Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Disclaimer: I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I am ashamed to admit that I have only read one Joe Abercrombie story prior to reading this book --  Some Desperado in the anthology Dangerous Women earlier this year. It was definitely one of my favorite stories of the entire collection - violent and gritty but balanced with a big dose of wit. 

So, when I got an advanced copy of his new book Half a King, I did a little dance. And then I got to reading. I wasn't disappointed! 

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Rating: 4/5 stars

"I swore an oath to be avenged on the killers of my father.  I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath."

Half a King follows the story of Yarvi, the reluctant heir to the Black Chair after the deaths of his father and older brothers. He was born with a deformity in his hand that makes him weak in the eyes of his father and other warriors. Prince Yarvi own plans are disrupted; he had been training to join the Ministry, an order of celibate individuals who advise royals. 

As king, Yarvi is almost immediately betrayed. He escapes with his life but is sold into slavery. That is when the story really got interesting to me --  the cast of characters we meet on the trade ship were my favorite by far.

The story unfolded at a pretty decent pace. There were large doses of violence, but I appreciated that the deaths were never glorified but given a sense of gravity. Ultimately, in the world that Abercrombie creates, all actions have consequences. There are betrayals, plot twists, and also a fair amount of humor. It isn't a particularly deep book, but sometimes a girl just has to have a story with a violent crazed man named Nobody, right? 

Some of my favorite lines:

"The great king is the one who watches the carcasses of his enemies burn. Let Father Peace spill tears over the methods. Mother War smiles upon results."
“You may need two hands to fight someone. But only one to stab them in the back."
“What is the world coming to when an honest man cannot burn corpses without suspicion?"
Overall, I would recommend this book to any fan of gritty fantasy. I appreciated that no character (even the protagonist) is without flaws or morally ambiguous actions at times. 

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