As the final installment of his Shattered Sea trilogy, ideally you need to have at least read Joe Abercrombie's Half The World to follow a great deal of the plot contained within Half A War, as the book picks up exactly where its predecessor left off.
With that said, the new narrators of this monstrous 500 page book, notably princess Skara, bring a fresh insight into what has gone on beforehand without overpowering the reader.
Despite the almost never-ending violence and murder (to be honest, what would you expect from a book titled Half A War?), the language used within the pages is simple while the conversations between the characters flows quite well. This suggests that perhaps more than anyone, this series of books is aimed more at young-adult readers than older ones.
I personally found this book rather dull, but I put that down to the fact I’ve read over 50 books this year alone and more than 300 in the past two and a half years, rather than the writing itself. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book of this size and so working my way through the pages was a bit of a challenge.
The highlight of the book for me was the detail behind various characters’ morality and motives (I have a serious love of back-stories and how people think) while the real downside for me was the plot itself; it felt chunky, almost disjointed in places. Perhaps Abercrombie wrote in this manner as to allow readers to think for themselves what might happen before the revelations appeared on paper. I don’t know if that was the case, but for me, it made a book I struggled with that much harder to get through and to enjoy.
I’ve always loved books with a good ending and I was really hoping that the last few chapters of this book would improve my overall opinion towards this one. Sadly that wasn’t the case and what I found unfolding in the pages as I read them turned out to be something of an anti-climax, although the death of one character (I won’t say who as not to spoil it!) did make me a little emotional.
Ultimately, although Abercrombie has no doubt worked hard in putting this trilogy together, and the fact that fans of his previous works will lap this up, I have to say that this is the most disappointing book I have read this year. I am however curious to see what he comes out with next.
Half A War is available now from Amazon and all good bookshops.