Half a War (Review)

Joe Abercrombie is not a literary elitist’s delight. That’s not just because he writes in a genre long been scorned as juvenile rubbish called fantasy, though that is certainly one of the prime reasons, but it has more to do with his clear style of prose free of any rhetorical devices. His writing is simple, to the point, and without any flourishes. That’s why the lovers of so-called “literary fiction” despise his work and that is why I’ve adored every book of his so far. I pick up his books every time I’m in a need of a light, quick, and enjoyable read and I’ve yet to be disappointed. Not to say I do not like the classics and literary novels – I surely do – but often, when I’ve mentally exhausted myself with some ‘heavy’ reading, I turn to fantasy and (ever since the GRR Martin well dried up) to Joe Abercrombie.

Half a War is the third and final novel in Shattered Sea trilogy. Without giving much of the plot away, I’d just say that it is like every other concluding Abercrombie novel you have read. That is, it half-a-war-us-hbincludes lots of dry humour, some really clever shocks, and nothing really quite happens the way you’d have expected. Abercrombie’s tendency to surprise the hell out of readers hasn’t really worn off. The only difference you would find in Half the War from its prequels is that it includes a lot more characters. Adding to the two point-of-view characters from Half the World, Thorn and Brand, there are three more point-of-view characters in Half the War, along with several other characters.

Characters are as usual well-rounded and almost everybody seem to have a sarcastic side to them. And to shock his readers, he doesn’t always resort to eliminating his characters like GRRM either, he can do it even when there isn’t any violence involved. The book is a really quick read, and I was able to finish it in two short sittings. An average reader should be able to enjoy it over an unplanned weekend.

Half a War is another glittering addition to the excellent Joe Abercrombie bibliography. It is neither the best nor the worst book in the trilogy, but if forced, I would put it below the first book, Half a King, and above the second book, Half the World. But it is a quicker read than either of them.

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