Half a War is the final book in the Shattered Seas trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. [Here’s my review of the rest of the series, here are my reviews of all other things Abercrombie.]
Finished on: 24.8.2015
Father Yarvi’s politics have brought the wrath of Grandmother Vexen and the High King upon the Shattered Seas. One of the victims is Princess Skara who has to watch her family getting murdered, her kingdom getting taken over and who only barely escapes with her life. As war engulfs the Shattered Seas, she has just very little time to learn how to be a queen and save her kingdom, both from Grandmother Vexen and her allies.
Half a War was an excellent conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. True to Abercrombie fashion, though, it’s not really a happy end.
As usual, Abercrombie introduces new characters in this one. As usual, I really liked both Princess Skara and Raith and their bittersweet romance. I also loved the focus Koll got in this one and his romance with Rin. Unfortunately, Abercrombie brings another romance to a very abrupt end in this book: Thorn and Brand are ripped apart because Brand gets killed. And I’m not sure whether I will ever be able to forgive Abercrombie for that or all the tears I cried about it. Seriously. How dare you kill my favorite character in the entire series?
To be fair, though, that I feel this strongly about Brand or any of the characters in the books, is a huge testament to Abercrombie’s writing and how much he drew me into the world. It’s not every day that I scream at a book when two characters finally, FINALLY kiss or that I cry when a character dies.
But still. Brand!
The very end might not have hit quite as close to home as Brand’s death, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t hit as hard. Yarvi’s development over the course of the books is brought to its logical conclusion and its heart-breaking to see. When you think of where he started and that good intentions led his way all the time and you look where he ends up, it just really hammers home that good intentions, unfortunately, aren’t everything. Keeping an oath doesn’t automatically make you a hero. And the means must count at least as much as the ends.
It’s not new that Abercrombie explores the moral ambiguity in general and in the concept of honor in particular. But the cuts in his dissections have never been more precise than in Half a War.
Summarizing: Dayum to everything.