Half a King is Joe Abercrombie’s first book marketed as Young Adult. It was also my introduction to Abercrombie’s work. It’s easy to see why he is so popular. He displays an easy skill with the technical aspects, both at the micro and macro levels. The prose flows through placid waters, rapids, and waterfalls alike. The characters are rich, even if only briefly seen, and both the early, minor and later, major twists well structured. I’m not sure a YA title is the best introduction to an author so closely associated with grimdark though. That aspect seems to be missing. I will certainly be exploring Abercrombie’s other work though.
Half a King is the story of Yarvi, the younger son of the king of land in a place that very much resembles Viking-era Scandinavia. He succeeds to the throne after his father and elder brother are killed, thereby the “king.” The “half” comes from his deformity—a crippled arm and hand—that marks him as unsuitable to his countrymen. As to be expected, things do not go as planned and MILD SPOILERS Yarvi winds up a galley slave seeking to regain his throne. Things continue to go as not planned from there. Abercrombie gives us the sort of ending that is unexpected but that makes sense, with at least one crowning moment of awesome along the way.
4 of 5 Stars.
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of Half a King (I reviewed it on Amazon way back when it came out. This is a slightly revised version of that original review).