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Book Details

The Heroes

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The Times
The Peacemaker
The Best of Us
Black Dow
What War?
Old Hands
New Hands
The Right Thing
Give and Take
The Very Model
Ours Not to Reason Why
Cry Havoc and…
Devoutly to be Wished
The Better Part of Valour
Paths of Glory
The Day’s Work
The Defeated
Fair Treatment
Rest and Recreation
Opening Remarks
The Infernal Contraptions
Reasoned Debate
Chains of Command
Closing Arguments
Straight Edge
The Bridge
Strange Bedfellows
Hearts and Minds
Good Deeds
One Day More
The King’s Last Hero
My Land
The Standard Issue
Under the Wing
Still Yesterday
For What We Are About to Receive…
The Riddle of the Ground
Onwards and Upwards
More Tricks
The Tyranny of Distance
Pointed Metal
Peace in Our Time
The Moment of Truth
Desperate Measures
Stuff Happens
End of the Road
By the Sword
The Currents of History
New Hands
Old Hands
Everyone Serves
Just Deserts
Black Calder
Book Cover
Has a genre Has a synopsis Has an extract Has a year read Has a rating In my library In a series 
 First Law World*
#5 of 10
First Law World*   See series as if on a bookshelf
A series of novels written by Joe Abercrombie that take place in the same world that the original First Law trilogy did.

1) The Blade Itself
2) Before They Are Hanged
3) Last Argument of Kings
4) Best Served Cold
5) The Heroes
6) Red Country
7) Sharp Ends
8) A Little Hatred
9) The Trouble with Peace
10) The Wisdom of Crowds
Copyright © 2011 by Joe Abercrombie
For Eve
One day you will read this
And say, “Dad, why all the swords?”
Your August Majesty, Lord Bayaz, the First of the Magi, has conveyed to Marshal Kroy your urgent desire that the campaign be brought to a swift conclusion.
No comments on file
Synopsis* (may contain spoilers)
The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie is a gritty, action-packed fantasy novel set in a world where war and political intrigue dictate the fates of nations. On the frontlines of the conflict are the soldiers of the North, battling against the Union army in a seemingly endless campaign for control of disputed territory.

The novel is set during one particularly bloody battle, known as the Battle of the Heroes, where the Northern army is attempting to take control of a hilltop fortress known as the High Places from the Union army. The story follows a diverse cast of characters on both sides of the conflict, each with their own motives and ambitions.

On the Northern side, the story begins with Black Dow, a ruthless and cunning warlord who is leading the charge against the Union army. Dow is a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to win, even if it means betraying his own soldiers or sacrificing innocent civilians. Alongside Dow is his loyal henchman, Grim, a giant of a man with a fierce reputation as a warrior.

On the Union side, we meet Colonel Bremer dan Gorst, a proud and honorable man who is tasked with defending the High Places against the Northern assault. Bremer is a skilled swordsman and tactician, but he is also haunted by his past and his failures as a soldier. He is accompanied by a group of soldiers, each with their own unique personalities and quirks.

As the battle rages on, the novel shifts focus between these different characters, showing how their actions and decisions shape the course of the conflict. Abercrombie does an excellent job of portraying the brutality and chaos of war, emphasizing the toll it takes on both the soldiers and the civilians caught up in the crossfire. Despite the violence and bloodshed, however, there are also moments of humor and camaraderie, particularly among the soldiers on both sides.

One of the key themes of the novel is the nature of heroism, and how it is often murky and ambiguous in times of war. While some characters are able to rise to the occasion and inspire others with their bravery and selflessness, others are more concerned with personal gain or survival. Abercrombie also explores the ways in which war can transform people, turning them into monsters or heroes depending on their choices.

There are several standout moments in the novel, such as a ferocious one-on-one battle between Bremer and Dow, or a tense standoff between Grim and a Union soldier. Abercrombie’s talent for writing action scenes is on full display here, as he expertly choreographs the chaos of battle while still giving each character their own distinct fighting style.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of The Heroes, however, is the way in which Abercrombie uses the backdrop of war to comment on larger themes of power, politics, and morality. The novel is filled with complex characters who are driven by their own motivations and desires, and who must navigate a world of shifting alliances and shifting loyalties. As the Battle of the Heroes reaches its climax, the consequences of these actions come to a head, and the fate of several characters hang in the balance.

