Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes is the brutal, tragic and engrossing tale of a three-day battle between the Union and the Northmen of the same universe Abercrombie explored in the brilliant First Law trilogy and Best Served Cold1.
In theory, The Heroes is a stand-alone novel; new characters in a new situation, but reading it without familiarity with the universe and the recurring characters would leach a lot of the blood out of the novel. And we certainly don’t want that. So, seriously, don’t read this until you’ve ingested The First Law.
That being said, if you have read The First Law, what you’re in for is more and better of the same. The same in that the novel is packed with epic, Tarantino-esque violence and populated with flawed, suffering and real characters. Better in that Abercrombie’s writing is tighter than ever. Less pyrotechnics, more payload; less feints, more bodyblows.
It’s a serious progression for Abercrombie as a writer.
The plot concerns a battle taking place at an ancient ruin known as The Heroes. Which should tip you off to the lack of actual heroes in the story, or at least to what you’d think of as classic heroes. In the myriad of people who populate the novel, there are several it’s hard to think of anything but heroes, warts and bad breath included, but there’s absolutely nothing Tolkien-esque about the battle of The Heroes.
Arguably the most impressive thing about the novel is that Abercrombie completely guts the template for the fantasy novel. We have the young man leaving his hamlet in search of glory, the knight in shining armor, the fight against a dark overlord, the barbarian warrior, et al., but Abercrombie sledgehammers these tropes together in new, noir, ways and inserts them into a compressed chain of events teetering out of control.
The Heroes is the kind of novel I know I’ll be re-reading in a few years. Abercrombie is on a fantastic trajectory.
Looks like I never reviewed Best Served Cold, so here goes: It’s awesome. After you finish The First Law trilogy, get thee to a bookseller and pick it up.↩
Posted Wednesday, 02 March, 2011 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.