British Fiction Focus

Half a War and Beyond

Is it just me, or has someone been fast-forwarding 2015?

Case in point: it can’t possibly have been more than a week or three since I blogged about Half the World by Joe Abercrombie, and yet the next volume—“the third and (for the time being) final book” of the aforementioned author’s Shattered Sea series—is almost upon us. Half a War is so very nearly here that we’ve got copy and the cover coming up, in addition to an overview of what Abercrombie is turning his attention to now that his work on the trilogy is pretty much finished.

But before we get ahead of ourselves again—as if that’s even feasible this year—behold the blurb. Slight spoilers ahead if you aren’t yet up to speed on the series so far!

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.

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.

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.

The exact sort of darkness we can see on the cover of Half a War, I’d wager:

Though the gimmick is good—picking out weapon silhouettes from the fire in the foreground, in case you hadn’t noticed—the execution, to my mind, leaves a little to be desired. Fingers crossed the Powers That Be in the design department of HarperCollins Voyager fix up those fake-looking flames before the launch of Half a War in late July.

Meanwhile, according to his last progress report, Abercrombie is having himself “a little bit of a break,” like the one the he was supposed to be having when instead he started the Shattered Sea series in 2013—so who knows what wonders will come of this one!

That said, the man does have his plans:

I’ll now be turning my attention back to the adult arena, hoping to get a few more stories together for a collection of First Law-based short stories which should hopefully be coming out in 2016 some time—that’ll contain all the short stories I’ve written in the First Law world, including those that have been published in special editions and anthologies and a few as yet unseen. As far as full-length books go, the plan is still for another trilogy set in the First Law world, but I’m still at a very early stage in the development of that, earlier than I’ve ever been before when finishing up a book. My plan is still, ideally, to draft out all three books before preparing the first for publication, which will hopefully mean we can publish all three in a timely fashion and in as good a state as they can be, but would mean a long wait for the first. We shall see.

I’m sure we shall.


Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.

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