Overall, The Heroes is an engrossing and thought-provoking novel that combines thrilling action with nuanced character development and probing social commentary. It is a standout work in the fantasy genre, and a worthy addition to the canon of war novels.

Extract (may contain spoilers)
The stable doors shut with a bang like a headsman’s axe, and it took all of Calder’s famous arrogance not to jump clean in the air. War meetings had never been his favourite style of gathering, especially ones full of his enemies. Three of Dow’s five War Chiefs were in attendance and, as Calder’s ever-worsening luck would have it, they were the three that liked him least.

Glama Golden looked the hero from his scalp to his toes, big-knuckle brawny and heavy-jaw handsome, his long hair, his bristling moustache, his eyelashes to their tips all the colour of pale gold. He wore more yellow metal than a princess on her wedding day–golden torc around his thick neck, bracelets at his thick wrists and fistfuls of rings on his thick fingers, every part of him buffed to a pretty shine with bluster and self-love.

Cairm Ironhead was a very different prospect. His scar-crossed face was a fortress of frown you could’ve blunted an axe on, eyes like nails under a brow like an anvil, cropped hair and beard an uncompromising black. He was shorter than Golden but wider still, a slab of a man, chain mail glinting under a cloak of black bear-fur. The rumour was he’d strangled that bear. Possibly for looking at him wrong. Neither Ironhead nor Golden had much beyond contempt for Calder, but luckily they’d always despised each other like night hates day and their feud left no hatred in the quiver for anyone else.

When it came to hatred, Brodd Tenways had a bottomless supply. He was one of those bastards who can’t even breathe quietly, ugly as incest and always delighted to push it in your face, leering from the shadows like the village pervert at a passing milkmaid. Foul-mouthed, foul-toothed, foul-smelling, and with some kind of hideous rash patching his twisted face he gave every sign of taking great pride in. He’d made a bitter enemy of Calder’s father, lost to him in battle twice, and been forced to kneel and give up everything he had. Getting it back only seemed to have worsened his mood, and he’d easily shifted all his years of bile from Bethod to his sons, and Calder in particular.

Then there was the head of this mismatched family of villains, the self-styled Protector of the North, Black Dow himself. He sat easy in Skarling’s Chair, one leg folded under him while the other boot tapped gently at the ground. He had something like a smile on his deep-lined, hard-scarred face but his eyes were narrowed, sly as a hungry tomcat that just now spied a pigeon. He’d taken to wearing fine clothes, the sparkling chain that Calder’s father used to wear around his shoulders. But he couldn’t hide what he was, and didn’t want to either. A killer to the tips of his ears. Or ear, since the left one was no more than a flap of gristle.

As if Black Dow’s name and his grin weren’t threats enough, he’d made sure they were shored up with plenty of steel. A long, grey sword leaned against Skarling’s Chair on one side, an axe on the other, notched with long use, in easy reach of his dangling fingers. Killer’s fingers–scuffed, and swollen, and scarred at the knuckles from a lifetime of the dead knew what dark work.

Splitfoot stood in the gloom at Dow’s shoulder. His Second, meaning his closest bodyguard and chief arse-licker, stuck to his master tight as his shadow with thumbs hooked in his silver-buckled sword-belt. Two of his Carls lurked behind, armour, and shield-rims, and drawn swords all agleam, others dotted about the walls, flanking the door. There was a smell of old hay and old horses, but far stronger was the reek of ready violence, thick as the stink in a marsh.

And as if all that wasn’t enough to make Calder shit his well-tailored trousers, Shivers still loomed at his shoulder, adding his own chill threat to the recipe.


Added: 23-Nov-2019
Last Updated: 22-Mar-2023


Kindle e-Book
In my libraryI read this editionOrder from amazon.comHas a cover imageBook Edition Cover
Date Issued:
Cir 07-Feb-2011
Kindle e-Book
Cover Price:
1)   9 Nov 2020 - 18 Feb 2021
Internal ID:
United Kingdom

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 neighbor, 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.


For glory, for victory, for staying alive.
Book Cover
Notes and Comments:
First ebook edition: February 2011



Joe Abercrombie  
Birth: 30 Dec 1974 Lancaster, England


2011Good ReadsBest Fantasy Nominee
2012Britsh Fantasy SocietyRobert Holdstock Award Nominee
2012David Gemmell AwardsLegend Award Nominee
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Presented: 19-May-2024 09:59:35

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