Title: Half the World
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea, book 2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey (February 17th)
Source: Review copy from publisher
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?
Half the World is set in the future after the events of Half a King (first book). We don’t know how much time has passed, but it’s obvious some had because Father Yarvi has come into his own as the minister of Gettland.
In this installment we are introduced to two new characters, Thorn and Brand.
Thorn is not the usual Gettland lady; she has been touched by Mother War. While girls played with dolls and learned how to play instruments and sew, Thorn learned how to use a sword. But in a society that discourages women for taking on arms, Thorn has only encountered opposition to her many talents. Set up to fail by the man who trained her, Thorn finds herself in a very difficult situation in which she is forced to swear fealty to Father Yarvi in exchange of her life.
Brand has dreamed all his life of becoming a warrior, of having a warrior place with brothers by his shoulders and fighting for a good cause. Brand has always followed his mother’s advice to stay in the light, to do good things and what is right. The problem is his good deeds led him to lose everything he fought for all his life, his warrior place along his brothers in arms.
Not having anything else to do with his life, Brand accepts Father Yarvi’s offer and along Yarvi, Thorn and a motley crew they embark on a long journey looking for allies against the upcoming war with the High King.
When you love a first book usually you have high expectations for the second book and sadly, usually that second book suffers from second book syndrome. I was afraid that was going to be the case with Half the World but I’m happy to inform you I was wrong, very, very wrong. Half the World is as good if not better than Half a King. In this installment Joe Abercrombie proves us once again why he is considered one of the best fantasy authors in the market.
The new characters Abercrombie gives us in Half the World are complex, multilayered, real and brilliantly flawed.
Abercrombie does an excellent job with Thorn, the main heroine. She is strong, smart, but as many teenagers, she thinks she is more and knows more than what she truly does. She only needed to spend some time with Yarvi to realize how wrong she really was. I really liked that instead of wallowing in her mistakes she grabbed with both hands the opportunity Yarvi offered her and gave all she could give to become the best she could be.
What I liked the most about her was her inner strength and how she didn’t let anything deterred her in doing what she wanted, becoming a great warrior. Seeing her grow throughout the pages was inspiring and exhilarating.
Brand doesn’t stay behind. Despite being the opposite of Thorn he also has his inner strengths. Brand dreamt of being a warrior until the day he saw the reality of war and realized killing wasn’t for him. He is a good young man, with a good heart. He wants to do what is right, even though sometimes being good and doing the right thing is the hardest and riskiest choice.
In this installment we get Thorn and Brand’s points of view, we don’t get Yarvi’s, but still he is always present in the background. He has become a master puppeteer pulling the strings of kings, queens and normal folk alike. He is playing a dangerous game of chess in which he has all his moves planned, some of those moves come to pass as he has planned, others not so much; but as the master manipulator he is he also has plans B, C, D or as many as require to obtain what he wants.
It was really good to see the man he has become.
In this installment Abercrombie gives us a young romance with all that it entitles, awkwardness, confusion, miscommunications and the most important of all, hope. It was easy to see why Thorn and Brand fell for each other and how good they are for the other. They are opposites that balance each other perfectly.
The story in Half the World is engaging, compelling and impossible to put down. The fighting scenes are masterfully choreographed and beautifully described, as are all of Abercrombie’s fighting scenes.
The world building is further developed on this installment. It answered some of my questions and left me wanting to more know about how this world came to be.
All in all, Half the World is an amazing book and a great follow up to what I think is one of the best YA Fantasy series in the market. Saying I’m dying to get my hands in next and final book, Half a War, is the understatement of the year. Luckily for me and other fans of this series, we don’t have much to wait; Half a War will be released on July 16th.
I can’t recommend enough this book and this series in general. Although Half the World could be easily read as a stand alone I recommend you to read it after reading Half a King to get the full effect and understand the wonderful world and all the undercurrents Abercrombie has created.
My Verdict: 4 ½ Paws
Other books in the series
Half the World (February 17th)
Half a War (July 16th)
Other reviews Goodreads