Half the World by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thorn's a girl touched by mother war who fights every day to become a warrior. She finds herself bruised, bloodied, and named a murderer by her teacher. Thorn becomes indebted and oath bound to serve Father Yarvi as he schemes to find allies against the High King. She crosses half the world in search of allies for Gettland while making some of her own like Brand a warrior who wants to do good more than anything.
Half the World is a strong sequel to Half a King. Half the World has politics, conflict, and battle galore.
While being a sequel and seeing many familiar characters such as Father Yarvi, Queen Laithlin, and King Uthil, the story changes it's point of view. Instead of having one point of view character in Yarvi we get two point of view characters in Thorn and Brand. This change strengthens the story and the mystery because Thorn and Brand are young and don't know much of what's happening at any given time unlike Father Yarvi who's pulling many of the strings.
I really enjoy the characters particularly Father Yarvi, Thorn, and Brand. I must admit that I miss the younger Yarvi from Half A King. Father Yarvi is a harder man who isn't afraid to do what's necessary for the greater good of Gettland. This Yarvi is a deep cunning man who seems like the type who rarely jokes or even smiles. He's a man that's seen too much of the darkness in the world and will never be the same because of it. Father Yarvi is a stronger more determined man than Yarvi from Half a King.
Thorn is interesting because of her personality. Thorn starts out as a fiery young woman who has trained with the young men her entire life. She is fierce and stubborn while being quite capable in battle against the young men of her age. She goes from being an arrogantly proud annoyance who thinks too highly of herself and her skills to a fairly humble woman who has skills worth bragging about. It's also interesting that despite being a warrior woman Abercrombie gave her some insecurities. It's good to see heroes and heroines who are far from perfect. Thorn's vulnerability made her more relatable.
Brand is interesting because of his convictions. Brand desires to be warrior like the ones in the songs. He wants a band of brothers to stand shield to shield with while earning glory and riches. Above all Brand believes he desires, he wants to do good. Brand is constantly striving to do good throughout the book despite the consequences. Brand is the character I find myself relating to the most.
The biggest surprise to me was to see Abercrombie put together a love story in the midst of all the conflict. The author captured perfectly that awkward excitement of being a teenager in love. The characters uncertainty, desire, and misunderstandings mixed into a quite familiar feeling of being a teenager who has developed romantic feelings for someone. I have to say it even had me remembering my own awkward teenage infatuations.
Joe Abercrombie truly captures the futility of war. His characters talk of the songs sung, the scars earned, and the reputations won all the while showing how different the truth is from a song. He doesn't make it seem glorious, but rather haunting.
One of my favorite parts of reading Half the World and all of Joe Abercrombie's work is his powerful quotes. Joe Abercrombie is one of the most quotable authors in fantasy today. One of my favorite quotes from Half the World was, “Those with bad luck should at least attempt to balance it with good sense.” Another quote I particularly like was this one on relationships, “I always thought of being together as the end of the work. Turns out it's where the work starts.”
Half the World isn't exactly what I expected in a sequel, it's even better. The new characters Thorn and Brand carry the story in a way I never expected and that made it a memorable sequel. I excitedly look forward to the trilogy's conclusion.
4 out of 5 stars
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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