I was a fan of Joe Abercrombie’s first YA Novel, HALF A KING. And I’m a fan of its sequel HALF THE WORLD. It’s a fun fantasy novel that is not as harsh as its predecessor, but it does everything a sequel should.
Although Yarvi is at the heart of this story, he is not the protagonist. Instead, we focus on Thorn and Brand, young warriors in training who are eager to become heroes. Thorn’s father was killed in battle, so she is training to earn her vengeance, even if it means fighting twice as heard and taking twice as many beatings just be considered an equal. And after a childhood of struggle and scrapping, he wants to earn his fortune and do good, like the heroes in songs. Of course, both will find out the songs are exaggerations, and being good and being a legend come with tremendous costs.
Through various acts of misfortune, both Thorn and Yarvi end up on Yarvi’s boat, sailing half a world away. Yarvi, his uncle King Uthil, and his mother Queen Laithlin are increasingly finding themselves on the defensive as the High King consolidates power. If they are going to survive, they will need turn to enemies and turn them into allies. Because war is coming, but that’s the third book.
Until then though, HALF THE WORLD has plenty of action, intrigue, and even a little romance. And although the plot is a lot of fun, this is definitely a character-driven story. Yarvi remains a clever and “deep cunning” man (a nice nod to Beowulf with the attribute?), and our heroes to be grow into very different, very complex heroes.
This plot is a little more predictable than HALF A KING, but it’s still a lot of fun, so I don’t want to spoil too much. If you like adventurous fantasy, if you like Abercrombie, or if you just want a book that will keep you turning pages, go out and pick up a copy.