Half the World

Narrated by: John Keating
Series: Shattered Sea, Book 2
Length: 13 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,680 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War.
Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named a murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.

Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior.
She finds herself caught up in the schemes of Father Yarvi, Gettland’s deeply cunning minister. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit.

Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon.
Beside her on the journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill, a failure in his eyes and hers, but with one chance at redemption.

And weapons are made for one purpose.
Will Thorn forever be a pawn in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path?

©2015 Joe Abercrombie (P)2015 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • 03-04-15

Hated the Voice Actor

One of the best things about Joe's books before this one is the reading done by Steven Pacey. He's one of the reasons I found this series to begin with. I don't know the politics of changing from him but please bring him back.

This voice actor chose to give the main character, a female, a sort of poor Liverpool accent. EVERY OTHER CHARACTER had a more normal accent, except for a couple with an excessive Scottish accent. She is supposed to be educated but sounds like an idiot. I don't get this decision at all. It was very annoying to listen to. The other main character? Well, he grew up poor and uneducated, he gets a normal English accent. Ugh.

He also spoke in a sort of high-low sing song way that was very distracting. Thankfully he lessened it after a few hours. I don't know what the deal was but I almost returned this book because of the reader. I kept it because I do love Abercrombie books and want to support the author.

So, the story is pretty good, it's different than his previous stuff but interesting. I would recommend giving it a listen first to see if you can handle the voice actor.

And John Keating, maybe this was just a bad outing for you, maybe not. I don't want to judge on one book but please, think through your characters and don't try to put so much bloody play into the words that aren't dialogue.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing. Not what I expect from Abercrombie

I am a huge Joe Abercrombie fan. He's my favorite Fantasy author, and I love all of his First Law books. I also read and enjoyed Half a King, which I thought was quite entertaining.

I did not like this book. The story was plodding along, there was nothing really of either interest or surprise. Everything proceeded precisely how you expected, which is a shock from an author known for turning tropes upside-down.

Worst of all, the main protagonists (Thorn and Brand) were exceedingly dull. Dumb people, with no cleverness to them, just one-tracked characters with no deeper motivations, feelings, growth... nothing. The book really suffers from not having Yarvi as a protagonist and POV. (He is present, but as a secondary character.)

I might be a little biased as well due to the teeth-grindingly annoying accent the narrator adopted for Thorn. I suppose there was a reason for this; narrators are supposed to apply some interpretation to their voiceover work, and I guess something about Thorn's background made John Keating think of people from wherever that accent is from. But, man, it's such an annoying accent. (Apologies to anyone who is actually from that region and talks like that, but you should know - no one likes listening to you talk.)

Not that this isn't a criticism of the narrator. Keating did a very good job, on the whole, and I don't really blame him for the 'artistic' choice that he made with the accent. It just wasn't for me. Outside of Thorn's grating voice, very good narration.

I really did not like this book, and that's something I didn't think I would say of an Abercrombie novel. I'm actually not sure if I will read the third book; I guess I will, eventually, and it helps that the third book seems to have different POVs.

But, wow. What a massive disappointment.

2 people found this helpful

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Teen Assassin at Large

I couldn't listen anymore to the narration because the characters sound similar, with several sounding rather like Hobbits from the Shire, and the phrasing is off, making it hard to follow. So, after a while, I read it, instead.

Good story, downgraded because of Abercrombie's repetitive descriptions, especially of Yarvi's "withered hand" (detailed further below). He makes a caricature of Yarvi through the über-emphasis on his deformity.

This is dubbed fantasy but there is only the slightest touch of the magical, when an ancient Elven relic is activated. Not a fantasy, this is a romance — and a good one — and a tale of political intrigue and adventure, set in a world similar to old Scandinavia, with characters reminiscent of the seafaring warriors and merchants of the North Sea. All the elves appear to have vanished from the land, for millennia.

I liked the prequel, Half a King and was happy to see several returning characters , including Father Yarvi, his friend Rulf, his mother the Queen of Gettland (Queen Laithlin) and her husband King Uthil. We also see Sumael, Ankran's widow Safrit and their son Koll, King Grom-Gil-Gorm and his minister Scaer, etc.

The true villain of the series continues to be Grandmother Wexen, Minister to the High King in Skekenhouse. She's even more power hungry and greedy, jealous of the Golden Queen's Midas touch. Wexen's newest protégée is Sister Isriun, a vindictive woman who featured as Yarvi's cousin and fiancée in the prequel.

The main characters (lovers) are teenagers. There's handsome, hardworking, musclebound Brand, an orphan who strives hard to care for his sister and stand in the light, hoping to find family and purpose — the "good" thing to do — by serving in the King's Guard. Then there's the heroine, Thorn, a spoiled brat who wants to serve in the King's guard, following in the footsteps of her fallen father. The problem is, she's not finding a warm welcome from Hunnan, master-at-arms in charge of training and assigning soldiers.

