The Heroes: A First Law Novel (First Law World 2)

By Joe Abercrombie

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Total feedbacks: 178
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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The book was exceptional! The best book I have ever read! Liked everything except how the magic got involved. Wish it never ended!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
cyanne mcclairian
Didn't enjoy this entry nearly as much as its predecessors. Lots of retread characters and nothing but page after page of battles and preparation for battles.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
this guy knows how to write complex human characters that you fall in love with no matter how awful they are...also weaves their stories together like a boss. Love love this author.
A First Law Novel (World Of The First Law Series) :: You Are Special (Board Book) (Max Lucado's Wemmicks) :: Silent Spring :: Silent Spring By Rachel Carson :: UNSUB: A Novel
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ana marija
Thrilling and exiting read. It captured me from the start.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nico smith
Joe Abercrombie has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Once I picked up this book, I couldn't put it down.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joe huennekens

The book - Set in the world of the First Law Trilogy and Best Served Cold. Familiar faces return but have relatively small parts. The return cast includes: Calder, Scale, Black Dow, Shivers, Gorst, Bayaz, and a few others. Gorst it turns out, is one hell of a character. Trying to redeem himself after an incident in Styria involving the King, his blood-lust rivals that of some of my old favorite characters.

When I first read "The First Law Trilogy," I was completely blown away. This author has reinvented the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre. Gone is the stereotypical "young sissy, in small town is attacked by unknown forces, distant uncle who raised him is killed, sissy inherits great magical powers/artifact/ability from said uncle, sissy becomes an ultra-mega bad ass at everything, raises army of do-gooders who don't ever die and eventually defeat the super duper evil army of trolls, orcs, and plum smugglers."

We all know the routine, and Mr. Abercrombie finally broke the tedious traditional fantasy outline. I'm not sure if he's the first to do this, but I hope he's not the last.

"The Heroes" is a great novel. Being set only over the course of three days is not as big an issue as some reviewers are making it out to be, as a lot of what has happened between novels is explained. Though I didn't care much for the outcome of the North, I still highly recommend this novel, even to those who have never read an Abercrombie Novel.

Of course reading the first four books that are set in this world will greatly improve your appreciation for this amazing story.

I know everyone will hate me for saying this but I do miss, with a fierce passion, Logen Ninefingers/The Bloody-Nine.

Joe Abercrombie now has a contractual obligation to produce four new books set in the First Law world. One book will be a stand-alone like this and BSC, while the other will be a trilogy. I can only hope that my favorite character makes an appearance in these upcoming novels.

The bottom line - Excellent book set in a amazing world that is populated by characters with depth.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Great book... Consistent with his other works. Lots of action so it's definitely a page-turner. Looking forward to more of his books
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
parisa abedi
great way to end the series. everything is tied in nicely. joe is a great writer i cant wait to see more from him.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brittni lundie
This is quite simply a ripping yarn of a story. The author has an incredible ability to create unique, complex and lively characters who you hate and then love and then love to hate. How does he come up with this stuff?!? Genius.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
greta huttanus
I am reading this with my 9 year old daughter for home school and I must admit it is a challenge for her, mainly because of the pronunciation of the heroes, gods, & goddesses. Seriously, I have to sound out probably 50% of them, so I would just warn parents that this is probably not an independent reader for your 3rd or 4th grader. Personally it is not my favorite, but Greek fairy tales have never held my interest. If it is a part of your curriculum requirement you might want to glance over it first to see if it is something your child can read independently, or if they need some help.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
This book is written to much like an encyclopedia and not enough stories. The Greek gods they know about had little or no mention in the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
theo johnson
Joe Abercrombie simply CAN write ate this book was not disappointment to me. And very loose connection with previous books is a clever one...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
You like the good guys and the bad. Actually it is hard to tell which is which. Very good author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
angie anderson
Fantastic read. Couldn't put the book down. Exciting from start to finish. Characters well written and fully developed. Easy to get invested in the plot and the characters. Would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Maybe my favorite book by Joe Abercrombie. Excellent cast of characters and intense fighting and battle scenes. If you like his other works you'll enjoy this
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
belle m
I liked the blade itself series, and best served cold. Heroes was less appealing to me. There is not as much character development. However is your into a lot of gruesome gore it might be right up your ally
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Great read, great book. If you like the north you'll like this book a lot. Definitely worth reading. Give it a shot
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
molli b
Good book
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Great book, as are all Abercrombie books, but not as good as his first two in the series. Abercrombie is a masterful character developer and has drastically improved his story-line writing and tying those deep character traits into the story-line in interesting ways. Abercrombie can pull a character out of mid-air and you can't help but become engaged in that character's plight. Abercrombie is better than George RR Martin at telling a story from many different perspectives.

There is a battle scenario in the middle of the book that is one of the best I've read, but the book is full of great battle scenes. If you love a great battle scene, one that can occasionally find the humor in all of the extreme violence, then this series is for you. If you love characters that are honest and real, it doesn't get any better. His stories are real man's-man books, I doubt they would appeal to females unless you're the tough-exterior woman (there are some great female characters in the books too with the same tough exterior, weaker interior personalities).

Don't start with this one (although you could), go to the first book in the series.

Two complaints about the/his book(s):
1) A common trait in Abercrombie books, but especially in The Heroes, is that it is a bit "Star Trekkish" with side characters, e.g. you can predict with utmost certainty who is going to meet their maker (on the away team) by the lack of character development. Come on Joe, surprise us once in a while, just don't go the route of George RR Martin and punch us in the jumblies with key-character assassinations with regularity.
2) There's really not a major climax to the book, it starts to peak several times, then dies off.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
matthew clarke
Heroes has characters every reader will like knowing and a story that keeps you wanting to turn the pages. I didn't want to put it down. The plot was good with quite an explosive ending.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anna duncanson
Brutal, funny, gripping... masterful.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shon reed
Fairly similar to the blade itself in terms of plot, but it certainly doesn't detract from his writing prowess .
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Reminded me of stories i read as a kid about greek gods n godesses n now when i read them again i enjoy it more n my kid loves reading it with me on kindle
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Nine years after the trilogy ends, there is war between the Union and the North. Named Men earn their names and officers their promotions over the course of a 3 day battle for a meaningless piece of ground. Magic is in the background, but always working subtly.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lix hewett
I have thoroughly enjoyed everything that I have ever read by Mr. Abercrombie. He is a gifted and unique talent. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy.
You won't be disappointed and probably will be both surprised and captivated by his prose and insights.

I am definitely bias, but that doesn't mean that I am wrong!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
conner colosi
The Heroes picks up in The First Law universe about four years after the events of Best Served Cold and focuses on a three-day battle between the Union and the northmen under Black Dow. If you've been fortunate enough to read Abercrombie's other works, you won't be surprised that this isn't your typical swords and sorcery war epic. The book is primarily told from the perspective of six deeply-flawed characters (three per each side of battle) and part of the fun of the book is the different ways we see war effect each of them.

Abercrombie has cleverly distributed his viewpoints to show us glimpses of battle from veterans, newcomers and outsiders. Returning First Law readers will recognize secondary characters like Bremer Dan Gorst and Prince Calder taking center stage while old favorites like Bayaz and Caul Shivers lurk on the sidelines. What makes Abercrombie such a great writer and these books such a joy to read is the complexity that he brings to each of these characters.

There are some truly awesome stretches of writing in The Heroes. The book is split into five sections with the middle three being the three days over which the battle takes place. For each day of battle Abercrombie includes a chapter from the viewpoints of several one-off characters. The first of these, "Casualties" is one of the best standalone chapters in fantasy I've ever read. To say that it is surprising, innovative and breakneck is an understatement.

The Heroes will please longtime First Law fans and new readers and is a welcome return to the North left behind in Last Argument of Kings. Recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
carol copeland
Very good, but the First Law trilogy is better. Still, I think I'll read everything Joe Abercrombie puts out there.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abercrombies best book in my opinion, nice pacing, and characters with no black or white edges. much better return to form after best served cold fell flat.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Abercrombie's dark world and oddly realistic characters are addictive,the world they strive to conquer full of betrayal and instant death,an absolute joy to read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I bought this book when it first came out. Love this writer. However, this book is not really a part of the series. We just get alot of the "B" Team now. Insert sad face here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Very solid fantasy book with great follow on novels in the world. All around amazing characters. It is very highly recommended
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Great book. One of his best
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
susan parry
Great action, great characters, and a liberal sprinkling of humour. If you like George RR Martin, you will love any of Abercrombie's offerings.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bonald short
Actually I just want to rate it, and not write a comment. so here it is. 4 stars from me and i quite enjoyed it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jen clark
The blade trilogy gave us a tale of brutal adventure, while also cleverly telling the history of the world, and resolving to reveal who really is in power. Best served cold explores the story of styria using a colorful cast of characters, some new, some known. There are interesting turns of events and some surprises along the tale. Again we learn who is pulling the strings but we also delight in them getting a bloody nose.

The heroes repeats some of the themes, this time failing to create really interesting characters. In the previous books there was a better balance between the brutality and seriousness of war, and life-like personal motivation as well as some comical relief. Heroes doesn't sustain this balance, a story of war, the more things change the more they stay the same.

In previous books, mages perform powerful acts of magic. Here, the most powerful of the mages drinks tea, tinkers with technology, and pulls the strings openly.

I think the world would benefit from a stronger influx of new ideas of characters, or ideas, to keep things interesting, rather than reiterating the previous books themes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Amazing..every Australian should read it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eimaan malik
great book
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
angelica strickland
"The Heroes" is the latest novel from Joe Abercrombie set in the "First Law" world. Specifically, it takes place in the North, and centers on a war, or rather one battle in a war, over the span of several days. While the North is a setting we've experienced before in the First Law trilogy and the characters, old and new, coming out of it are fascinating, I would have preferred a new setting we've heard of before but haven't seen or only seen very little of, like Gurkhul, the Old Empire, or Thond. Setting has been an integral factor in Abercrombie's past success, and here, despite familiarity with the North, I just wasn't as involved and didn't get a feel for the culture as I have in past books.

But Abercrombie's strongest trait has been his characters, whether they are point of view/main characters or supporting ones. His main characters, especially, both in the First Law trilogy and Best Served Cold, have to this point been brilliantly complex, and even if downright unlikable and despicable have been absolutely enthralling, each character with his or her own unique narrative style that keep you reading to find out what happens to them.

And that's what's missing here. The characters are forgettable, boring to read about, and with one exception for me, were completely predictable as to where they would end up. Bremer, the soft-spoken former bodyguard of the King of the Union out for blood, was the only character I looked forward to reading about, and the battles he got into were my favorite parts of the book. Calder, another familiar face from past books, just seems to float along the entire book, and while interesting at times, his conclusion was just random and unsatisfying. The rest are hardly worth mentioning, though I have to say Corporal Tunny was a decent character given literally nothing to do. I was waiting for his awesome moment, and it never arrived.

The Heroes remains a solid read solely for the battle and fight scenes. While not as entertaining as hsi other works, I'm looking forward to his next works.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pamela isaacson
Very dark and rich in details. All of Abercrombie's books are chilling, but you can't put then down! Bloody-Nine, Black Dow, and all
the rest WOW!The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)Before They Are Hanged (The First Law: Book Two)Last Argument of Kings (First Law 3) (Bk. 3)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
philip fierlinger
Abercrombie is my new favourite author, Heroes is as good as his last 4 books and keeps up the tempo of his storytelling from these.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alex gutow
...of Joe Abercrombie's world.
Read this, The First Law, Best Served Cold and the Red Country. You will never look at the Fantasy genre the same way again. Remember the Bloody Nine lives!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
captain lix
Awesome my kids loved it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
randin nelson
Abercrombie does it again. If you like your fantasy fiction covered in blood and violence then here is your bible. This book is great. Just another fine addition to the wonderful universe built in the mind of Joe Abercrombie.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Quite possibly my favorite fantasy book ever. And I've read them all.

Abercrombie is the master of creating characters that are shades of grey. Good and evil is all about perspective.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jason demchock
Great read! This was my first Abercrombie book. He is a great writer. Since then I've read the The Blade Itself and Before they Are Hanged. I love them all but The Heroes is my favorite. I wish I started with the First Law Series though, as I think it would make reading The Heroes an even more rewarding experience.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mary anne
I love Abercrombie's characters... sometimes the plot can wander or get a little thin be his characters always grab me and I'll keep coming back for more. I cannot wait for the next novel!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
lisa middleton
Bearing down from the cold, muddy North is a collection of brigands, murderers and warriors led by the ruthless Black Dow. In opposition stands the inept, arrogant and cowardly soldiers and officers of the Union with Lord Marshal Kroy having the privilege of this command. Set in the modernist High Fantasy stylings of George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes details about one week in this conflict between the Northmen and the Union with the major events taking place over three days of intense battle. While this novel takes place in the same universe as his previous four novels, they are not a prerequisite to this entry, which is a stand-alone novel. This story moves quickly, despite the 500-odd pages the book is a fast, fun read. There are some points in the book where Abercrombie's penchant for repeating metaphors becomes tiring but overall this writing style doesn't detract too much from the story. The Heroes is Tolkien-esque in setting but, unlike Tolkien, Abercrombie, revels in gore and violence and details each stab, slash, lost limb and caved-in skull with relish. Clearly, this is where Abercrombie's interest lies, rather than with character development.

The novel is centered around a few point of view characters, the two with perhaps the most exploration are Bremer dan Gorst, a disgraced master swordsman of the Union that is desperately trying to regain his honor and Cruden Craw an experienced warrior from the North that tries to hew to old, traditional ways. However, with the possible exception of Cruden Craw, the characters in this novel are essentially one-dimensional studies in character flaws. For example, Bremer dan Gorst is the embodiment of self-pity, while another character Finree dan Brock exemplifies over ambition. These character traits make the story a little less enjoyable, simply because the main characters (again with the exception of Craw and a couple of bit players) are simply unlikeable, but not interesting or complex.

The story is to read though. Once Abercrombie grows as some more as a writer and can write convincing and interesting characters, without going to the metaphor box once a page he will be a formidable figure in the realm of High Fantasy.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Hard to follow with too many characters and none that are the main focus.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bethany taylor
good book
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
bonnie herner
Not as good as the First Law Trilogy or Best Served Cold.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
iulia diana
First book in a long time that had a cast that made me smile like Erickson's characters. Nonstop action throughout
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Don't read all these lengthy reviews, don't research this book.


This book owns faces like the monster in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Get it, get it now, cram it in your eyes and brain.

Joe Abercrombie can do no wrong, the man could write about his latest bowel movement and it would probably be 600 pages of awesome.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mbanga ka
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ashley sweetman
If you like the blade itself you'll like this book. Great depth of character and epically vivid battle scenes.
Wish it was longer :)

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Another winner
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
michael conley
Joe, you evidently have not read any military fantasy because this is a poor showing. You did have a couple of interesting characters, however, the plot stank and was only worth a short story.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
not up to abercrombie's standards but not bad
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
marilyn hanna
No bloody nine. You have to be realistic about these things
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
lee ann
Again written for the 15 year old crowd. Still entertaining enough to continue the series. Please write on Mr Abercrombie.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I miss the bloody seven
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie day
This was a great sequel to the series. I was happy to read the north characters again and their thought process. But still am hungry for more!!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
lucy wanjiru
OK this story is OK at most.

was not impressed, it was slow and drawn out, to the point that I finished it after a month and read 2 other books during the same time.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
disha gupta
This is a hard review for me to write because I am such a fan of Abercrombie's work. Such a fan in fact, that I re-read the entire First Law trilogy and Best Served Cold to catch back up. That and I've spent far to much money collecting ARCs, Limited Editions and the like. So it's with a heavy heart that I give The Heroes, Abercrombie's fifth installment in this realm, only three stars.

