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Half A War

Half A War

Scritto da Joe Abercrombie

Narrato da John Keating


Half A War

Scritto da Joe Abercrombie

Narrato da John Keating

valutazioni:
4/5 (32 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
13 ore
Pubblicato:
Jul 28, 2015
ISBN:
9781490684123
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

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.
Pubblicato:
Jul 28, 2015
ISBN:
9781490684123
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    Pretty good conclusion to the series with some new interesting characters and some nice action.
  • (5/5)
    Joe Abercrombie concludes his Shattered Seas Trilogy with the book Half A War. This volume follows immediately in the wake of the previous book and most of the familiar characters are in place, although in this story he places a couple of new characters front and center. The young Princess Skara of Throvenland and her sword man and chosen warrior, Raife joins forces with the rulers of Gettland and Vansterland in order to finally break free of the chains that the High King and Mother Wexen binds them with. The story that started with Yarvi comes finally comes full circle but with this author you can be sure the ending is anything but predictable. As with all Joe Abercrombie stories, there are betrayals, revenge, battles and drama aplenty. Basing his tale on Viking lore these larger than life characters that we have come to know prepare for the final battle and overcome enormous odds. There are plenty of twists and turns and as usual, Abercrombie doesn’t flinch from bloodshed and violence. Half A War was exactly how I wished this trilogy to end with warrior showdowns, sieges, death for some of the characters and victory for others. As in life there isn’t a happy ending for everyone but the story was brought to a satisfactory conclusion although one is left with the impression that master storyteller Abercrombie could return to this world in the future.
  • (4/5)
    This was a satisfying conclusion to a very good series. I liked all of the new characters that were introduced with the highlight being Bright Yilling. He's a villain you love to hate and can't wait to see fall.

    There were a couple of things I didn't like. Thorn Bathu was hardly used after being such a major character in the last book. Also, after spending the entire second book on a voyage to make the Empress of the South an ally, she is not mentioned once here during the war. Not even for a possible call for reinforcements when they are badly outnumbered by the High King's army.

    These are just minor issues I had with it. This is still a very good book, and series overall is well worth a read.
  • (4/5)
    A good ending to a good series. You can tell that it is YA and not the regular dark fantasy Abercrombie likes to write, but it's still a fairly good series.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this final volume of the Shattered Sea trilogy quite a bit but some of the choices that the author made regarding the characters were, in my opinion, not how I saw this ending. Lots of action throughout this final volume and you will see several of the main characters featured in the first two books who are killed off or turned towards evil in this one. I was also somewhat disappointed that Thorn Bathu was relegated to only a minor part in the finale.

    Overall a fun and interesting read and a good finish to the trilogy. Recommended for fantasy fans and all reading the series.
  • (3/5)
    2.5 stars, rounded up.

    I was disappointed with this one, primarily because none of the main characters from the first two books (Father Yarvi, Thorne, and Brand) were main characters in this third volume. Who writes a trilogy and doesn't keep the main characters front and center?

    The book was only so-so for me, primarily because of the point made above, and I just didn't care about Princess Skara, Koll, or Raith, or what happened in the story leading up to the (disappointing) battle with Grandmother Wexen and the High King. Talk about a let down! It was a perfect set-up: obtain the elf magic and destroy your enemies with one or two magical blows .

    I really felt like Abercrombie shorted himself on this one, that he took the easy road to completing it. Maybe he got tired of the ya trope himself, and decided to end it as soon as possible with as little effort as possible. I don't know, but it was so very disappointing.

