hero. But in this case Joe really pulls it off and the choice of characters really works.

On 2/22/2019 at 1:53 PM, A True Kaniggit said:

Yes. But I think most of this change is noticeable in the second novel.

In the second novel, the fact that Quai is not Quai is nicely done. But I'm afraid that in the first book not only there isn't any clue, but Quai acts too much Quai-like: Looks surprised after the explosion, explaining to Logen what an eater is with similar wording that in Quai's fever dreams in the North: "It's forbidden to eat the flesh of men". Then stammer and gets nervous when Glokta interrogates him. And at the end of the book, he gives an accurate description of the current state of affairs in the Old Empire ("Bloody, It's bloody there, and lawless, and life is cheap as dirt"). When Tolomei was killed the Empire still was a glorious think, so one would expect a different description from her.

Meanwhile, we don't see any reaction from "Quai" when Tolomei's death is incorrectly represented in the play, and he is not mentioned as entering the House of the Maker.

I think that it would have been a better idea to eliminate the night explosion, and just have Quai enter the House of the Maker with the rest. At some point of the visit, Quai could have got lost, and then he could be rescued from a room with a couple of limbs at the floor. This way, Tolomei would have been freed only by the reopening of the House. And it would be closer to the end of the book. I think it would work better.

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And now my thoughts for chapters 1-12 of Before They Are Hanged.

  • Dogman thinks that if Bethod caught him or anyone else from his band, they'd be killed slowly with the "bloody cross". It seems to me that if the feud was only with Logen, Bethod would not be so cruel. Specially since Logen is dead and the band were just old enemies that had been honor bound to follow Logen in exchange for their lives. Whatever it was that Logen did to antagonize Bethod, it seems that it was also done (or supported) by the rest.
  • Threetrees and the rest where very lucky to capture Burr. They just happened to settle an ambush the same day Burr decided to free himself as he hadn't done since he "was a young man", and at the exact point where he managed to leave the soldiers of his escort behind. Sometimes the book should be more realistic....
  • It doesn't seem one of Glokta's best ideas to take Shickel as his personal servant. She still was a suspect in the disappearance of Davoust, and anyway, a local teenager who had been nearly killed by the Inquisition and submitted to who knows which kind of tortures may want to revenge by killing the next superior. I wouldn't feel comfortable sleeping with her around.
  • Do we know why Vitari hates Cosca so much? It's clearly something personal. Will that be explained in BSC?
  • Love the reference to Monza.
  • It is said that Cosca surrendered the city of Borletta to Grand Duke Orso. Apparently Borletta falls twice to Orso, as five years later Best Serve Cold starts with the fall of the city.
  • Reading Eider's explanation of her biography (sold to a 60 year old magister to pay for her father's debt, "his health began to decline soon after we married", she gradually assuming his role, and "when he died I was magister in all but name") made me suspect that she poisoned him.
  • Black Dow mentions a brother. If he is alive, he could challenge Calder and Scale.

 

 

 

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I thought Quai was Killeen by “Dogs” and then replaced by Tolomei? That was my reading anyway, rather than being replaced at the explosion

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

And now my thoughts for chapters 1-12 of Before They Are Hanged.

  • Dogman thinks that if Bethod caught him or anyone else from his band, they'd be killed slowly with the "bloody cross". It seems to me that if the feud was only with Logen, Bethod would not be so cruel. Specially since Logen is dead and the band were just old enemies that had been honor bound to follow Logen in exchange for their lives. Whatever it was that Logen did to antagonize Bethod, it seems that it was also done (or supported) by the rest.
  • Threetrees and the rest where very lucky to capture Burr. They just happened to settle an ambush the same day Burr decided to free himself as he hadn't done since he "was a young man", and at the exact point where he managed to leave the soldiers of his escort behind. Sometimes the book should be more realistic....
  • It doesn't seem one of Glokta's best ideas to take Shickel as his personal servant. She still was a suspect in the disappearance of Davoust, and anyway, a local teenager who had been nearly killed by the Inquisition and submitted to who knows which kind of tortures may want to revenge by killing the next superior. I wouldn't feel comfortable sleeping with her around.
  • Do we know why Vitari hates Cosca so much? It's clearly something personal. Will that be explained in BSC?
  • Love the reference to Monza.
  • It is said that Cosca surrendered the city of Borletta to Grand Duke Orso. Apparently Borletta falls twice to Orso, as five years later Best Serve Cold starts with the fall of the city.
  • Reading Eider's explanation of her biography (sold to a 60 year old magister to pay for her father's debt, "his health began to decline soon after we married", she gradually assuming his role, and "when he died I was magister in all but name") made me suspect that she poisoned him.
  • Black Dow mentions a brother. If he is alive, he could challenge Calder and Scale.

