Quotes from The Heroes

Joe Abercrombie ·  581 pages

Rating: (32.2K votes)

“The truth is like salt. Men want to taste a little, but too much makes everyone sick.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“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.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Knives,’ muttered Calder, ‘and threats, and bribes, and war?’

Bayaz’ eyes shone with the lamplight. ‘Yes?’

‘What kind of a fucking wizard are you?’

‘The kind you obey.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“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.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Get what you can with words, because words are free, but the words of an armed man ring that much sweeter.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“This is stupid."

"Look. You think how stupid people are most of the time. Old men drink. Women at a village fair. Boys throwing stones at birds. Life. The foolishness and the vanity, the selfishness and the waste. The pettiness, the silliness. You think in war it must be different. Must be better. With death around the corner, men united against hardship, the cunning of the enemy, people must think harder, faster, be...better. Be heroic.

Only it's just the same. In fact do you know, because of all that pressure, and worry, and fear, it's worse. There aren't many men who think clearest when the stakes are highest. So people are even stupider in war than the rest of the time. Thinking about how they'll dodge the blame, or grab the glory, or save their skins, rather than about what will actually work. There's no job that forgives stupidity more than soldiering. No job that encourages it more.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“So you love war. I used to think you were a decent man. But I see now I was mistaken. You're a hero.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“The smell of it. The feel of it." He rubbed one hand up and down the stained sheath of his sword, making a faint swishing sound. "War is honest. There's no lying to it. You don't have to say sorry here. Don't have to hide. You cannot. If you die? So what? You die among friends. Among worthy foes. You die looking the Great Leveller in the eye. If you live? Well, lad that's living, isn't it? A man isn't truly alive until he's facing death." Whirrun stamped his foot into the sod. "I love war!”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Whirrun ignored ‘em. ‘Then, when I’ve got two cut,’ and he dropped a pale slab of cheese on one slice then slapped the other on top like he was catching a fly, ‘I trap the cheese between then, and there you have it!’
‘Bread and cheese.’ Yon weighed the half-loaf in one hand and the cheese in the other. ‘Just the same as I’ve got.’ And he bit off the cheese and tossed it to Scorry.
Whirrun sighed. ‘Have none of you no vision?’ He held up his masterpiece to such light as there was, which was almost none. ‘This is no more bread and cheese than a fine axe is wood and iron, or a live person is meat and har.’
‘What is it, then?’ asked Drfod, rocking back from his wet wood and tossing the flint aside in disgust.
‘A whole new thing. A forging of the humble part of bread and cheese into a greater whole. I call it … a cheese-trap.’ Whirrun took a dainty nibble from one corner. ‘Oh, yes, my friends. This tastes like … progress…”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“All you can do is take each day as it comes. Try and do the best you can with what you're given. You won't always do the right thing, but you can try. And you can try to do the right thing next time. That, and stay alive.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“It is easy to forget how much you have, when your eyes are always fixed on what you have not.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Armour... is part of a state of mind... in which you admit the possibility... of being hit.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“The man is a monster. The worst I have ever seen, in fact, since I last looked in the mirror. The truth? I am rotting too. I am buried alive, and already rotting. If I was not such a coward I would kill myself, but I am, and so I must content myself with killing others in the hope that one day, if I can only wade deep enough in blood, I will come out clean.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Ain't it God's sword, fell from the sky? I thought it had to be passed on. Is it cursed?"
Craw took up the reins and turned back to the north. "Every sword's a curse, boy.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“And Cracknut Whirrun?’ asked Drofd.
‘Straightforward. An old man up near Ustred taught me the trick of cracking a walnut in my fist. What you do is—’
Wonderful snorted. ‘That ain’t why they call you Cracknut.’
‘No,’ said Yon. ‘It ain’t.’
‘They call you Cracknut for the same reason they gave Cracknut Leef the name,’ and Wonderful tapped at the side of her shaved head. ‘Because it’s widely assumed your nut’s cracked.’
‘They do?’ Whirrun frowned. ‘Oh, that’s less complimentary, the fuckers. I’ll have to have words next time I hear that. You’ve completely bloody spoiled it for me!”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“It's not easy is it? Being a great man's son. You'd thought that would come with all kinds of advantages - with borrowed admiration, and respect. But it's only as easy as it is for the seeds of a great tree, trying to grow in its choking shadow. Not many make it to the sunlight for themselves.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Tenways showed his rotten teeth. ‘Fucking make me.’