    I know the negatives sound bad here, but overall, the entire series was pretty good, and I'd still recommend it to Abercrombie completists.
  • (4/5)
    I really like how Abercrombie built the Shattered Sea trilogy. The first book (Half a King) focuses on the young, crippled boy who would become Father Yarvi, a powerful minister. Yarvi and other characters continue in the second book (Half a World) but the focus switches to prickly Thorn Bathu (great name!) and her gentle giant of a man, Brand. In Half a War, these stories revolve around three new characters: a young princess determined to avenge the destruction of her homeland, the confident warrior assigned to protect her, and Father Yarvi's self-doubting apprentice. The backdrop is the never-ending battle of power between the vaguely Scandinavian Shattered Sea countries and the High King who, with advice from his scheming minister Grandmother Wexen, intends to defeat them all. Abercrombie's bigger message is about our internal conflict with choices, such as trying to be good and failing or intentionally doing harm to achieve a greater good. The final book competently concludes the characters' stories (whether satisfyingly or not depends on the reader) and is sophisticated enough for adults but also accessible for teens. The writing sets the tone of the books with customary sayings such as "Death waits for us all" and with references to Mother War and Father Peace often setting up amusing responses. The title refers to the belief that only half a war is fought with swords -- the other half is fought with cunning words and strategy. The Shattered Sea series provides plenty of both halves.
  • (4/5)
    The final book in the Shattered Sea trilogy. A very enjoyable tale, though not quite as good as the first book (Half a King) of the triligy. The audio-version from Recorded books is very well done.
  • (4/5)
    The conclusion to the Shattered Sea trilogy of dark fantasy for young adults once again offers up new primary characters to follow. With the previous incumbents being relegated to more minor roles in so far as narration duties if not actual deeds go. Skara is a princess in the kingdom of Throvenland and soon finds herself the last surviving member of her family when her grandfather, the king, is brutally slain by an emissary from the High King supposedly sent to deliver peace terms. She manages to escape and heads to Gettland for aid, it being one of the last holdouts against the tyrannical ruler. Raith is the second narrator for this tale. Sword-bearer to Gom-gil-Gorm, he is passed to Skara as protector when she claims her birthright, defying the High King and attempting to reclaim what is rightfully hers. Equal in temperament to Thorn Bathu can he curb his natural eagerness to fight everyone he comes into contact with to perform his new duties or does his former master have other plans for him? Can Skara survive long enough to forge a true alliance between those in open rebellion?Very unusually I think I liked the middle book of the trilogy more than either the first or this concluding volume. Not that this was a bad book. It does tie up all the loose ends and concludes the tale of revenge sworn by Yarvi in the opener. I think I just preferred the characters in the second book more than either of the others. It's still a well written tale with plenty of exciting action scenes to enjoy and you know with Joe Abercrombie stories that there will be twists and betrayals galore and this proves no exception though most can be readily anticipated. I hope the author returns to his more adult-oriented books in future and I'm thankful that I still have a few of his earlier tomes to get to.
  • (5/5)
    One of the few endings that I liked. The book 3 of shaterred sea series is the best amongst them. Full of warrior battlefields and mind battlefields. Deep cunning minister Yarvi and queen Skara use their mind to win a war with and against each other meanwhile King Util, Gorm and their blood thirst warriors do the war itself. Father Of Peace doesn't have a place where Mother of War has its wings all over the sea.
  • (5/5)
    Today I finished listening to the final installment in the most amazing trilogy. I don't even know where to begin so pardon me if I ramble.First off, this is the audio version of the Shattered Sea trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Until I had the unprecedented good fortune to be selected as a recipient in the Early Reviewers program, I had never heard of the author. Based on my experience with this trilogy, I have been singing Abercrombie's praises to anyone I find browsing the SciFi/Fantasy section of my store. He is a solid writer. His characters have substance. They are complex and they grow throughout the series, sometimes becoming nearly unrecognizable as they develop. (more later)
  • (4/5)
    Audiobook review:I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for free in exchange for an honest review.This was my first audio in this series. I read the books prior to this one. Now that I did this one on audio, I can say if John Keating does the others, try it on audio. I love his accent and how he brings the characters to life. I loved his brogue and how he changed them for the characters. It was easy to slip into this world with his narration. Also, while I'm on the subject. Do NOT skip books. Read (or listen) to them in order. It is fantasy and that genre is hard to skip around in a series.This probably wasn't the strongest book in the series. That may be due to the fact it was more political than the others. Half a war is about the politics and strategy that goes on behind the war so it is no surprise that it was more heavily politic. However, if you are worried that it does not have action, no worries. It still is war and so there is action everywhere. The story also focuses on Skara and those around her and I found that I really liked her character. She was not strong but cunning even though she was only 17 and lost everyone and everything she knew in one night.I think my biggest niggle is how the secondary characters were handled. While primary characters in other books become secondary in the next, we still remember our love for these characters. I didn't like that they were handled with carelessness and when we lose one of them, the other characters are affected but it still felt as if it was just a mention and not a major change. Perhaps the author gives the proper due to the impact is has on the game, but not how it impacts us as readers.I give this audio 3 1/2 stars. I really think that the narrator really sold me the story in this book. There are some big changes to some beloved characters and I wanted it to have a bigger impact in the book as a whole. I was not fond of how the secondary characters were portrayed. I did love Skara and Raith's story even if it didn't quite go as expected. I highly recommend this on audio and might have to revisit it all on audio. I recommend it to those that enjoy fantasy with magic.
  • (4/5)
    A fine finish to an excellent series. Villains dispatched, revenge abounds, new quests sought and a young queen makes a difficult choice. Perhaps Mr. Abercrombie will visit this world at some future date to see if Father Peace or Mother War prevails.
  • (4/5)
    Hey finish up a trilogy, let's make this book have yet another main character. Easy to mock, but it somehow works fine. Ultimately it is a satisfying conclusion to the series.

