Review: Half a King, Joe Abercrombie

September 4, 2014 Reviews 1 ★★★½

Review: Half a King, Joe AbercrombieHalf a King by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #1
Published by Del Rey, Harper Voyager on July 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository
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three-half-stars

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.
 
The deceived will become the deceiver.
 
Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.
 
The betrayed will become the betrayer.
 
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.
 
Will the usurped become the usurper?
 
But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

angelyas_reviewPrince Yarvi suddenly finds himself King when his father and brother are slain. He immediately questions whether someone born with a withered hand would be able to lead his people. After a betrayal and attempted murder, Yarvi is forced into a journey far from home, during which he must find the determination and courage within himself to avenge his father and brother and retake the throne.

I haven’t read any of Joe Abercrombie’s previous works but from what I can gather his First Law series is a great favourite among other epic fantasy fans. Half a King is a coming of age story, billed as Young Adult, but it’s a more gritty and perhaps a more violent read than other young adult fantasies.

I actually almost put this book down again after the first few chapters – I didn’t like Yarvi at all! He spent the whole time referring to himself as a cripple and kept repeating over and over that he would make a terrible king. Once the action started it was much more compelling and I actually started to care about what happened to the characters. I’m not sure if it’s because that in modern society we’re more accepting of physical imperfections, but I just kept wishing he’d shut up about his hand. I mean, what difference should an imperfect hand have on his ability to rule a country? Sure, he had trouble pulling an oar and swinging a sword, but how often do kings need to do those things? Okay, rant over.

During his time as a slave, a group of ex-slaves help Yarvi to become the man he needs to be to take his revenge. I actually felt the supporting cast stole the show – the banter between the group was fantastic! The chatter had me cracking up at times and was certainly my favourite aspect of this story. The writing style on the other hand, I didn’t get along so well with. It was almost like this book was written by two different people. The dialogue was funny, witty and generally quite casual, while the non-dialogue text was overly dramatic and annoyingly grand.

Half a King is a rather dark story that is quite different to other recent YA fantasy releases. Even though I didn’t love it as much as others did, if you’re interested in a more gritty fantasy that doesn’t have the length or graphic violence of the more “adult” books, give this one a try.

three-half-stars – Grittier than your usual YA fantasy. The writing style wasn’t really for me, but I loved the supporting characters.

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

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