Three days. Three days to secure a throne, Three days to make a name. Three days to become a hero. Three days of blood.
The Heroes covers 3 d..Show More »ays of war between The Union and The North. After years of smaller battles and sieges and move and countermove, the closed council has grown impatient and the Union generals are ordered to hurry things up and march head on into the enemy and bring the war to a conclusion.
This book was action packed! I mean condensing 500 to 600 pages into 3 days of plot is no mean feat and Abercrombie does it in style. Fair to say a lot happens in those three days. From large scale battles churning the mud, to bloody skirmishes, to individual acts of murder and feats of heroism. On top of that is the internal politics and intrigue on both sides with a cast of characters that will see some old faces from previous books along with a host of new ones.
Abercrombie skilfully weaves the old and the new together in such a way that had me intimately involved in the motives and dreams of his masterfully crafted personalities and the audio narrator, Steven Pacey, brought these to life in a way that I’m not sure reading alone could have achieved. Having said that I was torn between enjoying the audio narration and having the ability to highlight on the Kindle because the quotable quotes in this book just keep coming with Abercrombie’s usual blacker than Black Dow sense of humour. This is a dark, gritty, bloody story. But there is also under the gore a commentary on war that is more cynical than preachy. Abercrombie highlights the fact that the winners of a war, if there are any, are usually the ones with the most blood on their hands. That in war there is often fine line between hero and mass murderer, if such a line exists at all. After all, as Cosca from the previous book might point out, “Why can’t a man be both?” Is there a difference between murdering a man in peace time and killing a man just because he wears a different uniform to yours? How does a good man decide what is, “The right thing to do,” when faced with the choice between conscience and expediency?
At the end of the day we all have a date with The Great Leveller and the dead know, whether you are Hero or Coward, in the end, both “go back to the mud.” And often, the advantage of being a Hero, is you get to jump the queue.
5 stars – and my favourite to date. Red Country here I come.
Some of my favourite characters
Black Dow King of the North “As if Black Dow’s name and his grin weren’t threats enough, he’d made sure they were shored up with plenty of steel. A long, grey sword leaned against Skarling’s Chair on one side, an axe on the other, notched with long use, in easy reach of his dangling fingers. Killer’s fingers – scuffed, and swollen, and scarred at the knuckles from a lifetime of the dead knew what dark work.”
Calder - 2nd Son of the previous King of North “It's not easy is it? Being a great man's son. You'd thought that would come with all kinds of advantages - with borrowed admiration, and respect. But it's only as easy as it is for the seeds of a great tree, trying to grow in its choking shadow. Not many make it to the sunlight for themselves.”
Craw - Named Man - likes doing "The right thing to do." "I need someone I can count on, Craw, and you do things the old way. You’re a straight edge, and there ain’t many left."
Deep and Shallow - killers come philosophers
Calder ‘A man should have some, eh, Deep?’ Deep ‘Some what?’ Calder ‘Principles.’ Deep ‘Oh, I’m a big, big, big believer in ’em. My brother too.’ Shallow Shallow took a quick break from furiously picking his fingernails with the point of his knife. ‘I like ’em with milk'
Shivers - Also known as Black Dow's dog They said Shivers did tasks for Black Dow too black for his own hands.
Whirrun - Famous hero of many a bard's song. ‘What kind of a bloody hero don’t wear bloody armour?’ ‘Armour …’ mused Whirrun, licking a finger and scrubbing some speck of dirt from the pommel of his sword, ‘is part of a state of mind … in which you admit the possibility … of being hit.’
Colonel Gorst - Ex King's guard, now disgraced and demoted to King's Observer, a killing machine and all round ninja. I made myself guilty of mass murder so I could be proclaimed innocent of incompetence. Sometimes they hang men for this type of thing, and sometimes they applaud.
Corporal Tunny - longest serving non-commissioned officer(and contraband peddler) in the army ‘Corporal Tunny, sir, standard-bearer of his Majesty’s First Regiment.’ Mitterick frowned. ‘The same Tunny who was made colour sergeant after Ulrioch?’ Tunny puffed out his chest. ‘The same, sir.’ ‘The same Tunny who was demoted after Dunbrec?’ Tunny’s shoulders slumped. ‘The same, sir.’ ‘The same Tunny who was court-martialled after that business at Shricta?’ And further yet. The same, sir, though I hasten to point out that the tribunal found no evidence of wrongdoing, sir.’
Finree ‘Ordeal? I’ve almost forgotten about it already! My father suggested that I act as though this is just another day. Then, perhaps it will be one. Any other day I would spend feverishly trying to advance my husband’s interests, and therefore my own.’ She grinned sideways. ‘I am venomously ambitious.’
Bayaz the First of the Magi ‘Knives,’ muttered Calder, ‘and threats, and bribes, and war?’ Bayaz’ eyes shone with the lamplight. ‘Yes?’ ‘What kind of a f___g wizard are you?’ ‘The kind you obey.’