    Comments on the series as a whole: First of all wonderful maps in the versions I read. Really helps with the world building in my opinion. Second, I kind of like that some people end up kinda like jerks but don't die or get fixed--just like real life.

  • (3/5)
    This was fun. Building off the Hamlet theme of the first book, we've seen the Hamlet figure go after Fortinbras while restoring a good uncle to marry his mother, and now we see him after even more. New characters figure in each volume, and this one was fun with allusions to other fantasy works. The first book seemed to gesture to G.R.R. Martin with a Tyrion theme, next up was Arya, and now we have bits of Eddings (the Queen dressing in mail to enthrall the men) among other nods and winks here & there. It was good fun. I listened to the audiobook format, which was well-performed.

    The post-apocalyptic future theme is developed further as well, making this almost a spaghetti Western at one point, with all guns blazing in a standoff. A dash of Brooks in that, but I like this playfulness and willingness to not explain everything better. With some iodine pills for radiation sickness ("beans") things move back to "our" world (and finally, the "elves" aren't coded indigenous populations!) only to turn things in another direction.
  • (2/5)
    Deus-ex-Machina YA Fiction: "Half A War" by Joe Abercrombie Published July 16th 2015.

    Back in the day when I was a teenager, I’d run away from YA Fiction as fast as the devil from the cross. Mind you the label “YA Fiction” didn’t exist back then. Most of what I read, well the older stuff anyway, I’d not hesitate to give to a teenager. However, when I was a teenager I didn't shy away from any book. If anything I tended to avoid "YA" because being a normal teenager, I wanted people to believe I was older for my age. Today, reading YA books is "cooler" than in my day but that just makes YA even more of a marketing ploy instead of the content recommendation it should be. That is why so many of my favourite authors are jumping on the YA Fiction bandwagon. That is where the money is at. I’m afraid Abercrombie succumbed to it.

    This one is probably the worst of the trilogy. First things first. The elf magic’s origins, which had been hinted at throughout in the previous 2 volumes, came full bore and my first reaction was, “WTF???” At times I thought I was a reading an episode from the Shannarra TV series. I guess I don’t find this kind of plot device as cool anymore. Second: Yarvi’s transformation. I was utterly shocked. That’s why this whole book felt completely off to me. It doesn’t fit in the whole scheme of things, seemed like something Abercrombie wanted to pushed something through at the end that couldn’t be reconciled with everything that came before in the first 2 volumes. Third: Raith. He looks like Thorn’s male version of Thorn! Fourth: The ending. Deus-ex-machina. Enough said.
    “The First Law Trilogy” and his stand-alone novels offer stronger stories, dialogues and most important of all, more fully-rounded characters.

    Joe, if you went to the other side of the “Force”, I’ll never forgive you…

    NB: I still rate “Half a King” as the best book from the trilogy. The trilogy should have stopped there.

