Review: The Heroes
The best part about this February? No, it isn’t the manufactured holiday of Valentine’s. No, it isn’t the fact that there are only 28 days in it, thus making this work-month blissfully shorter. The best part of this February is Joe Abercrombie‘s THE HEROES (Amazon).
THE HEROES is about a hill called The Heroes. It is a useless hill that both the armies of the Union and the North want… mainly because the other side wants it. Before you ask why these groups are fighting over this useless hill, there are two things you should know. First, Bayaz is in this novel (if you’ve read the First Law trilogy, you know why this is important). Secondly, this is a Joe Abercrombie novel. People in war make stupid decisions.
The first thing I noticed while reading the novel was how smooth it was. The pacing of the entire novel flowed perfectly. I have loved every single novel Abercrombie has written, but they all have had pacing issues at times. Not so in THE HEROES. It also didn’t follow any type of formula like BEST SERVED COLD did. I had no idea where things were going with the novel… just that it would involve all sorts of people dying the way heroes do: simply, brutally and without regard for who they are or what they did. As the novels point out, the Great Leveler is no respecter of station.
Hopefully you read Abercrombie’s short story The Fool Jobs. It will give you an extra little glimpse into the characters of THE HEROES. Abercrombie draws from the characters of his prior novels as well as create all sorts of new ones for the readers to enjoy. From Craw’s dozen to Bremmer dan Gorst, every character was easy to love. Of course having characters like Bayaz, Dogman, Black Dow and Shivers return is bound to make any novel better. The way Abercrombie writes, it is easy to love every character no matter how good or terrible they are.
Oh and just in case you were wondering, there’s a lot of action here. Remember, this is a Joe Abercrombie novel. Action is his thing. Bloody, chaotic, brutal action. What struck me this time around wasn’t just how amazing and relentless the action was, but how different each scene was depending on the character PoV. Calder’s PoVs in battle were radically different from Gorst’s. Each of these was completely different from Craw’s PoV. Abercrombie doesn’t just write action well, he writes it amazingly well from every possible type of character.
The one thing I will point out is that THE HEROES really had a feel of being setup. It was an amazing setup novel, but some people just don’t like that type of thing. In this particular case I didn’t mind. Abercrombie seems to be getting the world set just how he wants it for a new series. Really, whether this is a positive or a negative is up to the reader, and will differ for each person.
When it gets right down to it, Abercrombie’s THE HEROES is one of the best Dark Fantasy novels I’ve read. One of his points in the series has always been that “doing the right thing” is different for each person. THE HEROES illustrates this clearer than ever, and is (in my opinion) his best written work to date. THE HEROES firmly cements Abercrombie as one of the finest fantasy authors currently out there.
- Recommended Age: 17+
- Language: You've read Abercrombie before right? Then you know the language is strong throughout the full novel.
- Violence: Duh
- Sex: There is only one scene, and it isn't really visual at all. However, Gorst fantasizes through internal dialogue the entire novel.