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Half a King (Shattered Sea) Hardcover – July 15, 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. The pacing is perfect, the characters deep and true and real, the world rich and authentic, the plot full of twists and turns. Perhaps my favorite part is that no one is purely good or evil: Each and every character has layers upon layers that are a joy to discover. I tore through all three books and truly hope that someday Joe Abercrombie returns to this magnificent, captivating world.”—James Dashner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner
“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
Top Customer Reviews
The story starts as one might expect after having read the back of the book: boy prince who unexpectedly becomes king only to have it snatched away from him, thus igniting a revenge story. That does indeed cover the first few chapters, and while revenge is the motivating force for our heroic half king, it’s not a glorious revenge (well, the book is glorious, but the revenge is sour). Half a King is an intelligent and powerful combination of adventure and vengeance filtered through the lens that reminds the reader revenge rarely turns out the way you think it should.
What’s not immediately clear by either the cover art nor the back cover blurb is that this book is less fantasy and more viking. Some of the beginning descriptions confused me until I stopped trying to visualize it like Game of Thrones, and instead visualized it like Eric the Red.
One aspect that I find most impressive about the book is how lean and focused the writing is. Let’s be honest: when was the last time you read a great fantasy book that didn’t require a six month’s leave of absence to finish? Half a King is fit and trim. There is only one point of view, characters come and go, and the plot moves quickly.Read more ›
There is certainly enough very interesting world-building on display that, should Abercrombie return to the lands around the Shattered Sea, that this entry might seem stronger as part of a longer series. As it is, this is a quick, fun read, but if you're new to the author's work, I'd start with his debut trilogy to see what all the fuzz is about.
So when I say HALF A KING is not very good, please understand it comes from a place of love.
The story: a young, nerdy prince finds himself king after his father and brother are killed. And then finds himself quickly not-king after a sudden and inevitable betrayal. Not-the-king is left for dead, sold into slavery, sold as an oar-slave and then meets a ragtag bunch of lovable roughnecks.
Spoiler-Free, here is what went wrong.
1. Unlike Abercrombie's other books, Half A King is limited to one POV. Just Yarvi's. One of the delights in Abercrombie's writing is the way he plays with POVs to give us multiple, conflicting takes on events and characters. None of that is present. Instead we have a myopic, book-smart and world-dumb privileged, entitled boy to follow.
2. The hero spends like 4,000 pages on a boat. Doing boat things. Thinking about boats. Just . . . no. Nothing interesting ever happens on a boat in fantasy novels. It's just a treadmill the character hops on so that when they hop off they have become a man, or whatever. You may as well play a Level Up sound -- DING! -- and just have the main character add a few points to his stats and get automated followers, for how obvious and trite it is. I have a friend who literally skips to the end of a boat scene in ever fantasy book, based on the theory that story-wise it's just treading water (pardon the pun). That is totally true here. Just skip past it.Read more ›
"Half A King" tells the tale of Prince Yarvi, the youngest son of the Gettland king. Because he was born maimed - he has a twisted, knobby hand on one side - he is seen as only "half a man." Not suited to be a warrior, Yarvi is studying to become a minister. On the night before he's to take his final Minister's Test, which will make him renounce family and birthright, his uncle Odem brings world-shattering news: his father King Uthrik, and also his heir, Yarvi's elder brother, have both been treacherously murdered by the Vanstermen. And now, Yarvi is suddenly thrust into the kingship.
The thin golden band of the King's Circle on his brow, his bottom about to be planted on the Black Chair and a marriage to his cousin Isriun in the very near future, Yarvi now has to prove to his people that being maimed doesn't make him only "half a king." He must take up his father's sword and lead a raid against the Vanstermen in revenge, even though the High King has forbidden open war. As usual with Abercrombie, a lot of things end up having double meanings. Take for example the oath of vengeance he swears before he sets out: "Let it be a chain upon me and a goad within me."
Before long, Yarvi is in chains indeed. Treachery during the raid has him make a desperate dash for freedom. Although everyone else believes he dies in his escape attempt, he manages to survive by the skin of his teeth but ends up in Vansterland.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
meh. his first series knocked my socks off and i'll read eveything by him because of it, but these charcters didnt grab me as much. writing is still grimy good.Published 10 days ago by robert
Awesome this book is one of my favorite books. I think this isa very good story to read for everyonePublished 27 days ago by it is very fun game
If you like generic Game of Thrones characters, you'll love, Yarvi (generic Tyrion) as he struggles to overcome his physical disability to get revenge for a murdered father ... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Toni
Excellent book! Haven't enjoyed a book this much since The Name of the Wind.Published 1 month ago by Ross
It took a bit of a push to start this book, but I ended up really enjoying it. Half A King was such a unique and interesting story. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Gabriela
Joe Abercrombie is one of the best at character and story development, and this book sets the stage for a great set of books (still chewing through book three at the moment and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Minnickz