Title: Half a King
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea, book 1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Review copy from publisher
“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”
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.
In a world where men are judge by their strength and warrior capabilities, Prince Yarvi is at a great disadvantage; being born with a deformed hand has rendered him a weakling in the eyes of his family and the kingdom’s people.
Yarvi is a second son without interest in the throne. he is happy with his decision to become a Minister (priest and advisor to the king) and with his training almost complete he is ready to start his new life. Unfortunately, his father and brother are killed in an ambush and Yarvi has to step up and take a throne he wasn’t ready for.
Now, a King, Yarvi swears an oath to avenge the deaths of his father and brother, not knowing his enemies were closer than he was expecting. Enemies that betrayed him and left him for dead, but if Yarvi is something is resourceful. His fight for survival sees him sold into slavery, where he finds in a group of misfits the camaraderie and friendship that give him the strength not to give up and to plan his revenge.
Yarvi may be half man, but his wits are more than enough to compensate for his physical limitations. His hardships make him stronger and give him the confidence he so much needed it to not only seek out his revenge, but to be successful.
Yarvi grows page after page, seeing his transformation from an insecure youth to a strong and smart man was a delicious treat.
The secondary characters are simply amazing. They all are very different but complement each other perfectly. I have two favorites, Sumael and Nothing. Sumael is strong and smart, and despite her circumstances she’s a fighter who doesn’t give up. Girl power!
Even though I guessed from the very beginning whom Nothing was, it was really nice to see him being a part of Yarvi’s band of misfits. His dialogue was the best. I don’t know how many of his quotes I highlighted in the book, but there were a bunch. I can’t wait to see more of him in future books.
The world is a very interesting kind of Viking world, maybe in the future. There are some references to Elves, but we don’t see or learn much about them. The only thing that made me wonder is the cities the Elves left behind… they could be our (current) cities and we could be the Elves that (almost) end the world. I’m just speculating, but I might be right, who knows.
Half a King is Abercrombie’s foray into YA. Having read (listened to) one of his adult books before (The Heroes) and I’m happy to say all his trademarks are present in Half a King, they are only toned down a bit to appeal to younger audiences. Everything you expect to find in an Abercrombie book, dark humor, witty dialogue, strong characters, vivid world, a good amount of violence, conspiracies, and non-stop action is present in Half a King.
Kudos to Joe Abercrombie for taking the YA leap, because he gloriously succeeds, Half a King is YA fantasy at its best.
Half a King is an engaging and entertaining book, one with so many twists and turns you won’t be able to put it down. Half a King feels like at stand-alone; it doesn’t end in a cliffhanger, but at a satisfying point. Luckily for us readers, there will be two more books in this series, books I can’t wait to read, starting with next installment in the series, Half the World, to be release on February 19th, 2015.
I recommend Half a King to fantasy fans, YA and adults alike.
Other books in the series
Half a King
Half the World (February 19th, 2015)
Half a War (2015)
Other reviews Goodreads