- File Size: 6180 KB
- Print Length: 385 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey (July 15, 2014)
- Publication Date: July 15, 2014
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00HBQWGYO
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,000 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$16.00|
Save $12.01 (75%)
Random House LLC
Price set by seller.
Your Memberships & Subscriptions
Half a King (Shattered Sea Book 1) Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
|Length: 385 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible book with Whispersync for Voice. Add the Audible book for a reduced price of $7.49 when you buy the Kindle book.
An Amazon Book with Buzz: "The Patient" by Jasper DeWitt
"The Patient is a fascinating and frightening read that comes at you like the monster under your bed." - Reed Farrel Coleman Learn more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
“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
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Abercrombie does an excellent job painting the outlines of a boy in this situation, raised in a cold, royal household, who trusts his mentor more than anyone in the world. He is well-suited to his apparent destiny as a minister, but quite suddenly finds himself thrust onto the throne - him and his shriveled half-hand that renders him an object of scorn among the people of the court.
More misadventure befalls Yarvi as the story finds its footing and, while somewhat predictable, is entertaining until the last twist reveals itself in the final few pages of the book. There is love, of a kind, between Yarvi and a fellow misadventurer; there is betrayal; there are forbidding parents and mysterious companions.
However, Half a King feels, ultimately, like half an Abercrombie book. A lot of the grit has been washed away from the story, grit that made Abercrombie a hit not that long ago with The First Law, and while I would certainly recommend Half a King to young adults rather than that other series, I would still hold that first trilogy as the better. Nonetheless, I look forward to reading Half the World, the next entry in the Shattered Seas trilogy.
If you're looking for the extreme "grittiness" of Abercrombie's other books, then this may not be for you. If you'd like a quick, enjoyable read with a tight story and great writing, then you'll probably enjoy Half a King. It's sold as "young adult," but it is infinitely better written than most of the YA fantasy I've read. Although some reviewers complained that the plot was simple or felt rushed, I appreciate that it's lean and to the point. I love a long, rambling epic, too, but it's refreshing to read something that feels planned. It's a quick read (and the Kindle price is great!), so it's a good book for when you aren't looking for a huge time investment.
Well, rest assured, there’s little taming down of Abercrombie in the Shattered Sea trilogy, to the point where I’m not quite sure exactly what makes the series any different from the rest of his works. (Abercrombie himself has some interesting thoughts on the matter here.) It’s still stark, still brutal, still cynical about human nature and what we do to each other, still darkly humorous and understanding of every character while never flinching from what they do – in other words, it’s an absolute treat for someone like me who was disappointed at almost being done with everything else the man had written.
So what is this series, then? While the exact nature of the storyline is best unfolded over time – like The First Law, it really takes until the final volume to see the threads that have tied it all together – the series starts with Yarvi, a disfigured son of the royal family being thrust onto the throne far before he was ready. It doesn’t take long for things to go wrong, and the first volume of the series – Half a King – follows Yarvi as he plots his return to the life he once had, as well as finding a way to get revenge on those who put them there.
By the time Half a King ends, we’ve come to understand Yarvi quite a bit – we see his weaknesses and strengths, we’ve seen how he’s grown and blossomed into the person he’s always been capable of being…but to say more would get into the second book of the series, and I don't want to give things away. Suffice to say that what starts as the story of Yarvi and his throne becomes something far more epic, mixing the personal narratives of each book into something more epic and sprawling in scope. It’s not a spoiler to say that the final book’s title being Half a War gives you a sense of where the series is going; this is Abercrombie, and his worlds are violent ones. (Mind you, the setting here is unusual and fascinating, gradually changing as we continue to read, revealing more and more to readers in subtle, quiet ways until our very perceptions of this world have completely transformed.) So, yes, this is a story that culminates in a war – but the reasons, logic, and motivations that drive us there are what compels us, as do the characters and people we meet along the way.
The Shattered Sea books may or may not be your definition of young adult (personally, I’m waiting a little bit before giving them to my thirteen-year-old son; while he might enjoy them, I think they’re harder than I’d feel comfortable giving him at this age), but they’re great fantasy that does everything that made me love Abercrombie from the first pages of The Blade Itself. The plotting is epic in scope and yet never loses its character-driven focus. The world feels plausible and honest while finding the dark humor and humanity that keeps it from being a miserable slog. The characters are rich, leaving you understanding them, feeling their pain, and worried about their moral choices. In other words, it’s a rich, complex world that Abercrombie has created, and it’s been an amazing place to lose myself – and one that’s made me a little sad for whatever I read next that has to live up to it.
