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Half a Crown (Small Change #3)

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,291 Ratings  ·  240 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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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
Dec 28, 2013 Marijan rated it it was amazing
Dostojan završetak izvrsne trilogije. napeto do samog kraja, i tek je možda kraj malo zbrzan i ima elemente 'deus ex machina'. Stječe se dojam da romanu nedostaje cijelo jedno poglavlje. No stil pisanja Jo Walton je tako slikovit, tako uvjerljiv, tako živ, da sam odlučio da ipak neću spuštati ocjenu zbog te sitnice na kraju. dakle 4.5 zaokruženo na 5.
Nov 21, 2010 Barbara rated it liked it  ·  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
Jamie Collins
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
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
Jun 15, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 28, 2015 Tracey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
It's 1960, and fascism has settled comfortably over England – and much of the world, apparently – like a pea–souper. And – being a completist at times – I listened to this third book despite not being thrilled with the second one. Looking at my notes, I see a lot of capital letters. Not good. In fact, I hated this book with a passion that still simmers a little.

Oh, this is not a good narration … Terry Donnelly gives a very deliberate, measured, extraordinarily prissy performance for the Elvira
Dec 29, 2015 Cara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
The finale to Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy effectively ratchets up the menace of this fascist England, even if several of its plot devices are not particularly plausible when the reader steps back from the story. This was a page-turner, and I was engrossed while reading it. Half a Crown—even more than Ha’penny—made me think that this trilogy is less concerned with depicting a convincing fascist England than it is with exploring how easy it is for ordinary people, with little at stake, to acq ...more
Juniper Green
This is a book I want to say too much about. I'll try to restrain myself as good as I can.

Where Farthing was an WWII AU dressed as a cozy mystery, and Ha'penny an attempt at suspense, Half a Crown is a full-blown political thriller – one where the personal stakes for our heroes run very high. Of course, all of them are also cautionary tales.
The trilogy grows considerably bleaker from book to book, and part #3 is by far the most unpleasant one to read. It's also my favourite of the three.

Burgundy Rose
Mar 24, 2013 Burgundy Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
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
Sep 20, 2016 Hope rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series nearly broke my heart and I honestly don't know if I could've read it at a more appropriate time than our current American political climate. What sends these works completely over is that there is masterful mystery writing at work as well as the alternate history, which is handled deftly, and is exciting at every twist and turn. Smart, lovely characters abound. It's all too easy to understand how the world came to be in Walton's series, which makes it all the more scary. Thank goodn ...more
Margo R
I did not like this book nearly as much as Farthing, the first in the series, for a variety of reasons.

Starting with the positives: Jo Walton's alternative London (what if the British had signed a peace treaty with Hitler and the USA had stayed out of WWII?) is delightfully interesting to me. I love explorations of the adjacent possible!

All characters, from main ones like Carmichael and Elvira, to supporters like Olgivie and Mrs. Maynard, are given complex personalities and allowed to evolve ove
Jun 05, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 30, 2008 Res rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, slash-interest
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
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
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
Matthias Ferber
Aug 23, 2009 Matthias Ferber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2013 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.)
Sep 11, 2015 MadProfessah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-read
It gets very dark before it gets bright. The way Walton slips in the crucial details of the alternative history (nuclear weapons used on Russia, America not a superpower, Japan controlling China) is very clever.

The view of what gay life would be like under fascist government was very depressing.
The gender politics of the time are also appalling. The alternating chapters between Carmichael and various female lead characters is a good structure for the series and Elvira is the best of the bunch.

Tamora Pierce
Dec 02, 2008 Tamora Pierce rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 07, 2016 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jo Walton’s books remind me of Alfred Hitchcock movies. They start slowly, but the tension and suspense continue to mount until by the end you are racing through the final pages find out what happens. The Small Change trilogy isn’t easy to categorize – they have aspects of science fiction/fantasy and mystery/thriller. Although I enjoyed all the books in this series, the final one is my favorite. A perfect ending to an outstanding series!
Liz De Coster
The quotidian, banal nature of evil in this series is as chilling as ever, if not more so. Walton's alternate history is engrossing and full of the sort of thoughtful details that pull you into the narrative. Unfortunately, the resolution of the book, and the series, seems sudden and trite, especially with the author's attention to detail elsewhere. I recommend this series on the whole, but don't expect to walk away quite satisfied.
Mar 23, 2015 Benthemeek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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)

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