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

Half a King (Shattered Sea, #1)Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Joe Abercrombie—Lord Grimdark himself—spins the most uplifting tale that I’ve read this year. And it’s fucking wonderful.

Let me explain the sheer skill of Joe Abercrombie’s writing and his character development:

I usually go for hyper-competent, clever, and kick-ass characters. They’re who I root for and who I can relate to.

The nice and sappy ones who let things like morals get in the way? BLERCH.

I also go for gritty, grey, bleak, and cynical worlds where everything is morally ambiguous. Reading The First Law trilogy for the first time was a formative experience for me as a fan, and that feeling is why I turn to Abercrombie again and again.

Half a King has none of these qualities, and yet I unreservedly love it.

It’s a beautiful coming-of-age story set in a Viking Saga with a host of remarkable characters.

Yarvi is brilliant and instantly sympathetic not because he is something we wish we could be, but because in him we see a small part of ourselves. The one that doubts, the one that fears, the one that loves. From start to finish we are in firm lockstep with his emotions and it makes for one hell of a character arc.

Don’t get me wrong, Abercrombie doesn’t lose much of his characteristic grittiness with Half a King, but the overall message has an inspiring and refreshing tone.

I’m seriously impressed—this novel is anywhere from two to three times shorter than I prefer, and it still manages to tell a completely satisfying story.

Look, I won’t lie and say that I’m not hoping we’ll see the old Joe around some day, but for now this is a more than welcome substitute.

And you know what I’m most excited about? The unbelievably seamless transition from Glotka, Murcatto, and the Bloody-Nine to this world. Half a King is hard evidence that Joe Abercrombie is not a one-trick pony incapable of shifting gears. Best Served Cold, The Heroes, and Red Country proved that his stories are only becoming more complex, but with this novel I only foresee a long and prosperous career ahead.

As far as I’m concerned, Joe has now earned the right to write whatever the hell he feels like and keep me as an adoring fan.

Half a King will be published in North America on July 15, 2014 from Del Ray, and in the UK on July 3, 2014 from Voyager. Find more details on his website.

If your Abercrombie itch was as large as mine, I guarantee this will help satisfy it.

View all my reviews

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7 thoughts on “Book Review — Half a King by Joe Abercrombie (Shattered Sea #1)

  1. Yours is the 4th Half a King review on my WordPresss Reader -.-
    As if I needed to look forward to this anymore than I already do -.-

  2. Hah, two to three times shorter then you would prefer. I think it takes just as much skill to write a complete novel in a shorter length then a 600 – 800 pager. Glad to see you loved it, I’m reading it in a few days.

    • Honestly, I think it takes *more* skill. It’s harder to write concisely.

      That being said though, I’m a huge Fantasy fan, and I looooove spending thousands of pages in a world, so while I can appreciate concise writing I don’t necessarily prefer it. 🙂

      • I know exactly what you mean. I definitely agree more skill is needed. I love both long and short fiction for various reasons. But yes I do love it longer when it’s good!

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