Abercrombie, Joe - The Heroes

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Abercrombie, Joe - The Heroes
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Praise for Joe Abercrombie:

‘Abercrombie has written the finest epic fantasy trilogy in recent memory. He’s one writer that no one should miss’

Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize winner

‘Joe Abercrombie is probably the brightest star among the new generation of British fantasy writers … Abercrombie never underestimates the horrors that people are prepared to inflict on one another, or their long-lasting, often unexpected, consequences. Abercrombie writes a vivid, well-paced tale that never loosens its grip. His action scenes are cinematic in the best sense, and the characters are all distinct and interesting’

The Times

‘Joe Abercrombie’s BEST SERVED COLD is a bloody and relentless epic of vengeance and obsession in the grand tradition, a kind of splatterpunk sword ’n sorcery COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, Dumas by way of Moorcock. Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, could teach even Gully Foyle and Kirth Gersen a few things about revenge.The battles are vivid and visceral, the action brutal, the pace headlong, and Abercrombie piles the betrayals, reversals, and plot twists one atop another to keep us guessing how it will all come out. This is his best book yet’

George R. R. Martin

‘Abercrombie writes dark, adult fantasy, by which I mean there’s a lot of stabbing in it, and after people stab each other they sometimes have sex with each other. His tone is morbid and funny and hardboiled, not wholly dissimilar to that of Iain Banks … Like Fritz Leiber you can see in your head where the blades are going, what is clanging off what, the sweat, the blood, the banter. And like George R. R. Martin Abercrombie has the will and the cruelty to actually kill and maim his characters’

Time Magazine

‘Delightfully twisted and evil’

The Guardian

‘Abercrombie is both fiendishly inventive and solidly convincing, especially when sprinkling his appallingly vivid combat scenes with humour so dark that it’s almost ultraviolet’

Publishers Weekly

‘Storms along at a breakneck pace. Each character has a history of betrayal and a wobbly moral compass, giving further realism and depth to Abercrombie’s world. The violence is plentiful, the methods of exacting revenge are eye-wateringly inventive and the characters well fleshed out. A fan of Bernard Cornwell’s historical escapades could easily fall for it. Believe the hype’

Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

‘Abercrombie’s narrative twists and turns, playing with but also against the reader’s expectations. His characters do likewise. Their realistic unpredictability means that it is almost impossible to determine what will eventually happen. One of the great pleasures of Joe Abercrombie’s fiction is that his characters are so lifelike’


‘All in all, we can’t say enough good things about Mr Abercrombie’s latest addition to the genre. It’s intelligent, measured, thoughtful, well paced and considered, but retains a sense of fun. We can’t recommend it enough’

Sci-Fi Now

Also by Joe Abercrombie from Gollancz:


The Blade Itself

Before They Are Hanged

Last Argument of Kings

Best Served Cold


Praise for Joe Abercrombie

Also by Joe Abercrombie from Gollancz

Order of Battle


The Times

The Peacemaker

The Best of Us

Black Dow

What War?

Old Hands

New Hands


The Right Thing




Give and Take

The Very Model


Ours Not to Reason Why

Cry Havoc and …

Devoutly to be Wished


The Better Part of Valour

Paths of Glory

The Day’s Work

The Defeated

Fair Treatment


Rest and Recreation



Opening Remarks

The Infernal Contraptions

Reasoned Debate

Chains of Command

Closing Arguments

Straight Edge


The Bridge

Strange Bedfellows

Hearts and Minds

Good Deeds

One Day More


The King’s Last Hero

My Land


The Standard Issue


Under the Wing


Still Yesterday

For What We Are About to Receive …

The Riddle of the Ground

Onwards and Upwards

More Tricks

The Tyranny of Distance


Pointed Metal

Peace in Our Time

The Moment of Truth


Desperate Measures

Stuff Happens


End of the Road

By the Sword

The Currents of History



New Hands

Old Hands

Everyone Serves

Just Deserts

Black Calder




For Eve

One day you will read this

And say, ‘Dad, why all the swords?’

Order of Battle


High Command

Lord Marshal Kroy

– commander-in-chief of his Majesty’s armies in the North.

Colonel Felnigg

– his chief of staff, a remarkably chinless man.

Colonel Bremer dan Gorst

– royal observer of the Northern War and disgraced master swordsman, formerly the king’s First Guard.




– his faithful servants, one old, one … younger.

Bayaz, the First of the Magi

– a bald wizard supposedly hundreds of years old and an influential representative of the Closed Council, the king’s closest advisors.

Yoru Sulfur

– his butler, bodyguard and chief bookkeeper.




– two old Adepti of the University of Adua, academics conducting an experiment for Bayaz.

Jalenhorm’s Division

General Jalenhorm

– an old friend of the king, fantastically young for his position, described as brave yet prone to blunders.


– his thirteen-year-old bugler.

Colonel Vallimir

– ambitious commanding officer of the King’s Own First Regiment.

First Sergeant Forest

– chief non-commissioned officer with the staff of the First.

Corporal Tunny

– long-serving profiteer, and standard-bearer of the First.

