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Half a Crown (Small Change #3)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  937 ratings  ·  169 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 332 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Tor Books (first published September 30th 2008)
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Nov 01, 2012 Barbara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: Susan Drees
Jo Walton, the author of this book, is classified as a sci-fi and fantasy writer. She was the 2004 winner of the World Fantasy Award. Most of her books seem to involve faeries,dragons, and the like, but this, the final installment of the "Small Change Trilogy", has been a departure from her recognized genre. Different libraries and book reviews seem to have varying identities for them, from science fiction, to fantasy, and even historical fiction. To simplify, I would classify each as a "nightma ...more
The final instalment in a trilogy, the earlier books of which are Farthing and Ha'penny, I could not put this book down once I reached the half-way mark. It took all my resolution not to peak at the last page. I was kept guessing about what would happen - heart in mouth - until the end.

The setting is London in 1960, some ten years on from the events of Ha'penny. A fascist government is in power and Jews are deported to camps on the Continent. Germany and Japan have won the war and Russia has bee
This is the conclusion of the Farthing trilogy, which takes place in an alternate timeline where England made peace with Hitler, whose Reich continues to rule the Continent. This book is set around 1960, more than 10 years after the events in the first two books.

Former police Inspector Carmichael has been forced into a hideous job as head of an English Gestapo; despite this he manages to secretly defy the increasingly Fascist government. I like Carmichael’s character, and I wish his relationship
I found this a very satisfying conclusion to the Small Change trilogy (earlier books Farthing and Ha'penny), set in an alternate timeline wherein England made peace with Hitler and slid slowly into fascism itself. Now it's 1960, and former Inspector Carmichael is now the head of the Gestapo-like Watch (after having been blackmailed into compliance), while his ward Elvira Royston prepares to make her debut with the traditional presentation to the Queen.

Some have called the book's ending unduly op
After devouring the first two books, I told myself I was going to wait before reading this one. Then I went to the library to pick something else up, and found myself drawn to the shelf. In my defense I can say that it's refreshing to be able to read a series start to finish without having to wait for the end (I'm looking at you, Connie Willis).
I guess if the first book was modeled on a British parlor mystery, and the second one was a thriller, this one is a bit of a comedy of manners, though a
In 1941, a small subgroup of the English government negotiated peace with Hitler. Now it's the 1960s. Japan has dropped atomic bombs on the Soviet Union, the US is isolationalist and utterly unconnected to world affairs, and the UK has been shipping undesirables overseas to German concentration camps for nearly two decades. It's a fascinating alternate history, and one that is made particularly chilling by how solidly Walton crafts it.

Carmichal was a mere Inspector from Scotland Yard in the fir
Beth Cato
I sped through this book in about a day. It's horrifically tense. It's a 1960 Britain with a full Gestapo of its own called the Watch, its own concentration camp about to open, and an entire world in ruins. Russia and Germany's prolonged war has ended with Russia a nuclear wasteland. The United States lost to Japan decades before--though not a lot of details are provided--and Japan and Britain are wondering if they should divide that continent as well. The head of the Watch, Carmichael, has not ...more
Ruby Rose Scarlett
The entire trilogy is amazing, but this book delves deeper into the problem than ever before and is a great, if horrific, installment. First, let me say that I was pleasantly surprised to see so many old characters mentioned and even returning in this book - it's extremely rewarding to the reader to acknowledge there's been a story before, however long ago. I thought the main female character, even though she's a new point of view in the story, was the most interesting in the trilogy (Viola was ...more
A part of me wants to rate this book less highly because things don't turn out the way I want them to turn out -- my definition of a happy ending. There is a sort of happy ending here, though, and the release of tension is amazing, and the whole book makes me feel so much, so I can't dock it points just because it doesn't end exactly the way I want it to end.

If I was to take off a star, it'd be because everything seems to fall into place just a little too easily. But at the same time, it works,
Description: 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, and to discover Jews. The midnight knock of a Watchman is th
Half A Crown takes place in 1960, 11 years after the events of "Farthing" and "Ha'penny." A paraplegic Normanby still holds the reins as Prime Minister. Inspector Carmichael is now Watch Commander Carmichael. The Watch, Britain's answer to the Gestapo, is Normonby's whip hand to ensure that he stays in power and that things stay quiet - but it's obvious things won't stay quiet long. The Soviet Union has finally been crushed between Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, and the whole world is coming t ...more
Third in a series of books in which England made peace with Hitler rather than fight. In this volume, England is building its own concentration camp; the citizens seem to be waking up a bit; and Watch Captain Carmichael's niece and ward, Elvira, on the eve of her debut, accepts a date with the wrong man.

