Tag Archives: epic

Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

Half a War (The Shattered Sea #3) by Joe Abercrombie
Published July 2015 by Harper Voyager.

Links: Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository. Barnes & Noble.

Source: purchased (hardback).

Genre: YA epic fantasy.

My rating:

Words are weapons. Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.

Only half a war is fought with swords. The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.

Sometimes one must fight evil with evil. Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

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This is the third and final part of The Shattered Sea trilogy, which means there will inevitably be spoilers for books 1 and 2. Here are my reviews for Half a King and Half the WorldI think I like this cover best of all – not that those for the first two books were bad – but LOOK, it’s so pretty (and evil, of course). The maps and the drawing in the hardback are very nice, too.

I’ve been meaning to write this review for weeks, now, but I’ve been having trouble trying to put my opinion into words.

I liked Half a War. It’s a good book. But I didn’t love it, not as much as I did the first two books, and as Nathan so aptly put it, “it is a worthy conclusion to a series but also a rather predictable one”. (Dammit, this is why I never read reviews of a book I mean to review before actually writing the review, others sound so much more coherent…)

Along with the old favourites (Father Yarvi and Thorn Bathu, especially), we get new players in this part: Skara, the decisive young queen; Raith, the loyal soldier; and Koll, the Minister’s apprentice who can’t really make up his mind about what he wants. I liked them but there’s really no topping Thorn and Brand from Half the World. 

I found the world interesting, too. My suspicion from Half the World was pretty much confirmed, as far as world-building goes, so that was nice! I wish I could place the Shattered Sea on the map of the world, I tried turning the map at the beginning around but I can’t really make out anything familiar. Can anyone else?

I raced through most of the book in a matter of days, it’s fast-paced and the intrigue is just as compelling as always. But as certain things happened (*SPOILER IN WHITE*: I cannot believe he killed Brand! How could he kill Brand? I wanted Thorn to have a happily-ever-after! I felt so cheated by this decision, especially as it felt rather pointless since Thorn would have wanted to slaughter Bright Yilling anyway. *end spoiler*), I felt my apprehension grow.

This is because of what happened with Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy: I was super-invested in the characters’s lives by book 2 and then by the end of book 3 I just wanted to slap everyone and shake them and I think I also told A., who’d recommended the series to me, that this was the worst ending to a series I’d ever read. I might have exaggerated a bit but this just shows that Joe can make me care for his characters but doesn’t know how to end a series.

Well. This time, the feeling wasn’t quite as violent, but I was disappointed. There are some pretty interesting twists to the plot, Yarvi is excellent at spinning his web, of course, and Skara proved to be a much more devious young woman than I expected, but I felt the story… deflated rather than ended, if you know what I mean?

I know my expectations were really high, considering that Half the World was a 5-heart read for me. Is it even fair to expect that an author will always write books that are even better than what s/he wrote before? I have no answer to that. I can just say that Half a War isn’t the best that I’ve read.

If you want another opinion, check out Lisa’s, Nathan’s and Mogsy’s reviews! :)

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Have you read The Shattered Sea books? How about other Abercrombie’s novels?

Do you prefer a story that goes out with a BANG or one that unfolds slowly?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb

The Mad Ship (The Liveship Traders #2) by Robin Hobb
Published 1999 (first) by Harper Voyager.

Links: Goodreads. Amazon.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: high fantasy.

My rating:

The Vestrit family’s liveship, Vivacia, has been taken by Kennit, an ambitious pirate. Captain Haven is a prisoner; his son Wintrow, who bears the Vestritt blood, finds himself competing with Kennit for Vivacia’s love as she becomes a pirate ship. Althea Vestrit, in training to become Vivacia’s captain, arrives home to discover her beloved ship lost. Brashen Trell, her old friend and shipmate, proposes that they sail to Vivacia’s rescue in the liveship Paragon, who has lost two previous crews and is believed mad. Malta, Althea’s niece, seeks help from her suitor, the Rain Wild Trader Reyn, whose family is the Vestritt’s major creditor. Meanwhile, the sea serpents who follow sailing ships struggle to remember their history and return to their place of transformation.

