Title: Half A King
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Rating: 4/5 stars
Series? Yes, 1 of 3.
This book has been on the radar for a while, with the last book of the series coming out in August, I finally take the plunge. Short version: I loved it! Here’s why you will, too.
A man swings the scythe and the axe, his father had said. A man pulls the oar and makes fast the knot. Most of all a man holds the shield. A man holds the line. A man stands by his shoulder-man. What kind of man can do none of these things?
Yarvi is the youngest prince of Gettsland, born with one crippled hand, he was trained for a life in lores and herbs rather than to rule. When his father and elder brother are murdered, Yarvi – who was always told he’s only half a man – must step up and become a king. Before he is able to appreciate the enormity of leading this warrior nation, he’s betrayed and sold into servitude (I admit, here my mind also wandered towards a Half A King/Captive Prince cross over, haha), and a whole different struggle begins.
1. Complex Characters
“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”
My favourite thing about Half A King is definitely its cast of characters and how fully realised they all were. Firstly, we have Yarvi: who rises above his disability and grows into his own person through the book by relying on his wit. His rise in a society that values brain above brawns was so delightful to watch. It also gave me warm fuzzies to see him make friendship in unlikely places and inspire loyalty in the least likely places. Yarvi’s no typical hero, he had no strength of body nor bravado – but he’s a damn interesting one that you could really root for. Plus, it helps that he’s totally hilarious! I like my men with a sense of humour.
‘Laithlin, the Golden Queen!’ She spoke the name like a magic spell. ‘They say she’s owed a thousand thousand favours, that a debt to her is a matter for pride. They say her word is valued higher than gold among merchants, because gold may go down in worth but her word never does.’
Aside from Yarvi, I also adored the many strong women featured in the story. I loved Laithlin, Yarvi’s mother, bargainer extraordinaire in all her manipulative glory. I loved Sumael and her unwavering sense of direction: both physical and personal. I even loved pirate and slave owner Shadikshirram and all her swagger. Can’t wait to see more of these awesome women in future installments. Other side characters were also well developed, especially the friends Yarvi made during his days as the oarsmen. Nothing is an especially interesting figure, but the less I say on that, the better for those who have not read the book.