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Half a War

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Words are weapons Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright. Only half a war is fought with swords The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king Words are weapons Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright. Only half a war is fought with swords The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death. Sometimes one must fight evil with evil Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

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Words are weapons Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright. Only half a war is fought with swords The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king Words are weapons Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright. Only half a war is fought with swords The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death. Sometimes one must fight evil with evil Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

30 review for Half a War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robin Hobb

    How did I miss putting up a review of this? This is book 3 of the Shattered Sea books by Abercrombie. Each book offers several viewpoint characters, but the emphasis is usually on one or two characters at the heart of the action. In my opinion, you can jump into this extended tale in any of the books and read a satisfying story, but I heartily recommend that you begin with Half a King and enjoy the whole unfolding of the world. Things happen in this book. Well, things happen in just about any bo How did I miss putting up a review of this? This is book 3 of the Shattered Sea books by Abercrombie. Each book offers several viewpoint characters, but the emphasis is usually on one or two characters at the heart of the action. In my opinion, you can jump into this extended tale in any of the books and read a satisfying story, but I heartily recommend that you begin with Half a King and enjoy the whole unfolding of the world. Things happen in this book. Well, things happen in just about any book, but what I mean is that things happen just as they might happen to you or I in our lives. Plans do not always go as expected. Decisions that seem obvious become questionable as time and pages go by. One of the things I love about Abercrombie's writing is that I cannot predict the ending of any of his books or even of a characters particular thread. Recommended. Caveat: I've met Joe and think he is a great person. But I truly do review the books, not my friendships! So I think this is a pretty unbiased review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    4.5 stars Oh! Oh! I'm all over the place with this ending! Just... No spoilers, ok? This review is safe to read. By the way, that means that it took me forever to figure out how to write this without, you know, ruining everyone else's experience. You're so welcome, random person! Yarvi, amirite? That's who we all want to finish this journey out with! And while we do get to see how he plays the game, everything is not black and white. Not that Yarvi was ever a good guy, but this time he might be cr 4.5 stars Oh! Oh! I'm all over the place with this ending! Just... No spoilers, ok? This review is safe to read. By the way, that means that it took me forever to figure out how to write this without, you know, ruining everyone else's experience. You're so welcome, random person! Yarvi, amirite? That's who we all want to finish this journey out with! And while we do get to see how he plays the game, everything is not black and white. Not that Yarvi was ever a good guy, but this time he might be crossing a few lines that come back to bite him in the ass. Hard. Because Yarvi = Gray. Um, dark gray. Don't you worry, I still love you, little buddy! Thorn & Brand are both big players in this one, but not as central to the plot as they were in the last book. Still. Stuff n Things happen, and it changes the course of this couple's lives. I will say, Thorn remains the baddest badass that ever did badass stuff, and Brand is the coolest, sweetest husband ever written. No! *voice breaks* Anyway. Besides those guys, we get a new player, Princess Skara! And I loved her! She has a bit of a moral compass, which is kinda odd, especially considering the company she keeps. Plus she's really smart, and has quite the backbone, as well. A triple threat, and they NEVER see her coming! Raith is another new guy that I sorta fell in love with, but, like everyone else, he doesn't have it easy. In fact, he got the shit kicked out of him every time he turned around. Come here, honey. I'll hold you... So, does anyone get a Happily Ever After in this book? Well, yes. But I ain't telling you who, and I ain't telling you how. So, does anyone die in this book? Well, yes, But I ain't...ok, I'll tell you. *whispers* What does that have to do with anything, Anne? Actually, nothing. But it was a cool whisper gif, so...whatcha gonna do? Besides, I promised to try not to spoil anything, and I'm honestly running out of things to say. Ok, ok, ok. It was a great 3d book to a great trilogy, and I thought it ended the way it should have. I'm definitely coming back for more of this Abercrombie guy's stuff! Also reviewed for:

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    Fantasy type books sometimes go over my head. I can't figure out who is who or work up enough energy to care anyways. Joe Abercrombie's Shattered Sea was totally different for me in that aspect. Even though the first book Half a King focused on Yarvi, the second one mostly on Thorn Half the World (my favorite) and then this one seems to be Princess Skara's domain. Confused yet? I usually would have been by this point, plus throwing in some new characters each book..just for shits and giggles. The Fantasy type books sometimes go over my head. I can't figure out who is who or work up enough energy to care anyways. Joe Abercrombie's Shattered Sea was totally different for me in that aspect. Even though the first book Half a King focused on Yarvi, the second one mostly on Thorn Half the World (my favorite) and then this one seems to be Princess Skara's domain. Confused yet? I usually would have been by this point, plus throwing in some new characters each book..just for shits and giggles. The thing is..they work. Even though this books starts a year after the last one I was able to pick right up where I left off and it had been awhile. So points for not messing with an old lady's brain. Princess Skara watches her families massacre and swears her revenge. The High King, Grandmother Wexen and Bright Yilling have destroyed her life and she must pick up the pieces of her shattered kingdom. She needs the help of an alliance of the ones that these people have shattered before, including Father Yarvi. This book is very political and lots of talky-talking goes on. I got bored with some of that and just wanted more Thorn. Thorn gives me a total lady boner. Abercrombie does try and throw some romancing into this story. I could have done without it. I kept thinking about one of the male characters being described with his sour-sweat smell and lost the before mentioned lady boner. Just stick to war Joe Abercrombie! Not all books need any stupid smooching. And you do war pretty dang well. Now as to the wrap up. Some of it ticked me off and some of it made a bunch of sense. The elf thing? Freaking brilliant. I gave the first two books in this series that rare five stars each. This one is getting a three because of all the talky politics and the weird loving, I still love these books. Go check out my friend Kaisersoze's review for this book as it makes much more sense than mine and he doesn't tend to ramble on about lady boners as much.

  4. 4 out of 5

    James Tivendale

    "'A warriors place is at Death's side' said Raith as he stood. 'So he can introduce her to his enemies'" Half a War is the conclusive third book in Joe Abercrombie's Shattered Sea saga. It follows on smoothly from the events at the conclusion of Half a World and we find ourselves witness to the politics and events surrounding a very shaky alliance of nations. These nations of once bitter enemies being Vansterland ruled by The Breaker of Swords and neighbouring Gettland whose monarch is The Iron K "'A warriors place is at Death's side' said Raith as he stood. 'So he can introduce her to his enemies'" Half a War is the conclusive third book in Joe Abercrombie's Shattered Sea saga. It follows on smoothly from the events at the conclusion of Half a World and we find ourselves witness to the politics and events surrounding a very shaky alliance of nations. These nations of once bitter enemies being Vansterland ruled by The Breaker of Swords and neighbouring Gettland whose monarch is The Iron King. (You don't get nicknames like those anymore...) Their association is only held as it is at this time due to the imminent war with The High King with his gathered support of the majority of the world's military. Although all the colourful character's from the prior two books who we have grown to love, respect, not trust, amongst other emotions are present here, the novel mainly follows two new editions to the narrative. The first of these new players is the young self-doubting Princess Skara from Throvenland who is ill-prepared for the brutality of this world and the war which threatens her homeland. The second is Raith, Vansterland's ruler's swordbearer whose traits are that he is a violence-loving, war hungry, emotionless brute. We closely follow their journies and the way that they changed and grew during the book's progression, whilst evaluating where their place in this world was and what they aspired to be. It is intriguing to see how their decisions cause ripples throughout the story as they change their, and others ultimate destinies. These two characters do cross each others paths throughout the book and it is really intriguing how they interact yet I will not say anymore regarding that point as I do not wish to spoil the story. This trilogy is not as complicated as a large amount of modern fantasy. Abercrombie does not feel the tale would be enhanced with advising us about fourteen thousand years of history and in addition, unlike some tales from this genre, the God's and their attributes are easy to follow in the simplistic and self-explanatory nature of their names. Mother Sun, Father Earth, Mother War etc... These factors make me believe that a younger audience would appreciate what is printed here, moreso than some of the "Swords and Sorcery" books that are out there. Hell, we even have a couple of love stories in the mix for good measure. One of the main concepts in this story is that only half a war is won with swords. There are a wealth of individuals who support this side of the war spectrum including Bright Yilling and Thorn Bathu. The other side is more focused on what can be achieved and won with the mind as seen by the cunningness of Farther Yarvi and Koll amongst others. It may be that both sides will be just as influential in the unfolding of the events. There are twists and turns aplenty to look forward to as well which come across with such high impact because we only follow one side of the warring factions point of views and therefore have no idea what the other alliance are plotting or doing at any time apart from rumours, hearsay and the messages delivered from other nations by birds. We are blessed with everything you could wish for from a fantastic fantasy finale including epic warrior showdowns, betrayals, sieges, love ones lost, battles on the bow of ships etc... The saga is wrapped up nicely and is fulfilling to those who have dedicated numerous hours into this world. It is anything but predictable. It also seems like Abercrombie could return to write future novels in this universe should he wish going forwards. The only real gripe I had is minor and that is the fact that characters seemed to traverse the landscape of this world ridiculously fast so they appear at the next important plot point conveniently. In previous books, these journies would have taken much longer than the time that passes on the occasions here. I think I will pick up The Blade Itself next and just see how different the worlds are. James :) - If you have a spare two minutes then check out my [email protected] www.youandibooks.wordpress.com