The Heroes stands alone on it's own but it's part of the same realm as his other works. Many of the same characters are involved, Kroy, Gorst, Calder, Bayaz and his servant Sulfur, Shivers, Black Dow and the Dogman to name a few. It's been roughly a decade since the events of the First Law trilogy and war has come to the North again. Black Dow is the self proclaimed "Protector of the North" and has united what was left of Bethod's forces against the Union. Only the Dogman and his allies stand apart and alongside the Union.

The Heroes covers a three day period of war in which both sides collide at a place known in the North as "The Heroes". All is not as it seems though, as is often the case when the First of Magi and his enemies are involved, and both sides fight to place another pawn on the board.

A lot of people, myself among them, found the sections covering the North during the First Law trilogy to be some of the more gripping and interesting aspects of the story. So it's not a surprise that Abercrombie chose the North as the setting for his next book. Unfortunately, he failed to capture the same magic that made it so interesting before. Fans of the Dogman and his crew will be sorely disappointed. While the Dogman does make some appearances, none of his point of view is followed even though he and his crew play as much a part of the story as anyone else. The characters followed are a bit of a letdown and come as being gray for gray's sake, as in it feels forced. That's not to say there are not any interesting characters in the book, quite the opposite in fact and I found myself frustrated at only getting glimpses of them instead of actually following their perspective.

I don't want to give any of the story away so it's hard for me to go into too many details about why I found this installment lacking. Suffice to say that if you were hoping to find some answers about unresolved characters (Logan Ninefingers) or going into this hoping to have a few questions answered, you'll be disappointed. I could have lived with those things though, it was the lack of having any draw towards any of the main characters, the pacing and the general un-epicness of the story that made this such a hard read.

Having read all of Abercrombie's past novels, I knew going in not to expect rainbows and sunshine. I did however expect to find surprisingly real and interesting characters. It's hard to care about a story when you don't really care about any of the protagonists or the outcome. I was disappointed that I didn't get to follow any of the Northmen on the Union side. It's also hard to believe that Abercrombie couldn't have at least included one Union general that knew what he was doing. Above all though, the story just didn't have that same epic feeling that his other works have had.

On the positive side, Abercrombie is still a master when it comes to changing his voice with each character, adding his own unique flavor to the story. I did get a few laughs out of the book and it did have it moments. The story or the characters just didn't feel very fleshed out this time around and perhaps my review is a little harsher based on comparing it to the level at which I know Abercrombine can write.

I'm still a fan though and I will still be first in line to pick up his next book. This one just didn't resonate with me at all.

The cover art on the other hand is my favorite from the series. The type treatment is fantastic and the color scheme is striking. Five out five for the cover art on this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
wan farah
There's no need to go into the premise of the book, which both other reviews and the solicitation material already describes. "The Heroes" follows Abercrombie's previous titles chronologically, so for any potential readers reading this, as no doubt other reviewers have stated, start with "The Blade Itself" and work your way here. You'll be glad you did, assuming you like what you read. In the event you don't like what you read, I imagine you'll be quite displeased. But like it or not, it's good stuff. And it's gotten better.

The essentials, for purpose of review and questions of potential readers:

- Abercrombie has made steady progress as a writer. His writing is more technically sound and is overall tighter. Words are worth more. His voice and the voices of his characters have become more sure. His ability to juggle multiple characters and an increasingly-numbered cast has likewise improved.

- "The Heroes" displays Abercrombie's improved ability to weave character arcs. While this has not been necessarily suspect, it was a slight problem in the initial trilogy, in which many, many characters came through as flat, and only a handful of characters had arcs and growth to speak of. This was less of a problem in "Best Served Cold," due to improvement as an author and his shift to a very tight cast of characters, and indeed, BSC had some brilliant character work and character arcs to show for. With "The Heroes," we find Abercrombie juggling a huge cast and keeping up with most all of them, whether major, mostly-minor, or minor-minor POV characters, and they all have character arcs, fleshed out from start to finish. While some of his peripheral characters remain flat characters, used to flavor a particular scene through previous mention of who they are, Abercrombie has raised some of them to three-dimensional status, with wants and small character arcs of their own, despite our never getting inside their heads. This is a vast improvement over "The First Law."

- Abercrombie is sticking with the same direction he's been going in. Previous readers will recognize why the situation is as it is. And previous readers will see as the story progresses certain similarities to how Abercrombie's previous stories have progressed. I don't intend that to mean him following the same gameplan of story construction, but rather the overarching happenings in the world. But no worries: Abercrombie is continuing the forward direction he started at the end of "The First Law" and continued with in "Best Served Cold." He continues to build and progress his world setting with this second stand-alone novel.

Of course, everyone's subjective thoughts will be different. Subjectively, I'm not sure I enjoy Abercrombie's return to using a first-person italicized thought-process for one of his major characters. While I felt it worked fine with Glokta in the trilogy (and don't currently remember if it was present in BSC), I didn't think it worked very well in this novel. But that is, again, a subjective, and therefore moot, point. Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

Overall, looking at the novel objectively per the points above, it's Abercrombie's best work to date. It's a unique read, with a fitting structure to it, and does its predecessors proud.

Give us another, Joe.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steven kilpatrick
Abercromby catches the true horror of war, where men are pigs and heroes die first. Spectacular, nerve wrecking, and good fun.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
His previous books were great, but I think this one was a bit rushed and could have used a lot more refining. Too many superficial characters and choppy story path (no pun intended). I had to force myself to read it vs. previous efforts. Hopefully, he will spend a little more time on the next one and put a little more flesh on his characters before he hacks it off.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
barbara ruszkowski
I've thoroughly enjoyed each and every book of this series and The Heroes is no exception. Absolutely love it - Joe Abercrombie tells his stories extremely well and his characters are brilliant. I highly recommend ALL his books - which, by the way, you should start with "The First Law" trilogy, then "Best Served Cold", then this book - "The Heroes". While each book can stand on its own - I think you'll enjoy it more if read in order.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
robin boatright
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
linda harper
This is my least favorite of his books so far. A far
step down from his previous books. Hoping for better next time.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
karen gray
didnt care for it
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jesseh sparklepants
Allow me a preface to explain what it means when I say something is a “favorite”. My favorite move of all time is “The Crow” starring Brandon Lee. Before I watched it, my favorite movie of all time was “Aliens” starring Sigourney Weaver. I tell you this, so you can know, or at least the movie-philes among you can know, I don’t switch up much.
My favorite book or series for years was the “Trial of Twins” in the Dragon Lance series. It was replaced by the masterful “Dark Elf Trilogy” written by R. A. Salvatore. That was then overcome (barely- Drizzt is a demi-god) by Game of Thrones. The book- not the series. Don’t take that the wrong way- Everything I’ve ever read from Martin is gold, and I the HBO adaptation has me salivating for the (less well written, but c’mon, DRAGONS BURNING ZOMBIES!!!!) sixth season.
I tell you all of this because I want you to understand- when I say, “this is my favorite book”. It, at least with me, carries some weight. Abercrombie delivers a tale with many an epic character. You see both sides of a conflict and, because of this, understand and sympathize with characters from both sides. The best examples I can think of are “Dead Six” series by Larry Correia (if you are into military fiction, you need to read this) or “We Were Soldiers” starring Mel Gibson. While the downside of this is not always knowing who to root for, the upside is a full immersion into the story and a yearning to see where each character will land. The setting is reminiscent of GoT with one clearly defined conflict between two “armies” but the true battle happening within the ranks and, more interestingly, within each man. The characters are diverse and intriguing, and- as stated by others, masterfully brought to life by narrator Michael Page. I never imagined so many gravely voiced tough guys could be handled by one man. Not to mention his range of the other characters- be they female, sniffling, conceited, or pompous. Absolutely brilliant display of vocal talent.
If I had to site my “favorite” aspect of this new literary favorite, it would be a toss-up between the sheer awesomeness of some of the characters and, the humor. Now- make no mistake- this is no comedy. This is brutal (in more ways than one) and bare. While there are parts that are obviously intended to bring a chuckle (anyone ever in the military will LOVE CPL. Tunny) it’s the casual commentary that literally made me LOL… often… to the point where I had to hit the 30-second backup to see what I missed. I won’t give specific examples- but dialogs between two characters with the true thoughts of one being inserted before they speak are golden.
I don’t often write reviews, and this is probably the longest ever. Long story short. Well worth the credit if you have any interest in fictional history.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Disclaimer: I would not recommend reading this book until you read The First Law Trilogy.

It is more like half stand alone book. It's like reading only the last half of a book. There are a lot of characters to digest in this one. What make it even harder to understand for a new reader is the setting. You do not fully learns the world building from this book. There are two other stand alone books in the same world Best Served Cold, take place before this book, and Red Country. They both are more a real stand alone, because many of the main character are independent from the The First Law Trilogy.
Joe's best ability is creating colorful, gritty characters with speckles of humor. And of coarse no great characterless without great names. If you enjoy his previous books, reading this is like meeting old friend after you went away for some time. If you start with this book, it's feel like you just move into new school in new town, and everyone are strangers.

To me it feel like Joe is having fun with all his character. The plot is very simple on the surface, but it has enough details. (Spoiler: The only gripe I have with The First Law Trilogy, and some what of this one, is the power of Beyez. It feel he build this impossible problems and using Beyez's power to solve everything at the end.) But I enjoy his book very much.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
..okay, make it 3.5 out of 5.

I had high expectations for this book, after Best Served Cold convinced me that Abercrombie could write novels that are grim, thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time. The First Law trilogy that preceded it never quite clicked with me, because it often seemed like the author was more interested in crafting an anti-LOTR epic that would deconstruct or pervert every existing fantasy trope and cliché than in writing a good story. Well, The Heroes is certainly not an over-ambitious slog, but neither does it display the focused brilliance of Best Served Cold.

Good news first: Abercrombie continues to experiment with narrative approaches. The Heroes' story spans only a couple of days and focuses on a single military skirmish – albeit a pretty important one, as it's going to decide the outcome of a war. The short timespan is more than compensated for with dozens of colorful characters counting six point-of-view narrators among them. Unlike a certain popular fantasy series, the abundance of POV characters does not lead to bloat: you still get a gripping, fast-paced plot where the same events are told from a multitude of perspectives, with constant, dizzying shifts between them. Apparently, Abercrombie borrowed the concept from a Pulitzer-winning historical novel The Killer Angels about the Battle of Gettysburg, but it is perfectly suited for his trademark approach to unreliable narration and misdirection. Another distinct Abercrombie habit is giving lead roles to the named extras you barely remember from previous books, while simultaneously relegating former main characters to supporting roles; here, it is perfectly complemented by the narrative's structure. So far, so good.

What's the bad news, you might ask. Well, in a lot of ways this book is retreading familiar territory. In case you haven't had enough of the Northern war in The First Law trilogy, here is another Northern war. As was the case in TFL, the conflict between the Union and the North is just a proxy war in the endless battle waged by far more sinister adversaries. Abercrombie is again striving for "realistic", glamor-free depiction of war as hell that kills selfless heroes and elevates black-hearted bastards, cowards and manipulators. Again, he's doing a great job, but you can't shake off the feeling that you've heard it all before. Also, while gleefully deconstructing common fantasy tropes, Abercrombie seemingly managed to introduce a few of his own. One spoiler-free example I can think of: The Heroes features not one, but two duels with Totally Unpredictable Outcome™. Except, this being an Abercrombie book, in both cases you can guess the outcome straight away and even predict the plot twist that makes it possible. Then again, if you don't mind Abercrombie settling into comfortable and familiar grimdark routine, it is not necessarily a bad thing, so make of it what you will.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Picking up The Heroes last week and being thrust back into the world of The First Law was as pleasant a reading experience as I've had in recent months (though it is not always a pleasant place). Starting this book, and getting back into the feel of Abercrombie's writing, I was reminiscing deeply on his other books; those in the First Law Trilogy and Best Served Cold before this, and I think it's safe to say that Joe Abercrombie has become one of my favorite authors. I think one of these books needs to go up on my favorites shelf, the tough part is deciding which one!

The Heroes takes place over the span of around only four days, three of which focus on a single battle in the Valley of Osrung. As you can imagine, having an entire book dedicate to just one battle is somewhat unique, and an intense reading experience. Abercrombie is a master of viewpoint, and ambiguity, and makes it nearly impossible for the reader to actually root for one side over the other. During the battle you switch from viewpoint to viewpoint as men die off, moving inside the head of their killer just in time to see their death as well, and then moving off again. You get a full and detailed understanding of what each character is fighting for; their motivations, their fears, their ambitions, and maybe even the futility of it all. And if he is a master of viewpoint then the same can be said about his character writing. We get to see some old familiar faces in this, as well as some new, and they are developed quickly, with care, and you will undoubtedly find yourself conflicted during the battle. I did. Absolutely fantastic characters on both sides.

This feels like a culmination of all that Joe has accomplished before, and I think I said the exact same thing about Best Served Cold, but it's true. His writing is sharp, his characters are relatable, his dialogue is a shining example of his skill, and funny as always. I can't recommend Joe's books enough, and I'm eager to read Red Country.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hater shepard
The Heroes delighted me in so many ways. The depictions of fights and battles are as exciting and gripping as Homer's and Cornwell's; really gets a warrior's blood up. The ugly shittiness, horror, and tedium of battle and military life is wonderfully presented in perverse, grotesque, and quotidian detail. Abercrombie writes unforgettable scenes of human decency, lol comedy, and projects the full panoply of the human condition within 3 days of war and peace. He uses about 100 different characters and multiple points of view to reveal the comedy, drama, and tragedy in the lives of soldiers, civilians, warriors, and victims during war time. He doesn't skimp on the political intrigue and commercial angles to war, and there is even an unrequited romance. He has, and charmingly projects, a clear vision of why war is hell and why we keep doing it.

I listened to the audio book, and first thought I was going to be utterly bored, because it starts with a long cast of characters. It would have worked better for me to have placed the cast listing at the end of the book. Because I was dreading the book ending by the end of the first few chapters. I loved it so much I did not want it to end. Abercrombie is able to describe a character within one or two sentences better than most of us can in several paragraphs. His quick sketches of minor characters, often just before they get killed, are brilliant. The major characters are so engrossing that we identify as deeply with the villains and chumps as with the brave and brilliant.

Historical fiction is my pleasure reading/listening, and I've read a lot of it. I avoid fantasy, and was skeptical when given The Heroes, but the "fantasy" is is quite incidental and it reads like a historical from the Middle Ages. I have not been so impressed (and gushy) about my first encounter with an author since I picked up the first Bernard Cornwell Utred book. MONSTERS OF THE MIDWAY Love and Redemption in College Football
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jason nochlin
As an avid fantasy reader, I had high hopes going into this book because of the genre and because others had recommended the author to me. At the end of it, I found myself torn between giving it a good rating and a mediocre one. It held my interest well enough and I did enjoy the story but there was just something about it that kept me from completely enjoying it. I am definitely willing to read other books by this author and hope that perhaps they reach me in a way that this one didn't quite manage to do.

To start with, any reader should be aware that this is a dark story even though it has redemptions and good characters. It's gritty in the sense that you might meet a character and see them die horribly only a few pages later. Sometimes you develop attachments to the characters and sometimes you know they are probably going to die later so you don't bother. I found it somewhat predictable which characters lived through the battles and which didn't because of the time spent developing those characters. Overall, the characters were an interesting lot of good, bad, and somewhere in between that you would get in real life. There weren't too many shining heroes, despite the name of the book, and there weren't many truly evil villains that were a lost cause. In fact, there is a lot of grey in this book for the reader to decide who they want to side with.

