The North and the Union are at war. They’ve been at it for quite a while but now the time for the decisive battle has come. On the Union’s side, there’s Bremer dan Gorst, former bodyguard of the King who has since been dismissed after an attack on the King’s life was made. And there’s the Dogman, northman and former companion of the Bloody Nine who now fights for the South.
On the side of the North (headed by Black Dow), there’s Craw, a “straight edge” doing it the old way, and his dozen: a very tight group of Named Men (and a Woman). And there’s Caul Shivers, Black Dow’s dog, bodyguard and henchman.
For the North, yet not really one of Black Dow’s people is Calder, son of the former King of the North, who has a knack for scheming and fucking, but not for fighting.
Now, three days of battle are coming up and they will decide the fates of these people.
I enjoyed The Heroes again a whole lot. I like Abercrombie’s sense of humor and writing style, his characters are engaging and the pacing’s very good. The Heroes seemed a bit repetitive though, both in theme and characterisation. But so long as Abercrombie repeats the good stuff, who cares?
Surprisingly The Heroes did not have an ending that made me want to cut my own wrists. I mean, it’s not a happy ending by any stretch of the imagination, but it did seem a little less bitter than those of the previous books. Maybe because I was bracing myself for the bad things to come.
There were not many female characters, but those that were there were pretty much awesome. Not necessarily people you’d like but well-rounded, flawed and very human.
I loved that we got to see Shivers again. I still like and root for him, which surprises me a little. Bayaz is also back and still an annoying dick (but a great character). I would have loved to see more of the Dogman, but the Dogman and Craw are sufficiently alike as characters that it would have probably become weird if the both of them had played big parts.
And while we’re talking about characters that are alike: Bremer and Glokta anyone? The same bitterness, the same sarcastic voice, even the same gimmick with the cursive thoughts in the text. One kinda wished Glokta was there himself.
But apart from that, I loved the book. It was a surprisingly quick read for its size. There was really brilliant stuff (and for a rather military book it was surprisingly pacifistic and anti-war) and it made you want more. [Happily, there will be.] I do not regret in the least that I bought the hardcover [and I can’t even remember when I last bought a hardcover because I couldn’t wait for a book to come out].
There is not that much plot that actually happens [it’s basically: war is fought, people die, everybody sucks], but the great thing about it are the character developments.
Summarising: Go read it. Now. In the meantime, I might get around to re-reading, since the earlier books are already really vague again… [But then again, I don’t get around to re-reading as much as I would like, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.]