It took me so long to finish this (not entirely the book's fault) that I'm a little suspicious of my criticisms, but it seems to me that the book backs away from dramatic action more than it shou
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carly Thompson
I didn't enjoy this book as much as the two previous volumes in the trilogy. Set in 1960, Inspector Carmichael returns this time as head of the Watch, a Gestapo like secret police (although he has been helping some Jews escape from Britain in his role). The female half of the story is given to Elvira Royston, the daughter of the later Sergeant Royston who worked with Carmichael in the previous 2 books before his death. Elvira is 18 years old and with Carmichael's financial support is a deb about ...more
The final book in the Small Change trilogy. It’s now the 1960s in Walton’s alternate and deeply disturbing Britain. Carmichael is now the head of the Watch, England’s answer to the Gestapo; he’s also heading up a resistance organization on the sly. His 3rd person POV alternates with the 1st person observations of his adopted niece, Elvira, who despite coming across as much sharper than either Lucy or Viola, the previous two books’ narrators, is very obviously and distressingly a product of her t ...more
Matthias Ferber
This is the last book in the "Small Change" trilogy (or, as the author also calls it, "Still Life With Fascists"). My expectations, based on word of mouth, were very low for this one, but I actually enjoyed it thoroughly. It shares the structure of the previous two books, where chapters narrated by a female character alternate with third-person chapters following the central character, Carmichael. Formerly an Inspector at the Yard, Carmichael is now, ten years after the previous book, the reluct ...more
The last book in the Small Change trilogy, Half a Crown takes place in the 1960s, in an alternate Europe where fascism and terror hold sway. I found this a better book than the middle one in the trilogy—while I thought the ending was a little too pat, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of Carmichael's third person narrative with the first person narrative of his ward, Elvira, much more than I did the juxtaposition of his voice with Viola Larkin's. Elvira's growth from blithe obliviousness to awareness ...more
This is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and in my opinion the best. The inspector character from the first two has his moment. I was deeply satisfied with this conclusion and will look at other books this author has written. A real page turner and political intrigue.
I think this was the best in the series. And I loved the (view spoiler) at the end.

In some ways, the issue of Carmichael's homosexuality is the most powerful thing. We are reading an alt-history where Britain has made peace with Hitler and Fascists and anti-semites are in power. Of course, living a closeted gay life in these circumstances, where people, Jews and other undesiralbes are rounded up and sent to camps on the continent, is highly dangerous. But as on
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Not as satisfying as its immediate prequel, Ha'penny. But I hope that one of the protagonists being named Elvira was an homage to At Bertram's Hotel. I suspect that is a coincidence, but it is fun to think about this book as if it weren't. (The two Elviras are rather different — that's the source of the fun.)
Tamora Pierce
Dec 02, 2008 Tamora Pierce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in alternate history fascism
Recommended to Tamora by: saw it on the bookseller's table
An incredible, throat-catching end to the trilogy--Carmichael is caught between family, self interest, and his fascist colleagues and master in 1960, as England prepares for a world-wide peace conference in the wake of a nuked Russia, the formation of a buffer state between Germany and Japan, and a new plot by the deposed king. Carmichael's adopted niece is an innocent debutante caught up in the fascist system by virtue of one dance and a rumor over a possible plotter, and is forced to grow up v ...more
Review of Small Change Trilogy:

Well-handled alternate history. First book is a mystery, second book is a conspiracy thriller, third book is a political thriller (if we generalize).

The very good: characters that breathe, focus on characters that have not been historically emphasized in fiction, good thought experiment on fascism with lots of behaviors and tendencies you'll recognize as strong critiques of our current day and time. The third book, though the weakest overall, does bring things home
Mal Warwick
Alternate history can illuminate the present.

Recently I reviewed the first two books in Jo Walton’s alternate history of England after World War II, the Farthing Trilogy, Farthing and Ha’penny. I found them to be both intriguing from an historical perspective and adeptly written as novels of suspense. Half a Crown, the concluding volume, is less satisfying, if only because the ending is contrived and entirely too neat. I expected better.

The premise of the Farthing Trilogy is disturbingly realist
So I finally finished the 3rd book of the trilogy and am impressed with Waltons imagination and execution. My respect for the series grew with each book in that the first book stuck me as a mildly sci-fi period piece crime procedural. Subsequent books grew deeper and more considered in it's characterizations.

What didn't seem all that relevant in the first two books, that of the altered historical backdrop, was a much stronger theme in the final book. The narrative got much deeper into Carmichael
Джо Волтон відома як авторка фентезі, але я методом рендомного тику чомусь натрапляю саме на ті її тексти, які без драконів. Щоправда, її роман "Among Others" свого часу зібрав усі головні фантастичні премії (Nebula, Hugo, the British Fantasy Award), й він безперечно про любов до жанру, але як раз присутність фантастичного елементу там під великим питанням. Себто розповідь в ньому ведеться від першої особи й оповідачка у фантастичний елемент вірить, але його присутність більше нічим не підтвердж ...more
The third in Jo Walton's Small Change trilogy set in an alternate England that sought appeasement with the Nazis during WWII. This final book is set in 1960, 19(?) years after peace was settled. England is slipping further into fascism. The narrative alternates between Peter Carmichael (from the previous books) now heading The Watch, Britain's answer to the Gestapo and his adopted niece, Elvira, a debutante about to launch herself into The Season. Things are not all placid in England, riots are ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Half a Crown was compulsively readable, the kind of book that had me staying up past my bedtime, sitting on the edge of the bathtub reading after I'd brushed my teeth, reluctant to put it down. It also had me repeatedly wailing, "This is terrible!" to my boyfriend, who read this a few months ago. Not that the book is terrible—it's not. Rather, various plot points are terrible/stressful to read about/horribly depressing, which is to be expected given the mood and events of the first two books in ...more
Susan Wallace
I read all three, liked 1st one best, I don't think I like alternative history!
The third and final book in Jo Walton's excellent Small Change series. This is set in 1960, but a 1960 that is unrecognisable to the one actually experienced. Carmichael has spent the last decade as head of the 'Watch', the British equivalent of the Gestapo. He still feels guilt at having foiled the 1949 plot to assassinate Hitler and Prime Minister Normansby, and this guilt has led him to set up an escape network, allowing people to escape persecution by the state. Meanwhile his adopted daughte ...more
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Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.
More about Jo Walton...

Other Books in the Series

Small Change (3 books)
  • Farthing (Small Change, #1)
  • Ha'penny (Small Change, #2)
Among Others My Real Children Farthing (Small Change, #1) Tooth and Claw The Just City

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