Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie

Title: Half a King
Publisher: Del Rey
On Sale Date: July 15, 2014

Description from Amazon:

“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 that his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

Joe Abercrombie has been on my list of authors I’ve really wanted to read and Half a King didn’t disappoint.  It is fast-paced, a little gritty, exciting and thoroughly enjoyable.  

Prince Yarvi is immediately sympathetic.  With one crippled arm and two disappointed parents, Yarvi’s future is forever changed when his father the King and favored older brother are murdered, leaving him next in line for the throne.  Betrayal soon follows and while Yarvi is nearly killed, a bit of luck and some quick thinking leave him alive, but sold into slavery.

As weak as his arm is, Yarvi’s mind is equally strong.  As an outcast, he earns the loyalty of other outcasts while plotting first his freedom, and second his revenge.  Yarvi is a complex character, inheriting a throne he didn’t want but refuses to let be stolen from him.  All the characters in this novel have depth to them. Abercrombie creates twists in both the plot and in the characters.  Much like young Yarvi, the reader can never entirely trust anyone or know what hidden surprises and motivations they may have. Everyone is trying to manipulate the others and that keeps you guessing until the very end.

Half a King is the first volume in the new Shattered Sea series.  It tells a complete story on its own and can be read solo.  Abercrombie’s writing skills are on full display here creating a world, characters and story that is a thrill to read.  I’m looking forward to future installments in what promises to be a great series.  Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

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