Half the World

He hesitated just an instant, but long enough for Thorn to club him in the balls with the rim of her shield.

It’s like a bodice ripper with barbarians. Usually I’m fine with what Joe Abercrombie has on offer; brutish fantasy with some comedic relief. Nothing highbrow or what you have to put your brain to work for but still, entertaining. Not so much this time.

The unlikely hero is a young woman that wants to fight, but she’s a woman so she’s laughed off and despised for being better than most. It is also repeatedly mentioned that she’s ugly and not-feminine. Anyway, she ends up as part of a trip around the world and both she and the (male) people around her learn that there’s more to her anger, violence and unappealing face.

This time even the world building just seems to be filler between the fight scenes and insult filled dialogues. I know that sequels are always viewed as to be a bit more challenging, but this was just a slog. If you want barbarian fantasy, try some of his other series.

Half the World, Joe Abercrombie, HarperCollins 2015

Half A King

There was harsh gale blowing on the night Yarvi learned he was a king.

Like with Robin Hobb, Joe Abercrombie is one of those fantasy writers I’ll always try a book from. Even when I know that they’re seemingly unable to write solo books, ending up in me having to wait for the next (and the next) book. At least Abercrombie sticks to trilogies (for now?).

Main character Yarvi is a cripple, a failure, no matter how royal his blood is. The only reason that he still becomes king is because he’s next in line. But in the harsh world of Joe Abercrombie’s books nothing stays good and whole for a long time, and Yarvi has to go on a mental and physical trip to reclaim his place in the world.

As always, it’s a quick, appealing read that leads past strange characters and surroundings. The only thing that is keeping me from immediately picking up book two and three (Abercrombie published these series in a year and a half) are the absolutely great reviews for the second book and the terrible ones for the third. Will I manage to give up on the story before the end? Until then, Half A King is a proper Joe Abercrombie story for your less-than-fresh fantasy needs.

Half A King, Joe Abercrombie, HarperVoyager 2014