Half the World (Shattered Sea) - Joe Abercrombie

Hot on the heels of my review of the previous book in this trilogy, Half a King, I've now finished the second book of the series. When I posted my review of that book, one of my friends said I'd probably enjoy this book better than the previous one and she was right.

 

Half the World starts shortly after the end of Half a King, with the protagonist of that book (Yarvi) now firmly settled as advisor to the king and his mother, the former queen, now queen once more and also expecting an heir to the throne. Things are getting more desperate for Father Yarvi's country as the High King and his advisors become more and more demanding - in order to survive, economically and in terms of their freedom of religion, they must find allies who will stand with Gettland against the High King.

 

It's that quest which forms a backdrop for the stories of the main characters of Half the World, Thorn and Brand. Thorn is a girl who desperately wants to avenge the death of her father at the hands of Gettland's greatest enemy but whose best efforts are rebuffed at every turn. She's put in an impossible situation and someone dies as a result, with Thorn getting the blame and being condemned to death.

 

Meanwhile Brand is another would-be warrior, from an impoverished background, who finds it impossible to stay quiet when he sees injustice, even if it would be better for him in the long run to keep his mouth shut. It's Brand who tells Father Yarvi the true circumstances of Thorn's situation, paving the way to her being 'rescued' by him in exchange for an oath to do whatever he tells her. Eventually Brand's interference in what others see as Thorn's just punishment also means he joins Father Yarvi and Thorn, among others, as they travel in search of allies for Gettland.

 

So yes, I did enjoy Half the World more than the previous book in the series, only wanting to bang Thorn and Brand's heads together on a couple of occasions when their whole 'I like them, do they like me?' dance got a little too annoying. It was all resolved nicely enough and without either character completely becoming a caricature of themselves. What I also liked about Half the World was that it didn't shy away from some of the more basic elements of Thorn's situation as both teenage girl and warrior, with all the biological issues that might include. The inclusion of both Thorn and various other female characters meant that this book felt a little less of a sausage-fest than Half a King and that was definitely a move for the better.

 

The final book in the trilogy is Half a War, which I will definitely be reading as soon as I can get my hands on it with the assistance of my local library.