Half a King (Shattered Sea #1)
July 3rd 2014
A classic coming-of-age tale set in a vivid and richly imagined world from Sunday Times bestselling author Joe Abercrombie.
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...
I really wanted to love Half a King. Ever since I saw the cover and read the blurb I thought that it sounded great, and I was excited to read something by a well established adult fantasy author, because I don't really do that very often. Or ever, really. But I didn't entirely click with Half a King, which was a shame. I think I'll still read the second book at least, but I just wasn't really feeling it at the time.
I'm going to put a lot of my meh-ness towards Half a King down to the fact that I probably wasn't really in the mood for it when I read it, because I am a mood reader and I really have to be in the right mood for a book/genre to enjoy it. Also because Half a King has lots of stuff that I would typically love. An interesting, underdog of a protagonist, a group of misfits travelling around, court politics (in small doses) and a world inspired by Vikings (VIKINGS). But I just really found my interest waning towards the middle of the book and it took me a while to get through, for me. Maybe because that was the part of the book where all the travelling happened, I don't know, but it didn't really grip me at all. Which, again, I usually don't mind excessive travelling in my fantasy (it's part of the deal, really. You like fantasy, you have to put up with excessive travelling) so I don't really know why I found it to drag a bit in this instance. I think when the second book comes out, I might read this again and see if it was just down to my mood and if I'll engage with it more a second time around.
I did actually like parts of it, though! It's not like I didn't like the book or anything, it's just I didn't feel engaged in the story which is at least 80% down to me, so don't let it put you off. I really liked the beginning of the book, actually. I felt like it was the part of the book that held the most appeal to me personally. The beginning of the book and the ending were my favourite parts, as they either had the most action, or twists that I couldn't predict, or political machinations. Political machinations are my favourite. Which was probably why some of the most interesting characters in the book, for me, were Yarvi's mother Laithlin and his Uncle. I didn't like them per se, but I thought they were interesting. Probably more interesting than some of the other main characters.
Again, I also really liked the ending, because after the middle where I'd kind of lost interest, it was nice to have some big action to get into again. And I didn't see some of the twists coming, so that was a lot of fun. I was genuinely really quite surprised by one of the big twists and I was just really impressed at how it had been carried out. And I thought that most of the characters were interesting and engaging enough, even if I felt like personally the romance-ish type thing that happened/will inevitably happen between Yarvi and Sumael felt kind of unnecessary in this book. And I liked the world too, though I wish there was a map in the book (I don't know if there's one in the finished copy - I'll have to check next time I'm in a bookshop) so I could get a better picture of where everything is. I love maps in books. They're my favourite.
So, I did have some issues with Half a King, but they weren't so much that they impeded my enjoyment of the book. I do want to try reading it again though to see if I would be more engaged a second time around. I would like to read some of Abercrombie's adult books, though! And I will definitely read the second book.