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MisterOJ

Shattered Sea Trilogy (aka 'So much for Abercrombie's sabbatical')

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... That's not really that researched. There are a lot of obvious historical flaws that even I can spot and I'm not even that knowledgeable about Viking history.

[Not that that's an unforgivable sin or anything like that. Entertainment should come first in series like Vikings and Black Sails]

I was more meaning the parts where the show goes out of its way to tell us a legend/some of their day to day practices. Although i guess being partially accurate is more dangerous as it's harder to tell fact from B/S.

It's a viking-inspired world, not a viking world.

Ah, ok. Thought it was set on our Earth - useful to know. So in the preview when they talk of the splinters of gods is that you making up stuff? If so it's pretty interesting fiction and feels norse-like.

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I was more meaning the parts where the show goes out of its way to tell us a legend/some of their day to day practices. Although i guess being partially accurate is more dangerous as it's harder to tell fact from B/S.

That's true

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Patrick Rothfuss read Half a King.

Sometimes his books leave me feeling a little bleak. And honestly, someone that can make me feel that way is a fucking master. But at the same time, I'm not always up for reading bleak. That's something I have to be in the mood for.

This book didn't hit me that way. I got all the grit that I love in Abercrombie, and the craft, and the character. And the book was grim... but it never got so far as being bleak.

Simply said, I think this is my favorite Abercrombie book yet. And that's really saying something.

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Joe's posted a status report on his blog about this trilogy.

Looks like the second book is finished. And he plans to have the whole thing done and dusted in 12 months. Pretty ambitious. Dude might give Sanderson a run for his money in regards to work rates. :)

That's impressive. My shady maths of 1 book every 6 months had me thinking it would take 18 month but obviously book 1 is day 1. That is a very impressive schedule.

Still hoping after a successful diversion Joe will be raring to go on the first law trilogy part deux. His creative juices seem to be in full flow.

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Have a popular blog, work for a book store, stuff like that. I used to know someone who worked for Barnes and Nobles, would get me ARCs all the time.


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Book 1: Half a King

The abrupt death of his father and elder brother puts Prince Yarvi on the throne of Gettland. It's not something he ever wanted: born with only half a hand, he's spent his life training to become a Minister, a man of learning and science. Thrust onto the throne, Yarvi must instead take up the sword to avenge his dead kin and defeat his kingdom's enemies, from within and without.

Half a King is the first novel in a new trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. It's also his first novel for a new publisher and the first set outside his signature First Law world, not to mention his first Young Adult novel. It's a change of gears for the British author, and there's a fair bit riding on how he manages to pull it off.

Those hoping for a radical change in direction or prose style will be disappointed, though conversely those hoping he'd stick doing at what he does best will be overjoyed. This is still very much a Joe Abercrombie novel, meaning there's an air of both cynicism and humour to proceedings and there's a fair amount of violence. There isn't much swearing and no sex at all, but beyond that the only way you'd know this was a YA novel is because the author said so on his website.

The main character is Yarvi, initially presented as a crippled, intellectual man forced to exist in a society where valour with a sword or axe is praised above everything else. Yarvi is constantly on the back foot until put into a situation where his wits and education can be used to the mutual benefit of himself and a band of companions. Abercrombie paints deftly the relationships between Yarvi and his new companions, such as the enigmatic swordsman 'Nothing', the master navigator Sumael and the bowman Rulf, fusing them into a genuine fellowship over the course of many trials and adventures: a harsh overland march through a frozen, barren wasteland is particularly vivid. Working with less than half the word-count of any of his previous books, this is also his most concise, focused novel to date.

The benefit of that is that there are not many wasted words and the story moves extremely briskly. The downside is that the worldbuilding doesn't get as much of a look-in as it sometimes needs to. My review copy didn't have a map and it doesn't look like the final version will have one either, which is a shame because the geographical interrelationships between the various kingdoms of the Shattered Sea and the northern wastes from where Yarvi has to make his overland journey are not strongly presented in the text. Characterisation outside of the central group is also a little vague: the machinations and plots of the main villain seem a bit random without further exploration of his character. These issues mean that Half a King does not satisfy as much as a complete package as Abercrombie's prior novels.