Most of the fantasy that I read is epic fantasy so there is a grand overarching quest or theme happening. This book lacked that and I felt it suffered for it. That is one of the reasons that I am willing to give another of the author's books a try. This book focus on a couple of battles over several days and bounces around between each side and the political undercurrents of everything. It was mildly interesting and fast paced with the battles but at the end, I almost felt like asking 'so what?'. I didn't feel changed or challenged by what I read, in fact I found parts of the ending unbelievable. It seems like Abercrombie wanted to have a major metamorphosis in one of his characters but I felt it was unbelievable and fell flat.

There was an adjustment period when I started reading the books because I'm not a huge fan of the author's writing style. Actually, I have a love and hate relationship with it. The author is extremely insightful and has thought deeply about the subjects touched on in this book. There were dozens of lines that I really liked from the book and found myself thinking how true the thought was. But there were other times that I just wanted to scream that a sentence requires both a subject and verb. Not just when you feel like it. Fragments detract from a book's appeal, they do not add emphasis to anything. Often there were awkward sentence structures or incomplete thoughts that required me to go back and reread sections to see what the author was trying to say. As the book went on, I got used to his style and it was less distracting.

Overall the story was interesting but nothing exceptional. The author's writing style can be distracting but he is intelligent at describing universal truths and unique ways of seeing things. It's a good book but there are better books out there. I would definitely try other books from the same author and give him the benefit of the doubt that this book wasn't as good as some of the others.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
schimen scott
In the North, a battle is about to begin between the Union and the Northmen. The location is the area surrounding a hill called The Heroes, something that allows a strategic advantage in war but holds no other significant value. For reasons none of the characters know or can explain, blood is about to be spilled. Taking this simple concept, author Joe Abercrombie allows his characters to drive the story and continue to create complexity and conflict. If for no other reason, this is why "The Heroes" works so well and is so entertaining.

An entire array of unique characters, both major and secondary, is on display. On the side of the North, you have Curnden Craw, a veteran of war and leader of his own dozen. He's a man just trying to do the right thing, but it becomes difficult as he gets deeper into the conflict. There's also Prince Calder, a man who prefers to use politics and avoid picking up a sword. (In many ways, his story is the heart of the novel, and by far the most exciting.) His interactions with Black Dow are as terrifying as Shivers himself (yes, he's back and better than ever). The other great character to follow is Beck, a kid who starts as unlikeable as possible and becomes shockingly empathetic.

All of these characters make the North's side of the story many times more interesting than the Union's, but that's not to say "The Heroes" is only half good. There's plenty of conflict and interesting characters as well, just not to the extent as the North. Perhaps what I enjoyed the most out of the Union was the difficulty of communication and the lack of common sense of the generals - something that is either non-existent or unrealistic in most fantasy novels but perfectly conveyed here.

Abercrombie's prose continues to be effective. It is an easy style to read while not being so invisible as to be considered too simplistic or boring. He's very good as painting a picture. The story might drag a bit for some readers in the first 150 pages, but I found the pacing to be just right. In between the extraordinarily written battle scenes - the best of which goes from viewpoint to viewpoints as characters are picked off one by one - are intense scenes of politics that continues to build in tension until it explodes. The author also continues his streak of longer conclusions by using the last fifty or so pages to tie everything up, something I enjoy very much.

There are a few small missteps that are taken, however. One of the characters does not seem to have much of a reason to be in the story at all. Little to no conflict is involved in his character arc and (besides being used as comedic relief) his presence is basically pointless. Also, Abercrombie falls into the trap of using his typical Northmen character. Craw falls into the line of past northern warriors who are trying to do the right thing but consider themselves to be a bad person while saying their catchphrase (Craw's is "those are the times") constantly. It gets a bit tiresome and feels like lazy writing. Finally, "The Heroes" relies a bit too much on past novels to truly be considered a standalone novel. Characters are affected by past events, and I had to check back at the previous novels to remind myself of what exactly happened.

All in all, "The Heroes" proves that Abercrombie just flat out knows how to write a good story. He asks all the right questions and creates enough strong characters that his minor weaknesses are easy to forget about. And while his reliance on his previous four novels hurts him, it also helps. Bayaz in particular comes back as a minor character, and every scene he is in is about as good as it possibly can be.

This is a highly recommended novel of those who enjoyed Abercrombie's previous works. I would not suggest starting with this, though. More and more, it is a much better idea to just read the author in his publishing order to avoid the confusion that can occur. I can't wait to see what comes next in "Red Country".

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mary heron
What is a hero? This is the central question driving Joe Abercrombie's latest novel, The Heroes, and coming from such a dark & gritty writer, where convolution and betrayal are paramount, it's a darned good question. The North, "united" under Black Dow's banner, and the Union forces, under the direction of Marshall Kroy, have convened on a small plot of land to wage war. The focus point is a large hill spotted with ancient stones appropriately called The Heroes, named after long dead legends of the North. War is the opportune time to discover heroics, but the question is from whom will they come?

The Heroes is filled with various POV characters. We have Crunden Craw, an aged Named Man who's spent his life as a straight-edge and is known for doing the "right" thing, whatever that's supposed to mean. Prince Calder, the youngest son of the recently murdered King of the North, is a notorious coward and an even more notorious schemer, and it's only a matter of time before he tries to take Skarling's Chair from Black Dow. There's also Beck, a young lad just old enough to take a weapon and enlist, with visions of glory and earning a name for himself. As for the Union soldiers, we have the disgraced Bremer dan Gorst, dispatched to observe the war for the King, though the brute of a man wants nothing more than to earn back his former rank and glory. There's Corporal Tunny, famed for his lackluster life as a soldier and his uncanny ability to turn profit, and who has little desire to rise above his self-interests. Finally there's Finree dan Brock, the only female POV, and the daughter of Marshall Kroy. Finree is manipulative and ambitious, but her marriage to a treacherous noble's son currently stands in her way.

Abercrombie is known for presenting flawed characters with a few good traits in them, and he keeps this up with The Heroes. I personally found the Northmen much more interesting, especially Craw and Calder. It's as hard for the reader to pick a side as it is for those involved in the affair, and I'm not sure which side I wanted to win the battle. This, again, is a very Abercrombian thing to do. Present the sides and muddy them all grey. Ambiguity runs amok here.

The Heroes is Abercrombie's fifth novel, and while it's not necessary to have read the previous works, I think you'd be missing out on some behind-the-scenes things that are likely important to the world of The First Law. Still yet, one could easily enjoy this book for what it is, and that's a fierce battle waged over the course of three days. This condensed timeline works great for Abercrombie, I think, because the sprawling tale that was Best Served Cold seemed to struggle under too much time.

This book was hilarious and dark, violent and oddly beautiful, thought-provoking and entertaining. It's Abercrombie at his finest, and yet I didn't enjoy it as much as The First Law. Part of the problem was that I just didn't care that much about the Union troops. Gorst was annoying, Finree disappointing, and Tunny just didn't have enough time for him. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the North parts, especially whenever the Bloody Nine's name popped up. Even Shivers, who I grew to dislike over the course of Best Served Cold, was fascinating here. Really the only time I enjoyed the Union pieces were when Bayaz was involved, and this only because it left me wanting to know more about what was going on between the First of the Magi and Ishri.

Abercrombie is at the top of his game with The Heroes. The book is fluid and well written. The action scenes are exciting. The implications of the book's thesis question are questionable throughout. It's a standalone novel that leaves me curious to see what's going to happen in Abercrombie's next book. (I believe he mentioned something with a "Western" flair on his blog. Interesting.) If you've never read Joe Abercrombie, I'd recommend starting with The Blade Itself, but you could just as easily pick this one up. It's a bloody book, but you wouldn't read a book about war and not expect otherwise. Especially not from someone as twisted and dark as Abercrombie. Highly enjoyable.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
There's fantasy writers, and then there's Joe Abercrombie. When I imagine Mister Abercrombie, I imagine someone who resembles a viking, running around chugging down mead and slapping the table while roaring at lewd jokes. An intolerant man who's likely to rip off your head if you smell funny.

I'm probably being incredibly unfair. Perhaps he's a nerd, shattered by the way people treated him when he was a kid, and has imagined a thousand ways in which those bastards are gonna die. And so he wrote about them. And called it fantasy. And people like me bought it.

No, seriously, this man's books are so painfully human that you can't help but think they came from somewhere more true than one man's fantastic imagination. With more insight in human nature than any other, this book is the culmination of what could in fact be seen as a philosophical work despite the fact that it's as violent as something written by George G. Gilman - of whom Mister Abercrombie simply must be a fan (I spotted the Hedges and Forest characters! Do I win a prize?).

The title alone is a masterful jab at our concept of what it means to be a hero. Begin the book and you have two sides about to engage in a mammoth battle at a place called, ironically, The Heroes. So you can imagine both sides have heroes of their own. And, this being Abercrombie, you get to taste the blood and heat of battle from both sides, so you meet both sets of heroes. Or, what passes for them. And that's his genius, really, peeling back the layers of misconception to reveal there's no such thing as heroes. Just people, and the deeds they do.

It's a sobering novel if you look at it that way, but if you take it for what it is, it's a thrilling piece of work. I was chewing my nails down to the bone with this one. Abercrombie has a masterful way of wrapping you up in his characters. And those who have returned from previous works, including the enigmatic and downright nasty Shivers and the manipulative anti-Gandalf Bayaz. It's a wonderful exploration of power. Of might. And what makes right. And probably of the true strings which hold any nation together. Especially when you compare it to history. Heroes don't make the world. Bastards do.

I can't get enough of Mister Abercrombie. His oceans of violence surrounding very real and intriguing characters is a mix most explosive. I am jealous on so many levels. Please, sir, keep them coming!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jaylynne robinson
The title of this fifth book in the author's increasingly masterful opus is deliciously ironic. As his fans have long since figured out, Abercrombie doesn't do heroes. However, he *has* learned to do characters of great depth and color and a number of the players from his previous works come together here to sort of thrash things out.

The Union has been fighting an on-again-off-again war against the Northmen since the beginning of the author's first book. Now it's about eight years since the events that closed the trilogy (and maybe five years since _Best Served Cold_). Black Dow (once part of Logen Ninefingers' crew) has replaced Bethod as the bloody-minded King of the North and the Southerners have decided he's too dangerous to ignore. They'll have to try to conquer the Northmen once and for all, so where the author's previous works tended to sprawl all over the place and stretch over a good bit of time, this one focuses on the three-day Battle of Osrung.

Among those on the Union side is Bremer dan Gorst, who fenced with the King when the latter was still just another lieutenant and later became his First Guard. Lord Marshal Kroy, the Union commander in the North, has changed a lot in the seven or eight years since he appeared in the trilogy's third volume, and mostly for the good. General Jalenhorm is another of His Majesty's old drinking buddies, now promoted far beyond his level of competence. Really, it's a toss-up (as most of their various subordinates recognize) which of the three Union generals is more dangerous to his own side than to the enemy. The Dogman also is back, managing a gang of anti-Bethod Northmen, though he has a relatively small role this time. New faces include Finree, Kroy's daughter and husband of Col. Brock (who is the son of the most powerful nobleman who tried to replace the king, who . . . well, it's complicated). Anyway, Finree is far more competent than most of the officers but she's also too ambitious for her own good on her husband's behalf. Then there's Corporal Tunny, a vastly experienced profiteer who has risen to sergeant several times (and been demoted several times), and who is now the Standard-Bearer of the King's Own First Regiment, is a character any reader with military experience will recognize -- and he's not really a bad guy for all that. And, of course, Bayaz, the arrogant and completely untrustworthy First of the Magi, is lurking in the background with his own agenda.

On the Northern side there's Calder, Bethod's younger son and a confirmed coward (really, he just doesn't see the point of war when you can get what you want by talking), and Shivers, a truly scary Named Man whom we met in _Best Served Cold_ when he was still wet behind the ears (and had both his eyes). And we meet young Beck, son of the late Shama the heartless, who is one of Abercrombie's best characters yet -- and a good deal more sympathetic than most. And there's Curnden Craw, an old-fashioned "straight edge" and leader of a dozen, through whose eyes we see much of the action, and a number of other fascinating individuals -- and the way Abercrombie portrays them, they really are individuals.

This is, technically, a stand-alone novel, but you'll enjoy it a great deal more if you read the first four books first. You have to understand the history and milieu of both the Union and the North and the sort of people produced by both to really appreciate what a stunning accomplishment this one is. With the situation maps and all, you can almost read it as a textbook on what war is really like -- blood, mud, hopeless confusion, and all. Abercrombie has become one of my "automatic" authors.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Another strong book from Joe Abercrombie, featuring several interesting and flawed new characters and a few minor ones from the First Law trilogy bumped up to more important characters and roles. Set a few years after the events of the First Law series, this book changes the setting from Midderland and The North in the previous books to the land of Styria.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sam tabatabai
This is an amazing book, telling the story of the lead up to, and the execution of a battle in the "First Law" world. You don't read stories like this, and when you do, they aren't told like this. If you like good characters, complex plots, gritty realism, dark humor, human drama, or moral shades of grey (you know... like life), then read this book. Not if you like all of them. If you like one of them. There's more than enough of just one of these things to keep you turning pages. If you like all of it, expect to devour this book so quickly, you'll be ordering his other books as soon as you finish.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
megan joiner
Having not read any of Abercrombie's other books, I can't say how The Heroes lives up them. But I can say that I'm very glad I picked this book up. Abercrombie develops dynamic characters that propel the reader through the twists and turns of the novel. The Heroes is nothing short of epic.

The story follows numerous characters, but most prominent are Bremer dan Gorst, Calder, and Curnden Craw. The book takes place over the course of three days during which a battle between the Union and the North. Along the way there are twists and turns as certain characters turn out to be not what we expected. There isn't so much of a plot as there is a cast of characters who have their own ambitions and desires. The story unfolds only because of the decisions the characters make.

I'll start off with the biggest part of the book: the characters. I've already mentioned that The Heroes is entirely character driven; because there is not real plot to be seen. These types of books are difficult, because all the characters must stay true to themselves and make decisions that the reader accepts as legitimate. And honestly, Abercrombie does a great job. I was thoroughly invested in the characters, and I found myself caring about what they would do next. The funny thing is, there are very few (really, there's just one) good characters. They're all mean and gruff and profane. They all have very distinct problems. I found this to be very refreshing. In real life, people aren't always either all good or all bad, and The Heroes reflected this very well.

The other aspect that drives the story is the action. And there should be a lot of it. The book takes place over only three days, after all, and is over five hundred pages long. And, let me tell you, there is a lot of action. Abercrombie makes the battles come alive. The fight scenes are wildly entertaining.

I'd like to touch on the dialogue too. That's the other thing that makes each of the characters stand alone. They each speak with their own voice. There is a lot of dialogue, but it had me gripped through all of it.

One thing that really made me like this book was the writing style. Not only do the characters' dialogue have their own voice, but so does the narrative from their point view. The style changes ever so slightly between characters. I love how Abercrombie sometimes just ignores grammar, sentence structure, and sometimes even spelling, depending on the character. He'll hack off the "g" on some -ing words, and the like.

My only problem with the book is that I felt like it didn't know where to end. By the conclusion, we're so emotionally drawn out, that it feels like the end should be right around the corner. Yes, I do know that the author still needed to tie a few things up, but it still felt the ending was a bit prolonged.

Over all, Abercrombie creates dark, gloomy, gritty atmosphere, and still manages to bring humor into it. The dialogue is filled with wit, sarcasm, and irony. Even the title is ironic. Through the blood and violence The Heroes is a story of a struggle for power, a quest for redemption, a loss of innocence, and a fight morality.

I really enjoyed what Abercrombie has brought to the table, and am eager to read his other works.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
juli kinrich
Comment written as part way through: I'm normally a huge fan of Abercrombie, & I still am. But the first skirmish was a bit clunky to experience. It read more like the tiny glimpses you would see, if you were the one fighting. I can't decide what to think of it, but it was definitely unique.

