Half a King by Joe Abercrombie is my first Abercrombie and Abercrombie’s first foray into the young adult market. It works decently as a young adult book without a lot of the annoying trappings that some of the young adult books fall into, like instant love, and then the ill-fated tearing apart of that love. Unfortunately, I’ll have to check out more of Abercrombie’s work to find something I’ll enjoy a little more. I just felt like this book was alright.
Half a King is a fast-paced, plot centered book, with short chapters, and quick scene jumping between chapters. Read this book when you want something easy to read that has a break-neck pace. Be wary of this book if you want amazing characters or interesting world building. This is simply a plot book. A young boy named Yarvi finds himself the new king of Gettland on the Shattered Sea. He is half a man because he has a deformed hand and others look down upon him because of that. He swears an oath to seek vengeance on the man that killed his father and brother. Little does young Yarvi know that he himself is about to be betrayed. Half a King follows Yarvi, and a group of individuals he meets along the way, as Yarvi takes revenge on the man who betrayed him and took his throne. This series has a strong viking feel to it.
The main reason you should read Half a King is because it is such a quick read. The pacing of Half a King is incredibly quick and there is not much filler in this book. The plot is tight and the author knows where the book is heading at all times. There are some great revelations and interesting turns throughout the story that was enjoyable to read.
The reason I thought this book was just O.K. was because it is incredibly difficult for me, as a reader, to connect to characters without lulls in the narrative with strong dialogue. I just didn’t find those instances in this book where I learned about any of characters enough to want them to succeed in their endeavor. I found Yarvi, the main character, to be incredibly flawed in his logic, and blinded only with revenge. I actually liked the characters of Nothing and Sumael but we just didn’t learn much about their personality. Each time I thought that we would get some poignant and interesting conversations between the characters, the chapter ended, and the time was sped up. The narrative and characters felt a lot like something you would find in a video game. It was just incredibly basic and I felt at arms length the entire time. There was maybe one scene in the entire book that I had any emotional response to and that is just too few for me.
Half a King was just an O.K. book to me. I didn’t really gain or lose a whole lot from reading it. I’ll probably read the sequels just because I have them and they are so short. This book really reminded me of a novella and not a novel. I also felt that the beginning was one of the weakest written beginnings of a fantasy book I’ve read in a long time. It didn’t catch or interest me in any way and the amount of adjectives used at the beginning was annoying.
Edit: There was a ridiculous scene where a character used a spyglass to look 16 miles and count how many people were trailing them. Hated this scene with a passion, especially since they just walked through a bunch of trees, and this would be virtually impossible to see given the landscape.
*note the way I score my books has changed somewhat. I would have given this a 3 in the past. http://www.commontouchoffantasy.com/uncategorized/scoring-reworked/
2/5 – Just O.K. 8/25 Possible Score
Plot – 2(OK)
Characters – 1(Bad)
World Building – 2(OK)
Writing – 2(OK)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 1(Bad)