Book Review: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Copy of Book Review (55)

Oh boy, here we go again: another Joe Abercrombie book. What can I say? He is fast becoming perhaps my favourite author. For those who have read any of my previous Abercrombie reviews, then I am sure you can guess what I thought: I loved this.

So, what is the premise of The Heroes? It isn’t a very grimdark name for a book after all. Well, war has come to the North. The armies of the Union under Lord Marshal Kroy and the armies of Black Dow, Protector of the North, are converging on the quiet town of Osrung and the set of ancient standing stones that lurk on the outskirts of the town after months of campaigning: months of back and forth, of marching miles and miles across heath, moor and muddy roads. Now, the fate of the North will be decided as thousands of men battle, struggle, kill, scream and die over a few fields and hills. Amongst them are our central cast of characters, some of whom’s decisions that will influence the course of the battle –  and the world at large. Others will just be dragged along by the tides of war and will do all the can to emerge, more or less, in one piece.

This book really shines in a lot of aspects, but one area where it stands out even amongst Abercrombie books is the pace. This book feels incredibly fast-paced and the pages fly by, which is no mean feat considering that it is a chunky by at over 600 pages. And, at least in comparison to the original trilogy, this was a bit of change of gears for the author as the trilogy takes a little while to get the plot going, but not here. As a standalone, this is obviously down to a certain amount of necessity, but it will be interesting to see if writing such a fast-paced novel like this one – and Best Served Cold – has an affect on his next series, The Age of Madness. In retrospect, having read A Little Hatred first, I think it has.

Now, as a Joe Abercrombie book, we were obviously going to end up talking about the characters. I always do. He just writes such powerful, unique (but multi-layered) voices for each character and this book is no exception, whether it is the jaded veteran who has seen everything, the new recruit with dreams of becoming a hero and winning a name for himself or a disgraced noble out to redeem his past failures. We get them all, and they will all capture you imagination. Which is good because there are quite a few characters to keep an eye on for a standalone novel, though a few of them are known from [revious books. Personal favourites of mine were Bremer dan Gorst (his internal monologue was brilliant, tragic and hilarious at the same time), ‘Red’ Beck and Corporal Tunny.

Aside from fantastic characters, a reoccurring theme in Joe Abercrombie’s books is the gritty realism and pessimistic nature of the stories that highlights the worst in humanity and what humanity can do. I guess that is why it is grimdark fantasy, really. And this was something that I think this book did really well. Here, war isn’t noble or glorious (except in the eyes of those who have never seen it), it is terrifying, gruesome, wasteful and it leaves no one untouched – even those who have avoided any physical pain. Though it isn’t without its sparks of joy, goodness and kindness, but they never appear when and where you expect.

Overall, I 100% recommend this book. It gripped me from the first page and I hope it does the same for you.



11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

  1. Excellent review. 🙂 Unfortunately, I’ve never read a Joe Abercrombie novel, but I’ve heard a lot about him. This seems like a novel I can read since it is a standalone with well-developed characters and a fast pace. It’s not always possible to invest time in a series, so, standalones are preferable. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you read any of the others? Starting here may ruin a few twists from the original trilogy, but I have seen a few people say they started in this one and still loved all the books. So hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

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