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A Matter of Time

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Honour, eh? What the hell is that anyway? Every man thinks it’s something different. You can’t drink it. You can’t fuck it. The more of it you have the less good it does you, and if you’ve got none at all you don’t miss it. But some men think it’s the best thing in the world.”

Nicomo Cosca

A Matter of Time is the thirty-first chapter in Before They Are Hanged.

Chapter Summary Edit

Glokta is on the great outer walls of Dagoska to examine the state of the siege. Breaches have appeared in the walls, soon the Gurkish will break into the Lower City. General Vissbruck tries to urge him that all The Union nobles and merchants should flee the city. However, Glokta points out that the Arch Lector has been very clear that flight is not an option. He orders Vissbruck to prepare to withdraw everyone to the Upper City, despite this meaning ceding the docks to the Gurkish, and cutting off all hope of retreat.

Next, beneath the palace, Glokta observes his Practicals torturing Shickel - blades, hammers, waterboarding, fire; she feels no pain, smiling all through the destruction of her body. Although the torture has had no effect, she chooses to tell her story to Glokta. She admits to being an Eater, forced to become one by Khalul’s priests who first made her eat her own mother.1 She doesn’t fear death, and knows she deserves it. She’s disgusted with herself, but she can’t stop, not least because Khalul’s will is inevitable; she believes him truly the voice of God. Khalul believes Bayaz murdered Juvens, and he is an avenger justified in following a dark-path.

Khalul has many Eaters. None are the same, each bestowed different gifts by consuming human flesh - some have strength, speed, and endurance beyond human limits; others still can take forms, or trick the eye, or use High Art like the Magi. The slaves captured by the Gurkish army are used to feed the Eater host, to keep them strong and create new ones. As she finishes her story, Glokta orders them to burn Shickel; if she wants to die, Glokta is happy to oblige.

Finally, Glokta meets with Cosca, and informs him of the plan to withdraw into the Upper City. Cosca, like Vissbruck, suggests withdrawal, but Glokta sadly says the King’s honour won’t allow it. Cosca just shrugs, desperate last stands are just his forte.

Characters Edit

Introduced Appeared Mentioned
Sand dan Glokta Arch Lector Sult
General Vissbruck Khalul
Practical Frost Bayaz
Practical Severard Juvens
Practical Shylo Vitari
Nicomo Cosca

Locations and Terms Edit

Dagoska The Union Kanta Battle of Dagoska The Gurkish Empire Eaters
High Art Order of the Magi

References Edit

  1. We still don't understand what is this innate ability that allows someone to become an Eater.


Chapters in The First Law
The Blade Itself

Part 1

Prologue: The End ▪ 1. The Survivors ▪ 2. Questions ▪ 3. No Choice at All ▪ 4. Playing With Knives ▪ 5. Teeth and Fingers ▪ 6. The Wide and Barren North ▪ 7. Fencing Practice ▪ 8. The Morning Ritual ▪ 9. First of the Magi ▪ 10. The Good Man ▪ 11. On the List ▪ 12. An Offer and a Gift ▪ 13. The King of the Northmen ▪ 14. A Road Between Two Dentists ▪ 15. Flatheads ▪ 16. The Course of True Love ▪ 15. How Dogs are Trained ▪ 16. Tea and Vengeance
The Blade Itself

Part 2

▪ 17. What Freedom Looks Like ▪ 18. The King’s Justice ▪ 19. Means of Escape ▪ 20. Three Signs ▪ 21. The Theatrical Outfitter’s ▪ 22. Barbarians at the Gate ▪ 23. Next ▪ 24. Better than Death ▪ 25. Sore Thumb ▪ 26. Questions ▪ 27. Nobility ▪ 28. Dark Work ▪ 29. Words and Dust ▪ 30. The Remarkable Talents of Brother Longfoot ▪ 31. Her Kind Fight Everything ▪ 32. She Loves Me ... Not ▪ 33. The Seed ▪ 34. Never Bet Against a Magus ▪ 35. The Ideal Audience ▪ 36. The House of the Maker ▪ 37. Nobody’s Dog ▪ 38. Each Man Worships Himself ▪ 39. Old Friends ▪ 40. Back to the Mud ▪ 41. Misery ▪ 42. The Bloody-Nine ▪ 43. The Tools we Have
Before They Are Hanged

Part 1

▪ 1. The Great Leveler ▪ 2. Best Laid Plans ▪ 3. Questions ▪ 4. The Wounds of the Past ▪ 5. The Condition of the Defences ▪ 6. The Thing About Trust ▪ 7. Allies ▪ 8. Campfire Politics ▪ 9. Small Crimes ▪ 10. Rain ▪ 11. Bloody Company ▪ 12. Long Shadows ▪ 13. And next… My Gold ▪ 14. Fear ▪ 15. One Hundred Words ▪ 16. The Blind Lead the Blind ▪ 17. Prince Ladisla’s Stratagem ▪ 18. Until Sunset ▪ 19. Long Odds ▪ 20. The Road to Victory ▪ 21. Necessary Evils ▪ 22. Among the Stones ▪ 23. The Fruits of Boldness ▪ 24. One for Dinner ▪ 25. One of Them
Before They Are Hanged

