“No need for discussion or justification, for introductions or etiquette, for guilt or excuses. Only the incredible release of violence. So powerful that he felt this golden-armoured man must be his best friend in all the world. I love you. I love you, and that is why I must smash your head apart.”
-Joe Abercrombie, The Heroes
Fucking hell, Joe Abercrombie. I am running out of superlatives to describe these books. This is the fifth book in Abercrombie’s series of brutal and brilliant fantasy novels, The First Law. The Heroes is unapologetically a war novel, grisly, horrific, and frequently hilarious. While this book is technically a standalone, reading this before the previous four books would be a grievous mistake. The connections to the proper First Law trilogy, as well as Best Served Cold (the fourth book) are quite strong, extending way beyond “Easter eggs”. The care with which this world has been created is frankly mind-blowing, and I’m just in awe of the way Abercrombie turns a phrase, and writes characters with such distinct voices.
I love the premise for this book so goddamn much: It’s essentially a three-day battle, told from multiple perspectives. You really get the full spectrum of emotion here, of what these soldiers & fighters go through: the anger, the frustration, the confusion, the boredom, the horror, and most of all, the fear. The fucking crippling fear and anxiety, that’s what I love so much about some of these characters. For sure, there’s a handful of these folks who find a sort of comfort on the battlefield, who feel that’s the one place they belong. But by and large, these people are driven and motivated by fear.
Take the best war movies you’ve ever seen, add in a very sparing dose of (horrifying) magic, throw in the most razor-sharp and scathing dialogue, and set it down in a vividly-realized fantasy world. That’s The Heroes, and it might just be my favorite book in the First Law world.