The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
There are no heroes here.
And no one gets to escape. They are all bound into a senseless and brutal conflict. Most of them die, usually after being maimed, defeated physically and spiritually, and end their lives morally bankrupt and mostly unmourned. There are no heroes here.
If you like any of Abercrombie’s work, you’ll like this. The focus stays mostly on the barbarians. These are men who know the legends of Threetrees and the Bloody Nine but not much more. Perhaps a few of the older Named Men fought with (and against) them a few times, but for the most part, those days are quickly fading into legend.
Byaz and the knights of the Union are here, also not being heroic. They try. But they fail, when stupidity, arrogance, cowardice, or other human frailties end up putting them in the mud.
There are no heroes here, but Abercrombie writes a high octane tale of three to five different factions in a local protracted skirmish that ends up with a lot of people dead. It’s an anti-war novel, in fact, and none the worse for treading familiar ground in both genres. Hardcore barbarian battle fantasy and Catch-22 style anti-war are seldom found in the same body. Nice work.
But there are no heroes here.