There's not much that can grab and hold my attention for prolonged periods in this age of sensory overload. I love it when you scratch the side of your nose and realize that you've been utterly engrossed in a book for about twenty or thirty pages, totally oblivious to the fact that you've walked onto a train and sat next to a mother holding a wailing child in that time. Anything that can keep me so focused and excited will not come under heavy criticism from me.
I want this review to stand alone from my analysis of the first book in the Shattered Sea trilogy. I feel that this is a much more rounded, patient, well structured novel. The plot is more intricately designed but still brings with it raw pace that keeps the reader's eyes moving quicker than their brain can interpret the words.
I genuinely felt for the main characters. Their characteristics are believable; their stories well created. What is evident is the planning that went into each character in the book. You can tell that each section of the book was pre-organized. It's not flawless and there are areas that lack depth which threatens to undercut the credibility of the world and the people's actions within it. Most notably towards the end of the novel, but I'll shy away from spoilers here.
When all is said and done I applaud the vision, the craft and the skill in executing a book that is meticulously planned yet a riveting read. It cannot be easy to pore over an idea and carefully build a world up from scratch to find the right balance between creating an immersive realm and an interesting story. Sure I wouldn't have complained if there were an extra two or three hundred pages to get lost in the world of the Shattered Sea, but ultimately it emphatically hits the mark.
I was particularly impressed with how well Abercrombie blends the main protagonist Yarvi, of the first novel Half A King, into this book. He moves away to focus on Thorn and Brand two would be warriors but still manages to keep in touch with the evolving story from the first book and ensure Yarvi's involvement is both believable and relevant. This adds to the satisfaction of the read and pulls the story line nicely together.
For the most part any grievances I have come from my over critical, perfectionist mind. I've read some pretty heavy books in the last few months so it was particularly nice to pick up something a bit lighter and fast paced. Definitely give the series a try.
So not a single book on my TBR pile got read last month. Why? Well, it's because other things came into my life that I felt the need to read more. If I force myself to read something I'm not in the mood for, then most of the time it takes an entire month to read it and usually I just don't enjoy it. Which isn't really fair to author when I do my review, or to me who wants to read for fun. So this month the TBR pile got ignored for other books that came into my life. Also, I feel like I piled a lot onto myself considering it was a busy month and I knew it would be. The solution was to scour my book shelves and pick the three, or four, I felt I need to finally get to. I refuse stress over reading when it's suppose to my escape from the stress of work. All that said it was pretty easy to pick the three books I needed to get to this month.
Half the World and Half a War - I've lumped them together because they are a series. In fact they are the last two books in the Shattered Sea Trilogies. All of my excuses for putting off the second book are gone. I can in fact now know who it ends without waiting for the last installment.
A Dirty Job - Seeing as how Christopher Moore will be in town in a couple of weeks to talk about this series, I need to jump on the first book. I missed out on meeting him last year when this book came out. This year I will not miss out on him being here for the release of the second book.
Okay, so here's the damage for the month of July - it feels like it's been a pretty good month!
Books started: 14 (including the 2 I'm currently reading)
Books finished: 13
Books not finished: 4
Genre breakdown: Pretty much all SFF - I've got one non-fiction book I'm currently reading, both other than that it was mostly fantasy and some science fiction.
What progress made on Mount TBR? I took a bit of a bite out of it by finally reading both the Inheritance Trilogy (which was excellent) and two of Joe Abercrombie's latest trilogy. Not that this has stopped me adding more books to my 'planning to read' shelf this month! I'd also had The Quantum Thief on there for a while, which I just couldn't get on with and so didn't finish it.
Book of the month: no dispute, for me it has to be Binary by Stephanie Saulter.
Hot on the heels of my review of the previous book in this trilogy, Half a King, I've now finished the second book of the series. When I posted my review of that book, one of my friends said I'd probably enjoy this book better than the previous one and she was right.
Half the World starts shortly after the end of Half a King, with the protagonist of that book (Yarvi) now firmly settled as advisor to the king and his mother, the former queen, now queen once more and also expecting an heir to the throne. Things are getting more desperate for Father Yarvi's country as the High King and his advisors become more and more demanding - in order to survive, economically and in terms of their freedom of religion, they must find allies who will stand with Gettland against the High King.
It's that quest which forms a backdrop for the stories of the main characters of Half the World, Thorn and Brand. Thorn is a girl who desperately wants to avenge the death of her father at the hands of Gettland's greatest enemy but whose best efforts are rebuffed at every turn. She's put in an impossible situation and someone dies as a result, with Thorn getting the blame and being condemned to death.
Meanwhile Brand is another would-be warrior, from an impoverished background, who finds it impossible to stay quiet when he sees injustice, even if it would be better for him in the long run to keep his mouth shut. It's Brand who tells Father Yarvi the true circumstances of Thorn's situation, paving the way to her being 'rescued' by him in exchange for an oath to do whatever he tells her. Eventually Brand's interference in what others see as Thorn's just punishment also means he joins Father Yarvi and Thorn, among others, as they travel in search of allies for Gettland.
So yes, I did enjoy Half the World more than the previous book in the series, only wanting to bang Thorn and Brand's heads together on a couple of occasions when their whole 'I like them, do they like me?' dance got a little too annoying. It was all resolved nicely enough and without either character completely becoming a caricature of themselves. What I also liked about Half the World was that it didn't shy away from some of the more basic elements of Thorn's situation as both teenage girl and warrior, with all the biological issues that might include. The inclusion of both Thorn and various other female characters meant that this book felt a little less of a sausage-fest than Half a King and that was definitely a move for the better.
The final book in the trilogy is Half a War, which I will definitely be reading as soon as I can get my hands on it with the assistance of my local library.