    NB2: Half A King, Half A World (my reviews from the previous 2 volumes)
  • (3/5)
    Satisfying end to the faux-Viking Shattered Sea Trilogy. Father Yarvi sets up an unlikely alliance -- many are enemies of his enemy, after Princess Skara bursts in and tells him of murders of her family by the High King and Grandmother Wexen. They all overcome them, using elf-weapons. Father Yarvi gets his revenge.
  • (4/5)
    This is the conclusion to the Shattered Sea series that I kept meaning to read. This was the weakest of the three books with the first one my favorite. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it though. I did very much like it. Set into the series as a whole it wrapped up the overall story line nicely while introducing some new characters. The ending did feel a little rushed, but that is a minor quibble. A solid choice as a series for fantasy fans.
  • (4/5)
    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: 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.

    I have to admit that I didn't like this book *quite* as much as the previous two - but it was still quite excellent.
  • (4/5)
    And that is how the story of the Shattered Sea ends. Or at least the one that Yarvi started in the first book. As with the previous two books, Abercombie has a teenager in the middle of the story - the princess Skara from Throvenland - who loses the last of her relatives, her grandfather to one of the killers employed by the High King. And with his death, there are only two lands remaining in the uprising against authority - Gettland (lead by Uthil) and Vansterland (lead by Grom-gil-Gorm). Except that Skara is not ready to give up and abandon her land and her people. Between her hatred for the man that killed everyone that she ever knew and cared about and Yarvi's oath to avenge his father, the three nations somehow manage to find a way to work together. It takes betrayals and deaths, elf's weapons (and if noone had yet realized that elves are actually the humans of our days - the world of the Shattered Sea is a post-apocalyptic Earth, that book makes it clear without spelling it), a lot of old friends - Koll and Brand, Thorn and Skifr, Ryn and Blue Jenner. At the end, the book is weaker than the first 2 - it needs to wrap up the story and tie all the loose ends. Because of that we end up seeing a lot more betrayals and a lot more bad actions performed by the good guys than ever before. While the first two installments in the trilogy mostly toyed with the idea of any of our heroes being evil. This book toes and crosses the line - everyone seem to be capable of everything. At the end the trilogy as a whole is worth reading - it is a coming of edge story and it is a coming to power story; it is a quest and it is one of the better examples of epic fantasy created lately. And the world, before or after you recognize it for what it is, is built masterfully. In a way it being revealed to be Earth is part of the mastery. The series is categorized as YA but it lacks the usual problem of the genre - characterization is well done, people get to make hard choices. And that is what makes it not just a nice read but a great trilogy.
  • (4/5)
    3.5 StarsI 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.
  • (5/5)
    Good character development, great story, lots of action, and a twist that leaves even the most experienced reader surprised. This novel is book 3, so make sure you read the previous two novels first. The book is well-written and the world/setting created is well worth it. This series has made me a dedicated Joe Abercrombie fan. LT Early Reviewers
  • (3/5)
    It was ok, but as with almost all the Abercrombie books the characters are not up to the standards of his first trilogy. The most interesting characters of this series Thorn and Yarvi, did not get enough screen time in this book for my taste.

    Still. It has twists, heroics, betrayal and enough misanthropy to shake lost of medieval weaponry at.

