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The Heroes: Three men. One battle. No Heroes. [Kindle Edition]

Joe Abercrombie
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This blood-drenched, thought-provoking dissection of a three-day battle is set in the same world as Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself, etc.), but stands very well alone. Union commander Lord Marshal Kroy coordinates the fight with the aid of a motley group of incompetent, self-important officers. The strangely sympathetic Col. Bremer dan Gorst is officially a royal observer who nurses a burning desire to kill or be killed. Leading a much smaller army against the Union is Black Dow, whose grip on the throne of the Northmen is tenuous and based on fear and brutality. Calder, a slippery and cunning egotist, advocates peace while plotting to take Black Dow's place. Abercrombie never glosses over a moment of the madness, passion, and horror of war, nor the tribulations that turn ordinary people into the titular heroes. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When he�s not writing large-scale fantasy novels, Abercrombie moonlights as a freelance film editor, a skill that undoubtedly contributes to his forte of crafting cinematically vivid action and crisp, witty dialogue. His latest novel revisits territory well trodden in his First Law trilogy, which opened with The Blade Itself (2006), and traverses an imaginary landscape reminiscent of a medieval Europe populated by citizens of the Union Empire and its tribal enemies to the north. Here the story concentrates on a sometimes violent, sometimes bafflingly strange three-day battle taking place on and around an insignificant Northlands hill crowned by monolithic burial stones called The Heroes. While the battle looms as only one stepping stone in a larger campaign by the Union�s Lord Marshal Kroy in preventing the North�s Black Dow from seizing more lands, the clash of key adversaries will prove decisive. Yet the premise here is less important than the multiple political intrigues, scandals, and jealous feuds enacted by Abercrombie�s parade of colorful characters. One of Abercrombie�s most masterfully executed and compellingly readable novels to date. --Carl Hays

Product Details

  • File Size: 1322 KB
  • Print Length: 506 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (January 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004JHY6OG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,430 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
189 of 195 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Was that a tear in my eye? February 9, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Heroes embodies everything I like about the fantasy genre right now.

I was an English major once upon a time, and used to read plenty of serious literature. But as I've grown older, I have less patience for that kind of fiction. Writers of genre fiction, and fantasy in particular, haven't forgotten that great books are ultimately about great storytelling. It's about putting interesting characters in tight spots and seeing what happens. Everything else is secondary.

And The Heroes is a bloody great story. It's tightly focused on a single battle over a three-day period. The action is well done, but it's mainly the very flawed characters making good and bad decisions in desperate situations that make the story so entertaining. Each chapter has a point-of-view character, and the tone and style change, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically, as the story shifts between them. (The dialog and language of the northmen is just one example, and Abercrombie deliberately draws some humor out of this.) Each chapter reads like a well-honed short story, with a mini story arc for that particular character. I found each of the points of view interesting and entertaining -- there wasn't a single chapter where I found myself skimming to get to the next good bit, because every page is a pleasure.

There is a theme here (the nature of heroism), but it's not heavy handed and adds some emotional depth to the story. I even had a tear in my eye at one point. But mostly the book struck me as honest, funny, touching, and vastly entertaining.
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Need MORE. More books, faster damn it! February 16, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase

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.
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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abercrombie adds another grand chapter to his world January 31, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a interesting book which delt with battles and ...
This was a interesting book which delt with battles and the individual views of war. The author handled the individual characters in the book realistically.
Published 3 days ago by Townsend Foster Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy the world of the first law
If you enjoy the world of the first law, then you will love this continuation. Didn't give five stars because some of the characters felt just too shallow and rather stereotypical.
Published 4 days ago by Ursus B.
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but the First Law trilogy is better
Very good, but the First Law trilogy is better. Still, I think I'll read everything Joe Abercrombie puts out there.
Published 7 days ago by Ovidiu Dumitrache
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love Joe Abercrombie!!!
Published 18 days ago by Michele DiModica
5.0 out of 5 stars Damn beautiful, damn good writer, taste the WAR.
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... Read more
Published 22 days ago by The Viking
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story, just a little slow
I enjoyed this book. It was an interesting look at a number of different aspects of a war that lasted 3-4 days. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Andy
5.0 out of 5 stars nonstop action
First book in a long time that had a cast that made me smile like Erickson's characters. Nonstop action throughout
Published 1 month ago by esjay
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark, gritty battle novel
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. Read more
Published 1 month ago by A. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Fairly similar to the blade itself in terms of plot, but it certainly doesn't detract from his writing prowess .
Published 1 month ago by Isaac J DeLozier
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely entertaining war story.
I loved this story a lot. Curden Craw and his lot were amazing. Gorst was fun. I might read this again someday!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Joe Abercrombie is a freelance film editor, who works on documentaries and live music events. He lives and works in Bath. THE BLADE ITSELF, his debut novel, is the first novel of The First Law trilogy, followed by BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED and LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS. His new stand-alone bestseller is BEST SERVED COLD.


Topic From this Discussion
Ridiculous pricing
I agree. I have been checking the prices on these books and it seems that since Hachette decided to start dictating prices they've started being very unreasonable. I'm not going to pay more than $14 for an ebook and I'm definitely not going to pay MORE for the ebook than the paperback!
Jan 22, 2012 by Kassander |  See all 5 posts
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