Monday, 7 July 2014

Review: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Released: July 3rd 2014
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

‘I swore an oath to be avenged on the killers 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 itself. 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’s path may end as it began – in twists, and traps and tragedy…
(from Goodreads)

I really enjoyed Half a King, and I'm already so excited for the next book. A brilliant fantasy that everyone should read.

Yarvi was a character who started off naive and a bit self-pitying but grew to be very cunning and clever and the kind of person you'd definitely rather have as a friend rather than an enemy. I really enjoyed reading about him and how he coped with each new and horrible situation he was thrown in. He had never thought of himself as much and was fixated on how having "half a hand" made him "half a king". But over the course of the book, his character really developed, and he became more accepting of himself and the fact that he would sometimes have to do things differently to get what he wanted, but that didn't necessarily make him less of a person. He used to be criticised for being too empathetic, and while that was true, I think Yarvi did occasionally have a ruthless streak as well. Not as much as his or uncle, or as Nothing, but he did show that he was willing to do what was necessary for the greater good. I liked that he had such a complex personality and that there were these many different sides to him; it made him a very interesting and fairly unpredictable character.

Yarvi, however, was not the only intriguing character. Practically every character in this book was great to read about. I won't be able to mention them all, so I'll just talk about the main few. Nothing was probably the most fascinating because he was just shrouded in mystery. A nameless man who spent twenty years as a slave and yet was a ruthless and battle-hard fighter who could cut down multiple opponents with any cheap, ordinary blade. Then there was Jaud, who was one of my favourites, because he was very strong but also very kind and was one of the first people to help Yarvi on the ship. Rulf made me laugh because he was the cynic of the group and was always complaining, and I could understand that; he'd had a hard life and didn't trust people easily. Sumael was a very skilled navigator; without her, everyone would probably be dead, and I really hope we get to learn more about her in book two. Ankran was a character I really didn't like to begin with but who grew on me once we got to know him better. The whole book was basically about how first impressions aren't always accurate and how you never know who will turn out to be your enemy or ally.

Plot-wise, Half a King did start off a little slow for me, but after the first few chapters, I became really absorbed in the story and could hardly put it down. The world-building was pretty good, especially the parts about the ancient elf ruins, but I do wish we were told more (though this is only the first book in the series, so hopefully we'll learn more in the next books). There were some great twists I didn't see coming, even though I suspected something was up, and throughout the whole book I had this ominous feeling that  I shouldn't get too attached to any characters because who knew what was about to happen next. I don't want to reveal too much of what happened, but I really liked the ending and can't wait to find out what happens next.

Overall, Half a King was a fantastic read and probably one of my favourite books of the year. I highly recommend it, especially to fantasy fans, and I'm really looking forward to reading Half a World next year.


  1. I must have this now.

    And of course my library lists it as "acquiring" which makes me both furious -- because I can't have it now like I wanted -- but very happy -- because turns out my library isn't as lame as I had thought since it had the foresight to acquire this so quickly.

    Thanks so much for sharing! :D Lovely review!


  2. Another positive review for Half Bad. I love the fantasy genre and I felt like I should visit our local bookstore as soon as possible so I can finally read this seemingly good book. I also appreciate character growths and I'm happy that many characters from this book are really likeable and compelling as well. Great review, Liz! :)


Comments are better than frosted cupcakes :)