Half the World by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #2
Published by Del Rey
Published on: February 17 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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New York Times bestselling author Joe Abercrombie’s thrilling new series continues in the follow-up to Half a King, which George R. R. Martin hailed as “a fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page 1 and refused to let go.”
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?
Last year I had a bad run of YA fantasy. A really bad run. So bad that I was seriously considering giving up YA altogether, b/c I had clearly matured past the point to being able to enjoy it.
And it was Half the World’s predecessor Half a King that kept me from making a brash decision I would inevitably come to regret.
I am pleased to tell you that Half the World (IM humble O) has surpassed it.
Thorn is a girl who lives in a world where women are resolutely confined to more delicate pursuits than say . . . WAR.
As children, they may be temporarily indulged in their desire to train with the boys and their wooden practice swords, but the older they get, the more discouragement they encounter, and if they persist in the stubborn hope of being the first girl in memory to take the Warrior’s Oath and fight for their King, then more extreme tactics are employed to set the wayward female on a more acceptable path.
For Thorn that means facing impossible odds in her final test as a student.
But it is made clear that even should she win, there will be no place for her among the men.
But Thorn doesn’t win.
It sucks, dude.
And the situation isn’t improved by Thorn’s own surliness and sense of entitlement.
Abercrombie does an excellent job of showcasing how obstinately difficult a 16 year old girl can be, without making you hate her. Instead . . . you remember. You remember how convinced you were of your own infallibility, of how much more deserving you were of the thing that you wanted than that person over there. And then you remember how hard those lessons proved to be when you finally realized you were wrong.
B/c Thorn does learn. And it is hard.
I loved her, prickliness and recalcitrance included.
She winds up in disgrace that leads to swearing an oath to Father, yes, Father Yarvi, and Father Yarvi sees fit to have her trained by Skifr, a bizzare old woman from the far south.
And believe me when I say that “bizarre” does not even begin to cover it.
But I loved her too.
Know who else I loved?
The hodgepodge of villainous-looking crew members that Rulf assembles for the voyage Father Yarvi is leading to seek allies for Thorlby against the High King and his oppressive dictates.
Thorn wondered what mountain of corpses this lot might have heaped up between them, but she wasn’t one to be easily intimidated. Especially when she had no choice.
Despite this initial impression, the men become family to both Thorn and Brand (don’t worry, I’ll get to him in a minute), and more and more my distinctly different first impression was reinforced:
She put on her bravest face, stepped up to the biggest man she could see and tapped him on the arm.
“I’m Thorn Bathu.”
“I am Dosduvoi.” She found herself staring sharply up at one of the biggest heads she ever saw, tiny features squeezed into the center of its doughy expanse, looming so high above her that at first she thought its owner must be standing on a box. “What bad luck brings you here, girl?” he asked, with a faintly tragic quiver to his voice.
She wished she had a different answer, but snapped out, “I’m sailing with you.”
His face retreated into an even tinier portion of his head as he frowned.
It was either bluster or look weak and Thorn reckoned that no choice at all, so she puffed herself up and snapped out, “How did you get the scar?”
“How did you get the scar?”
Thorn frowned. “What scar?”
“That’s the face the gods gave you?” And with the faintest of smiles the Vansterman went back to coiling rope.
I’m sure there are people out there that are absolutely horrified by the comparison, and make no mistake, this is a book written by Lord Grimdark himself, so there is nothing Disney about it, but . . . I can’t help it, that’s what I saw in my head. *shrugs awkwardly*
And I haven’t even gotten to Brand yet. *sighs* Suffice it to say that Brand is . . . experiencing the exact same types of things that Thorn is experiencing, but he is a softer, gentler example of adolescence, and he serves as both a wonderful foil for Thorn, and a secondary illustration of why it’s idiotic to try to shove people into gender-specific boxes.
Bottomline: It’s just really, really good. Half the World is a stellar followup to Half a King, making this is a series that should be on the bookshelves of anyone who loves fantasy. And with the next installment Half a War just a few short months from release . . . blah, blah, just read it. You’ll love it. *winks*
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I’ve actually never read anything by Joe Abercrombie. Looks good though. Great review.
Melanie recently posted…Release Day Review: Unseen by Amber Lynn Natusch
We must have been reading the same YA fantasy books last year, because the same thing happened to me. I’ve gone from buying every YA fantasy book to only picking up the ones I’ve read favorable reviews for.
The characters in this series sound fantastic, so it’s making my wish list. Great review!
E.J. Stevens recently posted…Wolves’ Bane Giveaway Winner
I don’t know if I read your review of Half A King or not, but I *will* pick up this series, Jessica. I’m fascinated – it sounds exciting and poignant with a little humor mixed in, maybe? And I happen to have a 16 YO daughter who might also enjoy meeting Thorn. 😉
Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Blog Tour Review & Giveaway ~ Fading Out ~ Trisha Wolfe
Agree with everything you said. Love this book.