Top international reviews
I'd avoid some reading some of the other reviews on here because they just outline the plot of the book and ruin the surprises. Just read the blurb, otherwise you'll have every twist ruined. Essentially, though, it feels like a coming of age story with heavy influences from Norse/Viking history. I was truly surprised how gripped I was by this story from the very start.
I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a fast-paced, action-packed, and approachable fantasy book. It's about 400 pages and takes absolutely no time to get through, as it hooks you straight in. Again though, beware if you're an Abercrombie fan, as it isn't like his other books.
What I liked about the First Law series was the fantastic characterisation – I really felt I was adventuring with a group of companions, each having their own personalities, backstories, and idiosyncrasies. I am pleased to say that this is also a strength of Half a King, especially with the character of Thorn Bathu, a fabulous female anti-hero, but also with so many others in the book. I really enjoyed both her development and the occasional view of her softer side even as she was turned into such a lethal weapon. Wrapped in amongst the reactions of her crew mates and with a large dose of Joe’s fabulous comic bent it was a pleasure to hang out with the characters and I am already well into Book 2.
My primary criticism applies not just to this book but to many such fantasy stories, namely that the tales tend to be fairly derivative. I could almost predict what was going to happen in terms of plot-line and development. Would it kill fantasy authors to weave a story that wasn’t a group of misfits moving around a medieval setting map whilst suffering occasional mishaps? As great scifi has great tech and physics so great fantasy should aspire to be more than a re-imaging of Tolkien.
Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 scifi fantasy series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl, Undon , and 4659 now available on Amazon.
The prose is still very much that of Joe Abercrombie but pared back, almost watered down like the gritty slush of the world which it details. The no-nonsense writing style is brisk yet blunt with cold scornful similes replacing the florid sarcasm of the First Law series.
- 'It was the elf-ruins he saw first, of course. The giant walls, sheer and perfectly smooth at their bases, were unmarked by Mother Sea's fury but torn off ragged higher up, twisted metal showing in the cracks like splintered bone in a wound...'
- 'From its crumbling top rods of rusted metal sprouted , unruly as an idiot's hair.'
There is still plenty of violence, dismemberments, lost limbs and rearranged faces to enjoy so it's not quite pristine virginal white snow, there are still yellow and red patches you should avoid eating.
The pacing is good and while the slow start may put some readers off, I found it a very good way of setting up the main character Yarvi - we are given a very clear view of how he perceives, and is perceived by, the world.
The plot itself has clearly defined sections, the twist at the end of the opening leading very fluidly into the middle section which while not as fleshed out as I would have perhaps liked, never feels like it outstays its welcome. The final section is heavily studded with action before a second big twist which, while predictable, was still enjoyable as was the overall ending.
Characters are still painted in Abercrombie's trademark greyness, there's not a single person wholly good, nor wholly evil. Behind every decision, behind every act regardless of its position on a spectrum of morality there is a reason, a personal justification and a goal. Each of them is an island of their own hate, pride and ambition.
- 'If life has taught me one thing, it's that there are no villains. Only people, doing their best.'
Yarvi is a fantastic character and is written so believably. He starts a dark cynical character shunned by his people, extremely self-deprecating and harbouring a cold rage. When the book starts he reminds me a lot of a younger, less emotionally mature Tyrion Lannister.
- 'I didn't ask for half a hand, Yarvi had said, trapped where he so often found himself, on the barren ground between shame and fury.'
- 'I didn't ask for half a son.'
Following his 'down turn in fortunes' he learns to stop lamenting what he lacks and rather to celebrate and utilise that which he has. Trading slavery to his parents, his disability and the traditional expectations of power for slavery of a different sort acts as the catalyst for his development. He never truly loses his crown, it just rests for a time around his neck.
As much as I will praise Yarvi I feel as though most of the other characters are ancillary and merely tools for his journey. They all have their own personalities but they feel far more shallow and it's difficult to develop any kind of attachment to them, strong or otherwise.
That being said Yarvi's mother Laithlin is a strong and compelling female character who almost has a background arc of her own. Initially seeming cold and calculating I ended up with a vastly different and far more positive opinion of her thanks to characterisation and development.
Overall I'd say Half a King is a thoroughly enjoyable book and one that I would highly recommend. Had I not read his adult novels I would likely have rated it higher but I couldn't shake the feeling that this book was 'Joe Abercrombie-lite'
This book would be fantastic for any YA readers looking to move into more adult books, the obvious route would be to read this then then pick up The Blade Itself or another adult fantasy. However Half a King also reminded me somewhat of The Saxon Stories/The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell and so could also be a launchpad into the world of historical fiction.