  • (4/5)
    A thrilling end to the trilogy. The book brings new protagonists to the front, but features everybody from the previous books. Actually it seems that the main protagonists, except one, aren't really that important in the whole grand scheme of things. They frequently interact with the big players though. This book has more action and political intrigue then the previous books and continues to feature characters that have a lot of strength in their resolve. Joe Abercrombie writes great characters, and many of them really shine. This series didn't suck me in as much as Joe Abercrombie's other series did, but it is a solid story that I enjoyed. It is a satisfying finish to the series with an ending in the typical Abercrombie style that I enjoy. I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by John Keating. He does a solid job at the accents and brings to life many of the characters. There are more female characters in this book, which I feel John Keating struggles at. Also, there are many more characters overall which got confusing. The hard part was some of his character's voices were similar and some were even similar to his narrative voice. I felt I had to actively pay attention more than I do with audiobooks. But overall he did a good job.
  • (4/5)
    This month marks the completion of Joe Abercrombie’s ‘Half a Trilogy’ (Okay, it’s actually called the Shattered Sea Trilogy) with the July 28th release of Half a War. Those who have been following the adventures of Yarvi, Thorn, Brand, and Kings Uthil and Grom-gil-Gorm in their quest to free the Shattered Sea from the iron grip of the High King and Mother Wexen need wait no longer. All of these characters from ‘Half a King’ and ‘Half a World’ have returned and new ones have been added to the trilogy’s pantheon of heroes. Foremost among the new characters introduced in this final volume is Skara, a 17 year-old princess from Throvenland, a neighboring country whose king, Skara’s grandfather, and minister are murdered by the High king’s agents in the opening pages as the young princess watches helplessly. Skara escapes and makes her way to Thorlby to enlist the aid of the Gettlanders and Vanstermen in recapturing her kingdom. Now a queen, Skara becomes the centerpiece of the book as she uses all the wit and wiles she has been taught to bend her two allies to her will. This is a job made much more difficult as the newly formed alliance between Gettland and Vansterland is fragile on the best of days and threatening to collapse on the rest. Queen Skara makes a remarkable character, a strong female character that is seldom seen in fantasy. She knows what she needs to do and makes it happen despite the tremendous odds stacked against her.While I enjoyed this book, I think that Abercrombie ended the second book too far from the finish line to neatly wrap up all of the threads in a single volume. I found the flow from scene to scene, or battle to battle was occasionally a bit clunky like he was trying to cram in more information that would fit comfortably. One thing that I did like about the end was the way Abercrombie handled the evolution of his characters, for better or worse. Some matured while others were inevitably corrupted by their hatred. That was well done. Bottom line: As a master fantasist, I was glad to see Abercrombie try his hand at Young Adult fiction. I also appreciate that he was able to write and publish an entire trilogy in just under two years. George R. R. Martin could learn a thing or two from him. * The review book was based on an advanced reading copy obtained at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. While this does take any ‘not worth what I paid for it’ statements out of my review, it otherwise has no impact on the content of my review.FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:•5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.•4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.•3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered good or memorable.•2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending. •1 Star - The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire.
  • (4/5)
    Half a War by Joe Abercrombie is the concluding volume in the Shattered Sea trilogy, and what a conclusion it is! This review will contain spoilers for the previous two volumes in the series if you haven’t read them yet, so consider yourself warned.Joe Abercrombie has written a great series in the Shattered Sea trilogy, and while Half a War is a very good book, the series as a whole is even greater than the sum of its parts. While characters continue from book to book, the focus shifts to a new character in each book. Half a King introduces Yarvi, Half a World introduces Brand and Thorn Bathu (love her!), and Half a War introduces us to Princess Skara. Each of these characters makes a journey from the beginning of the book to the end, at least spiritually, but it is Yarvi who takes the greatest journey from the beginning of the series to the end.Yarvi was always wise and “a deep cunning man”, yet the events in the first book removed whatever naivety remained and set him on a course of vengeance that isn’t complete until the final pages of the last book. The magnitude of his actions and their consequences hits him and you like a load of bricks. Even a deep cunning man cannot foresee every twist and turn of a complicated plan. Half a War brings to fruition the conflict with Grandmother Wexen and the High King. Villain Bright Yilling is chillingly ruthless and frighteningly confident making him a fitting counterpoint for the coming of age Princess Skara, who balances her own cunning with a desire to do good and protect her