Half a War - Joe Abercrombie

This is the final book in this trilogy, following on from Half a King and Half the World, and this trilogy was being sold as Young Adult though I'm not really sure why except for the fact that most of the focus characters in each book were teenagers - for example in Half a King it was Yarvi, who is now still only in his 20's in Half a War as the period of time covered by the trilogy is not all that long.

 

Anyway, where we're at in this book: the main character in Half a War is Skara, who when we first meet her is the granddaughter of the reigning king of Throvenland. The majority of the storyline of the trilogy is set in a small area with what is clearly a Norse-like culture, valuing warfare over anything else. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really find anything to like about Skara and that made it difficult to care what happened to her. It's not that she's written as being unpleasant, which would probably have been more entertaining - one of the main characters in Half the World has some major character flaws and as a result is much more interesting to read about.

 

Skara finds herself unexpectedly on the run, very briefly, after the death of her grandfather and then something of a fulcrum between the two kings with whom her country is allied. There's also a significant chunk of the book from the perspective of Raith, who is initially the swordbearer for one of those kings and then is basically given to Skara as a bodyguard. If anything, the character I found most interesting throughout Half a War was Owd - she starts off as quite a timid apprentice, also being given to Skara as an advisor, but really changes throughout the passage of the book into someone quite formidable.

 

All in all, I don't think this trilogy is anything like as good as the First Law books, though I can see shades of Glokta in Father Yarvi - I have to wonder, though, whether the plethora of grimdark fantasy released since The Blade Itself came out in 2006 means I am now significantly more difficult to satisfy. By the end, I was reduced to skimming through to the end to see what happens and probably wouldn't have bothered with that if it wasn't book 3 of the trilogy. There is what I guess is supposed to be a bit of a twist at the end (that Yarvi has engineered a lot of what has happened) but it didn't really come as all that much of a surprise given the way it was foreshadowed. So, another for the 'happy I've read it, don't think I'll be back' pile!