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    3.5 stars. Half a War is well-written and a fitting end to the Shattered Sea Viking-inspired trilogy. There are some new plot twists that made me see the whole trilogy with new eyes. It's always had a Viking flavor to it, but the Beowulf vibes gained an additional intensity in this third book, as a coalition assembles to try to fight against the High King and his oppressive rule over their countries. Once again, a highly dangerous journey is key to the conflict, but in an entirely new and unexpe 3.5 stars. Half a War is well-written and a fitting end to the Shattered Sea Viking-inspired trilogy. There are some new plot twists that made me see the whole trilogy with new eyes. It's always had a Viking flavor to it, but the Beowulf vibes gained an additional intensity in this third book, as a coalition assembles to try to fight against the High King and his oppressive rule over their countries. Once again, a highly dangerous journey is key to the conflict, but in an entirely new and unexpected way. Father Yarvi, a key character in the prior books, is still a vital presence, but this book is narrated by three relatively new characters: Skara, a 17 year old princess from Throvenland; Raith, the sword-bearer of the brutish king of Vansterland, Grom-Gil-Gorm; and Koll, an ex-slave. It's gripping reading. Father Yarvi, who's already taken several steps toward the morally gray, continues his fascinating manipulation of events around him, but we see those events through others' eyes. However. Bleak does not even begin to describe what goes on in this book. The prior books were a little on the grim and dark side, but Half a War raises it to a whole new level. The violence gets extremely intense for a YA book. Add to that some characters sleeping around and (view spoiler)[an inconvenient pregnancy and an abortion (hide spoiler)] . I wouldn't recommend this for younger or sensitive readers. This one's for mature teens and readers who don't mind a lot of bloody scenes with some dark character arcs, some of those, sadly, without a redemption. If you want your YA fantasy Norse experience with a little more light and a lot more humor, try Rick Riordan's The Sword of Summer.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    Now this is how a series should end. Abercrombie has delivered a masterstroke that brings everything together and spits in the face of the previous two books. I love the way with each new book he added different point of view characters, but kept the old ones as side characters. In this final instalment a new protagonist brings all the rest together in a cause that is as bloody as it is tactful. Revenge can be exacted with words too Indeed, only half a war is fought with steel. Princess Skara’s Now this is how a series should end. Abercrombie has delivered a masterstroke that brings everything together and spits in the face of the previous two books. I love the way with each new book he added different point of view characters, but kept the old ones as side characters. In this final instalment a new protagonist brings all the rest together in a cause that is as bloody as it is tactful. Revenge can be exacted with words too Indeed, only half a war is fought with steel. Princess Skara’s family has been murdered by the minions of the ruthless High King. She escaped death in the disguise of a slave; she is left almost friendless and completely vulnerable. But, words are weapons too. And she knows the one place she can go to use them: The Shattered Sea. The enemies of the High King need little more reason to go to war, but when a young Princess gives it to them they are more than happy to oblige; they are more than happy to sharpen their swords and set their sails for mother war. The familiar faces of the series rally to her cause. She convinces them that their former actions boarded upon cowardice; thus, the warriors of The Shattered Sea are eager to prove her wrong, and crush their enemies in the process. However, despite the pretence of a quest that boarders upon the heroic and the just, the series ends with you wondering if the good guys really one the day. I think Abercrombie imparts a nice little bit of wisdom in this; he suggests that someone’s hero is another’s villain and vice-versa. Through this it indicates that only Farther Peace can reign through a combination of lesser evils, but evils nonetheless. Some good characters, but he has written better The problem with writing characters that are as memorable as Sand dan Glokta and Logan Ninefingers (The First Law Trilogy) is that the reader expects every character written after to be just as good. So, ultimately when these high expectations are not met it results in a let-down. Father Yarvi is a deeply cunning, and a ruthless man, but he would melt under the gaze of Glokta. All the warriors, and their fathers, in the entire Shattered Sea would crumble beneath the wrath of the Bloody Nine. The only character that stands out the most in this series is Thorn Barthu. She is a woman who is as strong as a shield wall and has a temper like a battle axe. She really was forged in the fires of mother war. The characters in this series are good, but that is as far as they could ever go. I have really enjoyed this series, but Abercrombie’s previous books are much better in every sense. I think if you compare this to the brutal revenge plot of Best Served Cold then it pales in comparison. If you compare the fantasy elements to the accomplished system in The First Law Trilogy then it, too, pales in comparison. Don’t get me wrong this is a good book, and the ending really brought it all together, but I know the author can do much better. The Shattered Sea 1.Half a King- An enjoyable three stars 2.Half the World- A fair three stars 3.Half a War- A good warmongering 3.5 stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Em Lost In Books

    my lowest rating ever for a Abercrombie but this was bad.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robin (Bridge Four)

    3.5 Only Half a War is Fought with Swords Stars If you have read books by Joe Abercrombie (JA) before then you know he never wraps everything up at the end with tidy ribbons and bows and Happily Ever Afters. Nope nothing as trite and cliché as that, he gives the reader some hard truths about the characters they have come to love. He makes sure we know the world is not black and white but many shades of gray and most importantly… “Every hero is someone’s villain.” It is two years after the events 3.5 Only Half a War is Fought with Swords Stars If you have read books by Joe Abercrombie (JA) before then you know he never wraps everything up at the end with tidy ribbons and bows and Happily Ever Afters. Nope nothing as trite and cliché as that, he gives the reader some hard truths about the characters they have come to love. He makes sure we know the world is not black and white but many shades of gray and most importantly… “Every hero is someone’s villain.” It is two years after the events of Half a World and just like in Half a World a good portion of the story revolves around a few new characters. I want to say that I loved them right away but I didn’t. It took some time to appreciate the introduction of Skara and Raith into the story but they do eventually find a place that becomes interesting and make the story better. JA’s books are more about the characters and their journeys than the actual plots of the story. Skara learning how to be a Queen and use words as weapons and transforming from a scared little girl into a woman sure of her power. Raith was once a stone cold killer and hot head learning to becoming a protector and knowing the difference between the two. Yarvi is much changed from the boy he was in Half a King. He has become a ‘deep cunning’ man that many refer to as the spider now for all the webs he has woven. Thorn is not the same young girl full of anger and no direction she is a powerful woman sure of herself and protector of the Queen. Koll once a little boy saved by Yarvi has become a young man searching for a way to change the world but torn between the promises of greatness Yarvi dangles in front of him or happiness in the arms of a woman he loves. “When you finally swear your Minister’s Oath, Koll, it will be a loss to wood carving.” Yarvi gave a weighty sigh. “But you cannot change the world with a chisel.” “You can change it a little,” said Rin, folding her arms as she looked up at the minister. “And for the better.” “His mother asked me to make him the best man he could be.” Koll shook his head frantically behind his master’s back, but Rin was not to be shut up. “Some of us quite like the man he is,” she said. I cared about most of characters, so much that it hurt when bad things happened to them and it hurt more when they were the ones who did the bad things. Everyone has a breaking point and in a war the lines of right and wrong can become as blurred as chalk painting after a rainstorm. Some characters I wanted redemption for and others I wanted their blood. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. There are a few surprises in store for the readers. I took a few character deaths really hard and the fact a couple characters made it out alive at the end I took even harder. But that is how it goes right? Not everyone in life gets what they deserve. I think that everyone will have their own opinions on what some of the characters really deserved at the end. This was my least favorite book of the trilogy. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I am more of a sunshine and rainbows love conquers all ending kind of girl in my reading. JA likes to leave his stories at a place where it isn’t really the end but the start of new chapters in most of the characters’ lives. He leaves it open for the reader to decide what will happen to them next throughout their lives as they open up new beginnings. The ending even though I figured out who the traitor was at about the middle mark of the book was still really great. I am conflicted of course but I’m meant to be, that was the point. I was so torn between wanting some sort of redemption for that character or the death I thought they deserved. It is harder when you understand all the motivations of the characters and can see both sides of the situation so clearly, like I said shades of gray. Quick Rundown Pros – ✔ - Great complex characters. Love all the strong female characters in this book. Blue Jenner was one of my favorite minor characters in this. ✔ - Outstanding Twist to the Ending ✔ - Unconventional non HEA for everyone ending ✔ - Repeatable quote lines like ”Death comes for us all.” ✔ - The Elf City (a little creepy but it was an interesting inclusion into the story) Cons - ✗- Unconventional non HEA for everyone ending (Yes I know this is in the Pros but I’m so torn. I love HEAs and seriously I think only 2 people got them out of everyone in the book and a few people haven’t got their just desserts YET ) ✗- Some boring time as I was getting used to the new characters. I didn’t initially like them in the story. ✗- The destruction of the High King. It sorta fizzled at the end. Overall a solid trilogy and I could see some other stories being set in this world later.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    My overwhelming emotion upon finishing Half a War was disappointment. I felt like Half a King was an OK book with a few annoying flaws that kept me from fully enjoying it. To Abercrombie's credit I felt like he eradicated a number of those issues in the second instalment of the series, Half the World, and that made that one a far more enjoyable read. Imagine my disappointment to discover that Half a War is like a sterioded up version of all the worst parts of the first book! The story itself was My overwhelming emotion upon finishing Half a War was disappointment. I felt like Half a King was an OK book with a few annoying flaws that kept me from fully enjoying it. To Abercrombie's credit I felt like he eradicated a number of those issues in the second instalment of the series, Half the World, and that made that one a far more enjoyable read. Imagine my disappointment to discover that Half a War is like a sterioded up version of all the worst parts of the first book! The story itself was fine. The battle between Father Yarvi and his bickering allies against the High King and Grandmother Wexem finally erupts into open war. As always the battles were fought half with swords and half with wits. We also got a glimpse of a few more Elf relics which was fun. The story was told from three new POV's in the form of Coll, Princess Skara, and Raith. I felt like the ploy of switching from Yarvi to Brand and Thorn worked well for the second book but it did not prove quite so successful with this one. The new characters themselves were a mixed bunch. I did like Skara. She was a much more likeable version of Yarvi. The flaw in her story was the crappy way it ended. Coll was likeable enough and even had an OK story arc right from start to finish but the big problem with him is that he felt like a needless character. A return to Yarvi's POV would have served the story better in my opinion. Raith was a weird one. I hated him initially but did enjoy his growth as a character over the course of the story. The big issue for him was that it took me ages to warm to him and then just when I did Abercrombie left me disappointed with the conclusion of his story arc. Abercrombie disappointing me was a constant theme in this one. As well as dealing poorly with the fates of the new POV characters he went on to shit all over the lead characters from the last few books in the series. The less said about what happened to Brand the better. That was dealt with very poorly in my opinion. (view spoiler)[I know Abercrombie wanted to get some tragedy into the story but killing off Brand was the worst possible way to do it. His character might have served his purpose but he was still the only truly likeable character in the series. Abercrombie could have killed any other character for the same effect and I'd have been fine with it. I actually think he should have disposed of Coll!(view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] . Thorn's character was damaged but Abercrmbie did manage to salvage her at the end which is more than can be said for Yarvi. Abercrombie botched his story arc at the end of the first book and by the end of this one the guy has become so unlikeable that I'm now actively rooting against him. Another slight annoyance was the Walking Corpse. Anyone who has read this will know who I mean. The poor guy was a character who existed solely to die and provide a bit of emotional hardship for the one of the lead POV characters. Usually these sort of characters try and serve some other function before they die but this one did not even manage that. Despite all my disappointment and moaning I did still like some aspects of this story. The writing is OK and the world is getting more interesting all the time. I just wish Abercrombie's idea of what makes a satisfying story and my own idea were a better match! Rating: 3 stars. Audio Note: John Keating did a decent enough job with the audio. (hide spoiler)]

