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.