Rating - 3/5
So, what is Half a King about?
The book features Yarvi, the youngest son of the King of Gettland and the Golden Queen. In a land where combat prowess and physical strength dictates the success of the monarch and any man, Yarvi is a cripple with only one good hand and no skill in warfare. Never having expected to inherit, he is suddenly thrown into the role of king after his father and elder brother are slain by treachery. However, before he can avenge anyone and bring to justice his father’s killers, he’s betrayed and sold into slavery. Only to find himself suddenly at the oar of a galley with newfound friends and companions. When escaping the galley it’s a long trek to his homeland, and he must escape the vengeful pursuit of the galley’s captain if he wants to then reclaim his throne.
Half a King is something different and an all-new setting that doesn’t have anything to do with The First Law series books. The world in this book is reminiscent of Scandinavia in early middle ages, and much of the elements in the book are similar to classics of the epic fantasy genre. Abercrombie hints at entire political, economic, and religious backgrounds; albeit without delving into these and maintaining them as mentions within the book, giving a rather simplistic and one-dimensional feeling to the book. This is fitting of the genre of the book and it being a young adult novel, but ought to be taken in mind by an older reader who wants to give the book a try.
Half a king is extremely readable right from the start, and with a very clear prose. It stands at three hundred and seventy three pages, and is divided into four parts then subdivided into further chapters. It reads with the same brisk prose that the author uses in his previous novels, albeit with less violence and graphic language. There is little to no graphic content, though the book does have some not-too-graphic adult situations. It is notably more simplistic from a moral perspective and character development perspective – fitting for its young adult nature but underwhelming and disappointing for a more mature reader. The twist given to the classic coming-of-age story is something which I came to really enjoy in the book, and is suitably reminiscent and in the style of previous books of the author. Albeit, really toned down.
Initially the constant self-depreciation of Yarvi gets slightly annoying, though one gets quickly used to it, and the tone of the rest of the book is fresh and original. Yarvi grows and changes a lot over the course of the story, as do the character’s around him, and good dramatic and adventurous scenes keep the plot moving along well. I personally found some of the characters rather one-dimensional when it came to those who weren’t around Yarvi, and little came to be truly known about them. Good guy and bad guy distinctions seemed to have little edge, and quite a few characters came off as stereotypical. It seemed to be as such rather simplistic and with a noticeable modernist tone, though the book was enjoyable to read from cover to cover and succeeds as a young adult fantasy book.
As such, Half a King is definintely a good young adult fantasy book, and is suitably entertaining once you get into its story. However, older readers might find it too simplistic and toned down, particularly if they liked the author’s previous work. The world seems to have little depth to it in this first book, and the morality isn’t really delved into. However, it wasn’t bad by any means and is worth reading for the people who like young adult fiction.
The pace is blisteringly quick and I understand untypical of Abercrombie but I loved it. I thought it was a relentlessly paced tale of revenge and I can’t fault it. I noticed on Goodreads it could be considered YA but whilst true, it is not gory and sweary this does not diminish a good story well written in the same way Michael J. Sullivan’ outstanding Royce & Hadrian books. Yarvi is a great character, smart and resourceful and he is surrounded by interesting and different characters on his journey back home. Shadikshirram, Nothing, Sumael and Rulf in particular are favourites.
Stop what you are doing and read HALF A KING now.
When I put my hands (well...eyes) on first Shattered Sea novel I was very excited.
When I finished I was less excited.
Not that I did not like it. I did. I do.
But I missed the depth, cynicism, humour.
When somebody from First Law was in trouble I was devouring my nails like wood-chipper! In this case I was thinking "ohh.. damn it...".
I would read it again and I would buy it again. But Logen still will be a good friend, when I will be trying to remember what that book was all about in some time.
I hadn't read any Joe Abercrombie books until now and didn't really view myself as a fan of the fantasy genre. however reading my way through the George R R Martin books I found myself wanting more. Abercrombie's reviews are excellent and this seemed like a good introduction to his work. Written as a YA novel it sometimes seems a little superficial and lacking detail but it is clear to see that Abercrombie has a talent from creating racy plots and a cast of characters that pique the interest. I loved this book as a short and fun read and intend to read more!
Three stars as I like the author and there were glimpses of the old Abercrombie. I'll read the others if I can buy them cheap (just for completion) but suspect the series will go to charity after.
