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Half a Crown

by Jo Walton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Small Change (3)

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5313840,894 (3.82)74
In this alternative history sequel to Ha'penny, two of the most unlikely persons in the realm will join forces to oppose the fascists: a debutante whose greatest worry until now has been where to find the right string of pearls, and the commander of Britain's distinctly British secret police, the Watch.… (more)
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    In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both experimient with differnt outomes for World War Two

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» See also 74 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
This series is very hard to rate as I found it original and compelling and loved it, despite a couple of Buts. I loved the way this one was set later than the first two and we could see how things had developed in the meantime. The alternate version of the 1960s was very plausible and sensitively handled. The writing, especially the way sinister details were thrown in as offhand asides, was excellent. In terms of the setting, this might have been the strongest of the trilogy. I love Jo Walton as an author and will definitely read more of her work, but I did not love the ending, even though it was clever in many ways and did draw all the strands together. Somehow, it just didn't quite fit. It was a Ruritanian ending but this wasn't a Ruritanian novel or series.

Still, I would definitely recommend the trilogy for originality, enjoyment and writing. ( )
  MochaVonBee | Jan 21, 2023 |
Honestly? While I'm in one sense glad for the happy ending, I'm not sure I believe in it. Partly because the series has been all about fascism grinding down people's better natures, and partly because the KGB mole is a bit too deus ex machina and left field. I did enjoy the book, however, and was glad to see a couple of old friends from the previous two. ( )
  villyard | Dec 6, 2022 |
I've never been a big fan of alternate histories, but Walton writes a great story, so I picked up this series and ended up really enjoying it. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
Although it took me a long time to warm to Elvira and her life, and it had been long enough since I read the first two books in this series that I didn't remember them very well, this book swept me away completely. ( )
  queen_ypolita | Aug 18, 2020 |
Jo Walton’s “Small Change” trilogy is a challenging one to classify. Her previous novels in the series, [b:Farthing|183740|Farthing (Small Change, #1)|Jo Walton|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1442714837l/183740._SY75_.jpg|1884104] and [b:Ha'penny|433716|Ha'penny (Small Change, #2)|Jo Walton|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1391143310l/433716._SY75_.jpg|422656], easily fit a number of genres – alternate history, murder mystery, suspense novel, spy thriller – without entirely being defined by any one of them. This book, the final novel in her series, is no different. Less a murder mystery than a political thriller, it takes her concept of a Britain descending towards fascism and moves it a decade into the future. By 1960, Britain has been ruled by politician-turned-dictator Mark Normanby for a decade. Jews and other perceived undesirables are frequently rounded up and sent for disposal to the Continent, where the Nazis have triumphed in their long-running war against the Soviets. Most Britons have accepted fascist rule, with a police force that now regularly tortures suspects and a body called the Watch which serves as a domestic Gestapo, and have even come to believe it to be beneficial. Peter Carmichael, the former Scotland Yard inspector turned secret policeman, runs a clandestine organization that struggles to help rescue people when possible, but he is faced with the twin challenge of a potential coup by the Duke of Windsor and the discovery of his secret life by his ward Elvira Royston, the orphaned daughter of his former police partner.

As with the other volumes, Walton develops her story by alternating between the first-person account of the naive Elvira and a third person narrative focusing on Carmichael. Yet there is no great mystery in this volume but a dual plot focusing on the emergence of the totalitarian “Ironsides” movement and Elvira’s growing exposure to the ugly realities of her world. Without the mystery, the emphasis is on suspense, yet Walton comes up short here. While she implies that her alternate Britain is a terrifying place, little of this seems to come out in the novel itself. Instead, everything seems almost laughably tame, from a secret policeman who is astonishing indiscreet and easily caught unawares to a underground coup that is hardly anything to fear. All of this saps the suspense from the story, making it a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion to an otherwise enjoyable and well-realized series. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Waltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lachmann, Norasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
s.BENešCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Benjamin Franklin (1759)
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932)
This is for Patrick Nielson Hayden, for keeping the faith.
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A week before she was due to bring me out, I overheard Mrs. Maynard saying I was "not quite…"
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In this alternative history sequel to Ha'penny, two of the most unlikely persons in the realm will join forces to oppose the fascists: a debutante whose greatest worry until now has been where to find the right string of pearls, and the commander of Britain's distinctly British secret police, the Watch.

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Average: (3.82)
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2 5
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3.5 21
4 93
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