Part 2

▪ 26. Heading North ▪ 27. Scant Mercy ▪ 28. So This is Pain ▪ 29. One Step at a Time ▪ 30. The Rest is Wasted Breath ▪ 31. A Matter of Time ▪ 32. Scars ▪ 33. Furious ▪ 34. To the Last Man ▪ 35. Jewel of Cities ▪ 36. Luck ▪ 37. Beneath the Ruins ▪ 38. No Good for Each Other ▪ 39. The Hero’s Welcome ▪ 40. Cold Comfort ▪ 41. The High Places ▪ 42. Coming Over ▪ 43. Cheap at the Price ▪ 44. To the Edge of the World ▪ 45. Before the Storm ▪ 46. Questions ▪ 47. Holding the Line ▪ 48. A Fitting Punishment ▪ 49. The Abode of Stones ▪ 50. Back to the Mud
Last Argument of Kings

Part 1

▪ 1. The Poison Trade ▪ 2. Being Chief ▪ 3. This Noble Business ▪ 4. The New Man ▪ 5. Feeding Time ▪ 6. So Much In Common ▪ 7. Honesty ▪ 8. Ghosts ▪ 9. Bad Debts ▪ 10. A Ragged Multitude ▪ 11. Beloved Of The Moon ▪ 12. Flowers And Plaudits ▪ 13. Too Many Knives ▪ 14. Best Of Enemies ▪ 15. Fortunes Of War ▪ 16. The Kingmaker ▪ 17. The Trap ▪ 18. Horrible Old Men ▪ 19. Prepared For The Worst ▪ 20. The Habit Of Command ▪ 21. The First Day ▪ 22. Such Sweet Sorrow ▪ 23. Picked Up A Shadow ▪ 24. Questions ▪ 25. The Fourth Day ▪ 26. The Perfect Couple ▪ 27. The Seventh Day ▪ 28. Too Many Masters ▪ 29. Sweet Victory ▪ 30. Rude Awakenings
Last Argument of Kings

Part 2

▪ 31. The Number Of The Dead ▪ 32. Leaves On The Water ▪ 33. Authority ▪ 34. The Circle ▪ 35. Greater Good ▪ 36. Skarling’s Chair ▪ 37. Leadership ▪ 38. A Rock And A Hard Place ▪ 39. Charity ▪ 40. Better Left Buried ▪ 41. Tomorrow’s Hero ▪ 42. Nightfall ▪ 43. Questions ▪ 44. The Day Of Judgement ▪ 45. Sacrifices ▪ 46. Open The Box ▪ 47. Dark Paths ▪ 48. Reckoning ▪ 49. After The Rains ▪ 50. Answers ▪ 51. The Wounded ▪ 52. Patriotic Duties ▪ 53. The First Law ▪ 54. Tea And Threats ▪ 55. Behind The Throne ▪ 56. Good Men, Evil Men ▪ 57. Not What You Wanted ▪ 58. Loose Ends ▪ 59. The Beginning
Best Served Cold ▪ 1. Benna Murcatto Saves a Life ▪ 2. PART I: TALINS ▪ 3. Talins Chapters 1 ▪ 4. Talins Chapters 2 ▪ 5. Talins Chapters 3 ▪ 6. PART II: WESTPORT ▪ 7. Westport Chapters 1 ▪ 8. Westport Chapters 2 ▪ 9. Westport Chapters 3 ▪ 10. Westport Chapters 4 ▪ 11. PART III: SIPANI ▪ 12. Sipani Chapters 1 ▪ 13. Sipani Chapters 2 ▪ 14. Sipani Chapters 3 ▪ 15. Sipani Chapters 4 ▪ 16. PART IV: VISSERINE ▪ 17. Visserine Chapters 1 ▪ 18. Visserine Chapters 2 ▪ 19. Visserine Chapters 3 ▪ 20. Visserine Chapters 4 ▪ 21. Visserine Chapters 5 ▪ 22. Visserine Chapters 6 ▪ 23. PART V: PURANTI ▪ 24. Puranti Chapters 1 ▪ 25. Puranti Chapters 2 ▪ 26. Puranti Chapters 3 ▪ 27. Puranti Chapters 4 ▪ 28. Puranti Chapters 5 ▪ 29. PART VI: OSPRIA ▪ 30. Ospria Chapters 1 ▪ 31. Ospria Chapters 2 ▪ 32. Ospria Chapters 3 ▪ 33. Ospria Chapters 4 ▪ 34. PART VII: TALINS ▪ 35. Talins Again Chapters 1 ▪ 36. Talins Again Chapters 2 ▪ 37. Talins Again Chapters 3 ▪ 38. Talins Again Chapters 4 ▪ 39. Talins Again Chapters 5

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