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November 23rd, 2008 - Phil's Rambling Rants

November 23rd, 2008

November 23rd, 2008
10:32 pm

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Book review: Half a Crown
Today's book review is Half a Crown by Jo Walton.

This completes the set that began with Farthing and continued with Ha'penny.  Some of the characters are ongoing, but the story is mostly self contained.  (I reviewed Farthing but I can't find it right now.  Why can't I Google my own public entries?  They're supposed to be searchable.)

It's pretty much impossible to say anything at all about this novel and the conclusion of the trilogy without some spoilers.  It's actually implicit in the fact that this is the third book in the trilogy; if the first book was the beginning of something and the second book was the middle, the third book has to be in some sense the end.  The real gut-wrenching power of Farthing was in just how easily believable it was.  Perhaps it's just my own pessimistic attitude,  but I found the plot of Farthing not just conceivable but actually likely.  Half a Crown's plot is fine for a novel but it doesn't hit me with that feeling of inevitability that that's just how it would really happen.  There's a good adventure, real drama, and a lot of characters struggling with their own flaws, trying to figure out the right thing to do in an imperfect world.  It's a solid book; I think the actual characters and the story just as a self contained story might even be better than Farthing.  It just doesn't have the same level of political impact.

To put it another way, I think Farthing was a book that everyone needs to read, whether they like it or not.  Ha'penny and Half a Crown are optional.  Setting aside the political importance for a moment, though, Farthing was a good book, Ha'penny a little weaker, and Half a Crown back to being good.  They make a good set.

8 out of 10.

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