Title: Half A World
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series? Yes, 2 of 3
Note: Contains spoilers for Half A King.
I loved Half A King so I was so excited to come plunging back into The Shattered Sea series. Though the story in this book was driven by different characters, I still found the cast utterly charming in all their double-crossing and murderous glory.
1. Awesome Female Characters
Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War, and put among the boys in the training square, and taught to fight.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Half A King was its treatment of female characters. The book featured ladies in position of political power, ladies who were physically strong, ladies who were mentally strong, ladies who never took a backseat to the dudes – despite the story being narrated by a male protagonist. Half The World go one step beyond that to give us more than half a book narrated by Thorn, a veritable badass.
Now, there are many a ‘warrior princess’ type floating around in fictional universe, but Thorn is different from them all in how unabashedly crude and vicious she is. Gone are the beautiful heroine who saves the day while conquering hearts all across the land, all the while leaving not a strand of hair out of place. Thorn will fight dirty, she will curse and kill, she will get stabbed in the cheek, all to get revel in the glory of battle.
‘Is Mother War herself not a woman?’ The king pointed up at the Tall Gods looming over them. ‘We only offer her the choice. The Mother of Crows picks the worthy.’
If Yarvi of Half A King was marginalised for his crippled hand – Thorn is brushed aside in this warrior society purely because she’s a woman. I enjoy how she navigates around these men and their labels, while meeting other awesome ladies along the way, Along with Thorn, we also have Skifr: a middle aged woman who can still beat young men senseless. Rin, a younger sister who carved her fortune from making the best damn swords in the land, rather than waiting around for her brother to save her from poverty. Even amongst the antagonists there are many fearsome female figures, who arguable drive the story along a lot more than the men did.
2. Revisiting Old Friends
They said he was cunning as Father Moon, a man rarely to be trusted and never to be crossed.
Though Yarvi is no longer the narrator of this book, I was glad to see he still played such a prominent role. I also really enjoy seeing him flourish and fully utilise his beautiful brain to scheme his way around half the world (see what I did there ;)) Gone are any mention of his ‘half a hand’, instead, all the characters we meet seem to agree that he’s a force to be reckoned with, by sheer intellect + political craftiness alone. I am so happy to see him fully grown and in a position where he can be appreciated, even though he was not made King – I think it’s so satisfying to see given all the ordeals he went through in Half A King.
We also got to see many other characters such as Laithlin, who I still love. As well as old members of Yarvi’s crew of misfits, and a load of new additions to this adventure. Another thing we got to see more of is older alliances and blood debts being called upon in this book. I love that even though the narrators are different people, the plot points from the previous novels still got propelled forward, albeit with a different perspective.
3. Bigger Scope, Bigger Action
‘Where do we find allies?’ Father Yarvi smiled. ‘Among our enemies, where else?’
As with Half A King, many things in this book took me by surprise and I love how the pacing never lets up. I loved that we got to see more of The Shattered Seas universe as Yarvi went around the world bribing, threatening and intimidating people into joining his cause. I loved that the action wasn’t just present in a physical sense, but also because the alliances were never clear, the constant shifts in loyalty made for an exciting read.
‘You must be quicker to strike and quicker when you do. You must be tougher and cleverer, you must always look to attack, and you must fight without honour, without conscience, without pity.’
I’ve mentioned many times that my brain don’t handle action scenes well, I can’t ever visualise them clearly – but Joe Abercrombie not only writes beautiful words – his action scenes are also riveting. I loved every single word in this book and devoured it in 3 hours flat.
Very excited to read Half A War now, which I’ll get onto sometimes next week! If you haven’t started this series yet, what are you even waiting for? *pushes you towards a bookstore*