I received this book via LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.
Half a King is the story of the one-handed Prince Yarvi who suddenly finds himself the King of his people only to be betrayed by his seemingly kind uncle, Odem. Yarvi suddenly finds himself a slave, who isn’t worth much, but because of his previous training to enter the ministerial order is able to put himself into the position to flee his captivity along with several other slave companions. Along with his friends, he sets out to avenge his own betrayal but those against his family and fulfill the oath he pledged at his father’s funeral.
Though the story doesn’t descend into grim and darkness, Joe Abercrombie’s first foray into the young adult fantasy is an enjoyable romp around the Shattered Sea. Abercrombie is able to work his word building throughout the narrative without weighing down the pace of the story. He is also able to throw in clues that Yarvi and the reader pull together by the end to unravel why the betrayed occurred in the first place. And does a wonderful job of using a small detail noted in one of the first few pages that plays a part in the last few pages.
A mature reader has to account for the genre Half a King clearly reads as, young adult fantasy. The characters are pretty well rounded, including Yarvi. Even though he is clearly pretty clever, Yarvi’s disability and youth do have an effect on the story and result in him getting beat up a lot while finding a way to survive. Yarvi isn’t pure; he does kill people in his efforts to survive and getting revenge in both direct and indirect ways. Abercrombie is able to use various tropes seen as part of the young adult genre and twist in a satisfying way, especially when it came to the character Nothing.
Upon finishing Half a King, I was very satisfied with my reading experience. Abercrombie wrote a fun, engaging book that I know I would have enjoyed if I was 15-20 years younger. He was also able to set up very interesting potential sequel plots with characters the reader has been introduced to and understands their motivations. I very much recommend this enjoyable book for all ages.