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When I picked up the Heroes I thought maybe it would be something akin to ORCS and I was luke warm to the idea of another one of those. Thankfully the book did not disappoint. Heroes is a must read for any fantasy reader, it is a darkly humorous and gritty novel with plenty of action and strong characterization throughout. Not so much a hack and slash quest book but more of a gritty look at what war and camaraderie means and why go through it when really everything ends up back to the mud (my favourite take away saying). If you want something a little bit different, a little darker and more graphic than your standard fantasy novel, pick this up.
The book starts with Curnden Craw climbing a hill with his crew, the hill has a landmark at the top called the Heroes and much of the book plays out under the watchful gaze of those stone monoliths. the main story arc centers around the Union vs the Northern Kingdom. The Union are fighting to gain more land and are led by one Lord Marshal Kroy and controlled by his August Majesty (the King). There are some undercurrents of intrigue here however with the involvement of a strange adviser, Bayaz, from the closed council and one wonders if he may be the puppeteer in all things. I will (and so will you) have to wait until I read the other books.
The authors main theme is that of realism and telling a story from a more realistic point of view, that of some very annoyed, cold, wet, bored, angry, bloodied, tired soldiers, fighting a war for people they don't know and for reasons they don't understand but knowing they have to stick together and get through it. There are some compelling stories with the main characters being Bremer dan Gorst (my favourite), Curnden Craw, the infamous Black Dow, Caul Shivers (main character from Best Served Cold which i just started) the slippery and cowardly (?) Prince Calder and a few others. I also really like Whirrun of Bligh with his Father of Swords do thought he deserved a special mention.
The author has definitely sparked my interest and with four other books in his stable at present (25 July 2012) I will most certainly be reading plenty more from Joe Abercrombie.