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The Half-Made World Hardcover – October 12, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Half-Made World Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gilman’s steampunk-influenced third novel blurs the lines between genres. It’s set in a universe that is distinctly not our own, one dominated by the people of the Gun, who carry demon-possessed guns that give them supernatural abilities, and the people of the Line, whose world includes sentient engines. The fight between the Line and the Gun comes to a head when both sides hear that the famous general of the lost Red Republic may still be alive and could hold the key to a secret weapon capable of stopping the never-ending war. Much of the book is dedicated to the creation and explanation of Gilman’s complex world, with detailed descriptions of the strange landscapes, which melds with the plot as Dr. Liv identify? travels first to a mental hospital at the edge of the wilderness and then deep into the unknown West. Suggest this complex tale to readers of Emma Bull or adult fans of Wrede’s Thirteenth Child. --Jessica Moyer


“Vivid and accurate prose, a gripping, imaginative story, a terrifically inventive setting, a hard-bitten, indestructible hero, and an intelligent, fully adult heroine---we haven’t had a science-fiction novel like this for a long time.” ---Ursula K. Le Guin, National Book Award--winning author of The Farthest Shore and The Left Hand of Darkness

"The Half-Made World is refreshingly unlike any other novel I've read.  Felix Gilman writes like a modern-day Dickens drunk on rich invention and insane war."---Stephen R. Donaldson, New York Times bestselling author of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant  

“A much-needed breath of fresh air in dystopian fiction. Utterly compelling. Trembling with invention and adventure. Reads as if it’s the love child of McCarthy’s The Road and Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Highly recommended!” ---Eric Van Lustbader, New York Times bestselling author

“Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World takes the brutality of the Wild West and twists it into an epic fantasy that left me staggered. It brings the sense of wonder back to fantasy by creating a complex and visceral world unlike anything I’ve read. This is a stunning novel.” ---Mary Robinette Kowal


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765325527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765325525
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"The Half-Made World" is quite a strange book. It is dark and dense, but a page turner nonetheless that would not let go once I entered its flow. The known-world is divided between the settled East and the expanding into uncreation West. Some centuries ago the seemingly impassable mountains that formed the border of the settled world opened and people started settling the lands beyond and in the process fixing them into reality. However un-natural or supernatural things sprung out here and there, most notably spirits, demons and "magical" engines, while the local people of the "uncreation" who may be immortal and have magic are pushed farther and farther away, with the remnants enslaved.

The settled parts of the West consist of many independent lands but all live under the ever expanding shadow of the Line, a highly regimented industrial and well armed civilization of millions, led by the magical engines of above, currently 38 in number, that span tens of thousands of miles of tracks; opposing them are the Demon Guns and their agents, who are few - some tens, maybe a hundred - in number, but who have extreme powers of endurance and who foment uprisings, rebellions and generally wreak havoc wherever they think the Line is vulnerable.

Some decades ago a "free republic" has risen, led by a General who was rumored to have had a pact with one of the original natives and knew how to use their magic; nevertheless after 40 years of flourishing, the Republic was finally crushed by the Line and after 10 more years of underground resistance, the General was rendered mad by a Line "noise bomb" in his last stand and he was presumed dead.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was excited to read this book after reading all the glowing reviews. At first it was interesting and had some big/new ideas in it the made me feel like i was reading Dune for the first time. Then it went on and on and on. And on some more. No character arks. No revelations. No insights to the heart of man or machine. No ending in which anything was accomplished unless it be to set up the next book (which i wasn't interested in by half way through this one). Reading the last third of this book was a CHORE. Has some good prose, but not enough to cover the lack of character ark, painful pacing and non ending. Made me wonder how much new fiction the lauded reviewers actually read each year to give this book the reviews they did. I get the feeling that allot of writers have great ideas for a story that would ideally be told in one or maybe two great books but that they stretch it waaayyy out to make it a trilogy or more. That may make for more money but rarely makes for better storytelling. As far as this reader is concerned, in this instance, it makes for neither as i have no intention of purchasing the next book in this series.
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Format: Hardcover
The Half-Made World, by Felix Gilman, is a strikingly original book that, though it had its flaws, is a fascinating opening to a new world and characters and one I'll look eagerly forward to rejoining when the sequel (and this books pretty much mandates a sequel) arrives.
The Half-Made World is set in an alternate America, but Gilman has gone well past the add-a-few-inventions-that-weren't-there-and-change-the-Civil-War kind of alternate world-building here. We have an old, established East (which we don't see much of) and an uncharted, still "uncreated" far West inhabited only by the immortal Hill People, who have either been driven from their eastern lands or enslaved. Between the East and the uncreated world lies the West, where nearly all the action takes place. Two rival groups--The Line and The Gun--have been warring via their human agents over the West's vast landscape for decades, though the Line has been slowly, inexorably winning. Embodied by its Engine spirits, the Line industrializes where it wins--laying track, building hulking, smoke-belching factories, employing relatively modern technologies, and using its "Linesman" as cogs in the machine. The Gun, embodied by its own spirits which inhabit either the "Lodge" or their agents' weapons, has been fighting a losing battle against the Line. Their agents are far fewer in number and lack technology, but the Gun spirits can imbue them with super-human abilities and healing. A third rival--the Red Republic--rose 40 years ago under the leadership of its General and temporarily carved out a society free of both, but it was eventually smashed and the General killed.

Or so everyone thought until he was recently found insane but alive in a madhouse on the edge of the West.
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Format: Hardcover
What stood out in The Half-Made World for me was the characters. Liv was an amazingly deep character. At face value, she's a psychologist interested in studying the minds of the mentally ill, which is interesting in itself. What makes her all the more fascinating is her backstory - everything that lead up to her treating patients. Creedmoor's non-static personality, the way he volleys back and forth trying to find himself all his life makes him interesting as well. His constant struggle against his master shows he's more than just a bad guy living a bad guys life. Lowry, as part of The Line, has a very different background than these other two main characters. His rigid upbringing and overall personality make him difficult to like, but even he seems to struggle with what is expected of him. By far, the most enigmatic character is the General, who's mind has been lost, but still holds the key to victory.

The world itself was a little confusing. I found it hard to grasp exactly how the world was half-made. It seems like the unpopulated west at first glance. As things went on, it becomes clear that part of the world is shifting, changing, trying to decide what it is going to become. This is kind of a foreign concept that I couldn't really picture. Added to that, hillfolk - faerie type people, that have the ability to come back from the dead. This addition seemed out of place, but when taking into account The Line with it's immortal engines and The Gun with it's possessed weapons, the idea of magical hillfolk don't seem too far flung.

The overall plot was interesting, but the focus on the seemingly never ending war was lost on me. War, in any form, even with fantasy aspects, is in no way my thing.
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