Review: Half the World, Joe Abercrombie

April 15, 2015 Reviews 3 ★★★★★

Review: Half the World, Joe AbercrombieHalf the World by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #2
Published by Harper Voyager on February 2015
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 484
Source: Publisher
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

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?


To the youths of Gettland, becoming a warrior is everything. Thorne has been training with the boys all her life, but just as she is about to beat her classmates and join the ranks of warriors, a terrible accident and a second chance mean that she and her training partner Brand join a diplomatic expedition instead of the raiding parties. A few years have passed since the events of Half a King, and Yarvi is now Father Yarvi, working to secure allies for Gettland in the looming war.

After I read and reviewed Half a King last year, I wasn’t too sure whether I wanted to continue with this series. I’m so glad I did end up reading it though, because I felt that it out-shone the first book in every way. In some ways it’s a shame that I read it so soon after A Dance with Dragons, because I couldn’t help but compare the two. Yes, the Shattered Sea series is a lot shorter and far less complex, but there’s a similar feel to the story. Also, there’s the fact that George RR Martin is quoted on the actual cover. Obviously there’s an influence there somewhere.

Thorne and Brand are awesome characters, around twenty and just coming of age. Thorne works damn hard to become an awesome warrior and does end up being fairly blokey, so that when the romantic thoughts start to occur to her they are kind of awkward. Brand, on the other hand, is just lovely. What a sweetheart, and a hero to boot.

As with the first book, the supporting cast are hilarious and witty. I hope they all make appearances in the future again because I miss the crew of the South Wind already. And of course, no great journey across the world would be complete without some brilliant world-building. I love the hints of the Elves’ civilization and how each character reacts to them. Very mysterious!

One thing I thought was addressed very well is the fact that war is not all loot and glory. There is such a thing as battle joy, but in the end, war is a horrible business for everyone involved, and especially the innocent.

Despite giving this book five stars, it’s not actually perfect. I found that I couldn’t remember a whole lot about what had happened in Half a King, and because the story is told from two new points of view, there’s no recap of past events. The old characters keep making in-jokes and references to events and people from other times and I was frustrated because I couldn’t quite remember. It wasn’t a huge problem though and the fresh points of view do mean that you probably don’t have to read these books in order.

Also, doesn’t it annoy Yarvi that every single person tells him they’ve “heard he’s a deep-cunning man”? I’m not even sure what that means exactly, and it sounds slightly dirty. Anyway.

I cannot wait for the third installment, Half a War, due in July this year. I hear (thanks to an interview on Speculating on SpecFic) there’s to be three points of view in that one – not sure who the three will be, but I’m really looking forward to seeing how the war with the High King plays out. There’s not long to wait!

five-stars – A really excellent YA Fantasy, for fans of epic fantasy but without the page count. Great stuff!

The Shattered Sea

halfaking halftheworld 3. Half a WarDue July 2015

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

3 Responses to “Review: Half the World, Joe Abercrombie”

  1. Celine

    I just saw this book in a book store today, and considered buying it. I’ve only read one of Abercrombie’s adult books years ago, and I’m very curious to see how he does in the YA bracket. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Half the World so much!
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