I’ve mentioned Joe Abercrombies’ wonderful fantasy series The First Law Trilogy a few times here. He followed it up with Best Served Cold, which had characters from First Law but focused on a new character. The Heroes is another standalone book set in the same universe of the series. And it’s great, but how could it not be? It’s by Joe Abercrombie.
Everything you need to know about the book is found in the third line of the tagline on the cover. Actually, I’ve seen the third line in two forms, so here are both:
For staying alive
So take blood or staying alive, but they both sum it up accurately. The title refers both to a ring of stones by the same name, some of the characters in the book, and others…not so much. Nearly the entire book takes place during three days of fighting on the hill.
As with Best Served Cold, there are nods to and mentions of past characters, which is fun. But I have to be honest, this was my least favorite book of Abercrombie’s so far. It’s great, but it contains the fewest of my favorite characters yet. I held out hope that some of them would reappear, but alas.
However, I would call this a testament to Abercrombie’s skill at creating some of my favorite characters in print in the previous books. I missed them. It’s a lively crew.
Also, how do you introduce a crazed, scar-covered, giant named Stranger-Come-Knocking and not have him in the battle?
But if the names The Bloody Nine, Black Dow, Calder, Shivers, Gorst, or Bayaz mean anything to you, you’ll get a kick out of this book. Maybe just not quite the kick as its predecessors delivered.
One other thing: Abercrombie writes great dialogue, but the language is pretty foul. If you’ve got an aversion to non-stop butchery and profanity, there are better books for you (try zan gah) But if anything I’ve written here sounds intriguing in the slightest, I don’t think you’ll be sorry you read it.