The Heroes is Joe Abercrombie's fifth novel. It was first published in January 2011 by Gollancz in the UK, with an American edition following from Orbit Books.
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.
Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honour on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he’s far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Even if it’s his own.
Prince Calder isn’t interested in honour, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he’ll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Just as long as he doesn’t have to fight for it himself.
Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins any more, he just wants to do the right thing. But can he even tell what that is with the world burning down around him?
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.
Lord Marshal Edit
- Lord Marshal Kroy – commander-in-chief of his Majesty’s armies in the North.
- Colonel Felnigg – Kroy's second in command
- Colonel Bremer dan Gorst (POV) – royal observer of the Northern War and disgraced king’s First Guard.
- Rurgen and Younger – Gorst's servants
- Bayaz, the First of the Magi – a bald wizard and an influential representative of the Closed Council.
- Yoru Sulfur – his butler, bodyguard and chief bookkeeper.
- Denka and Saurizin, members of the university coming with Bayaz
Jalenhorm's division Edit
- General Jalenhorm – an old friend of the king, promoted beyond his ability, brave yet prone to blunders.
- Retter, his young cornet
- Colonel Vallimir, commander of the first regiment
- First Sergeant Forest, official of the first regiment
- Corporal Tunny (POV)– long-serving profiteer, and standard-bearer of the First Regiment.
- Troopers Yolk, Klige, Worth, and Lederlingen – clueless recruits attached to Tunny as messengers.
- Colonel Wetterlant, commander of the 6th Regiment
- Major Culfer, Wetterlant second in command
- Sergeants Gaunt and Rose, soldiers in the 6th Regiment
- Major Popol, commander of the Rostod Regiment
- Captain Lasmark, captain of the Rostod Regiment
- Colonel Vinkler, commander of the 13th Regiment
Mitterick's Division Edit
- General Mitterick – a professional soldier with much chin and little loyalty, sharp but reckless.
- Colonel Opker – Mitterick's second in command
- Lieutenant Dimbik, young official
Meed's Division Edit
- Lord Governor Meed – the governor of Angland, and an amateur soldier who hates Northmen.
- Colonel Harod dan Brock – an honest and hard-working soldier, the son of a notorious traitor.
- Finree dan Brock (POV) – Colonel Brock’s venomously ambitious wife, the daughter of Lord Marshal Kroy.
- Colonel Brint – senior on Meed’s staff, an old friend of the king.
- Aliz dan Brint – Colonel Brint’s naive young wife.
- Captain Hardrick, Bregga, Saluc, officials
Dogman's Division Edit
- The Dogman – an old companion of Black Dow, now his bitter enemy, fighting with the Union.
- Red Hat, Dogman's second in command
- Hardbread – a Named Man of long experience, leading a dozen for the Dogman.
- Redcrow, carl of hardbread
Black Dow's Division Edit
- Black Dow – the Protector of the North, or stealer of it, depending on who you ask.
- Splitfoot – his Second, meaning chief bodyguard and arse-licker.
- Ishri – his advisor, a sorceress from the Gurkish Empire, and sworn enemy of Bayaz.
- Caul Shivers – a scarred Named Man with a metal eye, who some call Black Dow’s dog.
- Curnden Craw (POV) – a Named Man thought of as a straight edge, now leading a dozen for Black Dow.
- Wonderful – Curnden Craw's long-suffering Second.
- Whirrun of Bligh – a famous hero from the utmost North, who wields the Father of Swords.
- Jolly Yon Cumber, Brack-i-Dayn, Scorry Tiptoe, Agrick, Athroc and Drofd, members of his dozen
Scale's Division Edit
- Scale – Bethod’s eldest son, now the one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, strong as a bull, with a bull’s brain
- Pale-as-Snow, second in command and former Bethod War Chief
- White-Eye Hansul, great warrior and former Bethod's negotiator
- ‘Prince’ Calder (POV) – Bethod’s younger son, an infamous schemer, temporarily exiled for suggesting peace too.
- Seff, wife of Calder
- Deep and Shallow, Calder's "bodyguards"
Caul Reachey's Division Edit
- Caul Reachey – one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, famously honourable, father-in-law to Calder.
- Brydian Flood, great warrior and former member of Craw's dozen.
- Beck (POV)– a young farmer craving glory on the battlefield, the son of Shama Heartless.
- Reft, Colving, Stodder and Brait, young recruits
Glama Golden's Division Edit
- Glama Golden – one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, intolerably vain, locked in a feud with Cairm Ironhead.
- Sutt Brittle, great warrior
- Lightsleep, carl
Cairm Ironhead's Division Edit
- Cairm Ironhead – one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, notoriously stubborn, locked in a feud with Glama Golden.
- Curly, Irig, Temper, soldiers
Brodd Tenways's Division Edit
- Brodd Tenways – the most loyal of Dow’s five War Chiefs, ugly as incest.
Stranger-Come-Knocking's Division Edit
- Stranger-Come-Knocking – the Chief of all the lands east of the Crinna, obsessed with civilisation.