With Half A King Joe Abercrombie told the tale of how the crippled Yarvi overcame hardships and treachery to earn his place next to the throne. A deep-cunning man, however, never rests and thus Yarvi’s tale continues in Half The World. Joe Abercrombie’s novels have been collecting dust on my bookshelf for quite some time now, and it wasn’t until the BookTubeSFF Awards earlier this year that I had the incentive to pick up the first one in the Shattered Sea trilogy. Since catching up with series is one of my goals for 2015 – every year, actually – I quickly went on in the sequel.
Thorn Bathu was born to fight. But when she kills a boy in the training square she finds herself named a murderer.
Fate places her life in the hands of the deep-cunning Father Yarvi as he sets out to cross half the world in search of allies against the ruthless High King. Beside her is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill. A failure in her eyes and his own, the voyage is his last chance at redemption.
But warriors can be weapons, and weapons are made for one purpose. Will Thorn always be a tool in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path? Is there a place outside of legend for a woman with a blade?
This novel’s plot took me by surprise, I had to admit. I was prepared for another round with Yarvi, but instead, the story takes place some years after the happenings of Half A King and we have different protagonists. Eventually, Yarvi comes into the picture and he does a whole lot of deep-cunning things, but the main focus is no longer on him but rather on the warrior-duo Thorn and Brand. Much like the first book, we get a tale of rejection and outcasts and once again they go on a journey across the sea. This time, Yarvi is in the lead reather than rowing for what he’s worth. The parallels between the novels is quite apparent and it didn’t bother me. The opposite, rather. It’s nice to see Yarvi taking what’s he’s learned and putting it to good use in honing the skills and personalities of Thorn and Brand.
“the viper’s nest that is the court
After surviving the sea, they have to survive the viper’s nest that is the court in order to forge much needed alliances. This all pans out quite diffent than what you would expect and by the end, the broader scope of it all becomes clear and it shows you how much thought Abercrombie has put into this story. What has started in Half A King as a ripple in a pond is slowly building up to become a tidal wave. Much like the events, this book also started out as a ripple in a pond. I wouldn’t say I was bored, but during the first half of the book, I could easily put it aside. The second half was a different thing altogether and had me completely in its grip.
Part of this is due to the characters. Much like the environment in which they live, Thorn and Brand are tough characters and I had some difficulties warming up to them. In fact, I don’t know if I even like Thorn now, but I do respect her a whole lot. She’s tough as nails and has quite some spunk to her personality, but that doesn’t make me like you. Also, she displayed that awful trend in women’s hairstyle of shaving half her scalp. This series definitely has a thing with halves..
“the Thorn & Brand-show
So for the first part of the book, I was slowly getting acquainted with this new cast of characters. Whereas the band of brothers from Half A King were all kind of equally shining, this was the Thorn & Brand-show under watchful direction of Yarvi. The latter has really grown into his power and I was really impressed with him! The difference with the boy from the first book couldn’t be greater.
Much like the first book, the writing is once again smooth and brutal. Abercrombie wastes no pretty words but gets you right in the dirt. There is an art in knowing how a story needs to be told, and when it comes to the grimdark, Abercrombie is the master. Little funny thing is how much the title gets quoted in this series.
With this book, I can tally up another series I caught up with this year. Despite me having started this because of the BookTubeSFF Awards rather than because I really really really wanted to read it, I have no regrets whatsoever. I am looking forward to the conclusion next year and am ready to fight at least half a war with Yarvi by my side.
★ ★ ★ ★
Travel Half The World, buy All of the Book.