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

half a kingTitle: Half a King
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #1
Published: July 15th, 2014 by Del Rey
Pages: 384
Genres: Young adult fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars

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Synopsis: “I swore an oath to be avenged on the killers of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath” Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand. The deceived will become the deceiver. Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge. The betrayed will become the betrayer. Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could. Will the usurped become the usurper? But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, and traps and tragedy…


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Let me just say already that this book surpassed all of the expectations I had of it. The plot blew me away, the characters did… It just surprised me the entire time.


While the characters are incredible in this book, I loved the plot the most. For most novels, the characters will surprise me the most. Here it was definitely the story line. It twists and turns and coils around until you pretty much don’t know how on earth the main character will survive anything coming for him. Now I made it sound confusing, but it’s not! It’s just an epic ride. I would compare it with my experience with taking a bus ride to a place you’ve never been before: even if you think you know where the bus is going the stops will take you by surprise and before you know it, you’ve passed your destination already.

I don’t want to tell you ANYTHING about how the plot actually goes. Because you need to discover it yourself. I will say however that if you think you know how this book will end, YOU’RE WRONG. Here’s a quote by Yarvi, to tell you a bit about his journey:

“When you’re in hell,” muttered Yarvi, “only a devil can point the way out.”


Our main character is -Prince- Yarvi. In the beginning of the book he is preparing to take his Minister test and if he succeeds, he will give up everything he has -even his family- and become a Minister. Since he is not much of a fighter and prefers knowledge and books over swords, this is the perfect destiny for him. Yarvi only has one hand, which is something he not only defines himself by, but others do too. He is often seen as a weakling, a man who can’t fight or yield a sword properly.

I really enjoyed Yarvi’s character. To describe him best would be to say “He will do what needs to be done.” whether that is something he wants to do or not. He is very smart and cunning -with a high education- which is an aspect of his character that is very important to his story and survival. Sometimes, I thought him to be cruel, while other times he seemed to be very thoughtful and filled with empathy. So he is definitely a well-rounded character, with many different dimensions to him.

There are many other characters but I feel like even mentioning some of them would be a bit of a spoiler. So I’ll just talk about Yarvi’s teacher in his education to become a minister and his mother. His actual mother I found very hard to pin down! She seemed cold and cruel at times but then she cared very much for certain people and aspects. And I think his Mother -the teacher, who is called Mother so it’s a bit confusing- surprised me the most. And not really in a good way I guess.


This is definitely worth picking up! It’s such a surprising novel with so many twists and turns.


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25, reader, blogger, feminist, INFJ

13 thoughts on “Review: Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie”

  1. I’ve heard so many good things about this one! I grabbed a free sampler of it for my Kindle while I wait for my book buying ban to pass, because I feel like this series I must check!
    Fantastic review! You’ve given enough information without spoiling anything and that is a hard balance always!


  2. I loved this book too. It was my first experience of Abercrombie’s work but I’ve just finished the second in this series and definitely intend to read some of his other stuff too.

    Great review!


  3. Yarvi seems like an excellent character! I’ve seen this one around before and I’m so glad that you found it to be an excellent read.

    Lovely review! <33


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