Review: The Heroes (The First Law Standalone #2)

The Heroes - Joe Abercrombie

The Heroes was the second standalone book written in the First Law universe. I enjoyed it more than the previous standalone, Best Served Cold, but still not quite as much as I had enjoyed the original trilogy.


For this book, we’re back in the North and there’s yet another war going on between the North and the Union. The vast majority of the book takes place over the course of three days and we hop around between the perspectives of various characters on both sides of the conflict. There are some familiar characters from the previous books, but all of the main point-of-view characters are new or less-familiar characters.


In general, I found most of the main characters to be more likeable or at least more sympathetic than the ones in Best Served Cold. I never became super attached to any of them, but I did care what happened to them. Since the characters were from both sides of the conflict, I found it impossible to root for either side. I liked that aspect of the story – it wasn’t a black-and-white story where it’s easy to root for one side and detest the other side. There were good and bad people on both sides.


On the other hand, unless I somehow missed it, I don’t think it was ever explained exactly why the two sides were fighting, how it started, or what either side had originally hoped to gain. That bugged me because there are always reasons, even if they’re bad reasons, and I wanted to understand them. Well, we do eventually learn that...

the war is in large part being orchestrated and perpetuated by Bayaz and Ishri as part of their ongoing feud with each other, but it’s never really made clear how this war that’s killing so many people on both sides really helps either of them gain anything other than perhaps keeping each other occupied.

(show spoiler)


This book held my attention and didn’t really have any slow spots, but I do think I’m about ready for a break from stories that are primarily about fighting, whether small-scale or large-scale. I think that’s one reason I enjoyed the trilogy more – it had its share of fighting, but there was also a lot more going on, especially in the first couple of books. These last two books have seemed much more heavily focused on fighting. I miss the political intrigue and investigations and general adventure that had a larger presence in the trilogy. I look forward to reading the next and last (so far, anyway) book in this series, but I’m also starting to look forward to moving on to a new setting.