Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie

18666047Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy…

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
Bought (s/h) Hardcover 262 Tänapäev (trnsl to EST: Tiina Randus) Fantasy/YA June 17th, 2015

This book was one of the best finds during my Estonian trip in August. My sister called one early morning and told me to be at the train station in an hour- we’re going to the cinema and bookshops in Tallinn. Mighty. My sister is 11 years older than me so it has always been a bit of a strange relationship for me growing up which has since turned into something solid in recent years. Anyway, we spent hours in various bookshops and one of them had a cellar dedicated to second hand books… It was like a goldmine, with nostalgic childhood titles and I wanted them all… but I ended up with this hardcover of Half a King translated into Estonian. Which, by the way is in pristine condition! And I scored this baby for a bargain of… wait for it… €1.80!

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I had a really good time reading Half a King. The whole story from start to finish was a smooth-flowing epic adventure full of court intrigue, the usual political pissing contest and the the wonderful addition of adversity! All good fantasy elements!

Prince Yarvi is a wonderful character and his development from essentially the court’s laughing stock to king to not-king was one hell of a journey which Yarvi took in his stride! Smarts which had essentially directed him into learning to become a Minister, the king’s advisor. But as Death takes away half his family and as such everyone ahead of him in the line for the throne, Yarvi has no other choice but to accept the position and a bride on top of that! Awkward!

I spent half my childhood in the shadows. Hiding from my father or my brother. Creeping from a place of solitude to another. Seeing while unseen, and pretending I was a part of what I saw. Making up a life where I wasn’t an outcast.

When I say not-king I don’t want to give away what actually happens to him but let me just say, positioning someone who is treated – unfairly– as a weakling due to physical disability, into a setting that every single person would find physically and mentally straining really let Yarvi’s character shone in all the great ways!

Whilst we are never allowed to forget that Yarvi has only that one fully functioning hand – through the occasional self deprecating jokes and excuses in situations where a second hand would be really bloody useful!– he has sharp wit and intelligence. He is a really likeable character and someone I seriously rooted for. Even though he never wanted to be a king, Yarvi came across morally diplomatical. Yarvi’s character intrigues me and I don’t say that often about characters that are simply nice. It’s usually the evil ones that rock my boat…

No king’s court is fully operational without backstabbing betrayal. It is this betrayal of epic proportions that pushes Yarvi into extremely unfavourable conditions. And it. was. epic! Wonderful scene setting, so many interesting characters and me holding my breath to see how it all plays out. There is ominous to go around in spades and throughout it all a sense of camaraderie among people who may end up being enemies. But nonetheless, lifelong friendships have been formed. A bridge in between the people in low places and high places. Fantastic!

They passed lands that had no name, where fens of mirror pools stretched into unknown distances, thousands of fragments of sky sprinkled across this bastard offspring of earth and sea, lonely birds calling out over the desolation, and Yarvi breathed deep the salt chill and longed for home.

I think as a first book in the series, it really works a treat as there is so much substance for Yarvi to develop on as a character over the next books. Where will he go from here? What kind of change will he bring about after experiencing and witnessing the hardships? What his future will be like with the new and solid friendships formed? And that fabulous surprise that affects the whole of Yarvi’s family and kingdom…

And he realized then that he had not lost all those times in the training square because he lacked the skill, or the strength, or even a hand. He had lacked the will.

I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment as I am fully aware I have been missing out and late to the party by a number of years. I do think, that even though I enjoyed reading this title in Estonian, I missed out on the sass and banter that sometimes can only be delivered in English… or maybe I prefer English because I’ve become accustomed to it. But anyway, if you’ve read the series, let me know in the comments how much awesome I need to be prepared for? 🙂

16 comments

  1. I absolutely love Joe Abercrombie . His first law trilogy is my favorite fantasy series ever . Always did want to read Shattered sea but the YA tag made me a bit apprehensive

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nah, don’t let the YA label shake ya at all- it’s not at all cringey. I feel Abercrombie simply kept it simple, epic fantasy and only toned down on the potential gore and swearing.. 🙂 You should defo try it out- it’s a great book 🙂
      Yes! I will for sure read The First Law books… If Half a King was so good for me already, I imagine he will blow me away with the proper grimdark stuff 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, we’re quite on the same page with Abercrombie so… for whatever reason I hadn’t until half a King read any of his books and I’m like- whyyyyy! 😀 Considering this Shattered Sea series has a YA label on it, I have very high hopes for his adult titles! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been meaning to read this for literally *years*. So cool you picked this up for such a bargain 😀 Glad you had such a good time with this! I like the sound of Yarvi’s character a lot and I’m curious about this whole “not-king” thing. That’s an interesting difference between the English version and the Estonian btw- I often get curious about what changes in translations. Anyway this was a great review and has made me even more excited for the series!

    Liked by 1 person

    • woop, thank you 🙂 I seriously thought I was like the only one left on the planet who hadn’t read Abercrombie… talk about thinking myself the centre of the universe, hey!?! 😀 hahaha… as far as YA label on this book, which has put some potential readers off, I don’t think you take issue with that and it’s really good.. I think Yarvi is the quality opponent of goodness against Jorg! 😉

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  3. I am off royal court stories, especially YA titles, damn it! Why are you making me want to read this, ha ha. This was a shorter review from you, too, and you still snagged me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always enjoy reading your reviews. 👍✨

    Liked by 1 person

    • hahahaha, in fairness, I think this is one YA title you might quite like… hmm… maybe… But, it’s not one of those sappy storylines… and no crazy mad hormonal love fest… who knows, maybe one day youll decide to read this 🙂 Thank you for stopping by… and yeah, the review is a tad shorter but there wasn’t much I could expand on without getting spoilery. This one is totally worth going into ‘blind’ as such…

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  4. Yaaaay! I am so glad you found this series and love it so far. This is one of my all-time favorite series. I know that Abercrombie labels this as YA– but I think it’s really just a lighter adult fantasy. The next two books get a bit more graphic, but they all deal with complex themes. I would definitely recommend this to all my fantasy loving friends — whether they read YA or not.

    I listened to the audiobooks narrated by John Keating. If you can find them, they are brilliant. He does a marvelous job. Absolutely marvelous. The next book? It’s my favorite. 🙂

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