Half a Crown
Half a Crown
A Story of a World That Could Have Been
By Jo Walton
Tor Books, Paperback, 9780765323156, 320pp.
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
For the first time in paperback, the culminating novel of Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Jo Walton's stunning Small Change trilogy.
Following the award-winning "Farthing" and its sequel" Ha'penny," "Half a Crown" is an amazing alternate-world noir tale of resistance to encroaching fascism, from the author of "Among Others."
In 1941 the European war ended in the Farthing Peace, a rapprochement between Britain and Nazi Germany. The balls and banquets of Britain's upper class never faltered, while British ships ferried "undesirables" across the Channel to board the cattle cars headed east.
Peter Carmichael is commander of the Watch, Britain's distinctly British secret police. It's his job to warn the Prime Minister of treason, to arrest plotters, to discover Jews. The midnight knock of a Watchman is the most dreaded sound in the realm.
Now, in 1960, a global peace conference is convening in London, where Britain, Germany, and Japan will oversee the final partition of the world. Hitler is once again on British soil. So is the long-exiled Duke of Windsor and the rising gangs of "British Power" streetfighters, who consider the Government "soft," may be the former king's bid to stage a coup d'etat.
Amidst all this, 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 Watch Commander himself.
"A literary Guernica a top-notch thriller set in a terrified Britain that is all too willing to trade freedom for security, and which gets neither." Cory Doctorow on "Ha'penny.
"Haunting...Like meticulously nested Matroyshka dolls, both Farthing and Ha'Penny reveal complex arguments layered in their elegantly structured narratives."
—Sarah Weinman, Los Angeles Times
"Walton's understated prose and deft characterizations elevate this above similar works such as Fatherland and SS-GB."
"Stunningly powerful.... A standout. Mainstream readers should be enthralled as well."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review, on Farthing
"If le Carré scares you, try Jo Walton."
—Ursula K. LeGuin on Farthing
"A subversive, trenchant and simultaneously dark and light piece of speculative fiction. Can I get an amen? ...The parallels between her Britain and today's climate are never didactic and always effective. It's also a book about husbands and wives, and about class and sex. It is quite an achievement, brothers and sisters. Hallelujah."
"A stiff-upper-lip whodunit boasting political intrigue and uncomfortable truths about anti-Semitism."
"Walton realizes an all-too-convincing alternate world in which the Third Reich but not its spirit was stopped at the English Channel. The characters are highly plausible, and in every aspect from the petty snobbery hampering the inspector to the we-don't-do-that-here conclusion, the plot encourages warily reconsidering the daily news."
"Amazing... One of the most compelling and chilling books of the year."
—RT Book Reviews
"A beautifully-written alternate history thriller by World Fantasy Award-winner Jo Walton, Farthing is a smart, convincing tale of a country's slide into fascism that's sure to entertain casual and genre readers alike."