Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When his father and brother are killed, half-handed Yavri finds himself king. His reign is woefully short as he is betrayed and left for dead. After being rescued and sold into slavery, he plots his revenge...
I got this from Netgalley.
After the unbridled awesomeness of The First Law and its spinoffs, I was curious to see if Joe Abercrombie could tell a story set in another world. Turns out he can.
While Half a King is marketed as Young Adult (or Adults That Don't Enjoy Reading About Sex and/or Violence as Much as I Do, as I think of it these days), it's pretty grim at times. Yavri's life isn't easy and at no point did I feel like Yavri was working with a net, unlike a lot of YA protagonists. The story is low magic fantasy, possibly in our own world's far future. Descriptions are vague but I thought I caught references to radiation poisoning and concrete.
Half a King is a coming of age/hero's journey tale featuring Yavri, a prince with a withered hand. He's betrayed, swears vengeance, and goes about getting that vengeance he lusts for. The crew of misfits he assembles along the way help mold him into the man he needs to be to confront his uncle and take back the Black Chair. I loved those damn misfits, particularly Sumael and The Man Called Nothing, whom I hoped against hope was Logen Ninefingers despite this book not taking place in the First Law world. As with a lot of Abercrombie's supporting villains, Shadikshirram, wasn't all that vile and could have been a lead character under other circumstances.
The ending was full of surprises. There were revelations, deaths, and some surprising turns events. Abercrombie definitely proved to me that he wasn't a one trick pony with this one. Four out of five stars.
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