 

 

 

I didn't get the impression Vitari hated Cosca at all.  She simply had a low opinion of him.  In BSC, Costa thinks of Vitari as "no friend, but not an enemy".

Glokta's treatment of Shickel was one of his rare moments of humanity.  It did not turn out well.

That's an interesting idea about Eider, but at this stage in her life, I think she would be too ethical to commit murder.  We find out later that she is kind and decent.  Naturally, that turns out very badly for her, and she will learn the error of her ways.

Edited by SeanF

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13 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I thought Quai was Killeen by “Dogs” and then replaced by Tolomei? That was my reading anyway, rather than being replaced at the explosion

When Glokta takes the remains of a body (Quai's?) to one of the Adepti at the University, it's pointed out that the injuries on the body look like human bite marks. It's only Superior Goyle who insists that it was the work of dogs.

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9 hours ago, SeanF said:

I didn't get the impression Vitari hated Cosca at all.  She simply had a low opinion of him.  In BSC, Costa thinks of Vitari as "no friend, but not an enemy".

Glokta's treatment of Shickel was one of his rare moments of humanity.  It did not turn out well.

 

My impression was that Vitari had exactly the correct opinion of him. 

Is there ever an example of Glokta showing any compassion to a man? Ardee, Eider, Vitari, Shikel all got a bit of Glokta love.

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I don't think logen came off as bloodthirsty and unlikeable in book 1. He certainly shows a lot if self-control especially in comparison to Ferro. I think he is deliberately depicted positively and surrounded by more unlikeable/unsavoury characters so as to make the future reveal more profound.

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26 minutes ago, Yohn said:

When Glokta takes the remains of a body (Quai's?) to one of the Adepti at the University, it's pointed out that the injuries on the body look like human bite marks. It's only Superior Goyle who insists that it was the work of dogs.

I know, hence my use of “” around dogs. My point was more, I thought Quai wasn’t replaced until after the explosion. 

Speaking of Quai, I still find him being Bayaz’ apprentice rather bemusing. Especially when he is described as having promise in the conversation between yulwei and Bayaz 

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3 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I know, hence my use of “” around dogs. My point was more, I thought Quai wasn’t replaced until after the explosion. 

Speaking of Quai, I still find him being Bayaz’ apprentice rather bemusing. Especially when he is described as having promise in the conversation between yulwei and Bayaz 

I expect Bayaz is a poor teacher, one who undermines his students' confidence.

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24 minutes ago, BigFatCoward said:

My impression was that Vitari had exactly the correct opinion of him. 

Is there ever an example of Glokta showing any compassion to a man? Ardee, Eider, Vitari, Shikel all got a bit of Glokta love.

Longfoot, perhaps?  At least Glokta kept his end of the bargain.

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2 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Speaking of Quai, I still find him being Bayaz’ apprentice rather bemusing. Especially when he is described as having promise in the conversation between yulwei and Bayaz 

In the context of that conversation with Yulwei, I got the impression that "promise" implied Bayaz planned to turn Quai into an Eater. Given that Yulwei confirms a person needs a special 'something' to become an Eater, that would make Quai valuable to Bayaz even if he isn't the most diligent of students. It's also worth noting that Quai was apprentice to Zacharus originally (for 7 years) but was sent to Bayaz to earn his staff - doubt that's the real reason though. 

 

20 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

And at the end of the book, he gives an accurate description of the current state of affairs in the Old Empire ("Bloody, It's bloody there, and lawless, and life is cheap as dirt"). When Tolomei was killed the Empire still was a glorious think, so one would expect a different description from her.

Was the Empire still glorious though? Tolomei dies along with Kanedias which was after the wars with Glustrod and the death of Juvens. I thought the Old Empire had descended into chaos by then. 

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7 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I know, hence my use of “” around dogs. My point was more, I thought Quai wasn’t replaced until after the explosion. 

