Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie
Publication Date: July 15th 2014 by Del Rey
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.
But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy…
Half a King crept up on me. It’s one of those books that takes its time in unraveling the mysteries of this world but by the end you are left awed by the intricacy of the story. It reads like your typical fantasy; with the themes of betrayal, survival, vengence and friendship at its core, but then you’re hit with these epic twits that providesthat layer of depth to take the story to a whole new level.
The story follows Yarvi, the youngest Prince who unexpectedly finds himself on the throne following the death of his father and brother. No one expected him to be seated on the throne, his crippled hand making him a weakling to the eyes of the elite. This “half a king” is thrust into a position of power but with this ascension comes a brutal betrayal that takes Yarvi on a journey that tests him to the very limit of his abilities. The challenges he faces are immense, with threats coming at him from all sides. On this journey, Yarvi has to apply his intelligence, strength and perseverance to the circumstances he finds himself in. He is the underdog; he’s flawed and makes several mistakes along the way, but that makes him all the more interesting as he sees that being strong is not all about your physical strengths and that your intelligence and wit can easily be a tool in this game of power.
The characters were the highlight of the book for me. Along the journey he meets a slew of fascinating characters. These characters all have their own tale to tell and have all seen their fair share of hardship. With this band of outcasts, Yarvi finds himself surrounded by the most unlikely of friends.
What impressed me the most in Half a King was Abercrombie’s portrayal of women. Each character in the book has that layer of depth and complexity that make all the more compelling. The women in Yarvi’s life are all very different but the common link between them is that they utilize their strengths; logic, beauty and physical prowess and more. This book highlights the fact that strength comes in a lot of different forms and it was so refreshing to see a group of women take charge of their own destinies.
The ending did a great job at tying up the first chapter in this tale but also left me wanting more. I can’t wait to explore more of this world and see where the next part of the journey takes us.