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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

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Average Customer Ratings


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  • Jason
  • lake hughes, CA, United States
  • 03-09-11

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 .

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • matty
  • chorley, United Kingdom
  • 03-24-11


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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Brent
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • 06-18-13

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Marcelo
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 11-03-11

Mr. Abercrombie, you're the best.

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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?


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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • Australia
  • 11-09-12

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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Bruno
  • North Shore City, New Zealand
  • 08-13-12

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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Denis
  • Moscow, Russia
  • 07-14-12

Blood and death

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I don't really think that I'll recommend this book to a friend, maybe only to listen how a really good narration should be performed.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The story itself is not that interesting, but the idea of the story is notable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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"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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gavin
  • 01-21-12

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.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 04-24-13

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.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • 01-24-12

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.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 04-04-14

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

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Lorna
  • 05-15-13

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 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Martin
  • 01-06-12


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 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian
  • 03-21-11

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 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Steve Kirkwood
  • 01-16-13

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 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Walter
  • 12-18-15

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 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 05-12-11


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 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • mr tobie md date
  • 02-04-18

A decent tale of war

A more contained plot yet still a quality yarn. A few familiar folk but more then a few missing, back to the mud or otherwise. If you like your battle stories then this is for you.

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  • Sean A. Hanson
  • 10-31-16

A familiar Yarn.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

If a friend was looking for a little escapism and a capable distraction I'd say this was worth a credit.

Would you be willing to try another book from Joe Abercrombie? Why or why not?

I've read Joe Abercrombie before and enjoyed The Blade Itself series. I was in the mood for what he can deliver and when I'm in the mood again I'll see what there is to offer.

What about Steven Pacey’s performance did you like?

Steven Pacey was brilliant. If I didn't know I would have sworn there was a full cast of narrators.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

On DVD or Netflix. I wouldn't pay Opening Night prices

Any additional comments?

This is a good story well told with some memorable characters and a writer in control of his craft. It just lacked surprise.

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  • David
  • 05-17-15

Three days of Awesomeness!

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 days 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.’

‘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.’

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  • Mark
  • 06-30-15

Dark and gritty

There are no heroes, and that's what I love about Joe Abercrombies books.
Steven Pacey is a brilliant narrated, probably my favourite.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful