From the title, I expected this book to be a direct sequel to Abercrombie’s ‘Half a King.’ It’s not – it picks up some years later, when ‘Half a King”s protagonist, Yarvi, is well-established as a minister and cunning-man: a feared and respected player in the political schemes of this world. (This also makes the book work 100% as a stand-alone read.)
However, here we see Yarvi through the eyes of a new young protagonist: Thorn (much to her objection, her mother insists on calling her Hild.)Thorn’s one ambition is to become a warrior like her famous father, and to avenge his death.
However, although she is driven and talented, her weapons-master is set against her, and forces her into a test she cannot win.
A promising young warrior, Brand, who’s always disliked Thorn for her arrogance and prickliness, must face his own, internal test of courage and honesty when he witnesses a tragedy and an injustice.
The way things play out puts both Thorn and Brand at Father Yarvi’s disposal, and a journey toward his own, opaque, agenda ensues…
This book is more YA in feel than the previous ‘Shattered Sea’ book. It contains a lot of familiar coming-of-age (and even young romance) tropes. However, they’re all executed really, really well. I challenge any reader to not be won over by Thorn’s character. I was even rooting for the romance, and that’s not even usually my thing! (Don’t worry, though, there’s far more ass-kicking than kissing.)
(Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t help imagining Thorn as being what the version of shield-maiden Lagertha portrayed on TV’s ‘Vikings’ might’ve been like in her youth…)
Many thanks to NetGalley and DelRey Spectra for the opportunity to read this novel. As always, my opinions are solely my own.