In retrospect, the "clunky" skirmish was actually quite interesting. It had been a while since I last read an Abercrombie book, so I wasn't feeling accustomed to his fight scenes. I think I would have appreciated it some more, if this portrayal of a fight scene had come later in the book. I say that, but... all of that to say that I think I enjoyed it. I just needed some time to acclimate.

I was a bit disappointed with Abercrombie's latest installment. I'm really, really sad to say that, as I'm a big fan. His books usually have intrigue & magic & politics. While it had some, it came later & less in the book than I expected. I spent the majority of the book waiting. Waiting for everything to kick in. Some of it came, but... well, I think I spoiled some of the journey for myself by waiting with my expectations.

I will always be an Abercrombie fan. He left much for another book, which I will be sure to pick up, without presenting a cliffhanger of any kind.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
doris gwaltney
Fantastic book. 4.6 stars.

I haven't yet read the First Law trilogy. I thought that Best Served Cold was good, but this was on another level. Many characters were intriguing and often hilarious (especially Gorst) , the world was vivid (albeit small), and the battle scenes were gripping. Mr. Abercrombie's use of fast-paced battlefield-predator-suddenly-becoming-prey scenarios was particularly entertaining.

My criticisms are small: I found it difficult to differentiate between the various generals, carls, named men, and officers on both sides. Black Dow's commanders seemed especially interchangeable, both physically and with respect to their personalities, i.e., large gruff men dressed in leather and fur. I would have liked to have known them better. Again, not having read the First Law books, I may have missed the boat on that.

Can't wait to read Red Country, and I hope that Mr. Abercrombie continues to expand this world. I'd especially love to read more about Gorst, Shivers, and Stranger-Come-Knocking. #TeamGorst.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
melissa martin
I've read all of the books in the First Law world numerous times. And I'll be upfront, Abercrombie is my favorite author of all time. I've recommended all of his books countless times. So, I should probably click on five stars and just walk away, right? Maybe, but I'd like to defend my fandom a bit here. Often, I have wondered, why in the world do I love these books so much? To be completely honest, these book never have matched up with my typical favorite fictions. As far as fantasy goes, when Mr. Abercrombie is not involved, I am usually more of a Scott Lynch/Sanderson/Daniel Abraham sort of fellow rather than a George R. R. Martin sort of fellow. That's not to say I don't enjoy dark fantasy, I do, but typically I am more excited for the lighter side of fantasy. In my opinion, since "A Song of Ice and Fire" and "The First Law" trilogy the "lighter side of fantasy" means a lot less. Dark fiction seems to be everywhere. I recall when I first read Daniel Abraham's critique of dark fantasy. To the best of my knowledge he labelled Mr. Ambercrombie's brand of dark fantasy "grim dark." At the time, I sort of understood where Abraham was coming from. I'm to lazy to go find it, but I believe the view was something like "grim dark" is a reaction to standard fantasy, in which the reader realizes that the actors can only escape the violence and dark realities of the world through death. In short, there is never a moment where the hero vanquishes darkness that has fallen over the world. I say that the "light side" of fantasy is less meaningful these days because even people like Abraham with his criticism of "grim dark" has seemingly changed his style, as best I can tell, and his latest works are a little more "grim dark" than he'd probably like to admit. I bring this all up because I believe that Abraham's view is naive and misses the mark. Despite the fact that Mr. Abercrombie seems to take pride in the whole "grim dark" thing (his twitter handle is @LordGrimdark), I don't believe that any of the works in the "First Law Work" are "grim dark." In fact, I'd say they are for the most part, layered uplifting stories. Can I actually be serious? Yes, I am.

The Uplifting Works of Joe Abercrombie

That's right, I said it..these books are uplifting. Now, sure the world is dark. In some instances, the worlds are very dark. However, when I sit back and think about it, the world isn't that much different than reality. After all, a famous philosopher in describing the state of nature said, "the life of man, [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." The "First Law" world is dark )there are powerful forces at work, including demons, very old mages secretly controlling all sorts of aspects of human life, magic, economic inequality, constant wars, human eating religions with a hunger that requires them to enslave the entire world, there are sinister plots, etc.). In a great deal of ways, it really does suck to be a regular person. But, as it turns out, it sucks to be a "hero" in Abercrombie's world too (possibly even more than it does to be a regular person). Typically, the actors who would typically be seen as heroes in other fantasies typically find themselves tangled up in the plots of even more powerful actors, or they find themselves victims of circumstances. Often, some romantic idea causes them to put themselves in an all together bad spot. When you read Abercrombie, you get to see what happens when a person attempts to define themselves by their vanities, virtues, or vices. Often the characters' idealistic views of themselves have already be broken by the time we meet them (Logen, Glockta, even Bayaz to some degree). But there is always someone new who is just beginning the journey to go from a naive character toward a deeper more layered character. Now, if you focus on this part of the story, it is easy to see nothing but darkness. These once idealistic and naive characters are often forced by circumstances to be more practical, and as a result more ruthless. However, on closer inspection you can see the uplifting part of each of the characters.

The Shawshank Redemption of Fantasy

My view is that for the most part these characters are like the characters in Shawshank Redemption. If you remember the novel or movie, you will recall how terrible the day to day life of those characters were. I mean there are beatings, sexual abuse, torture, etc. It sucks. But the big idea, seems to be about taking the "long view of life." The protagonist in Shawshank seem to be saying by their actions, "no matter how bad it gets, if I can just make it today and the next, then there is hope for a better future" (a beach in their case). Similarly, in the "First Law," men and women who one would imagine have very little to live for, continue to live, they continue to survive despite their current conditions. Despite their bad acts, they continually attempt to start over and do better. I don't want to spoil the story, but there is one character who is in excruciating pain, his every movement, we learn, is an exercise in pushing through extreme pain. And yet, this character continues to push forward. Another character, has committed some of the most horrible atrocities possible and has earned a most horrible reputation. And yet, he spends a great deal of time trying to be a better person. Even the characters one would typical consider bad guys, like the first King of the North, when looked at closely, seems to be at least aiming for a utilitarian good. If you read these books, all of them, and you really try to get to take a look at the world through the eyes of the characters, I believe you will be surprised to find that most of the characters have a redeeming quality (from that scoundrel Nicomo Cosca to the self centered Jezal dan Luthar). Thus, this book can be helpful to normal people, I think. There are so few fictions that ask us to take the long view. Many people go through bad stretches in their marriage, for instance, and they just take the easy way out and get a divorce. Never giving thought to possibly getting to a better place by grinding out the tough patches. The same goes for bad jobs, bad bosses, bad health, and all sort of other circumstances. Now, I should qualify my view. In Shawshank, the protagonist do find that beach at the end. However, even when a character finds a beach in Abercrombie, the beach tends to be a little more complex (see Glockta and Monza Murcatto). Maybe my theory is way off the mark. After all, it's possible Mr. Abercrombie is just out to show how grim dark he really is. Pick up the books and tell me what you think of my theory. If you've already read the books, I'd love to hear your view.


If you are planning on reading Abercrombie, I want to warn you of a few things. The first trilogy needs to be read as though it were one book. I've heard people complain about how little action takes place in the first book. It seems at this point, many have an expectation to see a great deal of action from Abercombie. While there is action in the first book, great action scenes actually, the first book is truly an introduction. I find it amazing how much of the book takes place in the mind of his characters. There are very few writers who can get me to care about multiple characters, but Abercrombie does this very well. Trust me, keep reading, and let yourself really get to know the characters and their motivations. The action will come. Another piece of advice, I truly believe you need to read all the books from The Blade Itself to Red Country in order. I've always thought that Abraham's talk of grim dark only makes since if you just randomly pick up The Heroes and read it out of context. After all, I really think of all the books that one has a good ending (because the North at least looks like its headed for some peace), but that would be evident if you fail to read the previous books.

Finally, there are a lot of elements that I haven't touched. There is a lot more going on in these books that what I've described here. But do yourself a favor and pick up all of these books and read them one after another. You will fill in the blanks.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julie jaffe
Again, Abercrombie comes through with an awesome tale. The tale of a 3-day long battle near a group of standing stones known as The Heroes. As in previous novels it is difficult to really determine good guys from the bad guys.

As gritty and brutal a novel as his previous _Best_Served_Cold_, this story stands out for me in the way Abercrombie describes various skirmishes of the battle. For example, character #1 goes into the fight, does A, slices B, hamstrings C, and then gets his skull split open by character #2. In the following scene, character #2 jumps over a low stone wall, raises his sword, and cleaves the skull of D (recognizable as character #1), runs E through, slams a shoulder into F, then goes down with an arrow through his neck, courtesy of character #3. Meanwhile, in the next scene character #3 slips out from the behind a wagon, draws a bead on an enemy soldier who is running past his field of fire and lets an arrow loose that streaks across into G's neck (recognizable as character #2), ducks back behind the wagon to re-load then dashes across into an alleyway, kicking out at H as he passes, etc., etc. (and certainly in more vivid detail, both in terms of action as well as each character's feelings at the time, than I am able to share here.)

An excellent addition to the series, I'll certainly be acquiring the next novel, _Red_Country_.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
My daughter introduced me to Joe Abercrombie this year. I started at the beginning and read all 5, practically in a row; they were that good. "The Heroes" is the best, though, so far.

There are loads of reviews explaining the book and its story, so I will be less specific. I am the kind of fantasy reader that grows bored with George RR Martin's verbosity, dislikes Tolkien, and cannot be bothered with the "boy discovers that he is really a powerful wizard, and then kicks bad chap's butt" school of fantasy. No, I like KJ Parker & Terry Pratchett and now Joe Abercrombie. I like the sort of fantasy that is exciting, amusing and well-written, and this is what Abercrombie writes.

Abercrombie's characters are the fantasy equivalent of the Bernie Gunthers, James Bonds, Sam Spades and Mike Hammers of the mainstream world. They are hard-boiled, they fight viciously, don't complain much when they get a stab wound and they enjoy sex. Most of them have a world-weary view, and a cynical sense of humour and all of them are interesting. This book gives the reader a close-up of a few old friends, a few new ones and a few transient ones, all doing something dangerous, and usually to each other.

The three days of the battle covered by the book essentially offer a wry laugh at the very concept of heroes. While there is heroism in the book, there's also cowardice, reasonable terror, mindless carnage, cynical manipulation of other combatants and total misinterpretation of all of the forgoing. It's a brilliant concept, a battle seen from all angles, by a significant number of the participants in all its gory, disorganised, nasty glory.

Like everyone else, I recommend starting from the beginning with Joe Abercrombie, but if you only read one novel this year, it should be this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
leif segen
Damn beautiful, damn good writer,

I have never read a Medieval war novel that put me that close into the feeling of day to day life of the Gunt, the Slayer, Blade for hire sitting in the rain, living in the med waiting for the battle. His dialogue and ability to write the emotions and the characters was on par with RR Martin, it brought back memories of David Gemmell's work also. Its raw, its Gore, you feel the fear and it strips away the glory. He has the ability to describe these Beast of Men in way you truly envision them.

I read all the time and in my 40's I am very happy to find another author that writes like many of my favorites that are now passed, excited to read his other Books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
An anti-war novel, Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes tells you a lot about the world in which these characters live in. The fact that this world has named a circle of rock "The Heroes," tells you a lot about what people think of heroes and their paltry existence in this world. Fantastic novel though. You'll see familiar characters from Abercrombie's other First Law novels and you will definitely be entertained.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
The characters were boring, the plot was thin. The descriptions of people and places was uninteresting. I couldn't find anything to like or care about and just stopped reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer e cooper
Just a great great book. Gritty, Violent, funny, touching and cynical. I loved pretty much everything in this book( favorite character was black Dow or craw). However I would warn potential readers agiants two things. One is that well you could read this book and enjoy it without reading the other first law books, I highly recommend that you read the first law trilogy and best served cold and then move on too this book, you'll get a lot more out of it. The second is that this book is not your typical fantasy, I mean at times this book almost feels like a really well written non fiction book. It's got almost no mention to magic or anything like that(there's a couple characters that mention it from time to time). It's a very real and very violent book the best book to compare it to would be game of thrones(although I like this better). Overall fantastic and a must read if you have the stomach for it.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
irena freitas
I found this a most difficult book to read. It seems so disjointed and there is no background on the characters which would make it sensible. Don't waste your time and money!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Loved the First Law trilogy, and hesitated to read this one--all war and just three days? But the book sailed past. Abercrombie's books are ones you slow down on at the end, to make it last longer. The characters are so well defined, so believable. By following so many different characters, and seeing every side of the messiness is war, the author makes his world entirely clear and true. The descriptions of pre-battle fear and elation and desperation are convincing, along with pictures of injuries and motivations and even PTSD. The gruesome bloodiness doesn't bother me, but the darkness is a little overwhelming after a while. Then a ray of humanity or kindness shines thru. Anyway am eagerly anticipating my next trip with Abercrombie.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gavin dobson
If you are thinking about buying this book because it is the daily deal - - stop thinking and click that button. Although there are some characters in this book that appear in the earlier books, this is a stand alone book and you will not need any prior knowledge of the other books to enjoy it. Abercrombie is a gritty writer along the lines of George R. R. Martin. This is a war book that focuses on one battle so if you do not like violence then this might not be for you. If you enjoyed the second Lord Of the Ring movie or the Game of Thrones series on HBO then you will probably enjoy this book. If fantasy and science fiction is not your normal read but you are looking for a great new writer, at 1.99 it is worth checking out because Abercrombie is not just a great fantasy writer but a great writer period. In fact calling these books "fantasy" is a little misleading since the main thinG that is fantasy about them is the fact that they are set in a different world and like another reviewer stated this book has more in common with Braveheart than Lord of the Rings or other fantasy books. Also, like GRR Martin, Abercrombie tells his story going back and forth between different point of view characters and those characters are never all good or all bad but instead are beautifully drawn full characters which is the writer's greatest strength. Great writer. Great book. GREAT DEAL!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
With Best Served Cold, I felt that Joe Abercrombie had matured as a writer. It was the author's most ambitious work to date, making me eager and curious to see where he would take us next. The Heroes is another morally ambiguous work with many shades of gray that should leave Abercrombie's growing legions of fans clamoring for more.

"Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley." Given the fact that most of the action occurs around the Heroes, a ring of standing stones set upon a hill in the middle of the Valley of Osrung, the worldbuilding in this book is not as impressive as that found in Best Served Cold. I thought that Abercrombie's Mediterranean setting truly came alive in that novel. Still, the harsh realities of the North are portrayed adroitly, with all the grit, violence, and wit that have become Joe Abercrombie's hallmarks. Wonder of wonders, The Heroes also features a map (at least the US edition does), which came as a nice surprise!

Once again, characterization remains the author's bread and butter, and Abercrombie doesn't disappoint. Although I feel that Monza Murcatto is Abercrombie's most fully realized character to date, The Heroes features the POVs of a number of interesting characters, chief among them Prince Calder, disgraced Colonel Bremer dan Gorst (whose narrative was at times hilarious), and Curnden Craw. Finree dan Brock was a well-drawn female character, but in the end I felt that everything surrounding her storyline came together a bit too easily. A few familiar faces such as the Dogman, Bayaz, and Caul Shivers also returns to have their part to play in the unfolding battle for the North.

As was the case with Best Served Cold and will likely be the case with future novels, Abercrombie's black humor helps create somewhat of a balance with the more violent and gruesome scenes. The author's witty and humorous style and tone allow him to get away with sequences of graphic violence that, coming from other writers, would probably be more shocking. And though The Heroes is as dark, brutal, and gritty as Best Served Cold, you will frequently find yourself chuckling out loud in spite of everything. Joe Abercrombie imbued this one with a healthy dose of cynicism, making it an even better reading experience.

