Book Review: Half the World – Joe Abercrombie


Series: Shattered Sea – Book Two
: Harper Voyager
Release Date: February 19th 2015
Pages: 384.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon. 


If you thought Half a King was an addictive read, just wait until you read Half the world. Yarvi, Sumael and all your favourites return for the second book in the Shattered Sea series.

Half the World picks up some time after Half a King finishes. Yarvi is minister to Gettland and war is stirring between Gettland and the High King, but Gettland is only a small country and is in desperate need of allies if they are to win a war against half of the shattered sea. Father Yarvi is extremely cunning and he enlists a crew of misfits – Thorn, the would be woman warrior if not for her murder of a man, Brand the poor orphaned soldier who does not enjoy killing people, Safrit and Koll, the wife and son of the deceased Ankran and Rulf – Yarvi’s oar mate from his days entrenched in slavery. Together they must embark upon a long and dangerous journey across the shattered sea, in order to stop Grom-gil-Gorm and the High King invading Gettland.

I am a massive fan of Joe Abercrombie’s work. His First Law trilogy is one of my favourite trilogies of all time, and I devoured Half a King reading almost all of it in one train journey. I was absolutely thrilled when I got the opportunity to read this, and it is a really great story.  There are so many aspects of the book that I enjoyed, and I’ll try not to go into too much detail because I know the book doesn’t come out till February, and I don’t want to spoil such a terrific story.

This book literally has something for everyone, there’s plenty of fights, there’s mystery and intrigue, revenge and murder plots, a dash of politics and some some romance and of course a great deal of wit. It is in essence a coming of age story and a great part of it is about growing up, taking responsibility and finding your place in the world. One of the things I really enjoyed about Half the World is the strong women characters, Thorn is a great character, she’s strong and determined, but she isn’t the all perfect heroine of many young adult novels, she has her fears and her doubts and she very often makes mistakes. I also find it really interesting that the gods the characters prey to are “Father Peace” and “Mother War”, I love the subversion as in most fantasy worlds, the god of war is so often male. In so many fantasy novels the women are expected to sew, look after the children and stay at home, but I love the idea in Half the King that the women are in charge of the economy, they wear keys that symbolize their household, and they deal with the money that flows through their family. The most shrewd businesswoman of all being Yarvi’s mother, the golden Queen Lathlin.

One of the things that continue to keep me hooked on this series is the mystery of the elves, and the elf magic. We know so little about them in Half a King (except that they broke the one god into many using magic) and it continues to be the same in Half the World, little tidbits of information are dropped, but it just leaves you desperate for more details on what happened to them. I for one am now absolutely desperate for Half a War, just to know more – and see if the elves actually make an appearance!

I also really enjoyed the romance aspect of the novel. So often in young adult books the romance is love at first sight and happens over night. It is the complete opposite in Half the World and it particularly adds to the realism of the world. The romance is awkward, they make mistakes, they fall out and as they discover once they actually get together, that’s when the hard work truly begins.

Abercombie’s world building is terrific, and the writing is incredibly well done, the story is pretty fast paced, there’s never a dull moment in the story. This is one I definitely stayed up way past my bed time to read. If you haven’t had a chance to read Half a King yet, I highly recommend it, and get your pre-orders in for Half the World, because it’s even better.

Looking for something similar? Try:  Prince of Fools or Promise of Blood.

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