The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
Review by David Stoit
This is a stand alone novel, but having previously read Abercrombie’s First Law books is highly recommended. Some old heroes return, a new lot show their faces and some of the underlying currents will certainly be recognised.
I recommend this story to everyone who wants to read something from of the heroic fantasy genre. Its unique in its way, fast paced and thrilling.
Making this review was kind of something like reading the book. It has multiple sides. In one hand this is a book about war and heroes. Every cliché at its best. But at the other hand Abercrombie manages to crush the romantic boy’s dream about glory and honour ‘back in the mud’.
The story is about the lives of a group of individuals from both warring sides, the North and the Union. From both sides there are heroes, the ordinary, the leaders, generals and all are getting a clear perspective. People that have read fantasy before will probably recognise the main story like an mix between the old, favourite boot and some kind of Vietnam or second world war movie. An epic fight on a battlefield. About every writer in the genre has written at least one battle of this kind. But Abercrombie’s cynic style reveals a far deeper understanding of humanity and throws away all of the scales we normally measure ‘heroes and cowards’ with.
The world in which the story plays is hard, the people living in it are harder. All of the major characters are either fools, cowards, maniac psychopaths with feelings or something in between. So in a way it makes this book hard to read if you’re bent on liking the characters. Most characters are just not that nice. If you like honest war reality having a go with fantasy this is the right one for you.
So honestly, I am glad I’ve read it. This story is a great read. It’s fast, exciting and brutal. The characters are clear and realistic even when they are psychopathic, axe wielding generals. If you want something totally different in this genre, you should read it, but if you expect the ‘usual Heroic Fantasy’ you’ll get a surprise on you plate.
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