Since the bulk of the action takes place during a three-day clash between the Union and the Northmen, the narrative is more tightly focused than any other Abercrombie work. Hence, the pace remains crisp throughout, with not a single dull moment between both covers.

The Heroes appears to be a set-up novel, paving the way for Abercrombie's upcoming fantasy western which will take place in the South. It's obvious that Bayaz has his own hidden agenda. As a badass cross between Belgarath the Sorcerer and Doctor Evil, Bayaz is becoming increasingly annoying. Hopefully the next book will help shine some light on what he's truly after, because more and more he's becoming a distraction that is taking a little something away from the tale. For me, at least. I'm curious to know why he appeared so intent on weakening both the Union and the Northmen during this conflict. Playing both sides against one another is all well and good, but here's to hoping that Abercrombie will elaborate on Bayaz's motives in the near future. I'm also curious as to why such an inept core of officers were sent to lead such a vast martial endeavor against Black Dow's bloodthirsty forces . . .

Those who haven't appreciated Joe Abercrombie's previous books will find nothing in The Heroes to make them reconsider their opinion of the author. But for Abercrombie fans the world over, this one will be a doozy!

Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I haven't (yet) read the first trilogy; I picked this up off the new releases shelf and was hooked by the first few pages. Burned through the book in a couple of late-nighters.

I had a lot of fun reading it, some laugh out loud moments even, and I generally liked the story and the characters. However, the big take-away for me was the feeling that this author might be a worthy successor for David Gemmel, whose gritty writing style I've missed since he passed away. The visceral action, hard-bitten & gritty characters, and fast tempo definitely resonated along the same lines for me.

I'm going to pick up the author's earlier books and Ill definitely be keeping an eye out for his next one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
armando martz
I first discovered Joe Abercrombie with the excellent Best Served Cold. This book is, very loosely, a sequel, in that it takes place in the same world with some of the same characters. A few offhand comments about Monzcarro Murcatto, the "Snake of Talins" are made.

In this book, we have a large cast of characters, the two most sympathetic being Curnden Craw, a "named man" who always tries to do the right thing, and Calder, son of the former King, who is a self described coward and schemer. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Calder has some redeeming characteristics: he loves his wife, he wants peace rather than war. Black Dow, the current king of the North, is tough and ruthless, but nevertheless he's fair and generally respected. The Union, for reasons that are never made clear, is invading the North.

I find the backdrop of magical manipulation, in both this book and the previous, to be a bit disconcerting. The shadowy mages are determining the action in a very real sense, but we don't know who they are nor what they're capable of, except that they can slow time (or speed themselves up) and they can seemingly teleport themselves in and out of rooms. Aside from this quibble, my only complaint is that so many of the characters are highly intelligent, making witty, pithy philosophical observations about life, destiny and the sad nature of war. Too many of them seem too smart. Still, I would rather read witty dialogue than dull dialogue, so this, too, becomes are very minor criticism.

I don't really understand the reviews who state that none of the stories end happily. They all end appropriately and some are quite happy, some are unfortunate and some are ambivalent. We end with the promise of more wars to come, and I'm looking to forward to reading about them. Joe Abercrombie is simply brilliant.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
meaghan o malley
Great story, great characters and an impressive author. Abercrombie reminds me a bit of Tarantino where there are no clear-cut line between good & bad. He injects humor into more gruesome moments during battles and such. Additionally, the storyline is edgy and doesn't follow traditional patterns.

He doesn't bog down the story with history on what the two factions are all about and why they are sworn enemies. One of my favorite moments was when two likable characters on opposing sides faced off in battle. I didn't know which one to support.

My only complaint: USA Jacket cover designs are pretty lame compared to the ones from the UK.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristyn brooke
The Heroes is Joe Abercrombie's fifth book, and what a book it is. Unlike the sprawling epic format of The First Law trilogy, or the lengthy structured sequence of Best Served Cold, The Heroes focuses on a single event.

Following the unification of Styria, the Union has a great need to reassert itself on its Northern border. Unfortunately, the Northern lands are under the rule of Black Dow, as dark a man as ever sat on a throne. Due to some rather clumsy military maneuvering on both sides, the Union/North war has been distilled into an awkward siege in the Valley of Osrung (previously insignificant).

On one hand, this is vastly significant. The Powers and Dominions that rule these lands are deeply involved - including many familiar faces from the previous books. Will the Union prevail? Will the North win out? The importance of this three day confrontation will rapidly become clear, even to Mr. Abercrombie's new readers.

On the other hand, this is a Joe Abercrombie book, so screw the greater significance: this is a worthless valley in the middle of nowhere and a lot of people are messily dying over it. Or in it. On it. All around it. I'd like to make a sweeping point about how the best of a generation are left on the field of battle, but, again, this is Abercrombie, and most of these folks are fairly unpleasant.

If The First Law trilogy was an elegant (if tentative) subversion of the epic fantasy, and Best Served Cold was inspired by westerns, The Heroes connects easily to the military genre. Mr. Abercrombie wisely claims all influences and none - his own blog shows that he's an avid consumer of games, film, television and other books. His research for The Heroes involved researching other military fiction and nonfiction, but the end result of The Heroes is wholly Abercrombie's own style.

If comparisons need to be made (and who doesn't love a good superficial pairing?), The Heroes has a lot in common with The Iliad. Briefly setting aside the plots to both books, in narrative form, the bulk of each is a lot of Named Men hacking one another apart on the battlefield. Homer's epic introduces ten thousand heroes - princes of Greece and Troy, champions from far off lands, warriors of every shape and size. The reader learns about their shining armor, their rocky homeland, their glorious past victories... then they die at the bottom of the page. It is a very casual interpretation of Homer, but The Iliad is the great god-father of the gritty war story, showing that no matter How Capitalized Your Name, there's still someone with a bigger sword. (Or a lucky arrow.)

As the siege of Osrung is only three days, not ten years, Mr. Abercrombie has to be a little more focused in his attentions. As the tongue in cheek title indicates, there are no heroes in The Heroes. Certainly not in the conventional sense. No stableboys vaulting into the prince's saddle, no Tom Hanks-style magic captains, nothing of the sort. At best, Mr. Abercrombie gives us a few people that are really bloody good at killing other people - Shivers, Bremer, Whirrun - but, even in the context of a battle, he makes sure that doesn't seem particularly praiseworthy. A few of the leadership types, say, the aging Curnden Craw, seem to believe in doing the right thing - but, again, what is the "right thing" when what you're doing is mowing down former friends and allies? As with his previous books, Mr. Abercrombie follows a lot of flawed characters doing a lot of very difficult things. The crux of The Heroes isn't what they accomplish on the battlefield, but how they evolve during the course of it.

Character conflict in normal fantasy is about identity - stableboys finding the magical swords to become high kings, apprentices solves riddles to answer prophecies. In The Heroes, Mr. Abercrombie introduces the idea of conflict through self-awareness. This sounds cryptic, but all the important scenes in The Heroes aren't the bits where people are running up and down hills waving swords. They take place the night afterwards, when they stay up too late thinking about what a schmuck they were. In some cases, it takes a lot of yelling and finger-pointing, but, across the board, each of the characters in The Heroes has a brief epiphany where they actually come to see who they really are. Which, of course, then changes who they are. (Abercrombie's Uncertainty Principle: As soon as a character understands himself, he changes to someone different and misunderstood.)

The First Law was great, Best Served Cold was brilliant and The Heroes is truly masterful. Can he continue this trend indefinitely? I certainly hope so. But, you know, you've got to be realistic.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The Heroes refers to a circle of standing stones, not to any of the characters, presumably because heroes are the last thing you'd find in an Abercrombie book.

This tale takes place in the same world as Abercrombie's other books, The First Law Trilogy, and Best Served Cold. It doesn't attempt to emulate the epic scale of First Law, it's more a vignette of a meaningless battle that takes place over the course of three days. It's probably as close as you can come in a fantasy novel to Aristotle's Unities. The action is confined to a relatively small geographic area and we view it through a select few points of view.

The characters are typically flawed - conniving, cowardly, and abundantly human. Bremer dan Gorst, from The First Law Trilogy takes over the first person internal commentary we got from Inquisitor Glokta before. At times we get to see a hilarious disjunction between how Gorst is perceived by others and how he really is. Like Glokta, he has some pretty disturbing thoughts but he is perhaps even more twisted and lacks the redeeming humour. A titan on the battlefield, but woefully (pathologically) inadequate in all other fields that involve human interaction.

The theme playing throughout The Heroes concerns the futility of war, its ridiculousness and, of course, the cynical motivations for most conflicts. In this respect we get another look at the thoroughly unpleasant, scheming, manipulative First of the Magi.

Abercrombie introduces a new character, the young Beck, a keen to bloody his hands on the battlefield but more than a little shocked at the reality of war. His story is powerfully portrayed through tight point of view and some great use of dramatic irony.

There's a cast of very engaging characters - most engaging due to the intimacy of their portrayal and the use of vernacular language rather than because they are likable. Perhaps the closest to a traditional hero is the excellently written Whirrun of Bligh, although even there Abercrombie toys with our expectations along with those of the other characters.

There's some really innovative writing in The Heroes coupled with top-notch characterisation. Perhaps the cynicism is wearing a bit thin after five books, but Abercrombie's certainly put his stamp on it. Maybe in the next book he might thwart our expectations by having a character actually turn out to be a hero. Closest he came was Rudd Threetrees, and he's back in the mud.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Another tough book to rate. On the one hand, Joe Abercrombie's "The Heroes" is a very well-written book. The world, the characters, the pacing, even the dialog are very well done for what this book is and for what he's trying to get across. The problem is that with all that good technique, the book still suffers from a weakness of plot. This book is about war. More specifically, it's about a battle. And, more specifically still, it's about the characters and misery involved in that battle. But, unfortunately, Abercrombie chose to not burden us with enough background to give us a feeling for either side involved. Which side is the side of goodness and light? Which side is the other? Which characters are we rooting for? Which ones should lose? Not only do we not have answers to those questions, in this book, the questions, themselves don't even make sense. Both sides are about the same, good- and evil-wise. Every character but one has so many flaws as to render them unsupportable. Only one or two characters even make any headway at becoming better people. And, only as you near the end does a faint hint at what could have been a decent plot come peeking out. The shame of it all is that it sure looks like this was exactly what Abercrombie was trying to accomplish. And that's my quandary. How do I rate a, for the most part, technically excellent novel that, nevertheless, leaves me caring not the least for any of the characters (well, save one), any of the events, or any of the sides? So, I'm punting and rating at an OK 3 stars out of 5. I enjoyed reading it, but there's nothing here for me to ever want to read it again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marrianne arnold
Joe Abercrombie has become one of the UK's top fantasy writers after only 5 books. Many suggest he is similar to David Gemmell which I would not agree with, Gemmell's characters had a nobility and sense of right about them, Abercrombie's are lacking in a sense of nobility and justice and have the whole range of emotions and traits including many that are not at all nice.

So while Abercrombie does play in the Gemmell's genre of fantasy with swords and occasional sorcery, Abercrombie is strong on rich and often deliciously self serving characters spun into a violent and unforgiving world. His first three books, the First Law trilogy were a joy, followed up by a standalone novel set in the same world.

The Heroes is his fifth novel and it is an ambitious and unique take on the traditional fantasy battle story. The Heroes as a title is a clever sleight of hand - it refers to a circle of rocks on a hill, not any set of characters involved in the story. The Heroes are the central strategic goal for two opposing armies, The Union and the North and we see a battle over three days from the perspective of many of the participants. Abercrombie is making a few points here and turns the traditional fantasy battle on its blooded head, here there is no great evil to defeat or bigger picture, it's all a bit pointless. The loss of life for a small bit of ground was much like the trench warfare of WW1 with equally poor judgement and waste of life. There are no good guys or bad guys in this, just two opposing forces being slaughtered for nothing more than a pile of rocks. Wrapped in this mess we have a variety of strong and interesting characters and Abercrombie's trademark dialogue and banter.

It takes a while to get used to the vast cast but the effort is rewarded with a strong reminder as to how good a writer Joe Abercrombie is. Not for the fainthearted or those offended by earthy language though!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This is an action packed book with lots of violence and betrayals.

The pace is quick with no pauses and there are flashes of humour.

The war has Abercrombie's normal mix of incompetence, back stabbing and cynicism.

But the book lacks a good central character, there are a few contenders but none are very compelling and none are given enough space to become truly interesting.

It's a good story with plenty to recommend it but it feels hollow; it lacks a core cast, it feels like the odds and ends from other books are thrown together and they just don't hold your interest.

It isn't a bad book but it is his worst so far.
Enjoyable but forgettable.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
While I enjoyed this book, it's my least favorite work from Joe Abercrombie. My biggest problems with it, are that there really isn't much of a story (I mean it takes place during 3 days), the book features the voice of practically every character in the book, and the ending isn't very satisfying. All three of those problems were essentially created by the subject of the book, a realistic look at a Fantasy battle with very small amounts of magic (in this case mostly science). Abercrombie really attempts to show the darker and useless side of war, and really succeeds in it. If he wanted, the author could have prevented this book as a series of diaries from the people in the battle, except for all the short sections where the voice moves the killed soldier to the killer. This aspect of fantasy novels, were the author wants to get the voice from every character's side, I just tend to find very annoying. Inevitably, I like some characters over others, and end up just skimming the sections of the disliked characters. In this book, the only character I loved was Gorst, which was such an original anti-hero. I loved his double talk, where there's this whole monologue in his head while he only actually says a few monosyllabic words. He's also a freaking beast, I'd love just a whole story in his voice.

In the end, I just couldn't get into the story, I didn't need to read the next page. There were good parts to it, but when I finished the book I just felt unsatisfied with the outcome. Still, I'll be waiting for Abercrombie's next book, though I won't buy the Kindle version if they set the price similar to this book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I'm a big fan of Joe Abercrombie, but there's part of me that's waiting for ... more?

This is the fourth book of his I've read, and I enjoyed it. But perhaps I read too much Joe in a row, because I got to the point where I was a little complacent about reading the book. Again, interesting and down-to-earth characters in a gritty world of mud and blood and self-doubt, but it didn't feel so very different to what I'd read of his before.

I'll continue to read Abercrombie's work, because it is damned entertaining stuff. I will admit to wanting to see him branch out and try something more innovative, that might change the way we view the genre. He has the talent for it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
debbie teixeira zagorski
Union commander Lord Marshal Kroy knows his direct reporting officers are incompetent mostly political appointees who believe they will be the hero of the upcoming combat. None of these egomaniacs has any real combat experience. However, you must play with the deck you are dealt.

The much smaller opposing force of Northmen is led by Black Dow, who has quite a kill rate. His throne is shaky as his brutal reign is built on his citizens' fear of him and the Union King wants no deadly rival as his neighbor. On top of that Calder wants to replace Black Dow as the ruler arguing for peace in our time. Soon all will converge in a battle for the ages as all of the North land will feel the epic impact for centuries to come.

Though located in the Abercrombie world of the First Law thrillers, this terrific saga can be read without the trilogy. War enables ordinary people an opportunity to perform heroic deeds (think of the medial of Honor winners). Joe Abercrombie pulls no punches when it comes to combat as masses are fodder for the glory of a general, a king or a country. Yet like U.S. Army staff sergeant Guinta and those listed on the Vietnam Veterans Wall (included in the Mall and Virtual at [...]) these are the real heroes of battle that Mr. Abercrombie honors when the avaricious leads to insanity by leaders seeking empires.

Harriet Klausner
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I’m really enjoying this audible book! I can’t stop listening to this series and love the realistic writing for this time period. Good humor among the gore.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dyaa yassen
This is an excellent, character-driven shot of gritty fantasy. Character writing is very difficult to pull off. For each novel that succeeds in multi-view story building, another dozen fall flat. 'The Heroes' is truly a canvas that amazes from any angle, and would be a lesser work if not painted from different perspectives.

