Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
When I first wanted to start reading fantasy the author Joe Abercrombie kept popping up. I decided to give him a try and because I didn’t do any research or look into the books to much, I ended up reading Half a King as my first Abercrombie book because I liked the cover. Why that is sort of strange is because this is the first book in his Shattered Sea trilogy which happens to be YA. I didn’t know that at the time, but, since I had already started the title when I realized that it was YA, I decided to go on and finish it anyway. YA isn’t a genre that I read but Half a King, despite having a younger protagonist, didn’t bother me at all. Essentially it is the story of Prince Yarvi who has a severely crippled hand (lending to the “half” applied to him) and his harrowing survival adventure story to return back to his kingdom.
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First let’s start off with some of the things I didn’t like. There is a character in the book named Nothing and obviously with a name like that he’s going to have a twist. The probably is that the reader can see it coming and it loses its surprise when it is revealed. Secondly, the pacing of the book is pretty strange. There are many instances where the cast is somewhat confined in its location and/or physical or environment which leads to reading about the same setting for long stretches of the book.
On the plus side, much of the book is essentially a survival story (both against people and nature) which is always a plus for me. Much of the environment is hostile and many areas around the Shattered Sea where this book takes place are tundra and snowy environments which I can relate to somewhat. This book also deals with female characters quite well from ship captains to survivalists and some others that I don’t want to give away. These female characters are not weak and play important roles in the story. Also, I enjoyed how most of the characters, including Prince Yarvi, are quite morally grey characters who all seem to have different compasses they adhere to which made fore a refreshing read. Lastly, I enjoyed how calculations and wit played a prominent role in the book as opposed to force of arms, especially in the case of Prince Yarvi.
Despite having some problems, I enjoyed Half a King quite a bit even though it isn’t a genre a normally read. I am certainly going to check out Joe Abercrombie’s other works which apparently will be more gritty and such (considering his Twitter handle is LordGrimdark) and I will probably even get the next book in the Shattered Seas trilogy Half the World.
3.5 out of 5 stars.