The Heroes (First Law World 2) Paperback – 10 May 2012
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Highly recommended - a funny, finely-wrought, terrifically energetic work of high fantasy. Seek it out (Joe Hill)
Three men. One battle. No Heroes.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.Read more ›
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Every single time I open this book and read the first page I am drawn into this book. I rarely read a book twice. I have read this book about a dozen times. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Mike Smith
This is Abercrombie at his best. Great characters, gritty storylines, realism and above all his unique ability to add humour to every situation. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jaksenpollock
The Shattered Sea was my first and only encounter so far with Joe Abercrombie. I relished them. So, I bought the rest of his works in anticipation of same. Read morePublished 2 months ago by hellraiser
I've had this book for a while on my Kindle and I'm regretting not getting around to it sooner. So many of the characters feel so real, warts and all, that you can almost smell the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by robert johnson
I'm not a regular devotee of fantasy, and I never thought the 'First Law' trilogy as good as everyone else seemed to (too pleased with itself, and way, way, way too slow). Read morePublished 7 months ago by Bertolt
Good, I enjoyed "Best served cold" most of this trilogy, but any Joe Abercrombie is worth reading.Published 8 months ago by R N Lowe