Half a King by Joe Abercrombie (Shattered Sea #1)

Half A King by Joe Abercrombie has been marketed as Abercrombie's attempt at telling a "grimdark" Young Adult story. Once you get past all the buzzwords and marketing speech, you will find a story about a young man with a horribly disfigured and almost useless limb who is not satisfied with simply surviving extreme adversity in a bleak world, but rather he strives to become the master of all. This is not just a story for teenagers, this is story for anyone who enjoys fantasy.

The story follows Prince Yarvi, second son of a proud king, seen as a liability because of a birth defect that has left a mangled stump in place of an arm. When his father and brother are killed during a raid of the enemy's border, Prince Yarvi is pulled from his religious studies and placed on the throne, only to be betrayed by one of his own and left to the mercy of the Shattered Sea. Yarvi never wanted the throne, but he will seek to reclaim it in the name of revenge.

Half a King is a story that starts of slow, introducing us to various characters and the politics that govern the world, before exploding to life after Yarvi is betrayed. Yarvi is shown to be physically soft and weak, a young boy who has been forced to sharpen his mind in a physically dominated world. As soon as we see Yarvi at his weakest moment, Abercrombie puts him through the meat grinder, a grinder that would likely claim stronger, physically able people. What comes out the other side is a young man who has been hardened by adversity, has retained his sharpened mind, and has developed a killer instinct. The progression of Yarvi from disfigured weakling to one of the most dangerous people alive is not your standard coming of age story, but it is one of the best coming of age stories I have read.

I wont go into much more detail as we already have a review of Half A King on the site, but I will say that I fully endorse the statement by Jo Fitzpatrick that Abercrombie is a master at work. The scope of this story is so big that I have no idea what is going to happen in the next installment, and that excites me.
Ryan Lawler, 9.5/10

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.

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.

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.

But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began - in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

Joe Abercrombie is no stranger to the field of fantasy writing, with a plethora of well received books under his belt already, and here comes what promises to be a fantastic series entitled Shattered Sea.

We meet Prince Yarvi, a young man with a deformed hand who is content to melt into the shadows of the Ministry and leave ruling the people to his father and brother, but after an unfortunate series of events he finds himself sat on the throne.

Standing at around 350 pages I presumed this novel would take me around a week to finish, similar to other books of its size. Last night I sat down to begin reading and this morning I now sit down to write a review on one of the most gripping books I’ve read for a long time. Once this plot has its teeth in you, it will not let you go and I simply could not put it down.

Abercrombie’s masterful storytelling means that everything, from the characters that you come to love and despise, to the sprawling world that is explored, is enthralling. Yarvi’s companions are as varied as the lands they come from, and absolutely nothing is certain about anyone until you reach that final page.

The character of Yarvi himself is one that, while perhaps not entirely relatable for many, is still someone we can easily recognise - scorned by his family and subjects for what they perceive as a weakness. The journey that Abercrombie takes you on through this character is emotional, dangerous and heart-warming all at the same time. The thing that struck me most is how clever the author has been when developing this character from a weakling into a King, the most subtle wording or description has the character transforming before your very eyes.

There is little, nay nothing, that I can find negative with this book. Abercrombie is certainly a master at work, and I eagerly look forward to the next instalment in the series.
Jo Fitzpatrick, 9.5/10

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Print Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (3 July 2014)

10/10 Abercrombie is certainly a master at work.

Reviews by and Jo Fitzpatrick

5 positive reader review(s) for Half a King

Half a King reader reviews

from USA

10/10 ()

from USA

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the premise for the story, however it was very apparent that this was generic hero's journey with a couple of interesting plot twists. The supporting cast was superficial(although entertaining) and lacked realistic motives or emotion. The setting was interesting but needs more development in the next two books.
6/10 ()

from Scotland

Enjoyable read, but felt like so many fantasy books I've read before, 'underrated hero has to walk very far'. On the whole pretty predictable, though I suspect a bland start is a good foundation to build with the next few books.
7/10 ()

from Scotland

I have'nt read a book from beginning to end for a number of years! Half a King changed that. Joe Abercrombie ...... thank you.
10/10 ()

from US

Is it just me, or is this book set in a post-apocalyptic Northern Europe? The elf ruins are described like ferroconcrete, one character is seen wearing what appears to be a circuit board as a necklace and 'Lanangad' and 'Strokum' are more or less where St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and Stockholm are in the real world.
10/10 ()

from Australia

When I first heard Abercrombie was working in the 'YA' field I was skeptical. How would he fare without the gleeful profanity and graphic bloodletting that helped make his name? Thankfully he drastically tightened his storytelling, fully realised his talent for creating great characters, and delivered an immensely entertaining tale. I have no idea what will happen next in this story, but I can't wait to find out.
9/10 ()

from Brazil

Really delicious book, better than lasagna.
10/10 ()

9/10 from 8 reviews

All Joe Abercrombie Reviews