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Editorial Reviews

Prepare for one of the fiercest battle’s you’ll ever hear in The Heroes, written by the brilliant Joe Abercrombie with the complete and unabridged fantasy audiobook narrated by English actor Steven Pacey. Black Dow is a legend. He will kill any man that stands in his way. When the Union Army starts heading towards the North, he prepares for battle and for victory. There are only two people brave enough to fight against this impenetrable enemy alongside him. This is an all-encompassing saga of incredible scope and unparalleled depth. Available now from Audible.

Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about The Heroes

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Abercrombie Pacey - ultimate author narrator combo

Another amazingly entertaining audiobook by Joe Abercrombie and narrator Steven Pacey. I can't get enough of these books, this being the 5th in this fantasy world. This book is told from characters on both sides and every one of them is fascinating to listen to and the interactions between them leave you hanging for more. Abercrombie creates the depth of the characters, the heroic traits, the flaws and the realism, and Pacey brings them to life with his range of voices and perfect delivery. Pacey is in a class of his own when it comes to narrators and this is no exception. You really must listen to The First Law trilogy and Best Served Cold before listening to this audiobook, so do yourself a favour - go and listen to them and then listen to this one! Then after that listen to Red Country, Sharp Ends and A Little Hatred. If you want more reasons to listen to this audiobook, please see my review below of The Blade Itself: These books are far and away my favourite Audiobooks, and I have listened to some excellent ones such as Red Rising, The Name of the Wind, A Game of Thrones, The Way of Kings, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Harry Potter, etc. The reason they are so good is the combination of Joe Abercrombie (author) and Steven Pacey (narrator). You couldn't get a better pairing. Joe creates characters that are real, with heroic and flawed traits, that result in never quite knowing what they are going to do, but leave you hanging to see just what they are going to do. Add to that the very entertaining humour interspersed throughout, the catchy little favourite sayings of the characters, gripping fight scenes, dark deeds, intricate plots and you have the foundation for a thoroughly enjoyable read. However, my recommendation is not read these books (sorry Joe!), but to listen to the Audiobooks. And the reason for that is Steven Pacey. This is a phenomenal narrative by Steven Pacey that is so perfectly matched to the book and the characters you could not imagine one without the other. This is not an audiobook, this is an audio theatre so masterful is his performance. He brings each character to life and sucks you into the story so that when it finishes you want to dive straight into the next one.

4 people found this helpful

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his best book yet

possibly his best book in the series. funny, gripping and as always steven pacey is unbelievable

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Straightforward message, well executed.

Very well written and read. Wish more people read this novel, it would certainly reap away any illusions one has on war, glory, noble sacrifices and other state-based ideals. The story and themes explored are straightforward, but are looked at from different angles, with a multitude of points of view presented.

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Strongly recommend

The review needs 15 words when all I can say is amazing, just amazing.

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Abercrombie and Pacey are simply superb

I simply cannot get enough of Abercrombie and Pacey. They are a match made in grimdark fantasy heaven. I liked this more than Best Served Cold, probably cause I love the stuff set in the North. Keep up the GREAT work team!

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Bloody good.

This one is probably my favourite so far. As a book it's not the best piece of literature out there, but as an audio book it's perfect.

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Fantastic war story.

Fantastic war story filled with complex flawed characters, wit and sarcastic humour. Great battle scenes and interesting inner dialogue as we focus on our main pov characters as they fight, trudge and scheme their way through a war fought to fuel the egos of more powerful people. What completely blows me away though are the scenes with some background characters, the short sharp focus on one background character leading to the next, those sequences are pure gold. You may only be in one of their heads for 2 sentences but damn its good! Current film and tv writers could learn a lot about writing characters from this book. The Heroes is some of the best storytelling filled with real characters that are cruel, clueless, self effacing, loyal, ambitious, powerful, self aware, powerless and everything else a person can be... and also that some dreams are better left unrealised. Joe Abercrombie is my hero (favourite author)!

