Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Heroes (First Law World, #5)” as Want to Read:
The Heroes (First Law World, #5)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Heroes

(First Law World #5)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  44,458 ratings  ·  2,295 reviews
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 neighbor, 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, ...more
ebook, 581 pages
Published February 7th 2011 by Orbit (first published January 27th 2011)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Heroes, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kateregga Micheal Most of the characters in The Heroes were first introduced in The First law Trilogy as supporting characters. You will have more fun reading The Heroe…moreMost of the characters in The Heroes were first introduced in The First law Trilogy as supporting characters. You will have more fun reading The Heroes if you know where they came from, because then you can enjoy the growth they have undergone along with all the references about previous events and characters. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  44,458 ratings  ·  2,295 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Heroes (First Law World, #5)
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grimdark & Military fantasy fans
Shelves: favorites
I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here:

4.5/5 Stars

The Heroes depicted an unforgettable three days of intricate battles; Joe Abercrombie has once again proved himself to be my shining star in grimdark fantasy.

For me, there’s simply no one that can write grimdark fantasy as good as Abercrombie. The Heroes has been claimed by many Abercrombie’s fans to be his best book so far, and although I disagree because in my opinion that crown still belongs to Last Arg
Muhtasin Oyshik
The Heroes (First law world,#5) by Joe Abercrombie
It's lower quality in my opinion. I feel no real empathy with the characters. Although the book is set over a very short period, it seems to drag to its conclusion. However, the second half of the book was far better than the first. But the book was a disappointment.
The truth is like salt. Men want to taste a little, but too much makes everyone sick.


"HE WAS AS UGLY AS INCEST" that is funny!! Okay, so do not...DO NOT listen to those who call this a less than a stellar performance by the god-king of grit, Joe Abercrombie. This is not only a 541 page manual on the art of breezy, muck-dripping proseology, but it also sports an intricately layered and well designed plot, three dimensional characters that are just saturated with nuance and some powerful evocative statements on the “underpants loading horror” of war and the pain-burden b
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
The Piles

“Fuck this shit” grumbled Slicker Gutwruck as he wearily limped up the hill, bile tickling his tonsils. “I couldn't give an arse about war anymore,” he spat. How ironic that I'm so good at it he mused, as his rag-tag squad of soldiers showed off their cool moves on a group of unfortunate peons they got the drop on. There was Broody McBrooderson, master of the garotte; Slicker's second-in-command, Little Miss Sunshine, tougher than any man, and more than capable of commanding Serenity, e
Sean Barrs
Feb 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star-reads, fantasy
I’ve got a really great idea for a novel. Do you want to hear it?

Okay, so here goes:

Well I was thinking I could create a story in which everything relates back to the title. That way I could say the title over and over again.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

I mean I could write about heroes fighting at a place called the Heroes and then they could have a crisis about being heroes whilst worrying who has taken the Heroes and if enemy heroes are going to kill them. And then I could say heroes a few times m
Robin Hobb
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Forty-eight hours. So much can happen in such a short span of time in the middle of a war. This tale shifts between varying viewpoints, from soldiers to commanders to camp followers. There are no good guys and no bad guys. The reader will wind up caring about all of them, and knowing that not all of them can win, let alone survive. Highly recommended.
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The plot can be described in a couple of sentences, literally. This is about a 3-day battle between the Union forces (civilized bureaucratic society) and Northern people (barbarians), and also about the events right before it and its aftermath. This is probably the most spoiler-free plot description I ever wrote, by the way.

Joe Abercombie is the undisputed king when it comes to modern grimdark fantasy. Yes, I have read Malazan epic. Yes, I still stand by what I said in the beginning of the para
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This one has been on my To-Be-Read pile for a long time. In an effort to clean out some of my older books I finally got around to reading it.

And now I'm not sure what took me so long! Heroes is a gritty book about a war between the Northmen and the Union, which takes place around a hill called the Heroes.

It's a dark book, with rough characters and some pretty gorey deaths. Ambercrombie does a great job with his battle scenes, showing the confusion of war and the costs of being a hero.

But wit
War, War never changes.

The Heroes unflinchingly chronicles a 3 day battle between two warring nations. It's a story filled with visceral fighting, complex characters and constant danger and suspense. For me this is the best of Abercrombie's standalone novels and is on a par with his 'First Law trilogy'. Being a massive Abercrombie fan as I am the fact that this is my favourite of his works says a lot. The Heroes combines Abercrombie's dark fantasy with a war story and while the entire novel rev
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
600 pages for only 3 days of battle and more grittiness, dark humor, blood and guts than in any other First law book and that is saying something.There isn't much else to say just Abercrombie at his best. ...more
Feb 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
22/25 (88%) 4.5 stars.
“To work wood you need all manner of tools - chisels and saws, axes great and small, nails and hammers, awls and planes. To be a killer you just need two. A blade and the will.”

