Half A King

Half A King

Book - 2014
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"The Shattered Seas trilogy has worked its way into a very exclusive group of my favorite fantasy novels of all time."--James Dashner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner

"A fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page 1 and refused to let go."--George R. R. Martin

"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.

Praise for Half a King

"Tremendously entertaining . . . lightning-fast and filled with a wonderful collection of rogues, villains and two-faced bastards . . . From the first chapter [Joe Abercrombie] wastes no time as the reader is swept up in a gripping tale of betrayal and revenge." -- SciFi Now

"Once this plot has its teeth in you, it will not let go. . . . Abercrombie's masterful storytelling means that everything, from the characters that you come to love and despise, to the sprawling world that is explored, is enthralling." -- Fantasy Book Review

"Abercrombie's Shattered Sea is a fantastic yet believable backdrop to Yarvi's struggle, a vivid imaginary land." --The Seattle Times

"Intriguing characters . . . nonstop action." --Chicago Tribune

" Half a King is my favorite book by Joe Abercrombie so far, and that's saying something." --Patrick Rothfuss

"As in all Abercrombie's books, friends turn out to be enemies, enemies turn out to be friends; the line between good and evil is murky indeed; and nothing goes quite as we expect. With eye-popping plot twists and rollicking good action, Half a King is definitely a full adventure." --Rick Riordan

"Enthralling! An up-all-night read." --Robin Hobb

"Polished and sharp, perhaps his most technically proficient novel yet . . . I dare you to read the first chapter and try not to turn the next page." --Brent Weeks

" Half a King can be summed up in a single word: masterpiece. It's a coming-of-age story. It's a Viking saga. It's a revenge tale and family drama and the return of the prodigal son. But most of all, it's this: a short time alongside people as weak and blundering as we are and, in the midst of it all, as heroic. Far too short a time, as it turns out. What a wonderful book." --Myke Cole

" Half a King is full of all the adventure I've come to expect from Abercrombie and a tenderness I never knew he had." --Sam Sykes
Publisher: New York :, Del Rey,, [2014]
Edition: First U.S. edition.
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780804178327
Branch Call Number: FIC Aberc
Characteristics: 336 pages


From Library Staff

KateHillier Aug 10, 2014

This book sort of sneaks up on you. On one hand this tale is very similar to a lot of other revenge, take back the throne, style stories but you do not want to put the book down. Yarvi is headed for the Ministry, an order sort of like the clergy but heavily educated and tend to serve as advisors ... Read More »

From the critics

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lgmosher May 20, 2020

I'm sure there are words to describe how much I enjoyed this book but right now they escape me. Half a king was such a great book!

I couldn't put it down, I had to know what Yarvi was up to.... What would come of him, who Nothing truly was.

The fool strikes, she had said. The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns. Then strikes.

“Remember cunning children and stupid ones all drown very much the same.”

"What is the world coming to when an honest man cannot burn corpses without suspicion?” asked Nothing."

“Life is a risk,” answered Nothing. “All things, from birth on.”

The twist at the end of this book was amazing and unseen. If I were to read it again I might see the signs that I had missed but they are "covered up" so well that I could help but smile.

Half a king was wonderful. The change in Yarvi was a dark one but it made sense. It was nice to see real life happen in a book. Nothing that we thought would happen does and truly it is refreshing.

The character growth was done well and you truly latched onto them. I loved everything about this book and immediately leached onto the next one!

Apr 14, 2020

Joe Abercrombie proves that he has more that just one story in him (if you can even call his First Law world one story, which you CAN'T) with this riveting and compelling tale of betrayal, vengeance, slavery, death, and love. The titular "half a king" is a boy born with a malformed arm and hand who finds himself king of a northern, medieval-type country, one of several surrounding a large inland sea, when his father and brother are murdered. In a culture of hardened warriors and strained geopolitics, not to mention a feared and overbearing mother, he has an upward battle to prove himself worthy to sit on the throne. Then a bunch of stuff happens...

Compared to Abercrombie's other books, this is... shorter. That's about the only qualitative difference. It was written for "young and old adults" per Joe's website, but I have a hard time saying this is a "YA" book. It barely restrains Abercrombie's usual level of slaughter, betrayal, hatred, reversals, shocking deaths, and the like. It's much more bloody and brutal than many "YA" readers would be remotely comfortable with. There is nothing specific to the teen experience in these pages (other than a chaste kiss), so I reject the YA label with this book.