Troopers Yolk, Klige, Worth,



– clueless recruits attached to Tunny as messengers.

Colonel Wetterlant

– punctilious commanding officer of the Sixth Regiment.

Major Culfer

– his panicky second in command.

Sergeant Gaunt, Private Rose

– soldiers with the Sixth.

Major Popol

– commanding the first battalion of the Rostod Regiment.

Captain Lasmark

– a poor captain with the Rostod Regiment.

Colonel Vinkler

– courageous commanding officer of the Thirteenth Regiment.

Mitterick’s Division

General Mitterick

– a professional soldier with much chin and little loyalty, described as sharp but reckless.

Colonel Opker

– his chief of staff.

Lieutenant Dimbik

– an unconfident young officer on Mitterick’s staff.

Meed’s Division

Lord Governor Meed

– an amateur soldier with a neck like a turtle, in peacetime the governor of Angland, described as hating Northmen like a pig hates butchers.

Colonel Harod dan Brock

– an honest and hard-working member of Meed’s staff, the son of a notorious traitor.

Finree dan Brock

– Colonel Brock’s venomously ambitious wife, the daughter of Lord Marshal Kroy.

Colonel Brint

– senior on Meed’s staff, an old friend of the king.

Aliz dan Brint

– Colonel Brint’s naive young wife.

Captain Hardrick

– an officer on Meed’s staff, affecting tight trousers.

The Dogman’s Loyalists

The Dogman

– Chief of those Northmen fighting with the Union. An old companion of the Bloody-Nine, once a close friend of Black Dow, now his bitter enemy.


– the Dogman’s Second, who wears a red hood.


– a Named Man of long experience, leading a dozen for the Dogman.


– one of Hardbread’s Carls.


In and Around Skarling’s Chair

Black Dow

– the Protector of the North, or stealer of it, depending on who you ask.


– his Second, meaning chief bodyguard and arse-licker.


– his advisor, a sorceress from the desert South, and sworn enemy of Bayaz.

Caul Shivers

– a scarred Named Man with a metal eye, who some call Black Dow’s dog.

Curnden Craw

– a Named Man thought of as a straight edge, once Second to Rudd Threetrees, then close to Bethod, now leading a dozen for Black Dow.


– his long-suffering Second.

Whirrun of Bligh

– a famous hero from the utmost North, who wields the Father of Swords. Also called Cracknut, on account of his nut being cracked.

Jolly Yon Cumber, Brack-i-Dayn, Scorry Tiptoe, Agrick, Athroc



– other members of Craw’s dozen.

Scale’s Men


– Bethod’s eldest son, now the least powerful of Dow’s five War Chiefs, strong as a bull, brave as a bull, and with a bull’s brain too.


– once one of Bethod’s War Chiefs, now Scale’s Second.

White-Eye Hansul

– a Named Man with a blind eye, once Bethod’s herald.

‘Prince’ Calder

– Bethod’s younger son, an infamous coward and schemer, temporarily exiled for suggesting peace.


– his pregnant wife, the daughter of Caul Reachey.




– a pair of killers, watching over Calder in the hope of riches.

Caul Reachey’s Men

Caul Reachey

– one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, an elderly warrior, famously honourable, father to Seff, father-in-law to Calder.

Brydian Flood

– a Named Man formerly a member of Craw’s dozen.


– a young farmer craving glory on the battlefield, the son of Shama Heartless.

Reft, Colving, Stodder



– other young lads pressed into service with Beck.

Glama Golden’s Men

Glama Golden

– one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, intolerably vain, locked in a feud with Cairm Ironhead.

Sutt Brittle

– a famously greedy Named Man.


– a Carl in Golden’s employ.

Cairm Ironhead’s Men

Cairm Ironhead

– one of Dow’s five War Chiefs, notoriously stubborn, locked in a feud with Glama Golden.


– a stout-hearted scout.


– an ill-tempered axeman.


– a foul-mouthed bowman.


Brodd Tenways

– the most loyal of Dow’s five War Chiefs, ugly as incest.


– a giant savage obsessed with civilisation, Chief of all the lands east of the Crinna.

Back to the Mud (dead, thought dead, or long dead)


– the first King of the Northmen, father to Scale and Calder.

Skarling Hoodless

– a legendary hero who once united the North against the Union.

The Bloody-Nine

– once Bethod’s champion, the most feared man in the North, and briefly King of the Northmen before being killed by Black Dow (supposedly).

Rudd Threetrees

– a famously honourable Chief of Uffrith, who fought against Bethod and was beaten in a duel by the Bloody-Nine.

Forley the Weakest

– a notoriously weak fighter, companion to Black Dow and the Dogman, ordered killed by Calder.

Shama Heartless

– a famous champion killed by the Bloody-Nine. Beck’s father.

‘Unhappy the land that

is in need of heroes’

Bertolt Brecht

The Times

‘Too old for this shit,’ muttered Craw, wincing at the pain in his dodgy knee with every other step. High time he retired. Long past high time. Sat on the porch behind his house with a pipe, smiling at the water as the sun sank down, a day’s honest work behind him. Not that he had a house. But when he got one, it’d be a good one.

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