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll start rewriting the battle sequence in the first draft of my current manuscript and then I’ll dedicate the entire book to Joe Abercrombie.

Every single book I read by this man turns me more into a brainless, gushing Abercrombie sycophant. And I’m not ashamed at all. Best battle
Nasty, Brutish, and Short

Life is nasty, brutish, and short in Abercrombie's First Law World. But perhaps that's just the Great Leveller talking as they say in the North. "Heroes" is the second of the so-called standalone novels following the initial trilogy, but one should still read these novels in order to get the full background and history that adds so much depth to the story. On the surface, "Heroes" is a simple war story, detailing three days as two armies face off separated by a river and
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy fans with a need for military background
Recommended to Orient by: Milda Page Runner
I was eager to put my eyes on “The Heroes”, because I was still high from Best Served Cold and I didn’t read Mr. Abercrombie’s book for some time. The fact is that “The Heroes” decreased my fangirlism a little bit. But let’s start from the tasty bits.

Joe Abercrombie always has smth tasty in his books. “The Heroes” is a military fantasy novel, which offered me a rather unique and interesting glimpse into war and warriors who are annoyed with fighting a war.
I always love to find the so called Abe
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

“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.”

I have to admit that after reading Best Served Cold my expectations kind of skyrocketed for this one and I ended up slightly disappointed. I have to agree with George R.R. Martin who said this was Abercrombie’s best book up to this point in the
Deborah Obida
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘Unhappy the land that
is in need of heroes’
Bertolt Brecht.

From all Abercrombie's books that I've read, this book is by far my favourite, its a military fantasy with a dash of politics, this book is in five parts, Before the battle, day one to three of battles then after the battle, the whole book is filled with gruesome explicit battle, it was awesome, the detailing is what I love most. Do not even get me started on the characters, almost all of them are morally ambiguous, I can count on one
Ahmad Sharabiani
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Heroes (First Law World #5), Joe Abercrombie
The Heroes focuses on a three-day battle set in the same world as the First Law trilogy, about seven years after events of the trilogy itself. Union commander Lord Marshal Kroy leads the Union forces against the much smaller Northern army led by Black Dow. The story features many characters seen in previous First Law novels like Bremer dan Gorst, Lord Marshal Kroy, and the Dogman.
The Heroes first published January 2011. They say Black Dow's killed
Em Lost In Books
My sixth book by Mr Abercrombie and as always he never cease to amaze me with his writing, especially when he is writing about “War”.

So ‘The Heroes’ is story of Black Dow, the Northern King, and Union army finding themselves battling over an old monument called, The Heroes.

As it is war, so there are tons of characters and with them lay the beauty of the book. its the story of famous names, fallen and new names. its the story of people who are strong headed, cruel, ambitious, self-centered, vicio
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can’t get enough of this series, it’s a problem. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself when I finish all of the stand alones, which is coming up fast. I burned through this one on the audiobook version – and didn’t take notes. Please forgive names that are spelled wrong. If you haven’t read First Law trilogy yet, I’d absolutely say start there.

More war, such is life in the First Law world, this one has some crossover characters from some of the other books. Black Dow is King of th
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It's been a really long time since I read the First Law books and several years since I read Best Served Cold, so I started off a little lost on this book. I didn't remember what had happened between Black Dow and the Bloody Nine, I didn't really remember Calder or Gorst so I ended up doing some Wikki reading trying to catch back up. Once I got it all straight I really enjoyed it. I actually found a few people that were worth "cheering for" (at least by Abercrombie's standards) and the big scene ...more
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
War in all its misery. Did you expect anything else? This book is as Abercrombie as it gets. As The Bloody Nine would say, you have to be realistic about these things.

The story takes place a couple of years after the first law trilogy (read it first!) and centers mostly around a three day battle between the Union & the North. There are quite a few of the characters we have come to love present, but sadly, also a few key ones that have gone back to the mud in between books. I mention them only be
I may write a longer review when I have time. Conclusion, this book is a perfect fictional war account. I read a lot of nonfiction combat memoirs etc and this book has the same quality. It's got the specifics, troops movement, tactics and strategies, politics among and between each participants, heroics and cowardice and what I appreciate the most, the facts (and musings) that war is not glamorous at all. Songs can sung about heroes and countries but at the end, it's all about standing side by s ...more
Vladimir Ćeha
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it

Yes, that’s how I feel after finishing this book. I loved the First Law trilogy, but Heroes just fell flat for me. In spite of the title, the novel is not about heroes, in fact Abercrombie never misses a chance to remind us that his characters are not honorable men. Everything was different in the distant past, when people knew what they were fighting for, but nothing remains of that time, only rock formations that are aptly named Heroes, and where most of the action takes place today. I
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. A bit slow at the beginning but as the story unfolds many pieces click into place, and I ended up savoring all the details and the individual stories entwined in the plot.

Highly recommended!

