With Farthing, Jo Walton looked at an alternate history where England fell into fascism as a way to stave off the war with Germany. With Ha’penny, she looked at that same England, six years later, and how well the country had adopted that rule, with all their misgivings and concerns. Now, with Half a Crown, she concludes the story, bringing the story to a logical conclusion where the country has fallen deep, deep into the well of human tragedy, and the inevitable transition that the country takes.
I love the way Jo Walton writes. She’s very understated with her prose, but still manages to convey a lot of emotion for her characters. She writes her horrible scenes as well as she does her joyful ones, and it’s hard not to get attached to her characters along the way. I wasn’t thrilled with the way the trilogy concluded (the message was right, but the presentation wasn’t; it seemed very rushed), but I was glad to see that she didn’t sugarcoat the journey there.
There was a part of me that kept thinking that the characters from this novel were the same as the characters from Farthing, or Ha’Penny, but the only character consistent among all three books was Inspector Carmichael, though some other characters popped up in cameos among the last two books. At first, I figured that the author had just slipped the other characters in, like easter eggs waiting to be found, but it turned out that the recurring characters were clearly noted. I’m not sure if that was the case with Ha’Penny, but here, at least, there was no doubting it.
I recommend the book to anyone who started the trilogy, and if you haven’t read the first two books, then I recommend you start with Farthing. That volume is really the best of the bunch, if only because the concept is new and intriguing. The author manages to make each book different enough to keep readers from reading the same story over again, but the introduction is always the best.