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The Heroes [Hardcover]

Joe Abercrombie BA
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 11.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

27 Jan 2011

They say Black Dow's killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbour, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they've brought a lot of sharpened metal with them.

Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honour on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he's far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Even if it's his own.

Prince Calder isn't interested in honour, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he'll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Just as long as he doesn't have to fight for it himself.

Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins any more, he just wants to do the right thing. But can he even tell what that is with the world burning down around him?

Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts, or even the strongest arms that prevail.

Three men. One battle. No Heroes.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (27 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575083832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575083837
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, as well as the standalone fantasy Best Served Cold.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, and his daughters Grace and Eve. He still occasionally edits concerts and music festivals for TV, but spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels.

Here are the First Law Trilogy in series order:

The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
The Last Argument of Kings

Standalone:

Best Served Cold

Product Description

Review

The Heroes is an indictment of war and the duplicity that corrupts men striving for total power: bloody and violent, but never gratuitously so, it's imbued with cutting humour, acute characterisation and world-weary wisdom about the weaknesses of the human race. Brilliant. (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

An action-packed novel full of brutality, black-humour and razor sharp characterisation. (Dave Bradley SFX)

{A} relentless tale of war, intrigue, passion, distrust, treachery and general all-round bad behaviour. Don't miss it or you deserve to be gutted like a stuck pig, your entrails left to feed the crows. (Peter Thornton THE SUN)

The Heroes is the first major fantasy release of 2011, and it looks like the new year is already off to a cracking start. The Heroes is Joe Abercrombie doing what he does best but better than ever before: gritty, violent, morally ambiguous and darkly funny fantasy with a streak of intelligent cynicism. (THE WERTZONE)

A well-constructed, absorbing war novel that returns to a familiar stamping ground. There's satisfying character development, exploration of the ironies of war, and of course plenty of blood and treachery, all delivered with Abercrombie's trademark wry humour. (SPECULATIVE HORIZONS)

Abercrombie's take on fantasy has always been dark, almost nihilistic, yet shot through with black humour. The deliberate irony of the title of this book is that he does not write about heroes, he writes about ordinary people thrust in to extraordinary situations who seldom, if ever, acquit themselves heroically. Highly recommended both for fantasy readers and lovers of Cornwell and Iggulden. (BOOK GEEKS)

Abercrombie has quickly risen to the top ranks of heroic fantasy. This novel, a stand-alone epic that doesn't require you to have read his others, makes it abundantly clear why. Even among writers known for doing fine characterization, Abercrombie's approach is strikingly effective and not quite like anyone else's. (SF REVIEWS)

The Heroes redoubles my belief in Mr. Abercrombie's talents. He approaches fantasy from new angles with creative ideas that are phenomenally well-executed. He adeptly juggles handfuls of brilliant, provocative, entertaining and empathetic characters, and encourages the reader to see the world through their (clouded) eyes rather than his own. The First Law was great, Best Served Cold was brilliant and The Heroes is truly masterful. (PORNOKITSCH)

For me this will be in the top 5 Fantasy Novels of 2011 without a doubt. If you have read Abercrombie's work before I have little doubt you will find this his best release to date... The fight scenes are sharper, pointier and more realistic. There is better character development. And finally, the narration is darker, grittier and even more seamless than ever. For a standalone novel to achieve so much is simply incredible... a true testament to the skills of Abercrombie. (FANTASY FACTION)

Once again Abercrombie rewards readers with a novel you will not want to put down. A fast-moving plot, memorable characters and an epic sweep all combine to make The Heroes a fine example of the genre. (Den Patrick TOTAL SCI FI)

Book Description

Three men. One battle. No Heroes.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No more heroes 3 Aug 2011
By Nick Brett TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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!
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Blood Soaked Battle... 4 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover
Three Men. One Battle. No Heroes.

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie is a standalone novel set in the same world he created for the First Law trilogy. It follows the course of a single battle, over the period of three days, between the forces of the Union and the Northmen. The opposing armies have been dancing around one another for many months but in the valley of Osrung, they finally come together in a definitive clash.

There are three main characters in the novel. Firstly there is Bremer dan Gorst, a disgraced master swordsman fighting in the Union army. He is attempting to reclaim his place in his King's court and will stop at nothing in order to do so.