  10. 5 out of 5

    Conor

    A really strong third instalment in this series from Abercrombie. It seems that with each book in this trilogy Abercrombie (in parallel with Yarvi) became darker and more ambitious: from the straightforward YA of the first book, to the epic fantasy adventure of the second and finishing with a brutal continent spanning war in this book in which good and evil are indistinguishable. Abercrombie's ambition was highlighted by his willingness to introduce an entirely new cast of 3 POV characters (only A really strong third instalment in this series from Abercrombie. It seems that with each book in this trilogy Abercrombie (in parallel with Yarvi) became darker and more ambitious: from the straightforward YA of the first book, to the epic fantasy adventure of the second and finishing with a brutal continent spanning war in this book in which good and evil are indistinguishable. Abercrombie's ambition was highlighted by his willingness to introduce an entirely new cast of 3 POV characters (only 1 of whom had appeared previously in the series) and he quickly worked his patented magic to establish the characters as well drawn, complex individuals struggling to navigate difficult situations. Overall the conclusion to this trilogy was a strong one, and after a bleak tone for much of the book, surprisingly uplifting. Abercrrombie's decision to introduce 3 new POV characters while relegating the previous POV characters to the background was a bold one but one that he pulled off brilliantly. While it was jarring to have 3 new characters as the main focus I quickly became engrossed in their struggles and personalities. Skara is now up there with Finree from the Heroes as one of my favourite female Abercrombie POV characters. Her journey from a scared, helpless refugee to a highly capable ruler was brilliantly written and I found her political savvy to be much more convincing and interesting to read about than the superhuman warrior skills Abercrombie gives many of his female POV's (see my complaints about Thorn in the last book for more complaining about this). (view spoiler)[ I found the resolution of her relationship with Raith to be really confusing though. She was in love with him and no longer promised to anyone else but she still insisted on him leaving? It made sense when she had to marry Gorm for the sake of a political alliance but it surely wouldn't have been too difficult to overcome any problems that might have been caused by her having a relationship with a respected warrior. She could have at least kept Raith around as a booty call. (hide spoiler)] While Raith was not initially a sympathetic character he became more likeable as the story progressed. His quest for redemption arc seemed somewhat forced at times, as well as being derivative of some of Abercrombie's previous characters (especially Shivers in Best Served Cold) but still managed to be engaging and well-written for the most part. (view spoiler)[ And while it might have been corny af I was glad he got a happy ending of sailing off into the sunset with Thorn, Fror and the rest of the crew from the last book. I also found his assassination of Gorm just before hand to be one of the most striking and memorable scenes of the books, as well as one that gave his character a lot more moral ambiguity than he had had for much of the story (hide spoiler)] The only familiar character amongst the POV's Koll had an interesting storyline as he was torn between the woman he loved and his desire to fulfil his mother's wishes and to honour the man who saved his life by becoming a minister. I appreciated how Abercrombie showed how personal ambition effected Koll's decision-making, something that made him a much more believable character. His interactions with Yarvi were consistently interesting and thought provoking, especially as Yarvi's evil became increasingly apparent. The rest of the cast of characters in this one was hit and miss. At the start of the book the previous POV characters really fleshed out the cast and had some great scenes, especially Thorn's comforting of Skara and Brand's heart to heart with Koll. However (view spoiler)[ Brand's death greatly derailed this. Brand's death itself seemed anti-climactic and rushed, with everything happening off screen an no precise explanation as to what exactly happened. Overall Brand's death seemed like a waste of an interesting character that really didn't advance the plot in a meaningful way, unlike say ASOIAF where character death's are actually important to the plot. Brand's death also caused Thorn to spiral into a bloody rage which prevented her from being as visible in the second half of the book, which was disappointing. (hide spoiler)] Father Yarvi's presence in the background was a source of constant tension and menace and his character development was brilliantly drawn throughout most of the book. (view spoiler)[ While I was disappointed at how cartoonishly evil he became at the end, as well as how easily the character who was built up as subtle and deadly over 3 books was poned by Skara overall he was an extremely intriguing character in this book (hide spoiler)] Queen Laithlin was also a really cool secondary character who was shown to be both a wise (and often ruthless) ruler as well as a loving mother. wife and friend. This was a really strong ending that managed to both satisfyingly conclude and expand the scope of this trilogy. With 3 really well developed lead characters, some incredible supporting characters (although some were misused) and an ambitious plot filled with war, treachery and adventure that managed to be both exciting and though provoking this was a really enjoyable read that has left me psyched to see what Abercrombie comes up with next.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ivan

    And thus concludes Shattered sea I overall like the trilogy a lot but.. There are lot of buts here despite high rating I given to each.That is because there this could have been favorite shelf material but.. Let's start from the beginning. When I heard the Lord Grimdark is making YA trilogy I was intrigued. Abrecrombie is someone who likes to use well established tropes and and twists the and turns them. It's kind of like Glokta before and after Gurkhul dungeons, established tropes get the same tr And thus concludes Shattered sea I overall like the trilogy a lot but.. There are lot of buts here despite high rating I given to each.That is because there this could have been favorite shelf material but.. Let's start from the beginning. When I heard the Lord Grimdark is making YA trilogy I was intrigued. Abrecrombie is someone who likes to use well established tropes and and twists the and turns them. It's kind of like Glokta before and after Gurkhul dungeons, established tropes get the same treatment when they enter First law books and I couldn't wait to see what will he do with classical YA tropes. There is twisting here but everything seem to be toned down which is to be expected since it's YA series after all. First book was the best. Classical grimdark can work in YA series and Yarvi is great protagonist and most interesting character in the book. Set of protagonist changes with each book, none of them comes close to Yarvi but hey are all interesting in their own way but from writer than created Sand Dan Glokta, Bloody nine, Whirrun of the Bligh, Nicomo Cosca, Black Dow and many others I expected lot more. Characters here , while good for YA standards are league bellow lovable bastards of First law. Like First law it's low fantasy setting with no evil rising plot but good old human vs human affairs. Story overall is good and like expected full of twists and expected endings but pacing is bit slow and despite having significantly lower page count than First law books (and fantasy in general) there where parts series seem to drag on, especially in second book. Overall I give 4 stars to the whole series. could have been higher but...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Words are weapons Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright. Only half a war is fought with swords The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has Words are weapons Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright. Only half a war is fought with swords The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death. Sometimes one must fight evil with evil Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness. Oh Joe... words escape me! Where do I even begin when reviewing this title? Perhaps an opening statement? I LOVED IT! (although I had some minor issues with characterisation... more on that soon). Half a War is a fitting finale to what has arguably been one of the most interesting and unique set of books I've read in recent times. In true Abercrombie fashion Joe kicks in the door from the first few pages, dazzles us with a smile, and proceeds to render wholesale death, vengeance, and destruction on levels that are best left whispered about in the realms of hell. In Half a War the Shattered Seas are in chaos. King Uthil and Grom-gil-Gorm are in open rebellion against the High King, and Grandmother Wexen has gathered a huge army to wage war with. It is in this environment that Abercrombie thrusts a raft of new characters, as they attempt to survive and influence (alongside some old favourites in the background) events as they spiral out of control around them. And therein lies my issue with this book. I may as well get it out of the way early so I can talk about what I loved. New major characters... in the final book of a trilogy... huh? Don't get me wrong, Skara, Raith, and Koll (who we know already) all end being fascinating protagonists, but none of them had the massive emotional pull on me that Yarvi, Thorn, and Brand had had in the previous instalments of this series. The problem, I think, is caused by two things in Half a War. Firstly, none of the protagonists seem to wield much power in this book. Major decisions are seemingly made by others (such as Yarvi) in the background, and almost all of the outcomes of the story are shaped by people other then our protagonists. This left me feeling a little underwhelmed, despite the fact that characters such as Skara were incredibly well crafted (she would have been AMAZING if she had had some more agency prior to the ending). Secondly, Abercrombie didn't leave me enough time to develop any major emotional attachment to these new characters. The secret of Abercrombie's past success has, in my opinion, been his ability to mould characters that we not only love but also secretly hate. Yarvi is the perfect example of this in Half a War. Sometimes he does things that are incredibly harsh and cruel without any iota of remorse or explanation. We collectively gnash out teeth in response, and shake our fists at the sky for five minutes. Inevitably, however, we are swept up again into the tragedy that is playing out before us as. This sort of emotional involvement in a character however takes time to set up, and even a writer as talented as Abercrombie cannot do it properly over the space of one book (especially the final book of a trilogy). As such, Skara, Raith, and Koll were all solid without being amazingly all consuming like Father Yarvi (who kinda sat in the background again in this book) was to me throughout this series. Now that I've gotten that minor bit of displeasure out of the way I can wax lyrical about what I loved! The action and and adventure in Half a War was (like in all Abercrombie' stories) awesome and bloody. The war to end all wars is depicted brutally, and death and mayhem reigns supreme all throughout this book. Sacrifices are made for the greater good (although good and bad are very subjective terms), and vengeance is taken many times over. I would argue that Abercrombie has reached new heights in Half a War in terms of weaving intricate and fascinating fights and battles. This is high praise when you consider the quality of writing that Abercrombie wielded in books such as The Blade Itself. The stakes were ever present in Half a War, and they got higher and higher as the plot unfolded. I also adored how within these parts of the book Abercrombie incorporated an examination of what it meant to be a hero or villain, and how the idea of the greater good is used to justify evil acts of violence and murder. It was these scenes that kept me enthralled when I found myself not engaging with the protagonists as much as I would have liked. The world of the Shattered Seas is also revealed more in Half a War. We learn more about the past events that led to the downfall of previous civilisation, as Yarvi delves more and more into the world of Elf Magic (long lost technology). Some people have expressed displeasure with how Abercrombie handled Elf Magic throughout this book, but I found it to be in line with how I imagined a medieval pseudo-Viking society would react to and use technology that they didn't full comprehend. I adored the inclusion of their weapons in the final battles, and the creepy scenes involving the forbidden city were magnificently described. The pacing itself was also fast and efficient, with no significant moments of inaction or boredom. All of the plot threads that Abercrombie started in the first book of this trilogy are sewn up nicely, and he leaves us with an outstanding twist at the end that left me a little stunned in all honesty. All in all Half a War, when considered as a part of a series, is a magnificent book that finishes what has been a scintillating post apocalyptic pseudo-Viking adventure of the highest order. Is it as strong as Half a King (the first book in this trilogy)? No. It has its weaknesses (which I have expressed above) when compared to that brilliant debut, but damn it is still a cracking read that is well worth checking out. I loved it, despite its flaws. 4 out of 5 stars. A review copy was provided.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)

