Half the World by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #2
Also by this author: Half a King
Published by Del Rey on February 12, 2015
Also in this series: Half a King
Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War.
Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named a murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.
Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior.
She finds herself caught up in the schemes of Father Yarvi, Gettland’s deeply cunning minister. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit.
Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon.
Beside her on the journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill, a failure in his eyes and hers, but with one chance at redemption.
And weapons are made for one purpose.
Will Thorn forever be a pawn in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path?
What can I say? Abercrombie continues to know how to draw me in to a story. Half the World was absolutely no exception, and it has the added bonus of having a completely kick-ass female POV.
When I ended Half a King, I had thought the next book would continue to center on Yarvi. While he is a critical character in this book, Half the World does not tell his story, it focuses more on Brand and Thorn with Yarvi still visible in the background.
Thorn is fascinating. I have to admit to wondering if she is similar to what Monza (from Abercrombie’s other books, particularly Best Served Cold) might have been like as a young woman. Thorn’s one of those girls that just doesn’t fit the mold of what she is expected to be. Her father was a great warrior, Chosen Shield to a King, and her spirit and drive (and not to mention temper) put her very much in his footsteps. She is also set on avenging her father’s death. Thorn knows fighting and quite honestly, not much else. She is hyper-focused on that one area that it can make her blind and incredibly naive in some ways (as we all can be). Being different from what is expected sets her on edge and puts her constantly on the defensive. Though she is young, so she is still learning how to act outside of fighting.
Brand is a young man that had to grow up way to early, and has since become so obsessed with doing the right thing that he can also be a bit blind. And doing the right thing has cost Brand, has caused things to go horribly wrong. But still he trudges on, trying to do good, trying to stay in the light like his mother had told him to.
I found it interesting how Brand and Thorn are so very different in many ways, but yet so incredibly similar. They each have traits that define who they are and dictate how they make decisions, and blind them to seeing another way.
While these chapters focused on Brand and Thorn, it would be a mistake to think that the story is limited to just them. There are larger events going on in the world that will continue to drive the story for the next book. Also, with Half the World, we are getting a better picture of the world and magic. It is really taking shape as a post apocalyptic setting with “elf” magic and remains strongly resembling our own world and technology. I absolutely love this aspect of the book and find it quite intriguing.
Lastly, I’ll mention that I noticed the YA feel to this book a bit more than I did in Half a King. This is YA, so I don’t think anyone should read this as a negative point. And I am far from an expert, so anything I state here is just my amateur opinion. But I couldn’t help but be curious why I felt this more with KtW than HaK. I think it was in part because of the way the romance developed between two characters. I also couldn’t help but notice the amount of repetition with certain phrases. I decided to search my kindle to see how many times for one of them to see if it was just me. Yarvi is a a deep-cunning man. So much so that the phrase “deep-cunning” is used 19 times . If these references were equally spread out, that means you see this phrase about once every 21 pages. This is such a minor thing, but I think this was another factor that made me feel it read it bit more YA than Half a King. And PLEASE remember, this is a YA book, so I am not stating this as a negative, I am just talking through what I think made me notice it as YA more than the first book.
Abercrombie continues to be one of my favorite authors and I am eager (and maybe a bit anxious) to find out how this series will play out in the next book. Definitely recommend this book as I do all his others.