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“The Heroes” has its moments. It’s a long book set during a three-day battle between a “civilized” kingdom on the one side, and the rough barbarians who bedevil its northern frontier, on the other. Abercrombie writes the hell out of this book. He makes especially effective use of POV shifts between characters on different sides of the conflict to keep the reader from sympathizing too fully for either army. For example, one longish sequence wherein the POV shifts from character A, to character B who kills him, to character C who kills character B in turn, to character D who kills character C in his own turn, and so on, is powerful and obvious as a way of getting at the reality of war, at the individual human lives lost in it. You get the feeling that some writer somewhere, writing about war, must have definitely done that before — maybe one of the 19th century Russians? — but no example springs readily to mind. Good for Abercrombie.

But it’s long. It’s way long. That’s what I’ll say about that. There are a lot of characters with very weird names. I’ll say that, too. It’s not the weirdness of the names that vexes — you expect that — it’s the number of them.

Also: the first sentence is one of the weakest in the book. It’s actually a cliche. It’s something that Danny Glover says a lot in the “Lethal Weapon” movies. See if you can guess what it is. I’ll bet you can. I almost didn’t read past that first sentence. Go ahead and read past it. The book is worth reading.

But yeah. Long.

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