“Half a King” by Joe Abercrombie

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“Half a King” by Joe AbercrombieHalf a King by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #1
Published: 2014 by Del Ray
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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Half a King by Joe Abercrombie is the story of a reluctant heir who must overcome adversity to reclaim his throne.  Yarvi, a young prince with a withered hand, never wanted to be a king.  He’s not cut out for a life of blood and steel.  Instead, Yarvi is a peaceful soul who is much more suited for life in the Ministry (quasi-religious advisers who embrace the role of wise men/women), and he’s spent his life training to accept such a role.  But then, as he nears the completion of his training, his father and brother are murdered, and he finds himself thrust into power and completely unprepared for it.  Almost immediately, he falls victim to another plot, and barely escapes with his life, sold into slavery in a foreign land.  Thus begins Yarvi’s coming of age, as he discovers his own inner strength and takes responsibility for his kingdom.

It was the coming-of-age theme of the story that really did it for me.  Yarvi started out as sensitive, insecure, intelligent, but extremely naive.  As he suffers hardship, he learns to identify and accept his own strengths and use them to his advantage.  Sure, he’s not going to be an excellent swordsman, but he can become an excellent strategist.  And even then, he’s still fallible.  He’s not some superhuman hero, he’s just a normal guy thrust into some really crappy situations who has to make do with what he’s got.  Because he handles it well, Yarvi inspires loyalty among his friends, long before they know the truth about who he is or what he aims to accomplish.

I loved the way that Half a King ended.  The twist was both unexpected and oddly satisfying.  And that’s all I’ll say about that, because spoilers ruin the fun.

If you like gritty fantasy where magic takes a backseat to revenge, betrayal, and intrigue, then Half a King is for you.  10/10, would read again.

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