‘I’ll give it a try.’ A man came strolling out of the dark, just his sharp jaw showing in the shadows of his hood, boots crunching heedless through the corner of the fire and sending a flurry of sparks up around his legs. Very tall, very lean and he looked like he was carved out of wood. He was chewing meat from a chicken bone in one greasy hand and in the other, held loose under the crosspiece, he had the biggest sword Beck had ever seen, shoulder-high maybe from point to pommel, its sheath scuffed as a beggar’s boot but the wire on its hilt glinting with the colours of the fire-pit. He sucked the last shred of meat off his bone with a noisy slurp, and he poked at all the drawn steel with the pommel of his sword, long grip clattering against all those blades. ‘Tell me you lot weren’t working up to a fight without me. You know how much I love killing folk. I shouldn’t, but a man has to stick to what he’s good at. So how’s this for a recipe…’ He worked the bone around between finger and thumb, then flicked it at Tenways so it bounced off his chain mail coat. ‘You go back to fucking sheep and I’ll fill the graves.’
Tenways licked his bloody top lip. ‘My fight ain’t with you, Whirrun.’
And it all came together. Beck had heard songs enough about Whirrun of Bligh, and even hummed a few himself as he fought his way through the logpile. Cracknut Whirrun. How he’d been given the Father of Swords. How he’d killed his five brothers. How he’d hunted the Shimbul Wolf in the endless winter of the utmost North, held a pass against the countless Shanka with only two boys and a woman for company, bested the sorcerer Daroum-ap-Yaught in a battle of wits and bound him to a rock for the eagles. How he’d done all the tasks worthy of a hero in the valleys, and so come south to seek his destiny on the battlefield. Songs to make the blood run hot, and cold too. Might be his was the hardest name in the whole North these days, and standing right there in front of Beck, close enough to lay a hand on. Though that probably weren’t a good idea.
‘Your fight ain’t with me?’ Whirrun glanced about like he was looking for who it might be with. ‘You sure? Fights are twisty little bastards, you draw steel it’s always hard to say where they’ll lead you. You drew on Calder, but when you drew on Calder you drew on Curnden Craw, and when you drew on Craw you drew on me, and Jolly Yon Cumber, and Wonderful there, and Flood – though he’s gone for a wee, I think, and also this lad here whose name I’ve forgotten.’ Sticking his thumb over his shoulder at Beck. ‘You should’ve seen it coming. No excuse for it, a proper War Chief fumbling about in the dark like you’ve nothing in your head but shit. So my fight ain’t with you either, Brodd Tenways, but I’ll still kill you if it’s called for, and add your name to my songs, and I’ll still laugh afterwards. So?’
‘So what?’
‘So shall I draw?”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Savor the little moments, son, that's my advice. They're what life is. All the little things that happen while you're waiting for something else.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Any man can do what he likes. Right, Splitfoot?’
‘Right, Chief.’
‘Just as long as it’s exactly what I fucking tell ’em to do.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“What’s the difference? Fill a hundred pits with dead Northmen, congratulations, have a parade! Kill one man in the same uniform as you? A crime. A murder. Worse than despicable. Are we not all men? All blood and bone and dreams?”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“A whole new thing. A forging of the humble parts of bread and cheese into a greater whole. I call it...a cheese-trap.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“An Army is an instrument of government. It must be used in such a way that it furthers the interests of government. Otherwise what use is it? Only an extremely costly machine for......minting medals.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“loyalty’s a dangerous foundation. Tends to wash away in a storm. Self-interest stands in any weather.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“He looked around at that one room, and the few things in it. He'd always thought retiring would be going back to his life after some nightmare pause. Some stretch of exile in the land of the dead. Now it came to him that all his life worth living had happened while he was holding a sword.
Standing alongside his dozen. Laughing with Whirrun, and Brack, and Wonderful. Clasping hands with his crew before the fight, knowing he'd die for them and they for him. The trust, the brotherhood, the love, the knit closer than family. Standing by Threetrees on the walls of Uffrith, roaring their defiance at Bethod's great army. The day he charged at the Cunmur. And at Dunbrec. And in the High Places, even though they lost. The day he earned his name. Even the day he got his brothers killed. Even when he'd stood at the top of the Heroes as the rain came down, watching the Union come, knowing every dragged out moment might be the last.
Like Whirrun said - you can't live more than that. Certainly not by fixing a chair.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Shoglig was talking shit. That old bitch didn’t know when I was going to die at all. If I’d known that I’d surely have worn more armour.’ Whirrun made a sound somewhere between a cough and a laugh, then winced, coughed, laughed again, winced again. ‘Fuck, it hurts. I mean, you know it will, but, fuck, it really does hurt. Guess you showed me my destiny anyway, eh, Craw?”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes

“Bury it with me. Time was I thought it was a blessing and a curse. But it’s only a curse, and I ain’t about to curse some other poor bastard with it. Time was I thought it was reward and punishment both. But this is the only reward for men like us.’ And Whirrun nodded down towards the bloody spear-shaft. ‘This or … just living long enough to become nothing worth talking of. Put it in the mud, Craw.’ And he winced as he heaved the grip into Craw’s limp hand and pressed his dirty fingers around it.
‘I will.’
‘Least I won’t have to carry it no more. You see how bloody heavy it is?’
‘Every sword’s a weight to carry. Men don’t see that when they pick ’em up. But they get heavier with time.”
― Joe Abercrombie, quote from The Heroes


About the author

Joe Abercrombie
Born place: in Lancaster, England, The United Kingdom
Born date December 31, 1974
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