Half a King is the first book in the Shattered Sea Trilogy, and my first Joe Abercrombie read. Not having read his grittier adult series, The First Law beforehand, allowed me to review his debut YA novel on its own merits, and from a completely untarnished perspective.
The story is told from the single perspective of Yarvi, a young prince, who was born with a deformed hand. In a harsh, Viking-esque world, where a man is valued by his physical strength and skill with a blade, this weakness does not sit well with his father, the King of Gettland, or his warrior kinsmen.
“I didn’t ask for a half a hand’
“I didn’t ask for half a son.”
Training to become a minister, Yarvi has no desire to inherit the Black Chair, but finds it unexpectedly thrust upon him when his father and elder brother are betrayed and murdered on an enemy raid. However, King Yarvi’s reign and quest to avenge his dead kin are soon cut short as he too is betrayed by one of his own and left for dead. Sold into slavery, he finds himself chained to the oar of the South Wind at the mercy of its vicious, drunken captain, Ebdel- Aric Shadikshirram, who is keen to proclaim mercy has always been her greatest weakness.
It’s there Yarvi finds friendship and loyalty with an unlikely band of misfits, and a strength of will he never knew he had. Relying only on his sharp wits and the support of his new companions, Yarvi escapes the cruelty of the Shattered Sea and begins the treacherous journey home across the frozen North, pledging a vow to avenge his kin and reclaim the throne he never wanted in the first place.
Part gritty adventure, part coming of age tale, Half a King grips you by the shoulders and refuses to let go until the bitter end. Written for YA audience, the length is kept deliberately shorter at less than 400 pages, the prose tighter, the pace faster and the violence and profanity kept to an appropriate level for this age group. Yet, somehow it doesn’t feel like a YA read. There are none of the typical clichés associated with the genre e.g. love-triangle, orphaned parents, Mary-Sue characters. Neither are there many of the tropes you’d expect from a high fantasy novel. No magical forces at work, good versus evil, chosen one, or the merest whiff of a fire-breathing dragon. The only mention of elves are the ruins they’ve left behind, thousands of years before.
Abercrombie has skilfully blended the structure of a YA novel with the dark grittiness of adult fantasy, turning convention on its head to create something fresh and unique. Although the violence is watered down a little, there’s still plenty of sword-wielding, bloodshed, dark humour and grim moments to keep you on your toes and turning the pages.
Whilst there was a vivid sense of this medieval-type setting (which, from the names – Gettland and Vansterland feel reminiscent of an alternate Sweden), my only niggle was that the world building wasn’t as fully explored as it could have been. That said, it was probably pitched at the right level for YA readers.
But what this book lacks in complexity, it certainly makes up for in characterisation. Each character is uniquely flawed, neither good or evil and incredibly well drawn. I was pleased to see the female side characters, such as Sumael and Shadikshirram given strong roles. Laithlin, Yarvi’s mother is a particularly fascinating character, kept very much in the background for plot reasons, but somehow still managed to hold a powerful presence on the few pages that she did appear.
The progression of Yarvi’s character from weakling boy to a cunning king is cleverly written, leaving the reader unsure of whether he’s really likeable or not. Abercrombie weaves just enough subtle hints into the narrative to give a glimpse of the ruthless character he will grow to become. For me though, Nothing stole the show, whose answer to any dispute is steel, and had some of the best lines in the story.
Packed with unexpected twists and turns, dark, witty dialogue, compelling characters, this fast-paced, gripping tale is a must read for anyone who loves grimdark fantasy.
I wouldn't say that the setting is completely unique, but Abercrombie paints it so well and the characters experience it in such a way that brings it to life.
A great read for any fantasy fan.
The world he has written, separate from the First Law world, is fictional and that is as far as the fantasy elements go. There are no dragons, no magic and no elfs. This could easily have been medical England, or maybe Norway is more apt as there is a distinct viking nature to proceedings, something that Abercrombie admitted was an influence.
It's a story of deceit and adventure with some great characters along the way. It's short and that keeps the pace going at a good clip. There is no filler that you get along with other fantasy novels and you'll finish it wanting to know what happens next. Highly recommended.
Abercrombie achieved all of this in under 400 pages. A real pet peeve of mine is when authors feel the need to pad books out with superfluous nonsense that in no way deepens their world, shades their characters or advances the plot; it's almost as if they have a page goal to reach even if the story does not require it. But Half a King is all the better for being brisk and I cannot wait to see where book two in the trilogy takes the story.
I won't go into the plot as it has been covered elsewhere but I just wanted to reassure Abercrombie fans who have similar doubts to my own not to worry. This is a great book and I can't wait to read the rest of the series.