This was by far the easiest series to finish reading! There’s just something so compelling about Joe Abercrombie’s stories which immerses me into the characters and the world. It’s one of those rare occasions where I wish for a sequel or more books in the series. In every book, there’s a different protagonist although the previous ones all play a heavy role in the current book. From Yarvi to Thorn Bathu to Skara, these are all complex characters who change drastically throughout the plotlines; I am startled to discover how differently they act over time. It’s interesting to see what war can do to a person when push comes to shove and desperate times call for desperate measures.
The titles have all carried intelligent meanings for the story starting as Half a King for Yarvi, to Half the World for Thorn, and to Half a War for Skara. Where war was foreshadowed in the first book, it was imminent and prevented in the second, but it became inevitable in the third. I loved the gradual progression and great pacing of the whole series. Joe is one fantastic master storyteller and honestly, he deserve all the recognition he gets in the fantasy genre.
This the real fantasy filled with gritty elements of the battle field, ship invasions, and war strategies. Skara gets orphaned within the first few pages and becomes queen immediately. However, she’s queen of a conquered land so she ends up running. She’s made out to be a victim of circumstances and a weakling who has nothing to her name. I loved how much perseverance and spunk she had. She has the gift of words and years of teaching has made her cunning and practical; she’s ambitious, all right. I love that the books all contain strong female characters that can easily rival the male ones. I see a parallel between her situation and Yarvi’s when they both lost everything and had to climb their way back up. However, they are quite different even though they both seek revenge and are willing to go the extra mile to do so. Yarvi is proud and it’s been seen time and again through the series; it’s one of the steady parts of his personality. Skara, on the other hand, does not prioritize pride. I love how they act as two sides of the same coin and sometimes are foils to each other. It’s interesting because they play mind games and there’s a lot of intrigue with both of their underhanded tactics.
There is romance but it’s very realistic romance; it’s not a love story if that’s what readers are looking for. Fantasy and war is always on the forefront so I liked how the author also portrayed how love was being affected by it. People want to seek fame and glory in battle but they also want to keep love; this is the prime dilemma of Koll. I’d say Koll was not a strong character to start out with but he continued to surprise me with some hidden iron depths. Without proper guidance, he’s a lost boy trying to grow into a man. I see a lot of what youths go through in today’s society reflected in his choices and worries. He is very indecisive and he admits himself that he is a coward. In my opinion, he’s braver for admitting what he’s afraid of. Which is why I’m more satisfied when he gets the happy ending that he actually wanted.
Half a War ends on a lighter note despite several major characters dying and soldier casualties. Not everyone gets their happy ending but that’s how the real world works. It’s quite like how The Hunger Games series ended which may piss people off. But not everything is unicorns, rainbows, and cupcakes. As the author said, “Every victory is someone’s defeat.”
I’m excited to read The Blade Itself especially for more of those sarcastic quips and intense battles.
The Shattered Sea series