    This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life. 3.5 Stars I have loved this trilogy and I have to admit that I feel somewhat guilty about the fact that I didn't rate this final book in the trilogy as high as the two prior books. I base my rating strictly on my enjoyment of the story and I just didn't enjoy this book as much as the first two books. These books are the only books by Joe Abercrombie that I have read and I guess I had hoped for an ending that would feel satisfying and a little This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life. 3.5 Stars I have loved this trilogy and I have to admit that I feel somewhat guilty about the fact that I didn't rate this final book in the trilogy as high as the two prior books. I base my rating strictly on my enjoyment of the story and I just didn't enjoy this book as much as the first two books. These books are the only books by Joe Abercrombie that I have read and I guess I had hoped for an ending that would feel satisfying and a little bit of happily ever after. This final book left me rather depressed and there was no happily ever after to be found. The book focuses largely on Princess Skara. Princess Skara witnesses the murder of the king, her grandfather before she is whisked away to safety by Blue Jenner. She must now step in to rule the kingdom but first she must ensure its safety. I liked a lot of things about Skara. I liked the fact that she stepped up and proved to be a natural leader. She was able to pick people as her support that may be an unconventional choice but the right one for her. She was also able to win over the staff she was assigned so that they became loyal to her. Princess Skara proved to be a strong leader despite her age and lack of experience. Even though I liked Princess Skara, I have to admit that I liked the central characters in the first two books more and I was thrilled to see all of the characters that I have grown to love come together in this book. Every character in this trilogy is so unique and colorful and the changes that have occurred with each one of them over the course of the trilogy has been astounding. Some of the characters I have liked more and more with each book while other characters have become harder to like. I really think that the strength of this trilogy is in the characters. This book was just as exciting as the prior books in the trilogy. There were lots of fighting and action scenes and at times the story was rather bloody. There was also a lot of war planning and political maneuvering in this book. Princess Skara is in a delicate position to take over her kingdom since she is both young and female. She is forced to make decisions at times that will put herself and her kingdom in the best position. I enjoyed quite a lot in this book. The section of the book where we finally get to see a little more of the elf city was very interesting. I really liked some of the characters that had an important role in this book. Raith was a fantastic character and I think that Koll and Rin grew a lot in this book. There were also some things that I didn't care for as much in this book. There was one character's death that I didn't see coming that really bothered me. The fact that the death happened outside of the story being told made it worse. If that character had to die, I would have at least liked to have it happen withing the focus of the story. I really wanted to the story to end in a hopeful manner but that wasn't the case. I was left feeling rather depressed when I realized how far some characters had been able to fall. I would recommend this book to others. This is a trilogy that is really best to be read in order so I would recommend that readers new to the trilogy start with the first book in the series. I will be looking forward to future works by Joe Abercrombie and I am actually hoping that there may be other books set within this world at some point in the not so distant future. Intial Thoughts Yes! I just received an email from the library that this book is waiting for me. I can't wait to read this and I am in awe that my library can get a book to me on the day of its release.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Terence

    Mother War's long shadow has once again covered the Shattered Sea. Grandmother Wexen has built an unfathomably enormous army and means to crush all who stand against her. Half A War was an interesting conclusion to the Shattered Sea trilogy. The story takes place three years or so after the events of Half the World. The uneasy alliance between Gettland and Vansterland still exists, but has been largely toothless as their ally Throvenland could attest to since they were eradicated and their allies Mother War's long shadow has once again covered the Shattered Sea. Grandmother Wexen has built an unfathomably enormous army and means to crush all who stand against her. Half A War was an interesting conclusion to the Shattered Sea trilogy. The story takes place three years or so after the events of Half the World. The uneasy alliance between Gettland and Vansterland still exists, but has been largely toothless as their ally Throvenland could attest to since they were eradicated and their allies did nothing to help. Once again Joe Abercrombie opted for all new point of view characters and the results were mostly good. The new point of view characters are Princess Skara, Koll, and Raith. Princess Skara is the granddaughter of King Fynn of Throvenland. Skara's words are her weapons and she's forced to wield them to avenge her grandfather and her people. Koll is the energetic young boy from Half the World who has now become Father Yarvi's apprentice. Raith has been raised basically as a wild dog by his master Grom-gil-Gorm. He's also the sword bearer and cupbearer for Gorm. I have to admit I would've preferred seeing Father Yarvi, Thorn, Brand, King Uthil, Grom-gil-Gorm, Grandmother Wexen, or pretty much any other crucial returning character to have the point of view chapters rather than the new comers. Much of the story is character driven and while Skara and Koll make fine characters I felt as though Raith was a plague nearly every time he appeared. He just felt false and I could hardly believe or relate to anything that happened with him. Abercrombie takes another stab at love with two separate love stories intermixed and while one of the two was equal to Thorn and Brand's story in Half the World the other felt incredibly forced and fake. This book left me with a different feeling about some of the returning characters. The Iron King Uthil earned my respect and admiration as a character. Steel is the answer and Uthil brings it every time he appears in the book. Father Yarvi and Grom-gil-Gorm on the other hand became underhanded snakes and I don't mean that in any nice way. Half A War is a good title for this book because the story started wrapping up about 80 pages too soon. Unfortunately the plot again became rather predictable and I figured out what was going to happen with incredible accuracy. Even though this book is aimed at a young adult audience, the writing is still grim and brutal. I really don't see how this qualifies as young adult other than that it's less grim, brutal, and sexual than Abercrombie's adult novels. Half A War was an adequate finale to the Shattered Seas trilogy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Monroe

    3.75 stars Mother Kyre clutched painfully hard at both of Skara's hands. "Whatever happens, you must live. That is your duty now." My reaction to the ending: Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first: What the hell happened to the slavery plot line? Did it slip through the tangled web of Father Yarvi's deep cunning plans and vanish into an alternate dimension? A dimension where Yarvi doesn't become a total dick, the final battle isn't the equivalent of a cheap action movie, and Isruin actuall 3.75 stars Mother Kyre clutched painfully hard at both of Skara's hands. "Whatever happens, you must live. That is your duty now." My reaction to the ending: Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first: What the hell happened to the slavery plot line? Did it slip through the tangled web of Father Yarvi's deep cunning plans and vanish into an alternate dimension? A dimension where Yarvi doesn't become a total dick, the final battle isn't the equivalent of a cheap action movie, and Isruin actually gets some screentime? The tattooed horse on Isruin's face shifted as she ground her teeth. "I only did what I had to. Stood with those who stood with me. I tried to do my duty. I tried to keep my word." That's it. We get admission that her morally grey deeds weren't her fault and see her cackle like a Disney witch before disappearing from the plot altogether. You can't set up a morally complex character, then completely erase her from the board like that. What about her revenge plan? Does she ever change her mind? This is just one of the many loose threads Half A War left. Sadly, I think what happened is the story got too big for Abercrombie. He was so focused on wrapping up the overarching war between Yarvi and Grandfather Wexen, he neglected the tiny subplots and details that endeared me to this series the first place. Like I mentioned, Yarvi becomes very, very dark here. I'm not sure I want to root for him anymore, not after all the shit he pulled, a dangerous feeling to invoke in your readers. Maybe it's just me. I like antiheroes as much as the next reader, but there's a line. Right, I've gotten all that off my chest. Let's talk about the good stuff. More specifically, let's talk Skara. A princess thrust into power after her land was ravaged, she's the main narrator of Half A War, like Thorn was for the previous book. There are two others: Raith, Gorm's sword-bearer, and Koll, the little boy who liked climbing and wood carving from Half the World, but Skara is obviously the star. And what a star she is. She's initially reluctant and scared of her newfound position, but then she fucking owns it. For revenge against the ones who killed her grandfather. As a queen, she understands sacrifices have to made for alliances. She was sick of coaxing, wheedling, playing one rival off against another. She was tired of her title dangling by a thread. Skara was far from eager to share [spoiler]'s bed. But sharing his power, that was something else. She's pragmatic and doesn't let little things like schoolgirl crushes get in her way. There was a part of her that would have liked to follow Gudrun's example. To piss on the proper thing and go rolling in the hay with her stable-boy. At least to know what it felt like. But there was a larger part of her that laughed at that notion. She was no romantic. She could not afford to be. She was a queen. Her ending surprised me in a pleasant way. (view spoiler)[Used to YA, I expected Raith and Skara to find a way to be together. Then again if this were YA, Brand wouldn't have died, but I digress. Skara and Raith going their separate ways is the best way this series could have ended, given the conventions of this world. She's queen of half the world, and Raith is a nobody. People would lose all respect for her if she married him. And why throw away a perfectly good chance for an alliance with a more powerful country? (hide spoiler)] Overall, I highly recommend this series. It may have started out as a Game of Thrones descendant, but it managed to carve its own niche in the fantasy. Fabulous stuff. My review of Half A King My review of Half the World

