|“||Shoglig told me the time, and the place, and the manner of my death. She whispered it, and made me swear to keep it secret, for magic shared is no magic at all. So I cannot tell you where it will be, or when, but it is not here, and it is not now. You boys, on the other hand … Shoglig didn’t say when you’d be going.||”|
The Times is the first chapter of The Heroes.12
Curnden Craw3, an aging veteran Named-man, trudges wearily up a steep hill towards the hilltop ringed with ancient standing stones; the Heroes. It is eight years since the end of the First Northern War, and The Union and The North are at war again4. Craw is the leader of a crew of Named-men, a dozen, loyal to King Black Dow of the Northmen.
Nearing the peak, Craw sees the flicker of a campfire within the circle of giant stones, and gathering his courage, he strides confidently into the camp. While the men around the fire bristle in surprise, Hardbread, the leader and another old veteran, urges them to calm; this crew is loyal to The Dogman, rebel Northmen allied with The Union.
Hardbread and Craw know each other well, having fought together and on the opposing sides down the years. After some friendly banter, an awkward standoff ensues. However, Craw has the upper hand, with his crew5 having already stealthily surrounded the stones, and taken their sentries prisoner. Nevertheless, Craw allows Hardbread's crew to clear out unharmed. From the hilltop, that commands a view of the valley of Osrung, Craw watches Hardbread and his crew trudge down south. Wondering what Union scouts would be doing this far north, he orders Drofd to ride to Carleon and warn Black Dow that the Union Army may be closer than they all think.
|Curnden Craw||Jolly Yon||The Dogman||Black Dow|
|Whirrun of Bligh||Athroc|
Loctions and Terms
|Osrung||The North||First Northern War||Battle of the Heroes||The Union||Carleon|
- In Best Served Cold we've had the futility of revenge, and now we have the futility of war.
- The book is set in the year 584AU, so seven years after the end of the original trilogy see in 575-577AU. The skirmish at Barden occurred just before the start, which is specifically dated in Sharp Ends.
- Curnden Craw is probably the closest thing to a central character The Heroes has. He was once Second to Rudd Threetrees, and still tries to do things the Old Way – stand by your Chief, stand by your crew, try to keep everyone alive, at least on your side. He’s long been dreaming of retirement, going back to being a carpenter and smoking his pipe on his porch while the sun goes down, but he never quite seems to find the right moment to hang up his sword…
- To emphasis the futility of war, the cause of it is never really explained. Mabe King Jezal desires revenge on Black Dow for usurping his friend Logen Ninefingers. Bayaz seems to want little more than to harden The Union with a sacrifice of blood in the fire of war.
- Curnden Craw's crew are Wonderful, Whirrun of Bligh, Scorry Tiptoe, Jolly Yon, Brack-i-Dayn, Agrick, Athroc, and Drofd.