However, whilst this is the opening of a trilogy it is surprising that Abercrombie is able to bring as much closure as he does to the novel. There are still loose ends to be addressed in the sequels, but there are no cliffhangers. Given the relatively rapid release schedule of the trilogy (the second volume is due at the start of 2015), Abercrombie could have been forgiven for adopting a more serialised approach than he does.

Half a King (****) is in many ways vintage Abercrombie: action-packed with a vividly-told plot and characterisation is which straightforward on the surface but gives way to hidden depths underneath. The concise page count makes for a focused story but also doesn't leave much room for deeper explorations of the world. Still, this is a fast-paced, gripping story with a few nice twists. The novel will be published on 3 July in the UK and 8 July in the USA.

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However, whilst this is the opening of a trilogy it is surprising that Abercrombie is able to bring as much closure as he does to the novel. There are still loose ends to be addressed in the sequels, but there are no cliffhangers.

Two more books to tie some loose ends? I guess there is more to the story than what you'd guess from the first book. That's what I'm hoping anyway.

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There's a few nods at a background political/religious situation which I'd assume will provide the basis for the sequels.


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The first seven chapters of Half a King are online now.



Judging only from those first seven chapters, I'd say that the main difference I can see from the rest of Abercrombie's work is that the pace is really faster. Not much space is left for inner reflections or world-building. Very action-packed.


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The first seven chapters of Half a King are online now.

Judging only from those first seven chapters, I'd say that the main difference I can see from the rest of Abercrombie's work is that the pace is really faster. Not much space is left for inner reflections or world-building. Very action-packed.

I'd also expect some difference on the level of graphic violence and on the swearing ;)

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I'd also expect some difference on the level of graphic violence and on the swearing ;)

Yeah, the dialogue and tone are very different. There was only a bit of violence so far but it also didn't neglect mentioning some of the darker aspects of medieval life and war. I liked it, not as much as his previous stuff, but it was only a sample and it did leave me wanting more, enough that I got mad at first when I saw that I would have to wait til July for it.

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First couple of chapters were great reads I thought. I expect I will be eagerly looking to more forward once the short first novel is done.


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Wonderful to get a chance to read these. I hope the books are a spectacular success but not so successful that there are no more First Law books.


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I think a 2nd First Law trilogy has been officially announced, books deal and all ;)

Good reading indeed.

I'm too old to be really sure why any book would qualify as YA, and if this one fits the criteria, though. Obviously, bits of violence are less graphic and I'd expect few swear words and sex, but then, pretty much all 19th century classics would meet these criteria. Protagonist's age might play a part in the "YA" label, I suppose. But you can still feel it's an Abercrombie book, which is good.

I had a "Hamlet" feeling pretty early on; I suppose it's quite intended: the young reader won't have any idea who's committed treason while the adult and well-read reader will guess it quickly and enjoy the clues and the ride.


Besides, this is obviously just a small part of the plot; synopsis I've read show the half-king going on his own journey with his own small band of merry fellows.
And assuming this early parallel is quite deliberate, I wouldn't be totally surprised if Joe is playing with us and his take on it is quite twisted. (twisted, not perverted or soul-crushing, considering this is a YA series)

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I enjoyed the preview. I was already going to get it but now I feel I'm not really taking a risk. The only thing is that I've got far too used to Joe's tricks preview spoiler

As soon as the uncle seemed to be nice I knew he was going to be the real threat. I was surprised at how soon this was revealed so Joe isn't too predictable. I liked the callback to first law in how the preview ended - genuine cliffhanger.



The only YA thing so far is the young protagonist. If faster pacing is indicative of YA then I'm all for it. The protagonist reminds is a nice mixture of Joe's characters and comes off as his own man. There's elements of Logen's wise sayings/pragmatism as well as Glokta's "I've been shat on" (but far less bitter).



I also like the viking setting goes well with the show :)


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I've always been a bit confused about the construct "Young Adult Fiction".



Is it fiction FOR young adults? If so, are the Hardy Boys included?


Or is it fiction ABOUT young adults? (Lord of the Flies as well as Harry Potter?)


When I was a young adult (many, many, MANY years ago), I read what interested me. Now I find myself more aware of these categories.



I found myself listening to "Where She Went" on XMBook radio (RIP) and was really drawn to the story.


I went to my local Barnes and Nobel to buy it, and I must admit I was scared off by finding it in the Young Adult Section. I don't want to seem like a creepy old man.

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