  16. 5 out of 5

    Franzi

    5 Stars "Only half a war is fought with swords." Amazing conclusion! I really enjoyed this third and last installment of the Shattered Sea trilogy. The main plot point in this is the war with the High King, that was already build up to in Half the World. Just like in the second book, we have new pov characters in this third installment (the old characters are kept as side characters). And as in the second book, I was sceptical at the beginning, because I already loved the old characters and didn' 5 Stars "Only half a war is fought with swords." Amazing conclusion! I really enjoyed this third and last installment of the Shattered Sea trilogy. The main plot point in this is the war with the High King, that was already build up to in Half the World. Just like in the second book, we have new pov characters in this third installment (the old characters are kept as side characters). And as in the second book, I was sceptical at the beginning, because I already loved the old characters and didn't want to do without them. But Joe Abercrombie just has a way with his characters, after like 5 chapters at the latest I'm already starting to love them. I think I even like Raith and Skara more than Thorn and Brand. The story doesn't pale in comparison to the first books neither: there's war, action, treachery, and a bit of love. I highly recommend this series!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/07/24/b... Joe Abercrombie’s Young Adult series comes to a close in this final book of The Shattered Sea trilogy. A fine ending if there ever was, though I’m afraid I will sound a lot more negative than I mean to be in this review. It’s just that compared to the incredible showing of the two preceding novels, Half a War may just trail just a tad behind in awesomeness. Still, you can be sure this third book is not to be missed. Once 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/07/24/b... Joe Abercrombie’s Young Adult series comes to a close in this final book of The Shattered Sea trilogy. A fine ending if there ever was, though I’m afraid I will sound a lot more negative than I mean to be in this review. It’s just that compared to the incredible showing of the two preceding novels, Half a War may just trail just a tad behind in awesomeness. Still, you can be sure this third book is not to be missed. Once again, the torch has been passed on to a group of new point-of-view characters. Koll will be no stranger to readers who have been following the series; the boy with a talent for woodcarving who journeyed with Father Yarvi in Half the World is now serving as an apprentice to Gettland’s minister. Princess Skara is a new character, the lone royal survivor of Throvenland after a new foe named Bright Yilling came in the night to kill and burn everything she ever loved. Raith is the sword-bearer of the king of Vansterland, who arrived with his lord to a meeting between the three nations to discuss plans to topple the High King and his ruthless advisor, Grandmother Wexen. The stage is set for a war to end all wars, and Joe Abercrombie does not disappoint. Still, I couldn’t help but feel something was missing as I was reading this, and it took me a while, but I think I finally figured out what it was: the characters. Protagonists Koll, Skara and Raith were all great, but they paled in comparison to the personalities that came before them. Yarvi charmed us in Half a King while Thorn and Brand won us over in Half the World, but they’ve had their turns as lead characters and are now returning to Half a War as supporting cast only. Or, that is how it should have played out. What actually happened was this: Koll, Skara and Raith may be the three POV characters in this book, but they really don’t feel like the stars. Almost all of the major outcomes were shaped by the main protagonists from the previous books, like Yarvi and Thorn. Furthermore, it’s the power-players like Father Yarvi, King Uthil, Grom-il-Gorm and Mother Scaer who seem to make all the decisions and influence the course of this story, leaving Koll, Skara and Raith outclassed, outgunned, and outnumbered. Simply put, the three young ‘uns feel a bit like interlopers at the adults’ table, sitting in as mere guests for the finale of this epic tale. Though I was initially ecstatic to discover Koll would be a point-of-view character, I wasn’t prepared for his limited role in the greater scope of events. Reporting on everything Father Yarvi does seems to be his major purpose, because the author couldn’t use Yarvi as a POV character himself. Skara had more initiative, but as a main protagonist, she still felt pretty shallow and unimportant until the very end. Finally, there’s Raith, who still feels like a big question mark. Rough, tough, and a fighter to the core, he was like the male version of Thorn’s character from Half the World but without her complexity. Three perspective characters also felt like a bit much, compared to the relative simplicity of Half a King where we only had Yarvi’s POV to follow, and in Half the World where the chapters alternated between Thorn and Brand. In Half a War, Koll, Skara and Raith felt like they were constantly jostling each other for more page time, and poor Raith typically lost out with very short chapters, which probably explains why he is the least developed of the three. In addition, when the three characters are separated, we bounce around the world a lot, making it very easy to confuse where we’re supposed to be, since no time is really taken to establish context. The result is that the book felt a tad rushed, with a couple of the characters’ storylines lacking closure. I’m also a little skeptical of the ending, which felt a little deus ex machina, and I say this as someone who usually doesn’t notice these things. Still, if you ask me whether or not Half a War is worth reading, my answer would be ABSOLUTELY. It’s just hard not to focus on the negatives in this book when the previous two were close to perfection, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a blast with the story. Compared to its predecessors, this book felt a bit rushed with characters that aren’t Abercrombie’s best, but the overall arc finishes with a bang and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the trilogy. Half a War might not be my favorite of the series, but it was worth getting to that epic conclusion, so fans of the first two books will definitely want to pick this up. It might just might surprise you in a big way.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Puck

    "Mother War has arrived, and she will cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness." A dark forecast, but sadly enough this series finale is quite a letdown. Bleh, what a disappointing end to such an epic series. I loved “Half a King”, I thought the second book was great, and I hoped that this tome would deliver an exciting, action-packed, bloody finale. I was proven wrong. So WRONG! It was even so bad that reading the last 100 pages became a real struggle because this story let me down on so many "Mother War has arrived, and she will cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness." A dark forecast, but sadly enough this series finale is quite a letdown. Bleh, what a disappointing end to such an epic series. I loved “Half a King”, I thought the second book was great, and I hoped that this tome would deliver an exciting, action-packed, bloody finale. I was proven wrong. So WRONG! It was even so bad that reading the last 100 pages became a real struggle because this story let me down on so many levels. Where do I even start… Let’s begin with making something clear: according to the publication dates, there are apparently only four months between the second book and the third one. FOUR MONTHS: WTF! That's crazy! That's a recipe for a disastrous book; and that's what this book is because the story feels rushed, it lacks suspense, and it is written without much care for its old & new characters. Old favorites like Father Yarvi, King Uthil, Grom-gil-Gorm, and warrior-queen Thorn are still there but have to stand aside to let three new characters experience the dangers of the Shattered Sea-War. This War stands at the center of this story. In the previous two books we build up to this big and final battle, and with the ruthless Father Yarvi as the ringleader, you know any wicked scheme can happen. Therefore this book is filled with mayhem, bloody combat and death, brought by people with a grey moral. Sacrifices are made, friends are stabbed in the back, and revenge is served ice-cold. “Trust is like glass. Lovely, but only a fool rests lots of weight on it.” Well spoken words, although Abercrombie never has a problem with writing epic action scenes and cutting lines. Yet I found the battles lacking in energy and suspense. After reading for the 10th time about heads being cut-off and blood soaked battlegrounds, things lose their edge. I was never surprised by an unconventional strategy and could usually guess how things would end. And Bad Guy Bright Yilling could never compare with Shadikshirram’s level of evilness. But the reason for this ‘dull’ war is mainly because we experience it through the P.O.V.’s of three characters that I never grew to care for. There is Koll, the wood-carver from Half a World who has become Father Yarvi’s apprentice. Skara is the young princess of Throvenland who has to make political deals with King Uthil and Gorm to keep her country safe, and the third person is Raith, a cold, brutish man, sword bearer for Gorm and who warily becomes Skara’s bodyguard. Out of these three I only cared for Skara because her character went through some growth and she played the "Game of Thrones" well. Raith and Koll only bored me: both boys aren’t fleshed out at all, they never get any character-development, and so they stay stuck in their roles of ‘cold-warrior-with-a-kind-heart’ and ‘good-boy-living-in-an-evil-world.’ Another big complaint I have with these characters is how romance plays such a big role in their storylines. Abercrombie is a good epic-fantasy writer, but he doesn’t write love-stories very well. In Half a World the cliché romance between Thorn and Brand made me roll my eyes a lot, but those two at least had their priorities straight. But these teens? Come on guys: we don’t have time to make-out, there are battles to be fought and people to kill! I could also go for a while about the giant mess that was the finale (wherein Yarvi becomes a childish asshole and the cunning plots get ridiculous), but I’m done. Half a War was an okay book to read and it was nice to see the clash between Father Yarvi and Grandmother Wexen come to an end, but the predictable battles and the lifeless characters sucked out a lot of my reading-joy. Readers: Stick to the first two books of this series – which are awesome and truly epic - but leave this 500+ pages monster lying on the shelf. You aren’t missing out on much. Read here my other reviews of the Shattered Sea trilogy: #1 Half a King| #2 Half a World