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Whew! So I finally, FINALLY chewed my way through this massive book. I started reading it more than one year ago, before I even started blogging. I don’t know why it took me so long but once I put it on my “will get to it someday” shelf, it languished there for months before I decided I need to finish more series that I’ve already started before starting any new ones.

Given this is the second book in the series, it will probably contain some spoilers for Ship of Magic. You have been warned.

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With so many points of view, it’s hard to really remember where the first book left off and where this one started, especially considering how long it took me to read it. All this griping about the time it demanded isn’t the book’s fault, please don’t misunderstand me, it’s me being distracted by shiny new books all the time

As with Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, which you should definitely read first, The Liveship Traders trilogy features amazingly well-portrayed characters. They are the power behind this story, and though there’s a lot of action (Piracy! Battle! Dragons!), it’s their colourful personalities that really drew me in. How could I not root for Althea, meditate with Wintrow, plot with Kennit and be annoyed with Malta?

But there are some changes afoot in their stories – and I was so glad to see that as much as these characters are true to themselves (and consistent and all), they are also changing over the course of the narrative, they’re learning things, growing up and becoming different people (I wanted to write “better people” but that might not be the case with some of them, we’ll see).

Most of all, I loved the change in Malta, the young Trader daughter who was a spoiled rich brat for most of the story (I seriously cringed for her and/or wanted to slap her most of the time) but is now learning about responsibility and realizing how petty some of her worries were. She reminds me a bit of Sansa Stark without being the wilting flower type of a girl (I love Sansa and her transformation but she was a bit of a pushover in the beginning but hey, she was 12 at the time, so she’s totally forgiven.).

Ooh but let me tell you about the liveships! I hate boats of all sizes (I get dizzy and I don’t trust them) but I’d brave my fears for a trip with one of these beauties! They are practically worth their weight in gold and let me say right now that the secret to their magic is magical, indeed.

For all of the first book – and a good part of the second – Hobb was teasing us with hints and little snippets of information that finally start making sense here! After I crested that hill, things started moving much quicker in the story and now I’m really curious about the final part of the trilogy.

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Have you read The Liveship Traders? How about other books by Robin Hobb?

Would you travel by a ship that has a living, breathing, talking figurehead up front? 

And do sea serpents freak you out at all? o_O

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Author Addiction: Robin Hobb

author addiction

It’s the first Monday of the month and we’re back with Author Addiction! This is a monthly feature here on Of Dragons and Hearts and on A Fool’s Ingenuity, Becky’s wonderful blog. You can also check out my previous editions with Tessa DareSarah MacLeanLaini TaylorVictoria (V. E.) Schwab, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

This month was a freebie so we get to choose our own authors. I’m stepping away from romances for a bit (worry not, though, we’re back with Jane Austen for September!), as I picked a fantasy author, ROBIN HOBB.

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The first thing you probably need to know if we’re going to talk about my love for Robin Hobb is that my husband, A., is a huge fan. I think she might be one of his all-time favourite authors. The number of her books we own is something of a give-away (and there’s a whole trilogy missing from this stack because it’s currently being read by people we’ve forced her books on converted to our cause suggested her books to):

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Look at them, all shiny and matching (well, almost all of them are). I love these covers!

assassins-apprentice-robin-hobbSo A. bought The Assassin’s Apprentice several years ago (I think it was when we started dating? Yep, he confirms that he didn’t read a lot before we met, aww.) and we both read it and fell in love. The story is just so unbelievably well-written and the characters’ personalities so colourful and real and compelling.

I think Hobb writes the best characters in fantasy. There, I said it! Her novels are sometimes really hefty and it takes some effort to get through them but I immediately connected with Fitz, the young royal orphan/bastard who is sucked into the powerful world of courtly intrigue and passed to the royal assassin to be trained as his apprentice.

I’m currently reading her Liveship Traders trilogy – you can check back for my review of The Mad Ship later this week! – but I’m looking forward to reading the Tawny Man trilogy, which is set in the same corner of the world as The Farseer Trilogy, so I’ll meet the old cast of characters again.

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Hobb writes epic/high fantasy, if you’re wondering about that, meaning that her novels are set in a completely fictional world. I’ve said before that I prefer my fantasies to be more subtle, not flashy (let’s say Brandon Sanderson and George R. R. Martin are definitely not on the top of my favourites list in this regard!) and that’s exactly where Hobb excells.