Speaking of Quai, I still find him being Bayaz’ apprentice rather bemusing. Especially when he is described as having promise in the conversation between yulwei and Bayaz 

I believe Tolomei herself owns up to her snack here later on. Or was this Sulfur's work he admits to later as well? This is why I can't read multiple series at once, I've  jumped into some Erickson and now even my careful re-reading of Abercrombie not two weeks ago is fading.

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5 hours ago, Consigliere said:

In the context of that conversation with Yulwei, I got the impression that "promise" implied Bayaz planned to turn Quai into an Eater. Given that Yulwei confirms a person needs a special 'something' to become an Eater, that would make Quai valuable to Bayaz even if he isn't the most diligent of students. It's also worth noting that Quai was apprentice to Zacharus originally (for 7 years) but was sent to Bayaz to earn his staff - doubt that's the real reason though. 

 

Was the Empire still glorious though? Tolomei dies along with Kanedias which was after the wars with Glustrod and the death of Juvens. I thought the Old Empire had descended into chaos by then. 

The Winter Palace still existed, long after the destruction of Aulcus, so there was probably still some sort of government, at that point.

But in any case, I don't think it would be hard for Tolomei to have found out that the Empire was in chaos.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, SeanF said:

The Winter Palace still existed, long after the destruction of Aulcus, so there was probably still some sort of government, at that point.

But in any case, I don't think it would be hard for Tolomei to have found out that the Empire was in chaos.

The Winter Palace was still destroyed before the death of Kanedias. Bayaz mentions that the Palace was destroyed in the war between the Magi and Kanedias after the death of Juvens. So by the time Tolomei was killed both Aulcus and the winter palace were destroyed and the Old Empire had likely descended into chaos by then. Kanedias created the Shanka to help him in his war against Juvens so the Empire was probably crawling with flatheads as well. 

Edited by Consigliere

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On 3/5/2019 at 9:01 AM, BigFatCoward said:

My impression was that Vitari had exactly the correct opinion of him. 

Is there ever an example of Glokta showing any compassion to a man? Ardee, Eider, Vitari, Shikel all got a bit of Glokta love.

Glokta showed some compassion to West when he discovered he had been turned away several times when trying to visit Glokta during his recuperation. By agreeing to look after Ardee.

 

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I just reached the chapter where Bayuz is in a coma, and I can't think of Tolomei's reason for not killing him then.

 

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On 3/4/2019 at 1:00 PM, HelenaExMachina said:

I thought Quai was Killeen by “Dogs” and then replaced by Tolomei? That was my reading anyway, rather than being replaced at the explosion

Yes, I think it was after the Killeen by dogs incident that she replaced Quai too. But I wonder, what has Tolomei been doing for the last few hundred years? Why did she decide to make her move now?

Hmmm. I'm just going to explain it away that even after becoming an Eater it takes a long time to accumulate power. Yulwei himself says that the reason the two Eaters he killed when rescuing Ferro were so weak is because of how young they were.

Maybe it's only now that Tolomei feels that she has the strength to challenge Bayuz.

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Shickel. Is she a 14 y/o Eater, or is she a shape shifting Eater that has taken on the appearance of a 14 y/o?

Because if it's the former, it's says much about Khalul's recruitment strategy.

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Posted (edited)

My impression is she was 14. I'm sure she states she was taken from her mother, implying she was still a child. 

Fuck, the battle of Adua would take 2 full episodes and a shit ton of money if it was ever filmed. 

Edited by BigFatCoward

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4 hours ago, BigFatCoward said:

My impression is she was 14. I'm sure she states she was taken from her mother, implying she was still a child. 

Fuck, the battle of Asia would take 2 full episodes and a shit ton of money if it was ever filmed. 

I've yet to hit any of the impossible budget scenes. If it is the case the series is crippling itself in terms of adaptation (not thst this should be the goal when writing). Because I can't see how book one would be exciting enough to launch a film series. On the other hand if it's too expensive to mske a TV show that isn't an option either. One could suggest animation but we have to be realistic and accept that R-rated cartoons don't wash with western audiences. I guess Netflix is trying to pathe the way but i think we are a long way off seeing a "first law" cartoon. Which is a shame as i imagine characters like glokta would benefit from animation.

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