Tag Archives: Manchester University

Joe Abercrombie: Half the World (Review)

About the Author

Author Web site

Joe Abercrombie was born in Lancaster, England, on the last day of 1974. He was educated at the stiflingly all-boy Lancaster Royal Grammar School, where he spent much of his time playing computer games, rolling dice, and drawing maps of places that don’t exist. He went on to Manchester University to study Psychology. The dice and the maps stopped, but the computer games continued. Having long dreamed of single-handedly redefining the fantasy genre, he started to write an epic trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man’s barbarian Logen Ninefingers. The result was pompous toss, and swiftly abandoned.

The Author, Joe AbercrombieJoe then moved to London, lived in a stinking slum with two men on the borders of madness, and found work making tea for minimum wage at a TV Post-Production company. Two years later he left to become a freelance film editor, and has worked since on a dazzling selection of documentaries, awards shows, music videos, and concerts for artists ranging from Barry White to Coldplay.

This job gave him a great deal of time off, however, and gradually realising that he needed something more useful to do than playing computer games, in 2002 he sat down once again to write an epic fantasy trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man’s barbarian Logen Ninefingers. This time, having learned not to take himself too seriously in the six years since the first effort, the results were a great deal more interesting.

With heroic help and support from his family the first volume, The Blade Itself, was completed in 2004. Following a heart-breaking trail of rejection at the hands of several of Britain’s foremost literary agencies, The First Lawtrilogy was snatched up by Gillian Redfearn of Gollancz in 2005 in a seven-figure deal (if you count the pence columns). A year later The Blade Itself was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It now has publishers in thirteen countries.  The sequels, Before They are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings were published in 2007 and 2008, when Joe was a finalist for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer.  Best Served Cold, a standalone book set in the same world, was published in June 2009, and a second standalone, The Heroes, came in January 2011 and made no. 3 on the Sunday Times Hardcover Bestseller List.  A third standalone, Red Country, was both a Sunday Times and New York Times Hardcover Bestseller in October 2012.

The first part of his Shattered Sea series, Half a King, came out in July 2014, with the other two, Half the World, and Half a War, due to be published January and July 2015.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, his daughters Grace and Eve, and his son Teddy.  He spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels…

Half the World (2015) (The second book in the Half a King series)

Buy a signed copy

Half the world UK Half the World US

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?

Review

Book Two in Joe Abercrombie’s Half a World series, set not long after book one, Yarvi is Minister and is trying to work his deep cunning to keep the kingdom of Gettland safe. Yarvi isn’t the main focus of this book. Book two follows the plight of Thorn a female warrior, derided by her peers, daughter of a dead hero and determined to follow in his footsteps, that determination see’s her fall foul of her training master and pulled by oath into the orbit of Minister Yarvi and his cunning plots.

Hard as it seems i think Joe has out done Half a King with this latest book, book two is a similar story type, coming of age, the sudden growth from youth to adulthood, thrust into the forefront of politics and battle. The similarity is even there with the ship voyage providing the ever-changing backdrop for the growth. But it comes into its own with the growth of Thorn as a fighter, with Brand and his struggle with the morality of war. and all of it mixed up in the deep cunning shenanigans of Yarvi. Because of the authors skillful handling of author growth and creativity the similarities are all blended into something unique and mind-blowing. There is always the thought that you know where the plot is leading but not always why, and that there is so much more tantalizing at the edge of the plot, particularly regarding the elves and who they might have been wand what they left behind.

The book leads us half way across the world and back again, it leads to the High kings and his minister trying to destroy Gettland, and it leads to old enemies meeting on the battle field.

Once again its a surprise this is a young adult novel, but when you think back you can see that it is toned done , not overt in the death and violence, but the implication more than enough to make this a tense and dramatic tale, the characterisation and world building realistic enough to suck you in from page one and have you rowing at the oars with every page.

I highly recommend this series, and cannot wait for book three

(Parm)

Series

 

First Law
1. The Blade Itself (2006)
2. Before They Are Hanged (2007)
3. Last Argument Of Kings (2008)
The First Law Trilogy Boxed Set: The Blade Itself / Before They Are Hanged / Last Argument of Kings(omnibus) (2012)
The First Law Trilogy (omnibus) (2015)
The Blade ItselfBefore They Are HangedLast Argument Of KingsThe First Law Trilogy Boxed Set: The Blade Itself / Before They Are Hanged / Last Argument of Kings

 

First Law World
1. Best Served Cold (2009)
2. The Heroes (2011)
3. Red Country (2012)
The Great Leveller: Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country, together in one omnibus volume (omnibus)(2015)
Best Served ColdThe HeroesRed Country

 

Half a King
1. Half a King (2014)
2. Half a World (2015)
3. Half a War (2015)
Half a KingHalf a World

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Filed under Fantasy, Joe Abercrombie

SD Sykes: Plague Lands (Review)

SD Sykes lives in Kent with her family and various animals. She has done everything from professional dog-walking to co-founding her own successful business. She is a graduate from Manchester University and has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam. She attended the novel writing course at literary agents Curtis Brown where she was inspired to finish her first novel. She has also written for radio and has developed screenplays with Arts Council funding.

plague land

 

Buy a signed copy from Goldsboro Books

Oswald de Lacy was never meant to be the Lord of Somerhill Manor. Despatched to a monastery at the age of seven, sent back at seventeen when his father and two older brothers are killed by thePlague, Oswald has no experience of running an estate.

He finds the years of pestilence and neglect have changed the old place dramatically, not to mention the attitude of the surviving peasants.

Yet some things never change. Oswald’s mother remains the powerful matriarch of the family, and his sister Clemence simmers in the background, dangerous and unmarried.

Before he can do anything, Oswald is confronted by the shocking death of a young woman, Alison Starvecrow. The ambitious village priest claims that Alison was killed by a band of demonic dog-headed men. Oswald is certain this is nonsense, but proving it – by finding the real murderer – is quite a different matter.

Every step he takes seems to lead Oswald deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife.

And then the body of another girl is found.

SD Sykes brilliantly evokes the landscape and people of medieval Kent in this thrillingly suspenseful debut.

Review:

Even as i write this book im still not 100% sure how i feel about it. The author is clearly talented, the descriptions of post Black Death England (1350) is bleak, filled with the tension of communities at the time, the loss the chaos and the vacuum left behind by so many deaths. The story told from the perspective of Oswald de Lacy , a young man thrust into the forefront of his family, the new Lord of Somerhill Manor, a youngest son never expected to inherit, and destined for the clergy, in fact recalled from his monastery to take the reins.

On returning he struggles with running the estate, an estate that is slowly descending into superstitious bedlam, led there by the local priest Cornwall. Oswald is dragged from his closeted existence worrying about the estate to view a murder, a murder that he is led to investigate and leads him deeper and deeper into the lives of the villagers, the superstitions of the people and the secrets accumulated by the families all twisted into this plot. I’m not going to sugar coat it, some of the mysteries don’t take a genius, but at the same time there are parts that keep you guessing. Like another book i read recently The Royalist the plot isn’t the winner in this book its the characters the descriptive and the language of the time period.

I certainly think you should read this book and decide for yourself, because someone i trust very highly with book recommends Kate gives it a very high recommend,  i may even read it again to see if my mood was off or it landed wrong on the day. Either way the book is a descriptive treat and a time capsule on a part of history where few dare to tread, for a debut its very well executed.

(Parm)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, SD Sykes