As a reference, for those that have read Abercrombie's other books, I felt that the Blade Itself trilogy succeeded where Best Served Cold floundered, where The Heroes excelled. I cannot recommend this book enough.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
nicolas upton
I would only advise reading this if you just looove reading long, detailed descriptions of battles and men fighting and trash-talking each other (and not even good trash talk). I have read the First Law trilogy, Best Served Cold, and the Shattered Sea trilogy, and liked all of them. This is his worst book by far... I was bored through the whole book, and I'm surprised I even made it to the end. There was one character that even whined throughout the book. Anyway, imagine this as the "Helmsdeep battle in Two Towers" written in long detail, for a couple hundred pages. If that is something you like to read, then go for it. Otherwise, skip it and just read a synopsis if you're curious.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I don't get the negative comments on this book. I really like his work and think that this might be the best.
I would read his books in order, but this is also a great stand alone novel.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
With the The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One), the first novel in his First Law Trilogy, Joe Abercrombie emerged as a breath of fresh air in fantasy literature. No, that's not right. The truth is, Abercrombie emerged as a highly realistic shot of cold air, reeking of mud, blood and human waste. He's the darkest fantasy writer.

In the First Law Trilogy, there weren't many heroes, and to the extent there were, they didn't last long. As one protagonist repeatedly observed, "Nobody gets what they deserve." In the Trilogy, only the torturer had anything like a happy ending. Abercrombie isn't kind to his characters.

And so we come to The Heroes, the fifth novel set in the Circle of World, set 8-10 years after the events of the First Law Trilogy. Black Dow is the Leader of the Northmen, having stolen the kingship from the equally brutal Bloody Nine. There is a war between the Northmen and their former allies, the Union. Like all of the conflicts in the Circle of the World, there are other agendas, other would-be puppetmasters behind everything that is going on. In fact, The Heroes is about a great battle where neither side is particularly competent or aligned with the angels.

Of course, there are good reasons why in each case. There are cowards, traitors, manipulators and venal liars on both sides. The First of the Magi has no particular desire to see the Union be too strong. Or ruled by competent, honest men. And the Named Men of the North, while heroes every one, are not well-armed, well-led or particularly apt as soldiers.

Abercrombie is gifted at characterization. It's a strength that has improved with each novel. He writes from the shifting point of view of different characters (I think I counted fifteen), and the voice, motives, desires and feel of each character is very different. He writes equally strong, equally venal men and women. But Abercrombie is not as gifted at plot. The First Law trilogy was well-plotted, especially the first and third books. Best Served Cold was a much more pedestrian plot: a revenge novel.

And in The Heroes Abercrombie's plotting skills are weaker still. Partly, it's because he over-indulged in point-of-view characters. Too many viewpoints diffuse the force of such plot as there is. Indeed, some of them disappear from the story without explanation. Partly, the book feels forced, as if he didn't have time to refine it as much as he would have liked. And partly because it is very hard to generate a meaningful plot about what is a pretty meaningless battle. So what you are left with is a 500 page vignette on the folly and nihilism of war, brutally told.

I do give credit to Abercrombie for building, novel by novel, a credible, interesting world. There is a sense that the series of novels is building to a final confrontation. As you watch one irredeemably arrogant character after another go to a nasty, ugly death, you can't help but feel that something similar will happen to the most consistently arrogant, ugly character of them all: the First of the Magi.

But nobody gets what they deserve.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Great book. This was actually my introductionm into the First Law world. My girlfriend convinced me to give sci-fi a try, and knowing I was reluctant and expecting dissapointment, steered me towards this masterpiece as a way of getting my feet wet. I couldnt put this book down and finished it in two days - I actually brought it to work with me and read it over my lunch. Not in any way a stereotypical sci-fi - but a mix of Killer Angels, Clear and Present Danger, and Game of Thrones. Highly recommend.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
giancarlo tambone
I would say 99.9% of the people writing reviews of this book have read most if not all of Joe Abercrombie's other books. I had never heard of him before seeing this book on the shelf at the local book store. Like a lot of books what caught my attention was the cover art and the tagline that promised a book like "'Lord of the Rings' as directed by Kurosawa". Who could pass that up? As I read the description I was intrigued by the concept of a fantasy novel focusing on a three day battle as seen through the eyes of several different characters. My other favorite genre, military fiction, has several books in that vein and this sounded like a fresh idea for fantasy. I like a more realistic military type fantasy novels like Jerry Pournelle and David Drake, and this is what I was hoping for. I thought the title was clever too. A battle taking place at an ancient monument to heroes of the past as fought by heroes of the present or so I thought. Unfortunately this is not the case. The tag line should read, Conan as directed by Oliver Stone. This is not heroic fantasy in the grand old tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs or H. Rider Haggard. If the idea of a Conan or John Carter seems too naive or over the top today then these characters seem too cynical and bleak to me. They suck the fun right out of reading this novel. I'm not saying there shouldn't be realistic characters but there should be differing viewpoints and different characters. Nearly everyone here sees war the same way, as something too terrible to contemplate, a horrible enterprise only forced upon them by the incompetent fools above them. If a character does believe war is sometimes necessary or something that must be done they are either crazy or evil. I almost pictured Bayaz with Dick Cheney's face. I also believe an author should have a right to express his political opinions through his work but as my introduction to Mr. Abercrombie's work he's certainly lessened his chances of selling me another book.

I have to say though that seeing the number of "not his best" reviews here I would be tempted to give his other stuff a try. Maybe he was just in a down place when he wrote this. While the writing could be a little repetitive (everyone was puffing their cheeks out a lot) he does have a cinematic flare. His humor is dark but I like that style also. I didn't find the violence any worse than the old fantasy books. His characterizations ran the gamut, they were interesting but there was no one to root for or care too much about.

I know war is hell but what's really hell is listening to a sermon of that fact on every page of a 500 something page book. That's brutal.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Of the three stand-alone books set in this world, this one was my favorite by a lot. Loved the characters (Bremmar most of all) and the plot was gripping. Got all points of view on the subject of war (the highs and lows). This book captured me in a way the other two stand-alones did not. If you like Abercrombie this is a must read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
krisha newham
Another, great story by Ambercrombie. He definitely knows how to tell a compelling story, with unique characters. All the main characters, he gets inside their head and deepens their believability. I love the way he writes the fights scenes jumping from one character or side to another. Very smooth and natural. Too many times I have read different accounts of one incident, and the presentation, would ruin it. Not here. The way he creates the characters, we are able to watch them grow. Characters with supporting or throw-away roles in previous books shine here. We are witness to it again, I am anxious to see what characters appear, and grow in the next tale.

So much has happened. so many characters have come, and gone back to the mud, that I am almost tempted to restart from his first book, just to be reintroduced to the characters that took center stage....
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eric gulliver
This book had me hooked from the very beginning. Abercrombie is a great writer and his books are getting better and better. He has created a world that tells a story but there is an undercurrent theme of a power struggle that is being waged by terribly ambitious and possibly destructive forces. At this point in his world, one gets the sense that whoever wins, everyone loses (or hopefully the winner will be satisfied with victory and leave everyone alone).

The character point of views covers a vast range of personalities, and they are all struggling to survive till the end of the story. None of the characters are completely good, and there are about two or three that I found completely likable. All-in-all, the storyline was strong, the characters were complex, and the action kept me enthralled.

I found this book appealing philosophically. Abercrombie is one of the many authors that are using dark fantasy which uses realism and examination of the the human condition. These authors (The Black Company (Chronicles of The Black Company #1) The George R.R. Martin Song Of Ice and Fire Hardcover Box Set featuring A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows (the store Exclusive) The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One) are starting to gain more notoriety, but I think Abercrombie is becoming one of the best writers in the genre of fantasy, not just dark fantasy. He is a young author, and as each book gets better and better, I cannot wait for the next one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The writing remains excellent. Dialogue crackles with equal parts wit and threat, and character emotion is flayed and left quivering raw for readers to poke at. The action scenes actually feel authentic, with the hot rush of panic setting in, the frenzy of a battle where survivors are more lucky than skilled.

Abercrombie also does a marvelous job of building the story on itself, compounding the tension and threat of tragedy and loss until you're ready for the final showdowns to occur just so you can stop worrying about how much (more) suffering is going to be inflicted on the characters you've come to care about, each in their own twisted way.

Continue reading on Review: The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie - National speculative fiction | [...]
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
stuart dunstan
We have not started reading, but fair warning, the print is extremely small! If possible, choose a printed copy that hasn't been cheaply crammed onto a few pages. Not a fair deal considering the asking price!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
keith uffman
I was circumspect about this novel and hesitated over the purchase. Well I have to say that I am happy I did. This is a great story. It manages to capture the the essence of medieval warfare from the vantage point of the foot soldier. The motivation to sign up, the glory sought, and the heartbreak that often results from the reality. It is wonderfully written and I can't wait to read another part of this story.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Four years after "Best Served Cold", "The Heroes" resumes the dark tales of those from the prior novels. The entire storyline sections off into five segments, basically a pre-battle, three days of battle, and the aftermath. While a stand-alone book, certain individuals are revisited from earlier adventures where again secondary characters become the primary characters with a couple new ones.

I did not find Caul Shivers appealing in the trilogy, then he was annoying, and now he's some malevolent enforcer. The trustworthy Curnden Craw does the right thing, about the only true protagonist. Beck's journey is probably the best surprise, I found his finale to be pleasant. The author is very good at portraying his characters as self-serving and cruel.

Introducing potentially fascinating characters and histories and not following through is the most frustrating (and it may be the point). Best example, Whirrun of Bligh with the Father of Swords seems very interesting, the equivalent of Boba Fett in "The Empire Strikes Back". He's not in it much, but what little you get captures your attention.

The map at the beginning of each day sufficiently illustrates the troop locations. A comprehensive appendix would have been useful.

Thank you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kat maher
As always a great read with conflicted characters who do surprise you and yet I should have seen it coming. Bravo Joe Abercrombie! Bravo.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
denise hawkins
The Heroes might have been my favorite standalone. I love Abercrombie's writing, and this book was great.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Joe Abercrombie's writing has tightened with each book he has released, and The Heroes is no exception.

Abercrombie's best strength - his characters - have not lost any of their touch. In fact, I'd say that Joe has become much better at fleshing them out. There are no two-dimensional skins, no stereotyped bodies. Each man and woman has their strengths, their flaws, and their weaknesses, and Abercrombie masterfully weaves their roles into the bloody, chaotic three days that encompass the battle in the North.

A few characters jump to mind as having become particularly compelling. Kroy has shifted from being a pompous, discipline-minded hardass to a deep, strong individual, as good a man as any for the position of Lord Marshal. Black Dow clearly understands the consequences of throwing Ninefingers from the throne and shoulders all the burden of being King of the Northmen. Caul Shivers' development continues seamlessly from BSC. His new characters are also compelling, even if you don't get their point of view: Whirrun of Bligh, off the top of my head. I could go on.

In fact, there are many characters who exhibit three-dimensionalism. So many, in fact, that it takes Abercrombie four pages to list them all before the first chapter. And yet the sheer number of them does not detract from their importance. Every character, no matter how minor, was necessary for Abercrombie to pull off what he did - display the futile brutality of war, and the bloody truth that there are no real heroes in battle.

The only character I disliked (from a reviewer's stance) was Bremer dan Gorst. He came off as whiny and boring, not unlike Jezal, but without the interesting details that made Jezal worth reading in the trilogy. This, however, might just be personal opinion, as I have talked with others who enjoyed Gorst's inner monologue and its similarity with Glokta's.

Overall Abercrombie's writing style and pacing has clearly improved. Nothing smacks of Deus Ex Machina, like what happened on several occasions in Best Served Cold. Everything that happens makes sense and only props the book higher on its glowing pedestal of positive reviews. A couple events were somewhat predictable given Abercrombie's past, but in all honestly their absence would have felt wrong.

I would have given The Heroes a 4.5/5, but the store doesn't like fractions, so I must lean towards the higher and and slap this with a 5/5. Excellent read, pick it up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sherry dinkins
I'm listening to this book now (audible audio book) and I'm in awe how good it is and how good the narrator is.

The story is of a battle that takes place over a period of three days. The action sequences are amazing; The author uses a technique I have only seen in online video games called "follow the killer" which is kind of novel and works very well. The POV jumps from side to side, from character to character during the battle and gives a hectic and detailed feel.

The characters are multi-dimensional, with different and often amusing psychological attributes. There are some great characters in here. Many of them have their own chapter and it is spectacular when a hero in one chapter meets a hero from another chapter in battle. This book is highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
erin benbow
This is the second stand alone book with in "The First Law" universe. So if you haven't read "The First Law Trilogy" or "Best Served Cold" you should go back and read them first to learn the universe as well as some of the major characters. Over all I liked the book, I think "Best Served Cold" was the best book with in the Universe but this wasn't really that bad.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shannon reed
I love Joes books; Gritty, great characterisations, superb settings and feelings of empathy, even for the bad guys. This is no exception. Fantasy books have really taken a tumble to downright "Pants" in recent years and simply put, Joe injects some much needed "Freshness" in the genre. Enjoyed this and his other books in the series greatly. More please Joe. It also must be said that this stands WAY above George RR Martins lastest book "Dance with Dragons"; Whereas Joe never dissapoints, George has severly dissapointed. As they are kind of direct competitors, Joes books stand out massively. They are a lot of fun to read. End of. That makes his books stand out for me in this genre. He never gets too involved in pages and pages of boring descriptions but keeps things moving at lightpseed and he knows about beginnning, middle and end; Never seeming to con the reader like a lot of other fanstasy writers out there with overblown chaff and boring pages and pages of irrelevance. Every page is worth reading, which is more than can be said for some. If you are a fantasy reader, you will know what I mean. Superb. Worth every penny and definately worth a re- read. Hurry up Joe your fans are waiting for your next blockbuster!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Incredible book. My second Joe Abercrombie read and it is truly awesome. Tells the story tow armies fighting over a s***ty piece of land that has almost no value apart from being defensible and half way between the opposing forces. This is all about battle and characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alyssa justice
About ten years after the events of The First Law Trilogy the Union and the North (lead by Black Dow) are battling for supremacy in the region and things have been bloody. But things are only going to get bloodier before it is finished if things like this can ever truly end. One battle over three days will decide the fate of thousands and leave just as many mired in the mud. There are no heroes. Only survivors.

The Heroes brings Abercrombie's biggest cast of characters to date flipping through dozens of view points. Just don't get attached to anyone in particular. This is war and it is a bloody one, but aren't they all? Abercrombie smartly included a persona glossary at the beginning of the book to keep all the players in perspective, but it is best to refer to it only as you need to since it can spoil the surprise of a few notable characters who pop-up.

The Heroes evokes the feeling of a military Fantasy perfectly as it travels across the battlefield from the view of those at the top to the lowly footmen stuck in the swamps. It reminded me quite a bit of Glen Cook's The Black Company, especially a certain Corporal Tunny. For those concerned, The Heroes is not all the doom, gloom, and causticness of Best Served Cold, which however entertaining you found it left most of us a bit cold. The Heroes livens things up and turns a battle that shouldn't mean anything in a place that doesn't mean much to anyone to an event that changes the face of the North featuring many of the side players from The First Law Trilogy.

Abercrombie really gets you down into the mud and blood of battles entrenching you next to all the warriors as they rise and mostly fall deeper and deeper into the mud with some perspectives lasting only a few paragraphs. The viewpoints flows easily from one scene to the next once you realize how often the view changes. The Heroes is filled with cravens, madmen, the corrupt, and those in to deep to wade themselves out of danger and a few people that aren't as deplorable and just want to live through the day. The story focuses on 3 main figures all of who have their own idiocracies in the style Abercrombie has become known for.