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bookwraiths

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. I’m a completionist at heart, especially when it comes to reading. When I’ve experienced most of a story, a part of me demands to know how it all ends – even if I have not “loved” the overall series. And this character trait explains why Half a War ended up on my reading list after Half a King and Half the World underwhelmed me. As this tale begins, three years or so have passed since the events in book two. The Shattered Sea is now ripped apart by war. Gettland Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. I’m a completionist at heart, especially when it comes to reading. When I’ve experienced most of a story, a part of me demands to know how it all ends – even if I have not “loved” the overall series. And this character trait explains why Half a War ended up on my reading list after Half a King and Half the World underwhelmed me. As this tale begins, three years or so have passed since the events in book two. The Shattered Sea is now ripped apart by war. Gettland and Vansterland staring down the High King. So far though, the alliance between King Uthil and Grom-gil-Gorm has accomplished little, as their ally Throvenland’s fall clearly illustrates. But the deeply cunning (and clearly ruthless) Father Yarvi has schemes within schemes, plots within plots that he has been slowly brewing, waiting patiently to gain his vengeance against Grandmother Wexen, and now the time for true war has come! This titanic clash between Father Yarvi’s rebellion and Grandmother Wexen’s loyalist is seen through the eyes of three, new point of view characters: Princess Skara of Throvenland, Koll from Half the World, and Raith, sword bearer and cupbearer for Gorm. Very different people who begin this journey with their own unique circumstances, yet quickly find themselves drawn into the swirling vortex surrounding Yarvi. Events playing out around them which they have little to no control over. The hellish toils of war escalating, turning deadly and personal until it builds to a classic Abercrombie ending, where everything and everyone is painted in absolute grey, not a single hero in sight. Wow, that sounds rather exhilarating, doesn’t it? A rousing and bloody conclusion to this grimwhine series, and there are many things to like here. Action and bloody combat heads my list. All of the warfare realistically portrayed. Abercrombie fully capturing the brutality of regicide and warfare in this post-apocalyptic world. Death, mayhem, and deceit reign supreme. Sacrifices are made. Lies are told. Innocents die needlessly. Betrayals occur. Alliances are forged then broken. Revenge is served: both the hot and cold varieties. All of it drenched in the author’s cynical view of people; the philosophy that one person’s hero is another person’s villain clearly portrayed. The true origins of the Shattered Sea is also revealed here. Not fully perhaps, but enough that the mysterious “elves” of the ancient past do come more into focus. This advanced civilization’s fall is hinted at; their poisonous and creepy ruins examined up close; and their lost technology plays a vital role in the conclusion. Abercrombie finally delivering on the promise of this ancient place. Even acknowledging these strengths, I rated this book as a two star novel, which means it was merely “okay” in my eyes. Let me explain why. For the third time in three books, Mr. Abercrombie chose to tell his story with all new point of view characters. That means this is the third time I’ve been introduced to new people, had to learn to either empathize or hate them, and seen the same overarching plots retold through the eyes of new characters. At the same time as this is taking place, the trilogy has to wrap up: the stories of Yarvi, Wexen, Uthil, Grom, Thorn, and Brand ending as well as the epic, world changing war concluding. And for all Mr. Abercrombie’s writing skills, he was not able to do all this and still make me feel the same depth of emotional attachment for Skara, Koll, and Raith as I did the stars of Half a King or even Half the World. Rather, our fresh faced trio turned into the latest faces in the Shattered Sea revolving door. This lack of fully realized characters did not cause my next complaint, but it certainly did not alleviate it. What I’m referring to is the main protagonists in Half a War not being in control or even fully knowledgeable about what is actually going on. Instead of being in the thick of the decision making and plots in this titanic conflict, our trio are always on the outside peaking in like a bunch of kids eavesdropping on the grownups party. Sure, every once in a while the “adults” like Yarvi, Grom, or Thorn will talk to them, pat them on the head, or pass along a tidbit of what is going on inside, but the bulk of the time, Skara, Knoll, and Raith are out of the loop, not in the inner circle, bumbling around in the dark. Their actions having little to do with the outcomes in the story, or if they do, they are merely a puppet whose strings are being pulled by Yarvi or someone else. All of it rending our new characters little more than distractions from the real story playing out behind the scenes, which left me annoyed and longing for a chapter where the old characters (Yarvi, Uthil, et cetera) would be my point of view yet again. My third complaint is the “romantic” element here. I have to admit not being a huge fan of Yarvi’s love story in Half a King, but I could swallow it. When Thorn and Brand got together in book two, I rolled my eyes more than a bit, but I’m not a young adult anymore so I just threw it up to my romantic side being a bit cynical after a lifetime of real life. But in this story, Skara and her significant other never, never felt the least bit moving or even plausible. It felt forced and contrived; all of it a set up so the author could paint yet another character in absolute shades of grey. But the most disappointing aspect of this novel to me, the most annoying element was the absolute lack of suspense. I’m merely speaking for myself, but the ending, the revelation of people’s true actions, and the transformation of characters into traditional grimdark snakes was guessed well in advance and did not deviate from their estimated course. The lack of “Wow!” reveals causing me to skim pages continually. Now, I know that sounds like I did not enjoy Half a War at all, but the fact is it was an okay book, well worth reading to see how Yarvi and the Shattered Sea story ended. What it has cemented in my mind, however, is that – try as I might – I do not enjoy the kind of grimdark Mr. Abercrombie pens. Not sure exactly what it is, but I find his style, his constant philosophical commentary (I grew tired of “Only half a war is fought with swords” appearing so frequently in the narrative.), and his grey characters lacking in some essential quality, making me dread picking up his books rather than anxious to do so. I completely understand why many of you love his works (I can see his stellar writing ability clearly on the pages in front of me.), but I have merely accepted that I’m not going to be on the bandwagon no matter how many of his books I read. Don’t be sad for me though, because there are more than enough books out there for everyone to love.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    This review has given me real trouble. I LOVED the first book, liked the second quite a bit, and trusted that Abercrombie would give me whatever I needed to love this one, too. In a weird way that I still don't understand, this third book in his Shattered Sea trilogy has not managed to meet my expectations, even though I'm not sure I had expectations to meet, beyond that I wanted to love it. I'm sort of devastated that it didn't work for me. While reading, my blood pressure skyrocketed from the s This review has given me real trouble. I LOVED the first book, liked the second quite a bit, and trusted that Abercrombie would give me whatever I needed to love this one, too. In a weird way that I still don't understand, this third book in his Shattered Sea trilogy has not managed to meet my expectations, even though I'm not sure I had expectations to meet, beyond that I wanted to love it. I'm sort of devastated that it didn't work for me. While reading, my blood pressure skyrocketed from the stress of disliking the book, and even now, it's threatening to start doing it again, and all I'm doing is vaguely thinking about when I was reading the book. I know it will immediately get worse as soon as I start trying to parse out specifics of why it didn't work for me, and why I'm so sad. . . . Excuse me. Those ellipses represent the fifteen minutes during which I had to take a time-out to calm down because my brain has decided to freak out when thinking about this book. Forcing self to take deep breaths. I don't think I've ever had this weird of a reaction to a book before, and I don't like it! Three Days Later For reals I went to articulate my reasons, brain froze, I closed the computer and then didn't come back to this review for three days WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. Okay, let's just list it out real fast, maybe that will work: •One of the reasons I loved the first book so much is that I loved the protagonist, Yarvi, and the book had a clear cut front to back structure that played around with traditional fantasy and YA. Everything about that book was magic for me. •The second book was not magic, largely because I only *liked* the two protagonists, Thorn and Brand. Also, splitting up the narrative focus like that I think split up my emotions as well. I missed Yarvis' POV. •This book . . . had all of those problems magnified. Not one, not two POV characters. THREE POV characters. Normally I have zero problems with multiple POV characters! The more the merrier! Which is one of the reasons it's killing me that I'm listing this as a flaw. •And the three POV characters in this weren't Brand or Thorn or Yarvi, but three NEW little dipshits I had to learn to love. I was exhausted I think before I even started. And I felt even further away from Yarvi and Nothing who had anchored the first book for me. •Also . . . at some point, the things the characters were thinking and learning about war and the world and morality just started to feel predictable and horrible. Like re-treads of things Abercrombie had already covered in his other books. War sucks. People are shit. The world corrupts good people. Except, and this is something I've seen people point to as a positive in this book, whereas normally in Abercrombie's stories the world-weary amoral jerks are working their way back to being moral, in this one it's the opposite. Everyone is in the middle of losing their humanity, and it was just too stressful for me to like. •I didn't really like any of the three new characters. I know I already mostly said this, but it bears repeating. I sort of liked the girl, whose name is Skara I think? And the only reason I remember that is because it's the same as a character from Stargate. Raith's chapters were so hard to get through. At the end when everything had played out, I could see what Abercrombie had been going for, but by then I just didn't care. •I hated, absolutely HATED that the theory some people had about the world/the elves in this series was actually true. I hated it back when it was just a theory, and I hate it even more now that it's confirmed. It's been done before, and didn't really add anything to the story for me. I'm going to do my best to pretend it never happened. (view spoiler)[Authors, stop setting fantasy worlds in a post-modern world, post-us setting. It's not clever or profound. It's done. It's played out. It's dead. Don't kick it more to death. (hide spoiler)] •I literally can't remember the third POV character's name right now. He was Yarvi-adjacent. It just made me want Yarvi's POV, and I felt that the only reason we didn't is so that Abercrombie could pull some things out of left field on us that he couldn't have otherwise if we'd have been in Yarvi's head. •Something about identity? I don't know. I'm all cranky and mad now. This book probably deserves a better review, but honestly I'm not capable of it right now. Perhaps when I eventually re-read the series I will have a different reaction to it and be able to write something better, but for now, this incoherent rambling will have to suffice. [2.5 stars]

