Back in the summer, I discovered Joe Abercrombie’s new Shattered Sea trilogy entirely by accident, in the very week that the second installment, Half the World was published in paperback, which means that I devoured the first two books almost in one sitting. A week or two later, Half A War was published – but in hardback, and I have so many mismatched sets of books that I was adamant, no matter how desperate I was to read the third book, I was more desperate to have it match the other two. For that, I had to wait until March.
I’ve finally read it. It’s not a disappointment. It’s far from a disappointment. However, taking into account that I did enjoy Half A War, I still recognise Half the World as a better book. In trilogies, the middle book is generally the weakest, the one that’s mostly just plodding from the brilliant beginning to the climactic ending. Joe Abercrombie is odd because in both his trilogies, The First Law (which I loved so much that I ordered the third book from a terrible motel on the outskirts of Paris in the hope that it would be waiting for me when I got home) and now the Shattered Sea, the middle book is the best. The first book in both trilogies has a bit of a feeling of having to set the scene and introduce the characters and give some exposition and do the general admin for furthering enjoyment of the trilogy – but not in quite such an appallingly unreadable way as I’ve just made them sound. Both are very good, very solid books. Why would you go onto books two and three if they weren’t? And the last book, of course, has to have the big finale and tie up the loose ends, it’s got plenty it needs to achieve. But the middle book, that one gets to have the fun and provide the meat of the story and Joe Abercrombie has done that pretty well in both trilogies.
But let’s get down to Half A War. So, so many spoilers lurk beneath.