Nathan ( recently posted…Paranormal Fantasy Review: ‘Song of the Sea’ by Jade Varden
SOLD! I can get the first one at the library. I really think I would LURVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE this 🙂
Felicia the Geeky Blogger recently posted…Snagged @ The Library Review: Primal Bonds by Jennifer Ashley
I STILL have to read the first one as this looks like such a fantastic series! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it, and what a coup to Joe Abercrombie for helping you to keep reading YA 🙂 Also, I loved the GIFs 🙂 Glad to hear that this follow-up to the first one more than lives up to its predecessor, too 🙂
I MUST get started with this series. It’s not too late to catch up, right? I’m glad to hear that the series is only getting better as it goes along.
Tammy recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday  DRAGON COAST by Greg van Eekhout
Well crap Jessica, if this series made you change your whole mind about a genre, then it is one I need to read. Off to Goodreads to add the first book!
kindlemom1 recently posted…WoW Pick of the Week
Oh wow.. it’s the first time I have heard about this series and it looks awesome. I also wonder sometimes whether I have passed the YA reading phase but then there are these gems that are just so worth it to keep reading YA!!!! Fab review Jessica 🙂
Well clearly I need to read these books Jessica! I absolutely love YA fantasy, though like you did last year, I’ve had a rough go of it lately. I think this might be the perfect remedy to remind me of everything I love about this genre. Plus, your comparison to the above characters just makes me happy:)
I saw another great reviews about this one and I confess it makes me curious but it’s wonderful that this book is that good! YOu make me want to discover Thorn and the world now it’s terrible lol
I haven’t read Half a King, but I have an enormous respect for sequels that surpass their predecessors, so I’m adding it right now. Judging by your review, it is my duty to do so 😀
I love your reviews, commas, gifs and all!!!
Ramona recently posted…Abridged Books
I hope the library gets this one too
blodeuedd recently posted…Kingdom 1, 2, 3 – Marie Hall
This was a great review, as it was both informative and fun to read.
Definitely sounds like an interesting, well-written book!
A. P. Bullard recently posted…Book Review: Snowed In, by Sarah Title. . . One of the Cutest Romance Novellas I’ve Ever Read
I’m in agreement with everything but the Disney aspect. Although now that you presented it, it does make total sense! LOL I really loved the gender aspect to this book. Love that it challenges the label. Brilly review!
Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
This cover caught my attention and made me curious. Seeing good reviews for the second book makes me less wary of reading the first.
Kristina D recently posted…New Releases ~ week of 02/16/2015
Sooo, in short… This book is totally Pili-bait and I really need to read the bloody series sooner than later, right? Right, oh well… off to look for the books to order them with my next paycheck!
Pili recently posted…The Return by Jennifer L Armentrout Release Day Launch!!
Yeah… those graphics prove that you are far from over YA LOL
Bad judgment on my.part to have skipped this series.
braine recently posted…Suped Up: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
Sounds like an exciting read! I’m glad you enjoyed this one – I haven’t read much YA fantasy, but I am getting more into it.
ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Panic by Sharon M. Draper
This was an amazing book. I still think Joe A writes a better rough-and-tough Thorn than a lovey-dovey Thorn, but I love the fact he jumped in headfirst this time with a female protagonist! Yarvi was cool, but I think his role in this was even more awesome.
Mogsy recently posted…Comic Stack 02/18/14
All I can say is that after your review, I’m so curious about this Thorn. She sounds perfectly prickly and a heroine of strength with room to grow. 🙂
Kim recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday:The Sea King by C.L. Wilson
I added first book Half a King to my TBR recently. And now after reaidng your review of its sequel, I definitely need to read this series sooner rather than later! Great review, Jessica 🙂
Lucia recently posted…LIFE CHANGING READS #3: How Heather Demetrios changed my perception of YA contemporary novels
wow this book sounds amazing and I love the pictures along with the review 🙂 Tangled fan .
julie recently posted…Red Rising & Golden Son book Reviews
The gifs made me gigglesnort. Which is painful when drinking coffee. I have never read anything by this author, but you seriously make me want to. Awesome review Jessica
kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Black Wolf’s Revenge by Tera Shanley
I got and listened to the first book because of your review, I really enjoyed it. I’m glad to see this one is a strong addition to the series, another one that needs to be added to my list.
You made me laugh hard…Now I’ll have those images in head when I listen…lol. In an odd way I can see how this totally fit…lol
Lupdilup recently posted…Armchair Audies 2015 – Audiobook Lovers! Join the fun! #ArmchairAudies
I loved everything about this book. Thorn and Brand were great, but seeing the person Yarvi has become was a even better. I love how smart he is.
BookaholicCat recently posted…CATS-ilicious Thursdays: Cats and Dogs Playing in the Snow
I’m so glad to hear that the first book was great and it seems this one was even better. I’m glad I just bought a copy of the first book!
Thanks for the great review!
Alexa recently posted…Smoke by Ellen Hopkins *Bianca’s review*