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Review for "Half a King" Review for Half the World This was a fitting, if bleak, end to the series. Much like the previous two installments this book had a new set of focus characters along with the full cast from the last two books. This book tells the story of the final confrontation with the High King and grandmother Wexen from the perspective of Koll (pupil to Father Yarvi), Princess Skara (of Throvenland), and Raith (cup bearer of Grom-gil-Grom). This was a rather minimalist book. The chapt Review for "Half a King" Review for Half the World This was a fitting, if bleak, end to the series. Much like the previous two installments this book had a new set of focus characters along with the full cast from the last two books. This book tells the story of the final confrontation with the High King and grandmother Wexen from the perspective of Koll (pupil to Father Yarvi), Princess Skara (of Throvenland), and Raith (cup bearer of Grom-gil-Grom). This was a rather minimalist book. The chapters did what they needed to do to advance the story and character arcs and there was very little ink wasted on superfluous happening (though I wouldn't have liked a bit more about the death of a beloved character who bites it off screen). Little time was wasted talking about the traveling from point A to point B. If the characters needed to get somewhere they would be there by the time the next chapter rolled around. No muss, no fuss. But even with this minimalist approach the book had a very deep emotional depth, both for the three POV characters and the rest of the cast. War is hell and it changes people. That fact is made abundantly clear by how Koll, Skara, and Raith change over the course of the story as they face and mostly overcome adversity and misfortune. Koll must reconcile his love of Rin with his perceived obligation to join the ministry. Skara must somehow maintain an alliance between two hated enemies while being bereft of a homeland and power. Raith himself is transformed by his proximity to Skara and the tribulations of war. All had a rough go of it and came out the other side with their fair share of scars (both physical and emotional). Past characters also go through similar stresses and trials, changing them fundamentally and further reinforcing that in war there are no winners, just survivors. I would say the war and fighting plays second fiddle to the character development. While there were certainly plenty of fights it was the characters that carried this story and made it so engaging. I think the ending was also appropriate. As in real life things don't end just because a war ended. Life goes on, people have to pick up the pieces and make something of the peace, regrets from the war continue to haunt the survivors. All in all this was a very good series that laid bare the truth of war, conflict, and power. So if the first book didn't do much for you (as was the case for me), stick with it, it gets better.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mr. Matt

    And the trilogy draws to a close. Half a War did exactly what I expect out of the conclusion of a series. It brings all the story lines to an end. It answers questions. It feels satisfying. Like the other books in the series, Half a War focuses on a new character. In this case, the young Princess Skara. Her grandfather's kingdom, Throvenland, is caught up in the war between Gettland and the High King. Very early in the book, her grandfather is slain and, penniless and without support, she finds h And the trilogy draws to a close. Half a War did exactly what I expect out of the conclusion of a series. It brings all the story lines to an end. It answers questions. It feels satisfying. Like the other books in the series, Half a War focuses on a new character. In this case, the young Princess Skara. Her grandfather's kingdom, Throvenland, is caught up in the war between Gettland and the High King. Very early in the book, her grandfather is slain and, penniless and without support, she finds herself begging for aide from her land's nominal allies. Throughout the book Skara uses her wits and her femininity to win over allies and followers. By the end of the book she is without a doubt the major force in the Shattered Seas. And it all feels genuine. Let's hear it for a strong woman who truly has an iron will and a heart of gold. Again, like the other books, Yarvi plays a prominent role - as does Thorn. Yarvi increasingly slips into his role as Father Yarvi, the Minister. And in this role he increasingly channels another of Abercrombie's characters - Inquisitor Glotka from The First Law. Yarvi is a softer version given the YA nature of these books, but he is brutal and devious. He manipulates things behind the curtain and leaves a trail of dead bodies and toppled kingdoms in his wake. Finally, the story also, I think, brought to a close the mystery of the Elves. When Yarvi journeys into Strokholm to retrieve Elf weapons it is clear that the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic Earth - probably the Baltic sea. (Take a look at the map: http://thewertzone.blogspot.com/2015/...). There is the mannequin that they encountered. The radiation sickness of the crew. The pills that the companions took. And the weapons themselves. The weapons turn the tide of the war, completely destroying the massive host that the army that the High King built. And with the army destroyed, Yarvi finally gets his revenge against the two people that killed his father. Nicely done. Five stars out of five.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexa

    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. For when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you" This is not a quote from this book. It's actually a Nietzsche's quote from Beyond Good and Evil but it could easily be this book's tagline. Just like with Queen of Fire this book was not exactly what I expected, and not exactly what I wanted. I felt annoyed at getting new PoVs. We already had Thorn and Brand from the last one! Did we really "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. For when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you" This is not a quote from this book. It's actually a Nietzsche's quote from Beyond Good and Evil but it could easily be this book's tagline. Just like with Queen of Fire this book was not exactly what I expected, and not exactly what I wanted. I felt annoyed at getting new PoVs. We already had Thorn and Brand from the last one! Did we really need a new young couple with terrible odds? Did we really need to drag the story by having new character development? (And believe me, these two needed A LOT of character development...) Did we really need a new super terrible bad guy who we don't really get to hate all that much? Apparently we did. I mean, they are there for a quite obvious purpose. Still, for so long didn't like it. I felt the story dragged and I was bored of Skara's fearfulness and of Raith's bloodlust... and I just wanted it to END. And then, it ended. And MOTHER OF GOD THAT ENDING! Apparently I should have learned by now that with Abercrombie is not always about the journey or the destination or anything. It's all about the characters. Yarvi was my favourite character from day one. I was amazed at his development in book one, I was happy to follow him around in book two, and I felt vindicated from his ending in this book. He's the perfect fallen hero slowly falling into villaintown. (view spoiler)[ I almost wish Abercrombie had let him fall all the way and then given us a future book with him as the antagonist (hide spoiler)] So there you have it. How to get ALL THE STARS in the last 10% of a book. Now off to read another one.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David Sven

    As good as the first book and a good conclusion to the series. Book 2 is still my favourite - I reckon. Joe Abercrombie does his First Law trick of subverting who we've come to think are the heroes and villains. After all, every hero is somebody's villain. The elf magic was a nice twist and raises the interesting question of what universe this book takes place in. Whatever the answer, there's room for more stories should Abercrombie want to write more adventures in it. Again, John Keating delivers As good as the first book and a good conclusion to the series. Book 2 is still my favourite - I reckon. Joe Abercrombie does his First Law trick of subverting who we've come to think are the heroes and villains. After all, every hero is somebody's villain. The elf magic was a nice twist and raises the interesting question of what universe this book takes place in. Whatever the answer, there's room for more stories should Abercrombie want to write more adventures in it. Again, John Keating delivers an excellent performance as the audio narrator and added to my enjoyment of the book. Four Stars plus Half a Star - I reckon.

  25. 4 out of 5

    The Shayne-Train

    I'm letting out a big, damp, heartfelt sigh of that particular joy/sorrow of finishing a series that was damned near perfect. SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH. The three books in this series delighted and held me spellbound. The characterization was top-notch, as I've come to expect from J-Aberz. (Yeah, I gave him a nickname. I frequently nickname things I love. Deal.) It has the perfect beginning, middle, and end. The respective books of those three states so wonderfully did what they needed to, e.g.: I'm letting out a big, damp, heartfelt sigh of that particular joy/sorrow of finishing a series that was damned near perfect. SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH. The three books in this series delighted and held me spellbound. The characterization was top-notch, as I've come to expect from J-Aberz. (Yeah, I gave him a nickname. I frequently nickname things I love. Deal.) It has the perfect beginning, middle, and end. The respective books of those three states so wonderfully did what they needed to, e.g.: introduced the character/world/sitch-ee-ation, then added more conflict and plot-deepenings, and then the dazzling conflict/climax and resolutions or brutal, utter lack thereof. This last book, in and of itself, is a masterpiece. When I first started reading it, I was (foolishly) concerned at the fact that there was a POV character that I really didn't care for. I shoulda better known better. And the ending, good lord. I don't shy away from unhappy or ambiguous endings as long as they satisfy me. Well, folks, this bastard is SATISFIED. There is now but one thing that haunts me..... .... .... What in the FUCK can I read next that won't be drivel compared to this?!?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mayim de Vries

