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.
POV Characters Edit
- Colonel Bremer dan Gorst – royal observer of the Northern War and disgraced king’s First Guard.
- Corporal Tunny – long-serving profiteer, and standard-bearer of the First Regiment.
- Finree dan Brock – Colonel Brock’s venomously ambitious wife, the daughter of Lord Marshal Kroy.
- Beck – a young farmer craving glory on the battlefield, the son of Shama Heartless.
- ‘Prince’ Calder – Bethod’s younger son, an infamous schemer, temporarily exiled for suggesting peace.
- Curnden Craw – a Named Man thought of as a straight edge, now leading a dozen for Black Dow.
Other Union Characters Edit
- Lord Marshal Kroy – commander-in-chief of his Majesty’s armies in the North.
- 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.
- General Jalenhorm – an old friend of the king, promoted beyond his ability, brave yet prone to blunders.
- Troopers Yolk, Klige, Worth, and Lederlingen – clueless recruits attached to Tunny as messengers.
- General Mitterick – a professional soldier with much chin and little loyalty, sharp but reckless.
- 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.
- Colonel Brint – senior on Meed’s staff, an old friend of the king.
- Aliz dan Brint – Colonel Brint’s naive young wife.
Other Northern Characters Edit
- The Dogman – an old companion of Black Dow, now his bitter enemy, fighting with the Union.
- Hardbread – a Named Man of long experience, leading a dozen for the Dogman.
- 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.
- Caul Shivers – a scarred Named Man with a metal eye, who some call Black Dow’s dog.
- Wonderful – Curnden Craw's long-suffering Second.
- Whirrun of Bligh – a famous hero from the utmost North, who wields the Father of Swords.
- Scale – Bethod’s eldest son, now the one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, strong as a bull, with a bull’s brain too.
- Caul Reachey – one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, famously honourable, father-in-law to Calder.
- Glama Golden – one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, intolerably vain, locked in a feud with Cairm Ironhead.
- Cairm Ironhead – one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, notoriously stubborn, locked in a feud with Glama Golden.
- Brodd Tenways – the most loyal of Dow’s five War Chiefs, ugly as incest.
- Stranger-Come-Knocking – the Chief of all the lands east of the Crinna, obsessed with civilisation.
Other Characters Edit
- Ishri – his advisor, a sorceress from the Gurkish Empire, and sworn enemy of Bayaz.