Part three of Joe Abercrombie’s YA “Shattered Sea” fantasy series that follows on from Half a King and Half a World.
Don’t let the ‘young adult’ marketing bracket scare you away – this has been a solid fantasy series so far. Set in a Vikingish world built on the remains of a lost elvish civilization, the series is less cynical than Abercrombie’s earlier work but still gritty. Some great characters with a shift in focus in each novel that makes the world he constructs feel bigger.
In Part 1 I discussed how people and credibility are unavoidable when it comes to argument and reason. An individual simply doesn’t have the time or brain power or expertise to do everything themselves and an individual cannot be everywhere at once to witness events as they happen.
We have to, at times, rely on others for
* information another person observed at a specific time and place
* information a person has researched and gather into one place
* analysis, proofs, experiments and other processes that another person has completed
* professional appraisal of facts by known experts
* interpretation of lengthy or technical documents by an expert
* translations of text from another language
Law and medicine are obvious areas in which this reliance on others is of great important but the situation is similar in many areas of human activity. A mathematical proof maybe the paradigm of an objective fact but very few people can actually check rigorously that a proof has been completed without error. We are obliged to trust that claims about mathematics have been checked properly by other mathematicians.
One solution would be to simply trust authority. However, I believe that is an error.
On the other side of the scale we know that our world is filled with people who are less than honest:
* people lie
* people cheat
* people mislead
* people are selective about what they tell you
And of course, sometimes honest people are just plain wrong.
Crawk, said Munin morosely, helping herself to a pineapple. ‘Does she not talk at all?’ I said. ‘Not much,’ said Hugin. ‘But what she says is usually worth listening to. And she says that the only way to stop the End of the Worlds is to combat Chaos with Chaos, which means to set free will against determinism. If we believe the Oracle, free will is merely an illusion, and all our actions were written in runes that were preordained from the beginning of time. But if we take matters into our own hands, then we can write our own runes, remake our own reality.’ ‘She said all that in a crawk?’ I said. ‘More or less,’ said Hugin.
In his book The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson explored the nature and theories around what modern society calls the ‘psychopath’/‘sociopath’. As a form of an alternate way for people to be the psychopath is currently a fashionable topic with popular works dedicated to identifying psychopaths in the works place, TV shows characterizing Sherlock Holmes as a ‘high functioning sociopath’ and even some of the darker sections of the net extolling the inherent virtue of the sociopath.