    I started reading Half a War with half a heart. I guess the Abercrombie gloom finally caught up with me and furthermore, I was scared to read the story about a dangerous journey and personal growth once again. Somebody said that Joe Abercrombie has one set of characters and only names them differently to tell the same tale in slightly different way and I’m inclined to agree with this verdict. At the same time, I appreciate that he does so with a quality above average and a very distinct Abercrom I started reading Half a War with half a heart. I guess the Abercrombie gloom finally caught up with me and furthermore, I was scared to read the story about a dangerous journey and personal growth once again. Somebody said that Joe Abercrombie has one set of characters and only names them differently to tell the same tale in slightly different way and I’m inclined to agree with this verdict. At the same time, I appreciate that he does so with a quality above average and a very distinct Abercrombie voice that is impossible to mistake with any other author. As it is, Half a War does not take us for a journey. Instead, the grand finale of the Shattered Sea series, takes us to some places we know (Thorlby, Yaletoft, Skekenhouse) and some places we have heard of but without a chance to pay a proper visit (elven ruins of Strokom and the Bail’s Point keep). Equally, the cast of Half a War consists of long-time friends (Koll) and new acquaintances, among whom the most prominent are Skara, princess of Throvenland, and Raith, Grom-gil-Gorm’s swordbearer. Time comes for Father Yarvi to fulfil his sun-oath and his moon-oath to avenge the killers of his father and his brother. Woe onto those who stand on the path of deep-cunning minister of Gettland. The reckoning with Grandmother Wixen is here. As they say, the story is only as good as its villain. There were things I enjoyed immensely. I liked Skara, a scared girl with an upset stomach pretending to be a warrior queen, a pin that tips the scales of war; pretending so fiercely that in the end she convinces this to be true not only people around her (including Father Yarvi!) but also herself. I liked seeing the ruins of our civilisation through the eyes of those who lived in its ashes. I liked how masterfully Abercrombie controls the story and how he wastes nothing, not a minor detail, so that even a background element from the previous instalment can gain prominence, and tertiary characters are given stage and spotlight (Blue Jenner or Raith). And while the final revelations did not catch me unprepared (ha! I saw your ruse Mr Abercrombie, but I admit – it was a good one), it was a good wrap up to the whole trilogy with no loose ends flapping on the wind of narrative. There were, however, things I did not like about Half a War. Firstly, it pretends to be a YA, when in fact it is anything but. Each of the Shattered Sea instalments focuses on a set of young protagonists and their coming of age stories, but when you read carefully, you will notice there are no real transformations in any of them. Only what is there at the beginning becomes stronger and more pronounced. Either they conform or are crushed by the waves of the Shaterd Sea. (view spoiler)[ Yarvi transforms into a treacherous bastard, Thorn effectively becomes a mad dog, albeit a well-trained one, Brand dies, Koll and Raith float like flotsam among things that could be salvaged in the war, Skara is a new Yarvi in the making, and so on and so forth. (hide spoiler)] ‘I used to think the world has heroes in it. But the world is full of monsters, Sister Owd.’ She turned away from the dead, back towards Bail’s Point. 'Perhaps the best we can hope for is to have the most terrible of them on our side.’ Half a War is not a war of good against the evil, it is a war of grey against grey, and the gloom of this world is very much of high/adult fantasy kind not the YA genre. (view spoiler)[Consider the “romantic” subplot between Skara and Raith. I use diverted commas because it is not so much a romantic love as it is a wartime fling, and a purely sexual affair between two people of various social standing. The scene when Skara takes Raith to her bed straight after he is finished with another woman is ingenious, but love is not the word to describe what happens between them (including the scene when Skara discards the young warrior and calmly plans to abort the baby conceived during the affair). (hide spoiler)] There are other issues I had problems to reconcile with. Abercrombie is paying merely lip service to Queen Laithlin (telling not showing!). For such a formidable Golden Queen she plays surprisingly marginal role of a Golden Ornament rather than a political force to be reckoned with. Certain plot twists were not convincing, even if we accept the ruling premise of Abercrombie’s world (there is no good or evil, just relative powers at war with each other). (view spoiler)[ Why would Raith poison his sovereign when he was spurned by Skara? It does not make sense, he should have just betrayed her and be done with the whole drama. (hide spoiler)] Other developments were just a bit too convenient to be believable. (view spoiler)[ The common folk of Thorlby captured one of the Bright Yilling’s companions privy to his commander’s secrets. Skifr had “magic beans” neutralising the radiation effects of post-apocalyptic Stockholm (Strokom) and I had hard time to rationalise it. Am I to believe that she just sauntered into the ruins of apothecary and among thousands of pills found the right ones in spite of the linguistic and scientific barrier? Me thinks not. (hide spoiler)] Overall, a solid 3.5 stars with an inclination to read another Abercrombie in a year or two when I recover and regain my faith in humanity. Also in the series: 1. Half a King 2. Half the World

  27. 5 out of 5

    Celise

    Sometimes I think the reason Abercrombie writes the way he does is just so people will quote him. I find it hard to believe that every character in one world would deliver such wise and analogical lines of dialogue. Even characters who are referred to as being less intelligent talk the same way as the wise old ministers, who say the same shit as the rulers. And sure, they have individual phrases that they repeat until the words should be dead and buried, but it sounds like it all comes from the Sometimes I think the reason Abercrombie writes the way he does is just so people will quote him. I find it hard to believe that every character in one world would deliver such wise and analogical lines of dialogue. Even characters who are referred to as being less intelligent talk the same way as the wise old ministers, who say the same shit as the rulers. And sure, they have individual phrases that they repeat until the words should be dead and buried, but it sounds like it all comes from the same mouth. Basically, I would like this more if the writing wasn't so obnoxious. Still, I don't think the plot is really anything to write home about, and the characters aren't all that three dimensional, they just each have their "thing" that they're good at. That said, I really enjoyed the addition of Raith in this one, despite his "sour sweat" smell . I wanted to like Skara too but despite her "carrying her fear in her stomach" which was stated at least five times, I didn't really learn much about her personality. Okay but THE ELVES. I was very pleased that my theories played out to be true, but at the same time felt that it was anticlimactic in the end. I almost wish that the hints towards it had been more subtle. Abercrombie doesn't do subtle though. The wars and ending in general were kind of anticlimactic. The story arc was unconventional but not in a good way. I couldn't really tell where it was going and big events seemed to happen out of nowhere with the expectation that you're going to be sad about so and so's death. I just didn't care. It was always so out of the blue and written in a way where it didn't even seem important if they died. And ultimately that was the main flaw with this series. I just didn't care about almost anything that happened in it. I'm usually the first to say it's just me and to each his/her own, but I fail to see what makes this so special and exciting. I have The Blade Itself on my shelf and I may skim a couple of chapters to see if it's different, but I think Joe Abercrombie just isn't for me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Katzman

    This review is for the full Shattered Sea trilogy. *Sigh.* I was blown away by The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. One of the best fantasy trilogies that I’ve ever read with rich, compelling characters, truly unpredictable plot twists and some pointed social commentary. And then he comes out with this relatively boring series that lands somewhere between young adult and mainstream adult fantasy. I really have very little positive to say about it. About the only good thing that I can say is This review is for the full Shattered Sea trilogy. *Sigh.* I was blown away by The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. One of the best fantasy trilogies that I’ve ever read with rich, compelling characters, truly unpredictable plot twists and some pointed social commentary. And then he comes out with this relatively boring series that lands somewhere between young adult and mainstream adult fantasy. I really have very little positive to say about it. About the only good thing that I can say is that the story had a few unexpected twists. Even so, overall, it was pretty easy to recognize the plot devices of suspense and what would ending up happening. The characters were meh. I just didn’t care all that much about them. The use of magic was presented in a fashion that is a known trope from many past fantasy novels. I gave it a chance, but in the end…I think reading this was a waste of time. The story follows political intrigue and war surrounding one kingdom that is attempting to break from the rule of the “High King.” The High King has much larger armies and more allies, so this underdog country will need to exhibit “deep cunning” as it’s called repeatedly in order to unify allies who normally hate each other. Themes that drive the story include means vs. ends and the questionable moral value of oaths and loyalty. I’m not going to invest much into writing more about this because it was too disappointing. I’ll leave it at that.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    The first book in this trilogy introduced Father Yarvi, the second followed Thorn Bathu. The conclusion has a bit of a wider focus. The 'main character' is arguably the princess Skara, but Thorn and Yarvi are also prominently featured, as well as several other POV characters. The result is a book that feels a little less personal and immediate, at least to me. However, it's unquestionably an excellent book. It's witty, insightful and full of 'quotable quotes,' (not all of which would the author a The first book in this trilogy introduced Father Yarvi, the second followed Thorn Bathu. The conclusion has a bit of a wider focus. The 'main character' is arguably the princess Skara, but Thorn and Yarvi are also prominently featured, as well as several other POV characters. The result is a book that feels a little less personal and immediate, at least to me. However, it's unquestionably an excellent book. It's witty, insightful and full of 'quotable quotes,' (not all of which would the author agree with, clearly.) It's also even darker than the first two in the series. We see people who have, or are in the process of becoming, harsh and cruel. There's quite a lot of ends justifying the means. As one might expect in a book about war, there is revenge, betrayal, sacrifice, and cold-blooded choices. In many situations there seemingly is no 'greater good,' only a 'lesser evil.' The title refers to the idea that "only half a war is fought with swords" - the other half, of course, is fought with the mind: strategizing and out-thinking one's opponent. But the damage caused by such plots can be more devastating than a straightforward battle. One small plot point aggravated me: (view spoiler)[After all his waffling, no way in hell should Rin have put up with Koll's belated and half-assed apologies to get back together with him. I would've been so much more delighted if she had told him he missed his chance, and to screw off. (hide spoiler)] I have to admit that I didn't like this book *quite* as much as the previous two - but it was still quite excellent.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Executive Summary: An enjoyable conclusion to a series I didn't think I would like after the first book. Full Review Well I read this book in a single day, so that should be a good indicator I liked it. Mind you, I spent 8 hours of that day either sitting in an airport or on a plane, but still. I really didn't think I'd continue this series after Half a King (My Review). It was well written, but predictable and uninteresting. It made me thought Mr. Abercrombie should stick to adult fare. However r Executive Summary: An enjoyable conclusion to a series I didn't think I would like after the first book. Full Review Well I read this book in a single day, so that should be a good indicator I liked it. Mind you, I spent 8 hours of that day either sitting in an airport or on a plane, but still. I really didn't think I'd continue this series after Half a King (My Review). It was well written, but predictable and uninteresting. It made me thought Mr. Abercrombie should stick to adult fare. However reviews for Half the World were all talking about how much better it was. I enjoyed it a lot (My Review), probably the best of the trilogy. This book was a close second though. I feel like this book was even darker than the last, though nothing like his First Law books. There were once again great characters, and great world building. Part of me would like to know more about the elves and their ancient "magic", but I think I'm largely happy to speculate about what happened rather than having a definitive answer. The new POVs in this book are once again solid, though for me personally I enjoyed Thorn and Brand better. Skara was probably my favorite of the three. It's hard to say much more without spoiling this or previous books in the series, but I'm glad I gave the series a second chance. The last two books are about as good as anything else Mr. Abercrombie's written, albeit not quite so dark. Overall, I thought this was a good conclusion to the series, though a slightly weaker book overall than the second. I think most fans of Mr. Abercrombie will be happy with this series as a whole.

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