I picked this up to give Abercrombie a try, he's so praised (deservedly so!) that I wanted to try a standalone novel before approaching the first law trilogy. Unfortunately I didn't dig enough in the reviews to understand a particular tidbit of information, and now that I'm reading
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The premise of the book is very straight-forward: the Union and the Northmen are fighting a war over a narrow strip of borderland, and “The Heroes” is the setting of a long and bloody three-day battle. The title is a play on words, and without spoiling anything, the hilltop setting named “The Heroes” and the violent battle there bring out the heroic in men on both sides.

“The Heroes” follows Abercrombie’s previous titles chronologically, so if you haven't read the other books yet, start with “The
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it
When asked what sort of music I liked to listen to, I answered "grunge" for years after it was fashionable to do so. I think most of us can name a musician or band that we loved in high school, one that we listened to well past pop culture's imposed expiration date. Perhaps most of us can even recall the time when we realized that our tastes were no longer fashionable. Eventually, we have to see what's hip "today," and I suspect that the same holds true for fantasy.

When I was a young man, listen
James 'Eagle'
This book is breathtaking. The ultimate sum of it's parts, 'The Heroes' is a perfect display of Abercrombie at his absolute best: grim, brutal, vivid, real, and intensely moving. I fell in love with this novel early on and that feeling still hasn't gone away even after I turned its last page. It's a story that made me want to finish work as soon as possible so I could go back to it. An experience that had me thinking about it hours after it ended. It is a phenomenal ride, one that has pushed thi ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Jan 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook, war, fantasy
There must be something about the The First Law trilogy. Because while I loved those three books, I can't say I felt the same enthusiasm for Joe A's other book Best Served Cold or this one, The Heroes. It was very hard for me to give this book a low rating, but I had to be honest; I just didn't enjoy it.

Despite being packed with action-filled battle scenes, it was a struggle to get through this book without nodding off within the first thirty minutes each time I picked it up. That's probably why
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he's a damn fine storyteller.

Or a mad bastard. Either works.

Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2021-shelf
Abercrombie proves that he's got grimdark DOWN.

This epic fantasy is more an epic battle masquerading as a war, but giving all its heart to these players in the mud. From leaders to grunts to camp followers, we get the dark, dirty reality of any kind of war, not just fantasy.

Horrible, ruthless, banal, and ugly. All the wonders of war.

Of course, there IS a lot of black humor in this, too. I will never get over my new definition of "the smell of heroes".

It makes utter sense tho. Wherever heroes
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I've been reading a lot of Abercrombie lately - one a month for the past 5 months to be exact. One more to go and (sad face) it'll be over for a while. I hope Abercrombie is writing fast!

This book contains more of what Abercrombie is absolutely brilliant at:
Gritty, dark but oh so real. This book tells the story of war: the Union and the Northmen have been in a cat-and-mouse-war for a while, but the council needs their army elsewhere and commands a short end to this war. We'll get three days of w
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Fantasy Buddy Reads: The Heroes [Aug 5, 2019] 16 43 Sep 17, 2019 06:54AM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: The Heroes 25 51 Jul 15, 2017 10:21AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: #110 The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie 1 2 Jun 08, 2015 09:01PM  
order of the books 5 79 Dec 23, 2014 09:02AM  
La Stamberga dei ...: The Heroes di Joe Abercrombie 1 5 Jun 11, 2014 03:40AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive, #4)
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2)
  • Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen, #1)
  • King of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #2)
  • Dawnshard (The Stormlight Archive, #3.5)
  • Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #3)
  • Kings of the Wyld (The Band, #1)
  • The Fires of Vengeance (The Burning, #2)
  • The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3)
  • Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1)
  • Valor (The Faithful and the Fallen, #2)
  • Breach of Peace (The Lawful Times, #0.1)
  • Ruin (The Faithful and the Fallen, #3)
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)
  • Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)
  • Wrath (The Faithful and the Fallen, #4)
  • Deadhouse Gates (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2)
  • The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1)
See similar books…
Joe Abercrombie was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Manchester University, where he studied psychology. He moved into television production before taking up a career as a freelance film editor. During a break between jobs he began writing The Blade Itself in 2002, completing it in 2004. It was published by Gollancz in 2006 and was followed by two other books in The First Law trilogy ...more

Other books in the series

First Law World (10 books)
  • The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)
  • Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)
  • Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3)
  • Best Served Cold
  • Red Country (First Law World, #6)
  • Sharp Ends (First Law World, #7)
  • A Little Hatred (The Age of Madness, #1)
  • The Trouble with Peace (The Age of Madness, #2)
  • The Wisdom of Crowds (The Age of Madness, #3)

Related Articles

Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list,...
36 likes · 25 comments
“The truth is like salt. Men want to taste a little, but too much makes everyone sick.” 266 likes
“I'm a fucking coward."
"Maybe." Craw jerked his thumb over his shoulder at Whirrun's corpse. "There's a hero. Tell me who's better off.”
More quotes…