Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

Rating 9.8/10
A fantastic book that clearly demonstrates Abercrombie's proficiency in the fantasy genre.

A Recommended Book of the Month

The second in Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy, Half the World continues the story of Yarvi but from a slightly different perspective. Thorn is disliked by most, a prickly, arrogant girl who finds herself in Yarvi’s debt and dragged halfway across the world because of it.

I loved the first book, I barely put it down on my first reading and so it was with much anticipation and very high hopes that I picked up the second instalment. I was a little disappointed to not be privy to Yarvi’s entertaining narrative any longer, but Thorn struck me as an interesting - if not original - character.

The book maintains the fast pace of the first, proving to be another real page-turner, packed with action and rarely slowing. The characters you encounter are amusing and fleshed out, even if they’re only part of the story for a few pages, which is what makes Abercrombie such an excellent story-teller.

Half the World is essentially Thorn’s coming of age story, so whether or not you’ll enjoy the book heavily depends on whether or not you like that kind of story. It’s a little cliched in parts and the love story between Thorn and fellow warrior Brand is at times excruciatingly sweet, but those moments are thankfully few and far between. The most interesting thing for me was the juxtaposition between the violence of the battles (and how at home Thorn feels in the midst of one) compared with how unsure Thorn and Brand are around each other.

While it isn’t quite in the same league as the first book in the series, it was definitely entertaining, and very amusing at times, and I eagerly look forward to beginning the third installment, Half a War.
Jo Fitzpatrick, 9/10

Half the World by Joe Abercrombie is the second book in the Shattered Sea trilogy, set a few years after the events of the first book, Half a King. It is the continuation of the overarching story established in the first book, but from the eyes of two brand new characters. Half the World is a step above Half a King in every respect, and while this series may be marketed as Young Adult, there is no lack of violence and plenty of exploration of adult themes.

The story follows two young warriors, Thorn and Brand, one female and one male, one touched by Mother War and one touched by Father Peace, one built for speed and agility and one built for power and strength, one extrovert who never shies away from a fight and one introvert who says a lot by saying nothing at all. After a tragic event in the training square, Thorn and Brand become attached to the crew of Father Yarvi (the protagonist from Half a King), sailing the Shattered Seas looking for allies to start a war against the High King. The voyage was never going to be easy, though Father Yarvi might not have expected it to be so hard.

Half the World, as the name suggests, explores the nature of duality. The yin and the yang. Thorn and Brand. These two characters couldn't be any more different, and yet a deep friendship and attraction grows stronger with every page. Their relationship is a highly volatile one, as Thorn is a highly volatile person, but the stability of Brand always brings that volatility back into line, most of the time. Exploring the nature of duality is not a new concept, but Abercrombie's take on it certainly makes you think. Sometimes he looks at subverting gender norms and sometimes he reinforces them, sometimes violence is used to achieve a peaceful solution, and sometimes the pursuit of peace leads to a violent situation. There is certainly some depth of thought in this story, if you are the type of person looks for depth in stories. There is also plenty of action and adventure for those who want a more light hearted read of the book. Duality is everywhere here.

"Father Yarvi is a deeply cunning man," is the mantra that we get read once every handful of pages. And the characters who say this are right. While the story may be told from the perspective of Thorn and Brand, the outcome of the story is definitely one of Yarvi's making, one that has been planned for a very long time, and one that Yarvi was always going to achieve regardless of the setbacks. I find Yarvi to be one of the more fascinating characters in fantasy, and I definitely can't wait to see what his endgame is in the final book.

Half the World is a fantastic book that clearly demonstrates Abercrombie's proficiency in the fantasy genre. Half a War cannot come soon enough.
Ryan Lawler, 9.8/10

This Half the World book review was written by and Ryan Lawler

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