The story is fairly engrossing, despite several recycled scenes depicting our girl Thorn training to become a warrior-assassin beyond compare. I enjoyed the political machinations of Father Yarvi and Queen Laithlin. Enjoyed the dangers and challenges Yarvi and company encountered on their voyage far beyond the Shattered Sea, in search of allies to hopefully crush Grandmother Wexen and the High King.

Problematic descriptions:

Abercrombie creates caricatures by reducing people to one physical attribute and one repeated catchphrase. "Steel is the answer!" -- "Stand in the light" -- "a deep-cunning man" -- "the golden touch" -- "no man can kill me" -- "how'd you get that scar?"

As for physical appearance, Abercrombie constantly boils Yarvi down to nothing more than a deformed hand. We read endlessly about his "crippled" hand, his "withered" hand, his "twisted" appendages, etc. More than two dozen references to this one aspect of the man, but only a few references to his eyes, height, hair, mannerisms. See examples below:

"Yarvi held up his twisted claw and wiggled the one finger."

"Yarvi put his hands over his pale face, the bad one like a twisted toy next to the good."

"Father Yarvi lifted his withered hand and pressed its one crooked finger to Brand's chest."

"And in his hands — or in his one good one, for the other was a crooked lump — her life now rested."

"He waved his crooked hand so the one finger flopped back and forth."

Etc. 20+ times

I became increasingly more annoyed and distracted by the hand. Then it started happening with Sumael -- her notched lip and exposed white teeth. The queen -- her golden key, her hand on her swollen belly. Thorn -- always reaching for her bag of bones. Ugh.

5 people found this helpful

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A bit of a knockoff

Joe has some original material but draws too heavily for the Game of Thrones series. The half man, the ministers/maesters, the finger bines in a bag around the neck. It draws close to plagiarism.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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narrator is not engaging

Loved the story when I read it, I hated it when I heard it. The audio does not compare to Abercrombie's previous narrators like Steven Pacey.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

can't listen to this one..

can't listen to him. he. don't know what he's reading.i want me money back. f

1 person found this helpful

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Abercormbie Misses the Mark on This One

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Teenagers who haven't read a lot of fantasy.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The most interesting aspect of the book is Abercrombie's world creation. He still manages to create a universe that is believable, congruent, and immersive. The problem is that his viewpoint characters are far too similar not only to each other, but also to characters from a few of his other works, too.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance wasn't necessarily "bad" but it didn't add anything to the story either. The orator has an annoying habit of putting an upward inflection in his tone for every other line. You couldn't tell the difference between characters by listening to what they said or how it was said. I was pretty disappointed they didn't use the same reader they used for Abercrombie's "First Law" series.

What character would you cut from Half the World?

I feel like you could combine Brand and Thorn without having to change much.

Any additional comments?

If you're looking for good fantasy, Don't let this turn you off to Abercrombie's other works. Check out "The First Law" Series or the stand alone novel "The Heros".

1 person found this helpful

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not quite as good as the first, but still great

They had to add sex scenes in it. that was one reason i really liked the first book is that it didn't have that. overall i really enjoyed the story though. had some great action parts.

1 person found this helpful

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Possibly the worst reader I have ever heard.

The readers tone and intonation were off more then they were on during this read and there was no constancy throughout the book. If they ever change the reader it would make this book a million times better. The story was great but the reader takes you out of it the entire time.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Young adult fantasy is not Abercrombie's style

Let me start by saying I am a huge Abercrombie fan and have read all of his books. He is a superb author, his action scenes are nearly unmatched, and his plots always have many hidden parts. The one thing he is not meant to do is right young adult fantasy. I have read a lot of YA fantasy in my time and a lot of adult fantasy for that matter, and I would say that this book is very graphic to be considered YA. The first book in this trilogy seemed a bit toned down from his usual amount of graphic violence and explicit language, whitch made complete sense because it was supposed to be a YA novel. However, I would say this novel is much more similar to his original work in the First Law universe than it is to its prequel. I am not saying this is a bad thing, far from it, I really loved his first novels and was not too pleased with the first novel in this series. It was still a good book, but it just kind of felt forced. However, this book does not suffer from this issue and it seemed like he was in his full writing glory again. His action scenes were as always perfect, his plot was absolutely genius with many shocking turns, and his characters were well developed. the only thing that hurt this novel a bit were the romance scenes, whitch felt rather stretched and forced to me. Overall, it was a great book and the narrator also did a fine job. I would definitely recommend it as your next read.

5 people found this helpful