people. The only character I really didn’t care for in this book, and the series for that matter, was Skara’s erstwhile love interest Raith. I never took him seriously and he never really seemed to have a purpose. His was the only character journey that I didn’t really buy.Besides the main characters, a number of secondary characters are well written and interesting in their own rights. One of the things that sets this series apart is the sheer volume of interesting and complex characters. Not everyone makes it out alive and every victory comes with a cost. The characters at the end of the book are not the same as the ones at the beginning, and you feel their pain. Yarvi in particular has an objective in mind from the very beginning, but the ruthlessness and the sacrifice with which he pursues it isn’t fully revealed until the very end.The world-building and plot of this book and this series are interesting, but it is all in service of the characters. And I absolutely loved these characters, warts and all. I read the first book in the series and listened to the audio version of the last two. If you want a real treat, listen to John Keating’s narration of these audiobooks. He does an amazing job bringing these characters to life. The character voices are distinctive and entertaining. One of the best jobs of narration I’ve listened to. I highly recommend this book and this series. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.
  • (4/5)
    Wraps up the Shattered Sea trilogy. Like the second book in the series, there are new pov characters. The pov characters from the two previous books remain in supporting roles. I don’t know how I feel about the conclusion of events. Like some other reviewers I thought this was the weakest of the three books, it's still worth reading though, especially if you have read the first two.
  • (4/5)
    Abercrombie is such an excellent writer, but one sometimes wishes he were less realistic; of course, then I wouldn’t appreciate him so much, but my inner child wishing for fairy tale endings would be a bit happier.This fantasy, the third of a trilogy that began with Half A King and continued with Half The World, features the inevitable showdown among the various contending powers living around the Shattered Sea. We hear the tale from the point of view of three characters: 17-year-old Princess Skara of Throvenland; Raith, the sword-bearer of Grom-Gil-Gorm, the fearsome King of Vansterland - “Breaker of Swords and Maker of Orphans”; and Koll, who we previously met as the son of the couple Yarvi had promised to protect, after freeing the mother and son from slavery. All are part of the coalition opposing the High King and his minster, Grandmother Wexler.This is a book full of fortune cookie pronouncements and their realizations. (Unfortunately, one of the fortunes is not “all’s well that ends well.”) They include the adage that only half a war is fought with swords; the other is fought with the mind, or in another version, with skill and courage. Words, too, are weapons. In addition, the inevitable fantasy book truism that you can only conquer your fears by facing them (a.k.a., “fear is the mind killer, from Dune) makes a couple of appearances. There is also the observation that “Freedom’s worth nothing to the dead. Pride’s worth little even to the living.” And there are many variations of “life sucks and then you die,” some of which add a “carpe diem” sentiment, such as this admonition by the nose-picking character of Skifr:“‘Seize life with both hands!’ … ‘Rejoice in what you have. Power, wealth, fame, they are ghosts! They are like the breeze, impossible to hold. There is not grand destination. Every path ends at the Last Door. Revel in the sparks one person strikes from another. . . . They are the only light in the darkness of time.”Another version by Koll:"…death waits for us all. Life’s about making the best of what you find along the way. A man who’s not content with what he’s got, well, more than likely he won’t be content with what he hasn’t.”Intermixed with these sentiments are occasional passages of beauty that are all the more striking for being part of scenes of battle and death:“The land was a black mystery when the ships began to plow ashore, the sky a dark blue cloth slashed with cloud and stabbed with stars.”…“They sat, cold and silent, as Father Moon rose and his children the stars showed themselves, and the flames of the burning ship, and the burning goods, and the burning king lit up the faces of the hundred hundred mourners. . . . They sat until the flames sank to a flickering, and the keel sagged into whirling embers, and the first muddy smear of dawn touched the clouds, glittering on the restless sea…. But the occasional homage to beauty doesn’t gainsay the ever-present face of death, pain, ill consequences of greed, the corruption of power, and the sacrifice of means for ends of dubious worth. Yarvi says to Koll - now his apprentice, at one point, “A blade in the right hands can be a righteous tool.” And Koll responds, “Who decides whose hands are right?”Skifr comes to join the group fighting the High King after Grandmother Wexen arranged to burn Skifr’s house and kill her family, and, critically, she brings the coalition “elf-weapons” or guns, “forged before the breaking of God.”The series ends with at least temporary peace on The Shattered Sea. But as for who the winners and losers are, that is something the reader will have to decide.Discussion: There are so many memorable passages in this book, as when Brand is expressing his feelings for Thorn:“‘She surely can cook a fight from the most peaceful ingredients. But nothing worth doing is easy. I love her in spite of it. I love her because of it. I love her.”Brand and Thorn’s relationship is echoed in that of Brand’s sister Rin and Koll, who, whenever he thinks about a characteristic of Rin, thinks, “He loved that about her.” Koll tells Rin:“‘What makes a woman beautiful to me isn’t her blood or her clothes but what she can do. I like a woman with strong hands who isn’t afraid of sweat or hard work or anything else. I like a woman with pride, and ambition, and quick wit, and high skill.’ Just words, maybe, but he meant them. Or half-meant them, anyway.”In fact, Koll is much like Brand - too much so, it seems, just as his relationship with Rin is a bit too reminiscent of that of Brand and Thorn. But the four characters are very likable, and their inherent goodness and relationships based on honesty is a welcome contrast to the duplicity of most of the other relationships in the story.Skara says to her minister:“I used to think the world had heroes in it. But the world is full of monsters. . . . Perhaps the best we can hope for is to have the most terrible of them on our side.”Indeed, overarching all other themes is that of the nature of morality, and good versus evil. Yarvi has sworn vengeance. Skara has sworn vengeance. Skifr wants vengeance. …whatever means to an end. But will it end? And where and how will it end?Were the elves like us, Koll asks Skifr?“Terribly like and terribly unlike,” said Skifr. . . . They were far wiser, more numerous, more powerful than us. But, just like us, the more powerful they became the more powerful they wished to become. Like men, the elves had holes in them that could never be filled. All of this . . . ‘ And Skifr spread her arms wide to the mighty ruins, her cloak of rags billowing in the restless breeze. ‘All of this could not satisfy them. They were just as envious, ruthless and ambitious as us. Just as greedy.” She raised one long arm, one long hand, one long finger to point . . . ‘It is their greed that destroyed them. . . .”Evaluation: This is a gritty, realistic cautionary tale as well as a sweeping fantasy saga that, in spite of some quibbles, I am terribly sad to see ended. (There is, one might note, plenty of opportunity for a continuation of the story should Abercrombie choose to do so.) For those dismayed by the corrupting effects of war and/or power, this story won't make you feel any better. It contains echoes of both "Hamlet" and "Macbeth" with characters as memorable. The behavior of my favorite character disappointed me, but life isn’t perfect, nor are people - even in fantasies, or maybe especially in fantasies.I would not rate this third book as highly as the other two, but in combination, the series is outstanding.
  • (4/5)
    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 last installment, but they really don’t feel like the stars. Almost all of the major outcomes of this book 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, Scara and Raith outclassed, outgunned, and outnumbered. Simply put, the three young ‘uns feel a bit like mere guests at the adults’ table, sitting in 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 to me 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 as no time was 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 rush 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’s having an ending that counts, and fans of the first two books will want to pick this one up. It might just might surprise you in a big way.
  • (3/5)
    Half a War is the last in the Shattered Sea trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. It finally brings us to the confrontation with the High King and Grandmother Wexen whose machinations have brought the Shattered Sea to a world war. While the characters from the first books are active and present in this final book, their thoughts and motivations are opaque to us now. Instead, we follow Koll, who carved the mast in the second book, Skara and Raith, two new characters.Skara is now Queen of Throvenland which has just been invaded, the cities and towns burned, the minister and king, her grandfather murdered. She escapes to Gettland, seeking refuge and help to take back her kingdom from her allies, the kings of Gettland and Vansterland. Grom gil Gorm, the mythic king of Vansterland is still with us and his cup bearer Raith is seconded to Skara as her guard.Skara is the central character–a young woman trained to rule with the wisdom of her grandfather and his minister a foundation on which she launches her struggle to regain her throne and avenge their murders. She was taught that battle is half the war and strategy and intellect is the other. She has more than enough of that to wage a war.I think this is a great book. Engrossing, exciting and filled with interesting characters. I love that Abercrombie does not waste pages and pages catching us up on old friends, trusting his readers to be able to keep up without explication. I also love that each book shifts point of view to new people – enabling us to see people we have come to admire with a more cynical eye.Koll, Skara and Raith all transition to mature adulthood through the course of the story. They suffer great losses and win victories and come to the inevitable difficulty of trying to do good when there are no good choices. Moral ambiguity is part of war and they suffer for it.3pawsI recommend reading the entire Shattered Sea trilogy. These books contain a complete and well-imagined world with theologies, customs and histories that are intriguing and surprising. I will confess to being taken very much by surprise when they visited the Elf city to get Elf weapons. The plot is complex and comes together beautifully in a finale to this series that is satisfying if not exactly happy.