One problem I had was the lack of a standout character or two as opposed to Abercrombie's other books. I've always found one or two characters I couldn't wait to get back to such as Logan and Glotka in The First Law or Friendly in Best Served Cold. I know, I know. I like them good and crazy. With the flipping of perspectives so much you get a surprisingly good sense of who most of the characters are that they hardly left me wanting for more. So this might be a case of overdoing expectations.

But the action, dark humor, and all the tension kept me captivated and pushing forward along with the fantastic battle sequences that are exquisitely executed. Shivers is even more of a scary freak than he was in Best Served Cold and would probably appear more so to those who haven't read BSC. The Heroes shows that Abercrombie's considerable talents are being used quite well and while I still didn't fancy The Heroes as much as his Trilogy it is still sure to be one of the best Fantasy releases this year. In the end the story seems very small in comparison to the events of the First Law Trilogy, but it does lead to some tantalizing ideas concerning one of our favorite characters from the trilogy.

The Heroes ultimately makes you think about war and everyone's place in it and how hardly anyone wishes to take part for the right reasons. As if Abercrombie hadn't already cemented his place in Fantasy The Heroes proves he is a modern master. The Heroes can certainly be read as the standalone it is intended as, but you get a lot more out of the characters if you're read The First Law. I can't wait to see what Abercrombie has brewing for us next.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The Heroes is great! Best Served Cold, the preceding book is also excellent, and these "Set in the world of..." novels are even more enjoyable than the main series "First Law" trilogy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
danielle sharpe
Joe Abercrombie Continues to steer clear of the "black and white" of traditional fantasy. A such, The Heroes is full of the grey that lies between. Characters you love to hate and hate to love, antagonists with redeeming qualities, and protagonists with fatal flaws; The Heroes isn't a fairy tale of the good prevailing over the evil. Instead, it's a reality check with a side of hear pumping action, laugh-out-loud humor, and an underlying lesson in philosophy that may leave the reader contemplating the meaning of life.

Following up on The First Law trilogy; first with his stand-alone Best Served Cold, and now The Heroes, J. Abercrombie further establishes a place for himself among the greatest fantasy writers of all time.

Simply put, his work is a torrent of fresh air to the fantasy genre, similar in many ways to that of George R. R. Martin. A notable increasing perfection of his writing style is evident as Abercrombie has evolved as a writer (hard to believe that his career as an author essentially began no more than a decade ago!) since the release of his first book in 2006.

Arguably his best book to date, The Heroes is just what the title (and cover) might suggest, and so much more. It's more than a gritty and brutal tale of unlikely and would-be heroes. The book is an investigation of philosophical thought, presented to the reader via the internal dialogue of characters as the reasons, motives, and decisions they make are pondered over.

The entire story takes place in and around a battlefield. It chronicles a 3 day battle between the union and the north within northern territory. If you've read his previous books, you will no doubt recognize the majority of the primary union and northern characters. However, several new figures are introduced that set the stage for subsequent books.

Highly recommended to anyone that enjoyed his previous books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The fifth book, or second follow up, to the First Law trilogy, The Heroes is based basically in less than a week. The setting is back to where it all started in the North. Our old pal Shivers is back there fighting for Black Dow who is the new King of the North. They're fighting the Union, and this book bounces between different characters on both sides of the battles. So many different great themes in the book, loyalty, honesty, the definition of a Hero and a soldier and what it's really like to be one. Nothing like a typical war book, it's more of a fifth book in the series that's based in a war. Great red!! Now I'm on to Red Country!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Don't have much to add that others didn't cover, just want to say love it! Gritty and dirty, this war story tells the tales of people on both sides, both high born and low. Death takes a huge toll on all fronts, and you feel the losses of war as another point of view is snuffed out. Intense battle sequences and believable characters.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
The Union and their allies are slowly pressing into Northern territory when a mage and senior political officer arrives with new orders. The army is needed elsewhere and the Union must press for an immediate resolution to the conflict. They are ordered to concentrate their forces on the town of Osrung and the nearby hill called 'the Heroes.'

Northern commander Craw has taken the high peak of the Heroes, but he doesn't like the odds of defending it against the entire Union army with only his shrunken 'dozen.' Black Dow, the Northern king, is bringing up his forces, but not in time to keep the Union from seizing the high ground. Outnumbered by the Union forces, beset by political and personal rivalry (including a large faction of Northern fighters actually allied with the Union), Dow must find a way to use the Union's leadership stupidity against them. Of course, Dow knows too well that the Union doesn't have a monopoly on stupidity.

The Union army has a secret weapon--one they don't fully recognize themselves. It's not the ineffective cannons of the mage, it's disgraced former bodyguard Bremer Van Gorst. Gorst is a killing machine who lives for battle.

Author Joe Abercrombie writes of a dark world where slaughter is sometimes its own reward, where neither the Union nor the Northmen are particularly admirable, where people often choose soldiering because they have no other choices, and where magic may exist but certainly doesn't have much impact on the battlefield or the lives of the characters. Abercrombie is a strong writer and this world is both vivid and populated by characters who stand out--Gorst with his high-pitched voice and cynical attitude, Calder, with his ambition and cowardice, Craw with his sense of honor and disgust over battle, Fintree with her belief in her own cleverness and contempt for those around her.

Part of the darkness of Abercrombie's universe is that it's difficult to find a character to care about. Gorst comes closest, but he's self-involved and harbors a lust for Fintree that's hard to understand, and is a bit too capable on the battlefield. Craw would be a great sidekick, but doesn't make it as a protagonist. Fintree thinks she's too perfect. Calder is annoying. For me, the lack of a strong protagonist with goals and motivation caused problems. I wanted to care about whether people lived or died, but the darkness of the story and the ruthless exposure of stupidity, greed and indifference to life distanced me from the story.

In the second half of the story, Abercrombie's strong writing finally swept me into the story. There were a number of times, as I was reading the first half, that I nearly abandoned this book. Overall, the book rewards the patient, but it's not an easy read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gary wicker
First off, I love Joe Abercrombie. You can see that he's constantly improving and refining his writing skills with every book. And he knows how to tell a the First Law Trilogy and Best Served Cold, this one's got some great, compelling storytelling.

My only problem, especially in this one?

He's just so...unrelentingly grim and cynical. I mean, I know it's supposed to be the biggest, bloodiest battle in the history of the North, but still. We needed more things like Cracknut's invention of the sandwich to lighten it up a bit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
If you like fantasy novels, joe abercrombie is must read. I would recommend starting with some of the earlier books set in the same world though.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jeremy bellay
Make no mistake about it. The Heroes is a very dark novel about war and the many nasty faces of it. Throughout the book, you'll be introduced to numerous characters and learn of their story about how they are involved. Many people have different stories to tell and how one person views war itself can be completely different from the person they are standing right next to. While I first started reading the book, I was thrilled and excited. After a while though, I realized that this book has only a couple of tricks up its sleeves and the main one is that the author keeps hammering into your head is that war is ugly. Very ugly indeed.

To put it gently, I think that The Heroes is a very overrated piece of work. The entire story takes place within the time of three days or so. During these three days, the Northman and the Union troops (South) battle it for land domination and supremacy. Throughout the many chapters, the book will put you through the eyes of a different character on either side of the battle. Once again, each person has his or her reasons for joining the war either it be earning a name for themselves or looking for ways to profit from it instead. What the author tries to do here is paint a picture that war is not a good thing. If by now you're getting sick of me telling you that same thing over and over again about this so called event called a "war", well, you better get used to it because that's pretty much the only thing you'll be getting here by reading The Heroes. It's funny because although there are many battles that were fought throughout this book, I still have that weird feeling that not a whole lot happened.

There will be many, many different characters you'll be needing to keep track of throughout reading The Heroes. Quite frankly, many of them are just plain boring except for a select few. What irritates me the most is that the author will put a character high up on a pedestal like Black Dow about how such a wicked man he is and how he is feared by nearly everyone in the North but throughout the book (the present), he doesn't do anything to instill that same level of fear to the reader. Characters like Corporal Tunny is wasted because once again, not a whole lot happens. I was strangely into his character because I thought it interesting him doing what he do and still lasting in the army for so long. But what do I get? I get to read about him stuck in a forest for the entire book. I'm sure a lot of folks would love to have read more about Cracknut Whirrun but sadly, this isn't so. Instead we get the likes of Calder who is better known for having more brains than brawn. You would think that to for him to be portrayed the way he is, something incredible would happen through his scheming alone. Again, I'm left disappointed in the end because I felt the author could have used the characters in a bit more interesting fashion. I believe that Gorst is the most complete character out of the bunch. As a man who will do anything to restore his lost honor, he will stop at nothing until he reclaims it back.

The many different battle scenes in the book is mediocre at best in my opinion. It's not bad but nothing really stands out as well except for a few select parts. Understand that The Heroes is not just about one big battle after another. There is a lot of planning that goes along after each battle. Remember that this is set in the old days. There are no guns and many a times, a battle is won by either having more men on your side of the field or through cunning and strategic maneuvers.

While The Heroes is definitely not a bad book by any means, I just don't see how it got all the praise that it did. It started off pretty strong but then started growing tiresome. Some might say that this can be attributed to the fact that this is a depressing book in general with humans dying left and right, mind you. I guess it might have been a bit better if I had read a different book in between reading sessions. Now that I think of it, I do have to admit that The Heroes is one of the most depressing books I have ever read. If this was the author's intention, then I salute him. Because as we all know, war is ugly and there are no heroes in the end.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
ava taylor
Good but drawn out especially Glokta's inner thoughts . . . whiny, pathetic, self-absorbed . . .
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jessica surgett
"Another war," Clod Threetimes growled, "for another king who doesn't give crap for us. Seems a bit pointless, it does."
"Maybe," Nosegay shot back, "but do you want to be the one to let Tarry Blackstool down? Tell him how pointless his throne is!"
"Or maybe you want to take his place," Chug Beerbreath added, grinning as the fire shot sparks onto the toes of his deerskin boots. "King being such an easy job in a fantasy novel and all." He spat into the flames and resumed honing the edge of his axe.
"Not me," Clod said, rubbing his hands over the fire. His fingers hurt at night, but the fire helped with the worst of it. "I'm too old for that kind of thing. I only wish..." He trailed off. What exactly did he wish? For the return of his friends from the mud? For the vigor of his youth, in his sword arm and loins? For the chance to take a good dump without worrying about getting an arrow in his back?
The youngster's snotty attitude almost roiled Clod's temper; almost, but not quite. "I only wish," he went on, "that I wasn't spending another 600 pages in something that sounds like a damn out-take."
That put Nosegay back a bit. He leaned his sword on the boulder next to him, stroked his beard, and admitted, "You speak true there, Threetimes. I picked up on that myself. For at least a chapter I've been wondering why we all keep speaking in these war-weary tones. Aye, I've grown weary of all this war-weariness, and I expect a few readers have, as well."
Clod scratched the scars along his rib cage. "Back in the old days," he mused, "a book started with a proper thumping to someone. Something that got your blood racing. Like the Bloody Nine jumping off a cliff to save his hide, or two wonder-kids getting thrown off a cliff, but not the same cliff as the Bloody Nine. Which would have been a hell of a coincidence, when you think about it."
"That's how an adventure ought to start," the Chugger agreed. "Not like nowadays, when books start with a bunch of bit players trading menacing glances and tough-guy dialog, shuffling here and there until they get lost in bloody battle scenes with no point." He looked up at the grizzled Named Character. "Do you think those days will ever come again?"
"Days don't come back," Clod said. "At least not as long as Abercrombie continues milking the same world and characters that he already used to death twice before, without adding anything new. Even Bayaz just seems to be going through the motions nowadays. He's ever tossing his staff down in undignified ways and speaking brusquely and rudely, like Basil Fawlty with a bad hangover."
"We need some new ideas," Beerbreath muttered, "we surely do, but only Abercrombie can give us them." He heaved a sigh. "Until he does, we're just a bunch of well-written but one-dimensional swordsmen, trying to convince ourselves that this big war isn't just a fistfight between two bullies, played out on a grand scale."
"Or a money-making scheme," Threetimes agreed. Chug barked harsh laughter in response.
"At least this time I'll probably get laid," Nosegay said hopefully. "And in a very detailed, even gratuitous, way, Gods willing. That's a treat, even for a fictional character. I only hope she doesn't come on to me in a stilted and unconvincing manner, as if she were being paid to tart it up like --"
His remark was cut off as an arrow pierced his right eye, sending his flopping corpse tumbling into the darkness. Screams erupted from beyond the stone ring as a squadron of Tarry Blackstool's deadliest clichés sprang their trap. Beerbreath swung his axe about his head, roaring his battle-belch, while Clod sighed and thrust his sword between the ribs of yet another opponent. If only there was a point...
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
maryam shams
The way Abercrombie organizes the armies, describes and utilizes the terrain, and unfolds the battles definitely has inspirations in the warfare of the Napoleonic era.
Abercrombie does an excellent job describing the chaos and confusion of battle, and he enables the reader to visualize what's happening from individual characters' eyes.
This isn't an epic story in the sense that it doesn't take place in numerous kingdoms or lands, with numerous species.
It's an epic story about one extremely important battleground in a larger war.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jordan peters
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I may be way off base but it appears to me Abercrombie started his trilogy with bad guys appearing to be good who showed they were really bad guys at the end. In Best Served Cold he took good guys and made them appear bad then tried to switch them back to good at the end (which didnt work for me, they were all irredeemable imo). In Heroes, people were who they were. I thought the battle detailed to a point of giving good visuals but no so descriptive that it became wordy. I liked the story, the characters, the scenes. Job well done.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sheifali khare
I very much enjoyed J.A.'s previous works. The "no one is safe" idea behind them drew me in hook, line and sinker. This book fell flat for me. I wasn't expecting a continuation of his previous works, but I was expecting a little more story. For me, this wasn't one of his better story lines. While reading this book, I never felt like I wanted to follow any of the characters. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the well written fights and the cleverness. It just didn't have the "zing" I was hoping for. Not a bad book over all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rizky luthfianto
Ce que j'aime chez Joe Abercrombie c'est que même si ses différents livres se suivent et s'inscrivent dans le même contexte, Best Served Cold et The Herores peuvent se lire seul. Bien sure il y a des références aux précédents volumes rendant la lecture encore plus plaisant quant on les a tous lu mais c'est très agréable de savoir qu'on a pas à attendre la publication d'une dizaine de volume pour avoir le fin mot de l'histoire.
De c point de vue The Heroes est mené tambour battant et sans temps mort.
J'avais trouvé Best Served Cold un peu répétitif dans son procédé narratif. Ici, Joe Abercrombie se renouvelle merveilleusement pour le plus grand plaisir du lecteur. Alors qu'il a pris l'habitude de réutiliser dans chaque nouveau livre des personnages issus des précédents en même temps qu'il en pousse de nouveaux à l'avant plan, il pousse ce procédé plus loin. En effet, l'histoire décrit ici les protagonistes d'une bataille s'étalant sur 3 jours. Les charges et mêlées sont ainsi l'occasion de suivre un personnage et de sauter de protagoniste en protagoniste au fure et à mesure que la mort les fauche: celà lui permet de nous entraîner dans un rythme échevelé ou les points de vue changent de manière rapide et très naturelle. On ressent bien le souffle de la bataille.
Joe Abercrombie confirme ici qu'il sait merveilleusement bien raconter une histoire notamment grâce à ses personnages hauts en couleurs à qui il sait donner du corps et de la personnalité en quelques lignes. Bon conteur, on sent qu'il tient avant tout à donner du plaisir au lecteur. Et il réussit haut la main.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
i b g wiraga
Aahh, the battle for supremacy in the North... I truly enjoyed this book (had to purchase a bound copy because the eBook was not available to Canadians). The plot centered around a 3 day battle in a location known as "the heroes", supported by intriguing story lines. The battle descriptions were graphic and violent with many characters going back to the mud. This book should be considered book number five of The First Law series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Let me begin by saying this is one of ht ebest books I have read in years. Period. Forget genres, or other categorization. This book is incredible.

