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.
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.
©2011 Joe Abercrombie (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Limited
This book was originally sold with a change of narrator from the First Law books however the publisher has taken note and re-recorded this title and the following book with Steven Pacey. If you bought this with the other narrator you can re-download the title and it will be the new version with Steven Pacey. Excellant news given his brilliant performance.
Bought this title many moons ago and then wondered why I had done so: didn't bother to start listening. Until, that is, about a couple of weeks ago. At first I was unsure what I had let myself in for but gradually I was mesmerised by the unfolding miserable story of a pointless war fought but meaningless heroes.
Please don't take that as a criticism! The style is delicious, thoughtful and humorous in a very dark way. Don't worry about remembering all the names, ranks or even whose side someone is on - it really doesn't matter!
Whilst this is a dramatic yarn it is also persuasive philosophy.
The enjoyment is hugely enhanced by the masterful narration from the man with a hundred accents, Mr Steven Pacey.
I loved the First Law Trilogy by the same Author, and Stephen Pacey is my favourite narrator, so I eagerly downloaded this title and started to listen with relish.
Overall I was somewhat disappointed with the story, it has none of the character development that the First Law had, and as one reviewer here points out - the characters names and titles are not important. And this is its failing.
You feel no real empathy with the characters, and although the book is set over a very short period it seems to drag to its conclusion. One of the rare times that an abridged version may be preferable.
Can we have another story focused on Glokter please!!!
some of the reviews put me off initially about how this was set over too short a period of time and it was an experiment by the author, however I found it the most enjoyable of all of Joe Abercrombie's books (which I stumbled across whilst feeling lost, looking for something to replace the whole game of thrones series which I'd just listened to back to back NB Game of Thrones series is fantastic but Steven Pacey is a far superior narrator). I like the lack of magic and I like the 'heroes' on each side of the battle. The work is thought provoking. I'm missing Steven Pacey's voice already and will now no doubt download something else he's narrated with my credit that's just arrived.
Self employed Architect. Listen whilst working and every night. Love sci fi, post Apocalypse, comedy, fantasy, historical & horror.
Having listened to all the other books from Joe Abercrombie this was the first and only one I have not really liked. Its OK is about all I could say, It seemed almost like an experimental writing spanning just a few days in the timeline of the book, just not quite enough story for me there I am afraid and really felt a bit slow.
I?ve just finished The Heroes and would strongly recommend it - terrific, gritty battle scenes and some great gallows humour from the soldiers help to make it an audiobook you can really get immersed it. By the time I finished it, I felt like I was waving goodbye to old friends.
Quite predictable, none of the knife edge moments where the story can go either way like in the last two novels. The relationship developed with most of the characters feels superficial. Especially as most of them seem to do little that is significant. I simply listened to the end to say that I had finished it. Not because I was curious to discover the plot as in the former four stories. Not recommended.
I am a 28 year old man who likes to make use of a long commute by listening to sci-fi and fantasy audiobooks
Very different to the other JA novels, but he just keeps getting better and better
Story – 5/5
Joe Abercrombie has taken a different approach to this story – he has removed pretty much all of the plot, and created an entire story based on a single battle between the Union and the North which spans a few days.
What this story does concentrate on though is the character development and how different people cope with a bloody battle from both sides and all officer levels (including new recruits). He does this superbly, incorporating his usual sharp whit and ensuring that all characters are extremely likeable; both the good and the bad ones. I especially loved Wirren of Blye’s character (apologies if I have spelt that wrong), even though he wasn’t a main character in the story. As usual with JA, I found myself laughing out loud on a regular basis.
As you can expect with a story-long battle, there is plenty of action – probably the most I have come across in a single novel before. There was no confusion for what was happening, even though the small interwoven sections of each day of the battle make it an extremely complex story to tell. This shows masterful writing on JA’s part, and a very well deserved 5/5 stars
Performance – 5/5
Steven Pacey is one of the best narrators out there. His character acting was flawless, each having a distinctive and believable voice. His narration enhanced the dark comedy and whit of Joe Abercrombie’s writing, and I felt myself absorbed into the action scenes/battles.
Music/sound effects between scenes/chapters was a nice touch as well, although it would have been nicer to not re-use sound effects from the previous books.
Overall – 5/5
This is great stuff. Ok, a lot of swearing is involved but some is extremely funny. This book is an exploration of what is a hero, if indeed any such thing actually exists, and - even where it does - does the person subject to that label think of themselves as such.
To maintain a narrative of a battle lasting just 3 days and maintain interest is a feat in itself. Back are some old charaters that minored in the First Law Trilogy, Gorst being the most obvious and of course Caul Shivers from Best Served Cold. The story looks at war generally, why wars are fought, considers if they ever serve any real purpose and, provided you 'look' as you read, you find many other issues to occupy your mind. The battle scenes are excellent as always and this is a superb adition to Joe's already impressive publications.
Joe Abercrombie never disappoints!! You know what to expect. A well crafted story that will make you wince and then laugh all in the sentence.The black humour is truly wonderful.
Michael Page makes a superb narrator and really brings the book alive.
A few loose ends will hopefully lead on to a sequel. Hope the waiting will not be too long!
"Great Book , Great Author, Great narrator."