Is it fantasy? There is no magic, no dragons, no fantastic beasts, nothing supernatural going on, but it is an imaginary low-tech medivally-familiar world, which is kind of the default background for fantasy in the the general consciousness, so why not. It is certainly at least speculative fiction with its invented history, culture, and geography. The only intimations of fantastic elements come from the mention of "elves" with their "elf-stone" creations, some of which survive, and the "breaking of God" that happened millenia ago in this world, but if you read observantly you may come to a different conclusion as to the nature of this stuff.

Look, it's a fun story, full of twists and mayhem, and you can't help but root for the one-good-handed boy. The resolution is pretty hokey and epic all at the same time. It makes an easy entry point to Abercrombie's style, if you prefer a shorter and more direct novel than The Blade Itself. Those readers with prior Abercrombie experience already know what to expect when a chapter is titled "Kindness".

Oct 30, 2019

I will say this is an entertaining story, which just holds your attention and helps while away the time.

The story is a mixture of Camelot, Shakespeare, and other stories of old. It quaintly comes together centered around a young man who, because of a birth defect, who both court and family, had kicked him to the side, relegating him to fend for himself. From happenstance, he finds his life challenged to to point of death, inches from gaining the throne, and the criminal warfares who pledge themselves to his aid, to save his kingdom, and bring justice to the kingdom. Thus the story.

This is the first of three books. Frankly, I will not be reading the other two, as this story mildly entertained and captivated me. It was predictable, only held my interest, but never captivated or engaged me. Not a boring story, but only an entertaining story.

alburke47 Jan 25, 2018

(Audiobok Review) I've read some young adult over the last couple of years (I am young only at heart), and the only comparison Half a King had with them was that it had a young protagonist. Of course, this is young adult written by Joe Abercrombie, and it definitely felt more like a JA book than YA.

The crux of the story is prince Yarvi, scorned through his long life for having a crippled hand, becomes king at a young(ish) age. His countryfolk won't accept him, and endeavour to get rid of him. However, it turns out Yarvi is harder to kill than that stupid mosquito who gets into your bedroom when you're trying to go to sleep. Stupid bug. Great story though.

Yarvi runs through calamity after calamity, but learns as he goes and collecting friends along the way. The narrator was great, and made the story at least sound like it was YA (whatever the hell that is anyway), and don't let the genre tag out you off. Like your fantasy dark and not so epic, Half a King is definitely worth a look. And perhaps the young adults of today should be reading stories like this anyway...

Jan 23, 2018

A great story with a relatable character. Yarvi, the main character in the story has only 1 fully functioning hand. A good way to introduce a non traditional hero. He also gains a thrown and has it usurped by someone close to him early on. Embarking on a quest for revenge with a motley cast of allies he eventually learns a lot about himself and the strengths he has despite his weaknesses and trials. A great book for fans of the overcoming underdog!

Feb 17, 2017

The first chapter of the Shattered Sea trilogy. On the surface, it's a basic 'brains over brawn' revenge adventure, but there is a lot more going on once you get into the following books. I won't spoil it, but this series is not the genre it seems. There are a few plot twists in each book of the series, including a pretty good one in this book. Some people might have seen it coming, but I didn't. I agree with other reviewers, this book (and its sequels) were very hard to put down once you get started. It's a great read for fans of sword and sorcery adventures.

Jul 06, 2016

Excellent series

LPL_CentennialC Feb 22, 2016

This book is the beginning of an epic fantasy series that is sure to delight fans of A Song of Ice and Fire. A young, crippled prince must face his destiny when his father and older brother are murdered--and his journey of revenge takes him much farther than he ever thought possible. Half a King is a little slow paced, but Abercrombie’s complex characters and rich world building keep the story going throughout. My favorite parts of this book? A flawed narrator, compelling supporting characters, and gritty battle scenes. Perfect for young adults and adults alike!

DevilStateDan Aug 05, 2015

I'm now a huge fan of Joe Abercrombie - his action sequences are very well paced & gruesomely effective, his characters are beautifully flawed &/or troubled & his language use & writing style is great. These books are a great way in to his fantasy world, first seen in The Blade Itself & is a good option for young adults to explore his writing.
I'm hoping during this, my #2015ReadingChallenge to complete this trilogy in addition to the other trilogy that I chose.... just because I really like it!

mvkramer Jul 07, 2015

Be warned, this book is ADDICTIVE. I read it in one day, straight through - I almost never do that. Very fast-paced, exciting, great story for fantasy readers who like political schemes more than dragons and wizards. My one quibble is that the book is almost too fast - the author really could have spent more time with the characters. In fact, this book felt like a prequel volume almost - setting up a world and characters for later. I have the sequel on order, so we'll see if it lives up to my expectations.

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Feb 23, 2017

chaponniere thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Oct 14, 2016

The wise speaker learns first when to stay silent.


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