Review – Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

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I kept seeing Joe Abercrombie’s name pop up in my Goodreads feed and knew that I wanted to give him a try. With the stellar reviews for Half a King, it seemed like a no-brainer.

Prince Yarvi has only one good hand. The other is missing fingers and this ‘weakness’ has defined his life. He isn’t a strong fighter so is set to become a Minister (the kind that counsels kings not preaches to the masses.) When his father and brother are murdered he is thrust upon the throne. From there, things go downhill quickly. Now he has to fight to regain his birthright and seek vengeance.

In many ways this book is just plain excellent. An easy read that is full of interesting characters and a strong storyline. I even gave this 5-stars right after I finished reading and I can see why others have raved. Half a King is kind of like a YA Game of Thrones and I fully mean that as a compliment. It’s a dark, twisted, edge-of-your seat page turner.

So why am I now giving it 4-stars? Hard to say but I think it’s because the more I thought about Yarvi’s evolution through the pages, the more I had some problems with his character’s growth (or lack of.) You can make the argument that Yarvi is a well-rounded character. He toughens up, learns some hard lessons and discovers more about himself. BUT…he takes some major steps backwards in a couple of instances that I can’t live with. I don’t want to spoil anything but he isn’t consistent. If you are put through tests as a character, the goal should be to learn from them. Well, he kind of does and then says “well, I can’t be the person that I should be because then I won’t get what I want.” That’s not really okay. Maybe he is supposed to be a sort of anti-hero in some scenes but that just doesn’t fit with the Yarvi we came to know for about 75% of the book. As a reader, I can’t decide if this is intentional (and may be further explained through the rest of the series) or if it’s somewhat of a cop-out to make the story go where the writer wanted.

Eh, anyway, I’m probably reading too much into it and should have just stuck with my original feelings. It truly is a great book and I highly recommend it.

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