Once in a while, a writer’s desire to realize a gender-bending female protagonist can lead him astray. Rather than a rounded human being with agency, their hero becomes a fictional embodiment of the masculine stereotype—emotionless (save anger), violent, and unsubtle. In the fantasy genre, where preindustrial, patriarchal societies are the norm and women characters frequently battle against the prevailing culture, this issue is particularly common. Exactly why writers of speculative novels habitually jettison the lessons of their training and experience when writing women is a mystery, although presumably the promotion of a contemporary political point of view is at least partly responsible. Joe Abercrombie pins the hopes of his second novel, Half the World, on just such a character and the result is uninspiring.