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My favourite of the stand-alones

The Heroes is a fun and compelling ride, and further confirms Abercrombie among the greatest fantasy authors. His varied and vivid characters, their personalities, struggles, flaws, virtues, delusions, idiosyncrasies and choices all ring so true to life, that it proves the author is a truly insightful observer of human nature and the human condition. One particular highlight is Abercrombie's use of 'floating POV' in climactic sequences - the listener gets to experience big events via the perspective of a dozen ephemeral characters (often 'regular people', as opposed to the stars of the show). The effect is like getting to move around inside some kind of grand historical diorama. The Heroes is also another example of Abercrombie pushing the envelope in how violence is treated in fantasy. His honesty and realism on this topic (amidst the sea of content from 'garage lightsabre/broomstick dueling' types) is actually doing a public service. You'll find no protagonists in heavy plot-mail armour here, cutting through endless hordes of obligingly-one-at-a-time enemies. Instead Joe dishes out home-truth after home-truth: fighting is a chancey business, 1 rarely prevails against 3 or more, fights are easy to start but often harder to end, 'glorious combat' often involves sickening mismatches, friendly fire is just as deadly and twice as common, logistics and terrain usually trump valour alone, tough-talkers often soil themselves first, champions have nothing to prove and give no forewarning, the arrogant or hottest-tempered are fatally baited, consequences often get lost in the mix, reluctant allies contemplate fraggings, and chaos usually rules so Keep It Simple. My personal favourites that Abercrombie never fails to stress are that (1) everybody has a plan til they get punched in the face, and (2) every totally inexperienced punter imagines they have a special something deep within that makes them a hero... right until they gas-out after an ineffectual flurry and get comprehensively dismantled by someone with a modicum of training (ie. training counts)... some points I'm often reminded of as a amatuer martial artist. Summarily, it's jam packed with terrific action in a captivating world. Enjoy!

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Best Narrator on Audible

An epic, suspenseful and witty tale. Steven Pacey is the best narrator I've had the pleasure of listening to

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Astonishingly good

This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I’m very impressed. I don’t know anything about the series but this standalone book is very well done. We’re talking great characters, entertaining story and complex plot. There are some really funny scenes in this book and the author has a lot of spunk. If you’re a fan of the black company, this is possibly a better version of it.

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  • Jason
  • 09-03-2011

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 .

7 people found this helpful

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  • J. Baars
  • 27-04-2011

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

4 people found this helpful

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  • matty
  • 24-03-2011

Outstanding

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Brent
  • 18-06-2013

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Marcelo
  • 03-11-2011

Mr. Abercrombie, you're the best.

Cunning, funny, fast! I love the language, the plot and, most of all, the characters!
Really amazing read!

3 people found this helpful

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  • NielsToft
  • 18-03-2013

Abercrombie tells an amazing story

If you could sum up The Heroes in three words, what would they be?

Dark gritty fantasy

What did you like best about this story?

Seeing some of the protagonists battle against their own demons as much as the enemy, only to be undermined or revealed by those demons.

Which scene was your favorite?

The charge of Osrung was memorable as was the first skirmish at the Heroes.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 09-11-2012

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bruno
  • 13-08-2012

Joe Abercrombie At His Best!

read it!

...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!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jefferson
  • 10-07-2011

"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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • laurent
  • 24-10-2020

One of the best books on war.

incredible narrator performance. Not much story, but superb characters and action. The author shows what war is all about from different point of views.

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  • Paul
  • 24-04-2013

The best of Joe Abercrombie's books

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.

21 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gavin
  • 21-01-2012

New recording with the original narrator

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.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Peter
  • 24-01-2012

Bloodthirsty antiwar adventure

I have now listened to this for the third time each time understanding a bit more of the complexities of the plot and understanding more of the character of the major protagonists. A grand yarn that I cane to before the First Law but I corrected that to find out more of the history. The enjoyment of the book is enhanced tremendously by the masterful narration of Stephen Pacey: a man with a hundred accents.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 04-04-2014

Can't get enough


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

11 people found this helpful

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  • Lorna
  • 15-05-2013

Nothing like his previous work

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.

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Martin
  • 06-01-2012

Dissapointed

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.

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ian
  • 21-03-2011

Great book, sad to see it end.

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.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Steve Kirkwood
  • 16-01-2013

Disapointing after the First Law Trilogy

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!!!

12 people found this helpful

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  • Walter
  • 18-12-2015

Maybe it's just me but I'm sure I've read this already...

A wronged man, a fallen outsider, saying one thing and thinking another.

Battling Union generals.

Young people on each side discovering themselves.

It's all just far too similar to many other Joe Abercrombie books. Maybe it's the way Steven Pacey reads it, but Gorst in this book is spouting the thoughts of Glokta from the First Law books.

And two army officers who think each other 'a***s' is Poulder vs Kroy and then quelle suprise, when Mitterick replaces Kroy he too suddenly gains wisdom and reason, just like Kroy did.

This is good writing, but it smacks of the publisher telling the author to just knock out the same plot again because the readers liked it last time.

I have bought Red Country but if it's also just a rehash of something else then it will be the last Joe Abercrombie book I buy.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 12-05-2011

Masterly

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.

7 people found this helpful

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