There are so many fascinating characters, and so much action all happening at once, that it does take a small amoutn of effort to kpee the details straight. That said, the effort is minimal, and so entirely worth it. Upon finishing this book, I wen out and bought all of Joe Abercerombie's other books, which are equally great.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
so awesome. just a ridiculously well written story with with face bashing awesomeness to boot. if i didn't love his first law trilogy so much i'd say this was my fave.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
adel ahmadyan
This was an excellent addition to the first law series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john moeschler
This book was my introduction to Joe Abercrombie's writing. It's been called Grim Dark. I think that's a new tag for very honest writing about the business of war and death. I loved the spectrum of protagonists in this tale. Each one adds a shade of gray to the tale. Recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brynne b
l would recommend this book highly. I had intended to write a sterling review of the terrific battle scenes but my wife is dry-mopping in this area and is making me move my laptop table, so I can't continue the review. Buy the book or get it from your local library, it is terrific. Okay, hun, I am leaving....
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steven wilson
All good writers write a flop every now and then.

Brent weeks wrote an awesome trilogy and flopped his next book.

Ken Follet had plenty of flops after Pillars of the earth.

Dan Browns last book based in DC(forget the name) was a snoozer.

Joe Abercrombie so far has batted 5 for 5.

Good job!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sandeep massey
I like the authors writing style and his characters were very well developed (they had strengths and weaknesses, which made them interesting).
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
ramon de santiago
Firstly, before we get started this is not a one off volume, and directly leads off from the authors earlier work (reading order shown below).

The Blade Itself > Before They are Hanged > Last Argument of Kings (The First Law Trilogy) > Best Served Cold > The Heroes.

If however you have read and enjoyed the above, then you're in for a treat. The Heroes takes the admirably different approach of setting the plot around three days of battle, rather than the more typical fantasy quest or adventure. As with Joe's earlier works it's also quite grim, quite dark (though not nearly as dark as best served cold) and very cynical.

The bottom line? As long as you enjoyed the earlier books and aren't put off by the setting, the somewhat limited scope or the violence, this should make for an entertaining, action packed read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kris freedain
I am a huge fan of Joe Abercrombie, and his First Law trilogy was a breath of fresh air in the 'fantasy' genre. The unpredictibility of his plot, characters AND outcomes was a joy to encounter. I remember his characters even now - even their names! - two years after reading the books.

However, his fourth book, a stand-alone novel, Best Served Cold was merely good, but not great. This offering, Heroes, is simply okay. I very much doubt, if Heroes had been my first Abercrombie experience, that I would have bothered to read any of his other books.

Other reviewers have mentioned the rushed character of this piece of writing, the fact that there were too many characters to keep track of, and that many of them were given character tags rather than personalities. I agree with these views, but wonder if maybe the problem lies in this single-book format, rather than any diminishment of Abercrombie's ability to write.

I'm wondering if maybe his publishers are pushing him too hard to produce 'a book a year,' which might not be his chosen format. I would rather wait 10 years for another really cracking trilogy, than watch his enthusiasm and talent die a 'book a year' death.

Some authors need plenty of space to develop their ideas, fully flesh out their characters, and provide enough detail to make their created worlds convincing. They need to be allowed to write trilogies, rather than novels ...which take time. I think maybe Mr Abercrombie is one of them. I do hope his publishers take this on board, and back off a bit. The last thing we want is for Joe Abercrombie to turn into yet another burnt-out bestselling author, churning out a book a year, ad infinitum.

It will be a great shame, if Abercrombie's first offering turns out to be the only one which stands the test of time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paul moran
INTRODUCTION: Bursting upon the epic fantasy scene with his superb First Law trilogy, Joe Abercrombie became the "perfect" representative of the "new gritty" epic fantasy for me and his books have not disappointed so far. Best Served Cold was a top 5 sff of mine in 2009 so The Heroes should have been one of those "beg for an advance review copy" books that I use every spare minute to read when I get them..

Well, there was a hitch, namely the fact that the blurb made it clear the novel is about a battle and while books like that have a storied tradition - I have recently read one such, fittingly called The Battle by Patrick Rambaud and part of a trilogy to boot, that has won one of the ultimate literary prizes in the world, the Goncourt prize in France in 1997 - they do not really excite me that much since they are limited in scope. A battle is a battle is a battle...

On finishing The Heroes, I found myself conflicted - the book is very well written, maybe the best technically of the author so far and with all the stuff I came to expect from Mr. Abercrombie; it even transcends somewhat its limited setting but I still wish it would have been about more as he clearly has shown he can do it in his First Law trilogy and in the superb Best Served Cold. I came from The Heroes feeling I read a side episode in a saga - a long one at over 500 pages - but something that will later be regarded as a minor part of it.

The following will contain spoilers for the First Law trilogy and for Best Served Cold so be warned!

OVERVIEW: Technically a standalone, The Heroes takes place some four years after the end of Best Served Cold and eight years after the First Law trilogy and features many characters from there, though there are several new ones too. I believe that while you can read this one independently, the experience is considerably enhanced if you have read First Law before since a lot of undertones, motivations and general background come from there. The Best Served Cold references are less important except in Bremer van Gorst's case, but that backstory is fully told in due course.

The general outline in a nutshell is that after Black Dow took over the throne of the North at the end of The Last Argument of Kings, the Union objected since it had a deal with Logen Ninefingers and the intervening years saw low-level conflict between the Union troops and their "loyalists" allies led by the Dogman and the Northern clans under Black Dow and his carls.

But now the Union feels the drain in money and resources, the Gurkish are stirring, Styria did not go the way the Union wanted, so the orders came to finish the independent Northmen at all costs, hence a major battle is in the offing. Of course Black Dow has his allies too, while recently returned Caul Shivers is even more savage than usual as his right hand man and "enforcer"...

In the background, young "Prince" Calder, "renowned" as a coward and treacherous plotter and who had escaped execution so far only because his father-in-law is a powerful clan leader and to a lesser extent because his older brother accepted Dow's rule and settled as one of his major carls, wants to survive and just maybe claim want he regards as his heritage, Bremer van Gorst wants redemption for the happenings four years ago at a Styrian party and Finree dan Brock (nee Kroy, the daughter of the Union Army's commanding officer) wants to advance the fortune of her husband who is maybe the nicest character of the author, though of course he is marked as a famous traitor's son. Old warrior Craw and comic-relief corporal Tunny add a grunt's eye view of the events.

The major leaders, Black Dow, Caul Shivers and Bayaz dominate the pages in which they appear, but overall I would say that Calder, Bremer and Finree are the main "heroes" of the novel and they are all done superbly. We even get the famous internal monologues of the author from Bremer's perspective and those are one of the major highlights of the book.

ANALYSIS: "The Heroes" showcases everything I liked in the author's first four books and while there is a certain predictability to some of the things that happen, there is enough new to keep one happy. The heroes are definitely not that heroic, the prophecies may not quite happen as foretold, everyone gets their say and action and of course there is grit; true grit here as in mud, blood and sweat...

The novel transitions seamlessly between the various pov's and locations while the timeline is roughly chronological with the necessary backstory inserted at the right moments.

From an action point of view, The Heroes has the expected vitality and the battle scenes that constitute the core of the novel are vivid, though the individual combat scenes, including one for the ages that probably best represents the author's take on the fantasy tropes he partly reinforces, partly subverts, were more memorable for me.

The intrigue - especially in Finree's machinations on behalf of her husband and in Calder's attempts to improve his status - was also on par with the author's best and the expected quips kept coming, with Bremmer's monologues maybe not quite as entertaining as Glotka's but close...

The Heroes flows well and despite its heft is a novel one finishes fast since the pages turn by themselves, so from all "check the boxes in reviewing" points of view, an outstanding novel which gets my A++ highest rating; but still, its intrinsic limitation in content left me wishing for a wider scope novel and feeling that in the grand scheme of the First Law universe this one will be just a minor side novel...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is the gritty type of book that I enjoy best. Flawed characters, unpredictable outcomes, and a touch of humor. This is definitely a notch above "Best Served Cold" as a stand alone, and compliments the First Law trilogy quite well.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer ballard
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amy parker
I wanted to rate it 1 star so Joe would post it on twitter, but I couldn't because it's too awesome.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
It was good
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is the 5th book by Joe Abercombie I've read and it's definitely on par with all the previous - achievement almost non-existent in most of the series I've read so far. I wouldn't call it a stand alone book - too much of the characters and the events occurring have their origin in previous books. But if you are new to Joe Abercombie's world - so much better for you - do the right thing and start from The Blade Itself. I am a little envy of all those that are yet to meet the characters.

The Heroes is a book about few heroes and even more anti heroes. The POV characters in the book are all complex and tri-dimensional , I am yet to decide who of them I really like and who I dislike. Every one of them stands for something and everyone develops and changes as the days past. The one who really stands out (IMO) is Bremer Dan Gorst - the insides of his head are very detailed and really remind me somewhat of Glokta.

The battle sequences are detailed and realistic, decisions and lack of such affecting the lives of thousands. Both sides of the war are equally well described and I really loved the different view points of characters on the same matter. The pace is just right - not rushing forward the plot yet steadily advancing, keeping the reader glued to the book till the end.

And of course the end was outstanding. There are all those fantasy books with banal endings, you could've guessed from the start. Not Joe Abercombie - he keeps some trumps in his sleeves and plays them just when you didn't expect them. That really raps the book and makes it more satisfying.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
brenda keith
It's very rare that I'm unable to finish a book; I even try to finish books that I dislike, whether to sate my curiosity about the ending or with the hope that it might get better. I couldn't force myself to finish The Heroes though. After weeks of struggling to pick it up, then reading only a few chapters at a time before needing to go find something else to do, I finally gave up.

The narrative style was the biggest problem for me. The story, like most of its kind, is told through multiple third person POVs. Unlike most of its kind, each POV is narrated in the POV character's dialect. This is a great concept and could have made the storytelling really interesting, if only the characters weren't all uneducated and vulgar. I don't mind slang, horrendous grammar, and painful sentence structure for characters' speech, but when it's also in the narrative itself it gets extremely distracting. I don't expect a bunch of soldiers to talk like nuns, but the expletives felt overdone. Maybe they were supposed to feel overdone, as the uneducated are more likely to rely on a handful of four-letter words than on meaningful communication, but it also became distracting and annoying. I don't like listening to uneducated people spout off their gutter trash vocabulary, and I don't particularly enjoy reading it either. I couldn't get immersed into the world at all, which meant I couldn't really care about the characters or their plights.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Best read since David Gemmel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Without a doubt this was for me the best book of 2011, and quite possibly one of the best books I have read in the last few years.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
libby young
Straightforward description of war. Shows how gritty, dirty and scary it is. Characters are fully formed, action is tight and graphic.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I didn't enjoy it. The book just seemed to drag on although it did have some captivating moments. But overall this is just a story about a war fought in a few battles in the same space over the course of 3 days. So it's all about the tough characters. There is no love story as in the first trilogy. It's all grit and violence. No real point to the book except to point out that there is no point to wars in general. But there was no story to tell. I just wanted it to finish. I bought this book and the following one when I was in the middle of the trilogy (before I was disappointed at the lack of ending) so I still have in my "to read" pile "Red Country" and I can't make myself pick it up and start it. I'm a big fan of other fantasy books like The Wheel of Time, Ice&Fire, The Way of Kings or The Name of the Wind, but Abercrombie just doesn't do it for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
patricia trapani
just the right amount of suspense, drama and romance. the characters were believable and down to earth. the story was easy to follow and the scenes jumped off the page. easy reading! definitely a page turner!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Great characters, great story with twists and turns. Joe Abercrombie has become one of my favorite authors and he steps up his game even more with this book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
adam szymkowicz
I don't mind violence. And this book has more than its share. It's brutal, and there's a kind of savage grace in it. Ultimately, though, I didn't feel like it all added up to as much story as it could have. I've no doubt that the writer can do this; I just don't think he quite achieved it here.

The characters are interesting, but not fully compelling. And while the battle scenes are finely wrought, they tended to tax me a bit. Again, I'm not squeemish; it was more a sense that I'm not sure they were always necessary or organic to the tale at hand.

Regardless, I'd still recommend this book. This is a writer with passion. Love that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
selene cuevas
Best JA book so far. Everything you didn't know you wanted. Gritty, fresh and punch you in the nose real. Exceeds expectations.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fred wang
One thing about Abercrombie is that 4 days after finishing this book I seem to still be thinking about its characters. I had the same reaction after reading all of his other books as well. Joe unlike most authors out their really makes you care about each character (or hate). The Heroes is a great book and I highly recommend it, but Id really like to see Joe bring back a certain someone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michael murdock
Love Joe Abercrombie!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
annie shannon
More than other fantasy novels, this book reminded me of The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara's classic Civil War novel about the battle of Gettysburg. The Heroes may take place in a fantasy setting, but first and foremost it's a war novel. Kudos to Abercrombie for trying something different while still maintaining the style and atmosphere of his previous work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john kupper
This was a very good book particularly because I am intrested in greek myths.I really like the stories of Jason and the Argonauts and How Perseus slayed Medusa.I give it five stars!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
On the front cover of this book you will read a quote by Lev Grossman of the Wall Street Journal that reads "Imagine The Lord Of The Rings as directed by Kurosawa." A more accurate quote would be "Imagine The Lord Of The Rings written by Elmore Leonard."

A merging of styles by two legendary authors couldn't be bad, could it? Oh yes, yes it can.

Rather than "The Heroes", Joe Abercombie should have titled this book, "Medieval World Meets The Old West In Such A Way You Will Want To Tear Out Your Eyes."

There are warriors wielding swords here, oh yes, but all of said warriors speak like Wyatt Earp might have sounded. Yes, you read that correctly. As bad as that might seem, things get worse. The narrative is equally as stunted. Check out this beginning:

"Too old for this s***," muttered Craw, wincing at the pain in his dodgy knee with every other step. High time he retired. Long past high time. Sat on the porch behind his house with a pipe, smiling at the water as the sun sank down, a day's honest work behind him. Not that he had a house. But when he got one, it'd be a good one.

The narrative grows even more stunted later on and you'll see words such as 'em (as in 'them') and other Old West venacular. Style does not work with the setting. Not at all. Which is too bad. Two favorite genres are Westerns and Medieval Fantasy. Disappointed.

Read again that last paragraph. You'll get a good idea of what's in store for you if you buy this book.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Very bloody. Not much background on why the all the battles. Hard to say what century takes place in.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Like Best Served Cold this book is simply NOT fantasy. There is about one paragraph with an element of fantasy, the rest is an extremely long and, despite the blood and gore, boring description of one battle. Plus Abercrombie really needs to buy a thesaurus, just take a look at how many times his characters "smirk".
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
barry ozeroff
When one of the first words you read in a book is an expletive, you can surmise that the writer is going to be using language, sex, and violence instead of literary skill. This book is very bloody without making you care for any of the characters. I got about halfway through before the run-on sentances and bad language drove me to delete the book off of my kindle....and I almost always finish books! Even bad ones! Don't let the cool cover decieve you: try a sample before wasting your money like I did.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I bought this on Audible and the Narrator was fantastic...except he did Shivers wrong but let's move on.
I think Joe is one of my favorite up and coming novelists, his style and characters are amazing, Heroes was not. Maybe too many characters to follow on audio, there were some aspects I enjoyed but too scattered. I unfortunately do not recommend this book.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
i hate this book it sucked i would not recommened this book. i have never been so bored with a book.
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