Review: Half the World

21066604Title: Half the World
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Genre: Fantasy, young adult (more like crossover)

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary (SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1)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?

Gut reaction upon finishing: Badass women who actually talk to each other and have women friends? SO MUCH YES.

I really enjoyed Half a King and all the other Joe Abercrombie books I have read; they are all unique stories in that none of the characters can really be called "good" or "bad." There are definitely no heroes, but there are definitely still characters to root for. I especially enjoyed this one because not only was the main character an independent and kick-ass woman, there were many female characters and none of them were stereotypical.

Thorn is a young woman who would rather fight to the death than let a man get away with insulting her. That doesn't necessarily mean she'll win; Thorn is skilled, but not legendary, and initially takes a beating that leads to her near-execution. Father Yarvi saves her from certain death, but Thorn finds herself in a complex web of political intrigue. She's a pawn and a tool, but an unpredictable one, since she follows her intuition over orders. She's impulsive and can be immature, but she is certainly a character to root for. I loved her development over the course of the novel, from her sparring sessions with Skifr to her encounter with Vialine and finally Rin.

The political intrigue was excellent as well. Yarvi's "deep cunning" is in full force in this book, and it's amazing how much everyone manipulates and out-maneuvers everyone else. There are battles and assassination attempts, duels and alliances. I especially enjoyed how Thorn's most important battle was handled believably and realistically instead of the usual trope of "protagonist magically obtains special powers in the moment of crisis and wins by a landslide". As Yarvi pointed out in Half a King, there are many ways to win.

This book is an excellent story and also does an amazing job of portraying men and women with equal complexity and respect. I highly recommend this book for fans of fantasy, especially dark fantasy.

*A free e-copy was provided by Del Rey Spectra via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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  1. Yes. I have my review sitting in a folder but it agrees with you in a major way. Thought this was better than the first, and strong even compared to his adult catalog. Having Yarvi in the background was all the better.


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