Next is Curden Craw, a lifelong soldier in the army of the Northmen. He has reached the age where the appeal of battle is swiftly receding. His nerves and knees are shot and he wants nothing more than peace.

Finally there is Prince Calder, considered a coward by many, he is only interested in power and how best to avoid getting involved in all the fighting. His father was once king of the Northmen and Calder continues to crave the throne.

It is fantastic to read and discover the metamorphosis of these men over the battles duration. Each are forced to face hard facts about themselves and I don't think any end up where they would have expected when the battle began.

The battle itself is a brutal, bloody, frenetic affair and nothing is sugar coated. Men are violently dispatched and little is left to the imagination. The action is merciless and I think the novel is all the better for it. Many readers will be used to a battle in a fantasy novel having an almost clinical description. Abercrombie doesn't write that way.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abercrombie on Heroism 8 Feb 2011
By DRFP
Format:Kindle Edition
The Heroes should firmly establish Abercrombie as one of the leading authors in modern fantasy. Arguably, in this reviewer's opinion (with his lukewarm feelings toward Malazan and with the continued inability of GRRM to move on with A Song of Ice and Fire), he is perhaps the best in the genre right now. Maybe, maybe not; but Abercrombie's fifth book certainly does nothing to harm his already strong reputation.

The Heroes is dark and gritty, even by the author's own standards. The environment, the characters and the events are all bleak. Imagine the Black Company dug in for a three day battle minus the comic relief of Goblin and One Eye, plus a big dollop of Malazan cynicism and you'll get a feeling for the atmosphere surrounding the events of this book. Abercrombie slightly over does his rubbishing of heroism on the battlefield - every other chapter does not require characters to reflect on the nature of being a hero - but through smart characters, especially Gorst, the author tackles the issue convincingly.

Although in a way it's disappointing that the more strongly established characters (Shivers, the Dogman, Bayaz) are sideshows in this novel credit is due to Abercrombie for creating new characters or developing older, previously less important ones. The whole gamut of Gorst, Calder, Curnden Craw down to Felnigg and Stranger-Come-Knocking are a wide range of varied and well written characters. Abercrombie's writing is as good as ever too. It perhaps lacks a bit of the sparkle present in BSC but only because the tone is so unrelentingly grim (though the gallows humour present throughout does alleviate things).

There are a couple of downsides to the novel though. One is minor - simply, haven't we been here before?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars An O K read
Quite liked this book without rating it at the highest level. Some interesting characters and action sequences so happy to recommend if this is your genre, provided you are taking... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Ian H
5.0 out of 5 stars the heroes
Chapter 2 of the First Law Series, the keeping you reading carries on from chapter 1, gripping stuff, love it.
Published 24 days ago by ken morley
5.0 out of 5 stars A fight.
Clear, crisp and complex characters who fight their own demons as much as their enemies. There is little big picture here, this is not a 'world building' novel. Read more
Published 25 days ago by david adams
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep deep slaughter but surprisingly insightful about the people...
Some really good reviews out there; let me take a different perspective. Heroes is a battle, pointless and violent, and that is its point. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robin L. Stacpoole
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have more
Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. I was emerged in the story so much, the day job took second place. Can't wait for more.
Published 1 month ago by M A BYRNE
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel.
Was put on to Abercrombie by a friend, and now I can't stop reading him. Magnificent, intelligent, exciting, well written stuff.
Published 1 month ago by Gareth Beeson
2.0 out of 5 stars not one of his best
jumped too much for me. some really good characterization though! but i expect that from Mr Abercrombie.... just not hit the mark for me this time
Published 1 month ago by rmpharoah
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A grim and gritty tale of war. Abercrombie's best book so far, really good prose you really feel the rain and the futility of it all viewed through he eyes of some of his previous... Read more
Published 1 month ago by The Goat
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the others
3* says it all: It's okay. Hasn't the wit of some of his other books and it didn't grip me at all.
Published 1 month ago by Jason A Strathdee
4.0 out of 5 stars Proper good read
I only chose this book as it was referred to me by a mate and it was on the kindle store cheap that day.

best quid I ever spent. swords. blood. the lot. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
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