Every hero is someone’s villain.”

British author Joe Abercrombie partnered with Harper Voyager (UK) and Del Rey (US) to publish Half a War in late 2015. The novel is the closing act of the Shattered Sea trilogy, concluding the dramatic tale of Father Yarvi of Gettland. While the trilogy is fantasy, we find more and more explicit hints throughout Half a War that the setting is potentially a post-apocalyptic version of Earth’s Nordic region, especially after a tour through “Elf-Ruins” which are described suspiciously similarly to glass-paneled sky scrapers.

Only half a war is fought with swords.

Abercrombie’s cast grows in this concluding novel, and the story is made all the stronger for it. Young Princess Skara is chased from her birthright by the villainous Bright Yilling, the nefarious lapdog of Grandmother Wexen. The pair, and their compatriots, form an adequate foil around which to build the intricate plot (and plots) of Half a War. While new characters are developed nicely, we see some of the more recognizable characters either forgotten about for chapters at a time, or prior development is relied upon a bit too ham-handedly as call backs via leitmotif phraseology.

If you have time for only one fantasy novel this year, you won’t enjoy this one without having first consumed Half the World.

If you are trying to pad your annual reading goal: Half a War is a fast read, moderately entertaining, with great political intrigue, admirable action sequences, and neatly ties up all loose ends and questions raised by the preceding two novels. This is more of a popcorn-read than high-concept, but one could do worse.


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