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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on February 23, 2011
The blurb indicates that this book is about a battle. It is much more than that. The Heroes referred to in the title are not people but ancient stones on a hill. Through various points of view, the reader gets into the mindset of various characters with very real emotions and streams of thought. The novel does build upon events in the preceding trilogy and stand alone novel; but it can be read as a stand alone as well. It is also very bloody and crude in places. Definitely not for the squeamish. Beneath the blood, and grittiness lies an underlying tenderness not as evident in the previous books. All the characters have flaws, as do we all, but true heroism becomes evident in some of the characters in quiet ways. Interestingly, despite the short time span, the grand narrative of the five novel story arc is significantly advanced as well, albeit in subtle ways. Abercrombie is building to something pretty grand here, and it has a lot more depth than he is generally given credit for. All in all, one has to be realistic about these things.
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on February 21, 2011
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.
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"The Heroes" is stand alone work by Joe Abercrombie. Although a separate story, there are definite connections and references to the previously published "The First Law" trilogy and the single novel "Best Served Cold". The hardcover book is 560 pages in length while the Kindle e-edition is a 1538 Kb download.


This book describes 3 days of an ongoing battle in the Osrung Valley. A valley that contains the hamlet of Osrung and whose outstanding feature is a centrally located hill called 'The Heroes', so named because of a circle of huge monolith carved stones around its top. And of course 'The Heroes' could also refer to anyone of several individuals you'll come across during the telling of this gruesome and violent tale.
The story involves a showdown battle between two groups: the wild and unruly 'Northmen' on one side and the King's Union Army on the other. This is a tale that makes me recall the statement, 'the fog of war' in which so many perfectly set-up situations can, and often do, go awry. All as a result of uncontrollable things such as the weather and good old fashion luck (or lack thereof) and also things that should't be a factor but frequently are, such as petty rivalries and jealousies, inflated egos, military incompetence, miscommunication and even well intentioned human error.


Things I liked about this novel...

1.) lots of actions...lots of intrigue

2.) told from many different individual points of view. I really liked how this multi-person story telling technique was able to show a persons individual strengths and courage as well as his/her hidden vulnerabilities and frailties.

3.) alternating location viewpoints...frequently when an event/action was occurring in one camp, the subsequent scene was of the same event/action, but from the viewpoint of the other side. This was particularly effective in demonstrating the effects 'the fog of war' could/would have, in what seemed like a fairly straight forward situation.

4.) many interesting characters with many interesting and different personal agendas...often having little to do with the overall military objectives.

5a.) Five MAPS...The maps are concise and give the names of all important landmarks to be found in the Osrung Valley.
The first map gives a view of the Osrung Valley prior to the engagement. The second through fourth maps show the positions of the two side at the beginning of a new day...very useful in comparing changes from the day before. The fifth map show the final positions of the two sides after the battle.
5b.) The Kindle e-edition have maps that are expandable for greater detail...a useful feature in this particular case.


1.) extremely graphic descriptions of gore and violence that may put off some readers. So be forewarned.

2.) the character of Colonel Bremer dan Gorst. An interesting, larger than life action hero of the King's Union Army. My concern here was that Abercrombie was trying to recreate a character much like the incredibly tragic hero/villain from "The First Law" trilogy, Sand dan Glokta. Glokta was/still is, one of my favourite characters in all of the fantasy genre. When I perceived an attempt was being made to recreate another such person I was wary...and rightly so, because Gorst, despite all his 'baggage' and internal musing, does not come close to reaching the quality of Glokta, with his inner tortured soul. Gorst, after a while, I found hard to like.

I loved this book; I could barely put it down. My only minor complaint as mentioned above. Otherwise brilliant.
4 3/4 to 5 Stars

Ray Nicholson
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on March 2, 2011
Joe Abercrombie is one of my favorite authors and overall this book continues that standing. Populated with a vaste array of very interesting characters, which is Abercrombie's greatest strength, this storey represents both sides of this battle in an even sided manner so that you really can't pick sides.

This book is best read along with Mr Abercrombie's other works, which I can highly recommend. Certainly understanding the origins of this story enhances your enjoyment.

The only reason I cannot give this book 5 stars is that it lacks the delightful sense of humour found in the original series. If he can bring that back we will continue to follow Gorst, Craw, Calder, Finree, Shivers and the many other characters who bring these books to life well into the future.
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on July 18, 2015
Another excellent Abercrombie book. More great fighting and humour in the style of the first law trilogy. Abercrombie shows he can use other characters to fill Glokta's skepticism when he is missing from the plot. Hope there will be more to come.
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on May 18, 2014
I have been really enjoying this series, can't wait for the next one. Hope the wait for the next in the series isn't too long.
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on July 6, 2011
As a fan of Mr Abercrombie's other works I thought at first that this was a disapointing work but gradually I got taken in by the story to the point where I realised that what is supposedly a story about a single battle was in fact a very layered and intense story.

I highly recomend it!
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on October 22, 2013
It’s a wonder the man doesn’t get lost in his own head "I do" and love every second of it. Although I gave this book 2 stars I would have given it 5stars if the audible edition had been narrated by Steven Pacey. For that reason I couldn’t get through it soon enough. I will read this book and the other 5 when that one audible edition comes to Canada.
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on May 16, 2011
The story lacked the character development of previous books. The bloody nine was often mentioned but never shows up. There were lots of battles if that's your thing. The author puts the pompous Bayaz in again. This doesn't enhance the story.
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