Book Review: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

There is no one who is completely evil. No one is 100% good either. Abercrombie’s depictions of war are far from what other fantasy authors like Jordan have portrayed. At some level almost everyone’s afraid. If that means calling them cowards then so be it. And if war is just a prelude to peace, then why engage in it at all? I guess so that you’ll know how much you can negotiate when the talking finally starts.

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie is a man after my own heart. Personally I would never die for my country. In his novelĀ “Best Served Cold”, there is this marvelous line:

“Shivers never had understood where the eager fools came from in every battle, but there were always enough of the bastards to make a show.”

I heartily concur. It seems to be a running theme in all of his novels. Whether it’s Monzcarro Murcatto in her mad quest for revenge or the pointless massacre at the Heroes, war is a horrible thing turning everyone into a monster or destroying them forever. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is probably the best “anti war” novel I’ve ever read.

Abercrombie’s character development is better than any other author in my opinion. Many compare his works to George R. R. Martin, but Abercrombie is leagues ahead of him. We get to visit some characters from older books like Black Dow and the new and improved Shivers. That last one is a tragedy no doubt about it, particularly seeing how “The First Law” ended. But for me, the highlights of the book involved our old friend Bayaz. He has only very short appearances throughout the novel but his presence pervades it all.

And as usual it’s made clear that the current conflict is just a move in a far larger chess game in the battle of the wizards. Bayaz has the considerable financial resources of Valint & Balk and the prophet has the mad religious zealots to die for him. In a way it’s like the symbolic battle between the old world and the new. Faith and Reason. With the difference that in this case, Reason is just ruthless as faith ever was.

I wonder if we’ll ever hear again from Logen. I certainly hope so. With Abercrombie scheduled to expand his writing in this world, he can’tĀ but bring him back. Preferably where he gets to muck around with Ferro Maljin :)

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