The 1st Book (The Blade Itself) was good, but Before They Are Hanged is great. Whereas I found the The Blade Itself a little slow to start, Before They Are Hanged hits the ground running and never lets up. I didn't want this book to end, and will be jumping into the next book ASAP. I love Ambercrombie's vivid characters and their rapier wit. This book is all meat, no carbs.