Saturday, May 28, 2016

Review of "Half The World" (Shattered Sea #2) by Joe Abercrombie.

Half way into "Half The World", it struck me that this book reminds me of "Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers" with Eowen's story folded into it. With bodily functions.

Not that I hadn't noticed the Eowen theme since page 34, if not before, when she meets her equivalent of the Lord of the Nazgul. The "no living man..." meme or trope was repeated rather too many times, and if I hadn't enjoyed the "thusness" and complexity of "Half A King" (Shattered Sea #1), I might have set the book aside, assuming that I knew the ending. I'm glad I kept reading.

From the set up, I half expected that eventually the warrior heroine Thorn Bathu would fight the very formidable Grom-Gil-Gorn (a Gilgamesh-like figure, who built the walls of Uruk... what fun to play word associations!) like Legolas fighting the Oliphaunt, on a smaller scale.

By the way, Mariah Huehner's "'I Am No Man' Doesn't Cut It" is an excellent commentary on the difference between the Eowen of the book and the Eowen of the movie. I looked it up after reaching my own conclusions, and was very taken by analysis.

Bottom line, if you loved Eowen, you'll probably like Thorn Bathu. Thorn begins her journey by fighting three boys (and being judged to have not only failed the unequal test, but sentenced to death when her battle is most unpleasantly interrupted), and she progressively fights more and more men simultaneously. To fight one invincible warrior seems almost an anticlimax after some of her adventures.

The backstory of the elves is built upon in this middle book in the series, with elf relics playing a bigger role. What kind of elves, though, toted shotguns? I have to read "Half A War" to find out if I'm right. I also want to know how Yarvi gets to kill Grandmother Wexen.  As with a Romance, which this is not although there are romantic elements, the greatest interest is the How, not the What or the Why.

The bad faith diplomacy and cut-throat intrigue of the courts of the various high and low Kings, Queens, and of the Empress of the South is highly entertaining. Father Yarvi, the Minister is very like the Queen (or Grand Vizier) in a game of chess, and his uncle, King Uthil (who was "Nobody" in the first book in the Shattered Sea series) is a surprisingly limited mover... like Theoden. In this book, Yarvi seems older, and nicer, but of course, he is mostly seen through the narration of his two pawns, Thorn Bathu and the muscular and morally courageous Brand, and one must remember that Yarvi is "a deep-cunning man." In a complex and complicated series such as this, one should never underestimate the unreliability of a young and unsophisticated POV narrator, especially when it is a virtuous teenager.

All the same, I think that Brand will have to be killed off in the next book. He knows too much. Father Yarvi tells him too much.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

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