This book is an treasure. Joe Abercrombie delivers another masterpiece of a novel. Get the books in order, but get them all. This is the latest one.
Michael Page does an smashing job of narration, as always. He is one of the best .
"People in battle"
As in real life, all characters are trying to stay afloat, while being pulled down by their past, their weaknesses and ambitions. Although the story is about a bloody battle, with wizards fighting at both sides, to me this is the most memorable theme of the book, It sets it apart from the black and white characters usually found in epic fantasy novels. Well done, looking forward to the next book
Joe Abercrombie continues to shine. The story was well crafted and truely gripping. The plot twists and turns, making you feel as though you know where the story is going, only to surprise you with all manner of surprises. The language is as gritty as battle scenes described. The characters are despised, but in equal measure captivating. The battle between good and evil is played out through the eyes of the little man as much as the grotesque hero. There are real parallels between the heartlessness and self interest of the characters in the book and the people of the 21st century. This, for me, was one of the best books I have listened to in the last 12 months. Highly recommended.
"Excellent books, Excellent Narration"
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, having read Joe Abercrombie's other books, I decided to listen to this one on audible.
The story is excellent and you get involved with the main characters. The narration and his portrayal of voices and description of battles is excellent, one of the best narrations I have ever listened too.
"Mr. Abercrombie, you're the best."
Cunning, funny, fast! I love the language, the plot and, most of all, the characters!
Really amazing read!
"Abercrombie tells an amazing story"
Dark gritty fantasy
Seeing some of the protagonists battle against their own demons as much as the enemy, only to be undermined or revealed by those demons.
The charge of Osrung was memorable as was the first skirmish at the Heroes.
Stephen Pacey is a wonderful narrator and thankfully reads all of the Abercrombie books on Audible. His many voices, accents and intonations the gives the characters a life and adds or underscores dimensions that might otherwise be missed.
"Entertaining, but leaves you thirsting for more."
The Heroes is once again a very well written book and supported by the excellent narration from Steven Pacey. I rate this book above Best Served Cold (BSC) as it gets back to the meat and potatoes of his world and gives us a further insight into the large scheme.
If you like the general Abercrombie style: raw, bloody, full of human failings and no real happy endings you'll like this book. His style cuts closer to the real world than one expects, but has a whole lot more entertainment and is bolder to boot.
There aren't any real surprises in this book, much as Best Served Cold, but it has the usual excellent character development, lots of bloody action, remarkably little sex (he's getting better at it ;) ) and some nice twists in the plot. More so than BSC but a lot less than his First Law trilogy.
This is where I feel that Abercrombie is falling down. Yes the individual books are good, a nice diversion, but frankly he's set such a high bar with First Law that the following novels just don't match the majesty of the trilogy. An individual novel just doesn't give the room to expand grand ideas and create marvelous intricate plots.
This book, much more so than the last at least gives more in the way of the trilogy, but it still pales by comparison. We get reacquainted with some old characters, but essentially we don't know much more about his world nearly a decade on.
Frankly, I'd like to see his talent put back into a First Law effort. This is what he is best at.
This is a good book, but in context of the world he has created, just a little slice of the pie to keep you going.
"Joe Abercrombie At His Best!"
...or the BLOODY-NINE will get you!
Or will he? Whatever happen to him? That is one of the question left hanging in the other books, this book brings you one step closer to finding out the truth. A great story with multiple plots and fantastic storytelling!
"Blood and death"
I don't really think that I'll recommend this book to a friend, maybe only to listen how a really good narration should be performed.
The story itself is not that interesting, but the idea of the story is notable.
""Heroes" Give the Great Leveler Plenty of Work!"
Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes was a can't stop listening to audiobook, wonderfully read by Michael Page. It is full of humor and terror; exciting and horrific battle scenes; and believably flawed characters. Abercrombie creates a vivid fantasy world that exists in its own terms with its own history and cultures and that also sharply comments on our own violent real world, through epigraphs about heroes and war by the likes of Berthold Brecht, Will Rogers, and Mickey Mantle, as well as through its depiction of the unheroic folly of "the Black Business" of war, fought by canon-fodder commoners (from ignorant new recruits to cynical grizzled veterans) led by incompetent, arrogant, jealous, and overly bold commanders, everything clotted with the devastating and wasteful cost of bodies, lives, land, and resources. What is war for, finally? Money? Glory? Xenophobia? Patriotism? Power? Boredom?
The novel is an unsparing investigation of martial heroism, asking from a variety of points of view what is a hero: the man who is an insanely brave and monstrously capable killer? The man who is a "straight edge" who strives "to do the right thing" no matter what? The man who is killed outside a battle by friendly fire? The man who leads from the front? The man who leads from the rear? The man who gives up war for life on a farm?
And in addition to all that, Abercrombie writes many memorable characters, witty lines, cool similes, vivid descriptions, and page-turning set piece scenes.
Michael Page was great, doing all sorts of different voices, all with perfect pitch and emotion and intention, bringing the book even more to life. My favorite is his high-pitched and nasal Gorst, his utterances never failing to surprise me by how mis-matched they are with his hulking body and cynical thoughts.
If you like the epic fantasies of Steven Erickson and George R. R. Martin, you'd probably enjoy this one.
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