Published: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.
But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy…
It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything of Joe Abercrombie’s and Half a King was a great place to pick back up. After a couple months of whittling down my overlarge TBR pile, I finally came to Half a King and I loved it! It’s not quite as morbid/grimdark as Abercrombie’s adult fantasies, but his writing doesn’t suffer for it and neither does the storyline.
I didn’t have any real knowledge of the plot when I began reading Half a King, but if it’s Abercrombie, it’s going to be bloody and that’s pretty much how I like my books. Again, this isn’t as brutal as the First Law trilogy, but that isn’t to say that it lacks death, betrayal, and the like. The characters just aren’t graphically tortured or killed (he toned it down for those developing young minds). So, basically, it’s like Grimdark Jr. and I’m alright with that.
Yarvi, the main character, is the younger son of the King and while he is a prince, it means very little. He has a crippled, useless hand in a time where warriors are held in highest regard and his keen mind is overlooked by all except, perhaps, his mother and the minister who advises the king. Before Yarvi can take his minister’s test, his father and elder brother are killed in a raid and he must sit the Black Chair and become king. Yarvi was a surprisingly likable character and I thought he had the necessary cunning to become a powerful man, but this book was full of surprises! It was an absolute sandwich of surprises! A big one near the beginning and an even better one near the end, with tons of action in between.
I’m glad I already have the next two books, because I won’t be waiting very long to pick them up! As fall and winter approach I find that I have more time to read in the evening (because it’s dark much earlier and it gets frikkin cold) so I’ll definitely be getting to the rest of this series sooner rather than later.