Her world is complex without being bombastic, her character and place names are unique without being unpronouncable, and her magic is awe-inspiring but has a price, a system to it that makes it all the better. This doesn’t mean that her stories lack action – they most definitely don’t but I like that she’s more concerned with her characters than with epic bangs or battles or manly showing off. Have I mentioned that there are also dragons? :)

If I’ve convinced you that you should definitely give Robin Hobb’s novels a try, you can find her here: her websiteGoodreadsTwitter. She also writes as Megan Lindholm, but I haven’t tried those books yet.

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Don’t forget to check out Becky’s post

Have you read any novels by Robin Hobb? If yes, which one was your favourite? If not, did you add them to your TBR yet? :)

Do you prefer character- or action-based fantasy? 

I’d love to hear from you!

Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

half-the-world-abercrombieHalf the World (Shattered Sea #2) by Joe Abercrombie, published in February 2015 by Del Rey.

Goodreads. Author. Twitter.

Source: purchased by husband (hardback).

Genre: epic YA fantasy.

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? (Goodreads)

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My rating: 5/5.

As seems to be the trend with me these days, it took me several weeks to get my act together and finally write this review (I’m not making any promises about it being coherent or anything, mind you). Warning: this is a second book in the series so there will be some unavoidable spoilers for Half a King. You can read my review of the first part here.

I really, really liked this book. I nearly didn’t give this series a chance because I wasn’t too impressed by The First Law trilogy, but I’ve never been more happy to be wrong about an author.

The story picks up soon(-ish) after the events of Half a King. Prince Yarvi is Father Yarvi now and is an important man whose job it is to keep the peace in his country. The story doesn’t revolve around his adventures only – in fact, the main characters are Thorn and Brand, two teenagers from Yarvi’s hometown.

They’re both training to become soldiers – but Thorn is a girl, and girl soldiers are generally frowned upon there, and Brand’s moral compass is too accurate to follow orders of dubious intent. Father Yarvi, who seems to have a soft spot for discarded people, collects both of them and makes them a part of his crew. They set off on a mission to win more allies against the High King and his evil (or just too-powerful) Minister, Grandmother Wexen.

And that’s all you need to know of the plot! While I know much of the focus is on the crew’s adventures and travels, I felt like the most important part of the book was the development of Torn and Brand. And I don’t just mean Thorn’t combat training, but personal stuff, too. They both have to learn their limits and generally grow up on this trip. Thorn, whose personality greatly resembles her nickname, was an instant favourite. I know we’re not meant to like her from the start because she’s really a brat, but I did. And I always had a thing for the quiet type guys so Brand wasn’t hard to like, either.

Having read about 1500 pages about intensely obnoxious characters in The First Law trilogy, I continue to be surprised by how much I’m liking Yarvi and his bunch of misfits. It’s not just Yarvi, Thorn and Brand – the whole cast of supporting characters is well thought out and I enjoyed seeing some of the characters from Half a King making an appearance here.

I have to mention a short quote because it’s… not really inspirational or anything, but well worth thinking about if you’re not feeling all that sparkly at the moment: compliment-abercrombie

Right? :) (I’m sure Joe would be thrilled to have his writing turned into inspirational fortune cookie quotes!)

All in all, Half a War is definitely one of my most anticipated reads. I can’t wait to see what adventures Yarvi and his crew will get themselves into and if I’ll get more of Thorn’s story, I’ll be a happy camper.

Possible spoilers in white so please only mark it if you’ve read this: I’ve been talking with my husband who’s also a fan of the series and we’ve been discussing the possibility that the Shattered Sea cultures are not set in a fantasy world per se, but rather in a futuristic version of our world. It may be that I’m merely stating the obvious, but I tried paying more attention now and I think it’s possible – not the geography, I’m not sure about that, but the elf ruins look an awful lot like steel and glass skyscrapers and Skifr’s magic weapon was a gun, right? End spoiler.

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Have you read Half the War? How about Half a King? What did you think?

How do they compare to other Abercrombie books in your opinion?

I’d love to hear from you! :)