Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie – Review

The first instalment of the Shattered Sea trilogy is very direct. You are thrown into the life of an unlikely, and unlucky, ‘hero’, and a world full of betrayal and revenge. Yarvi is an unusual protagonist – a boy with no fighting skill and a crippled hand, a quick mind and a quicker tongue. You won’t agree with all his decisions and he’s not necessarily ‘likeable’, but as you read his story you admire him no matter what he does or how he acts. Because of this, he is a great character, and through him this sensational story begins.

What I will say about this book is that it is very subtle in its fantasy elements. There are hints of the ‘Breaking of the World’ and an ancient history strewn with magic and elves, but in the present only its ruins remain. I think this works very well and is a welcoming change of pace to what I have been reading lately (Lord of the Rings/Discworld/A Song of Ice and Fire), with the book focused primarily on its quirky cast and its twisting storyline. It sets up nicely for the possibility of introducing some world expansion in the next book (Which I’m reading now so I won’t elaborate).

Of course I would recommend this to fantasy fans, but I would also gladly place this book in the hands of someone not usually partial to a dragon or two. Why? Because this is an easy book to read; its fantasy elements are pegged back and it doesn’t bleat on about history, geography and religion, but references each enough to immerse you in its well-crafted world. I can see it winning over a few new fans of fantasy. So if you like watching Game of Thrones on the old picture box, but aren’t interested in diving into never-ending pages and appendices… give Half a King a read.

By D. C. Ward

Thanks for reading this review of the first instalment of the Shattered Sea Trilogy, Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie. If you look round our site you will find our own fiction stories, writing tips, and, of course, book reviews. And please subscribe to find out about future posts, or you can follow us on twitter @Sentient_Ink. If you liked the sound of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie, then you’re bound to love these book too:

The Broken Empire Trilogy | The Lies of Locke Lamora | The Name of the Wind 

and here’s our review of book 2 in the Shattered Sea Trilogy, Half the World.


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