Half a King – Joe Abercrombie

And Yarvi realized then that Death does not bow to each person who passes her, does not sweep out her arm respectfully to show the way, speaks no profound words, unlocks no bolts. The key upon her chest is never needed, for the Last Door stands always open. She herds the dead through impatiently, heedless of rank or fame or quality. She has an ever-lengthening queue to get through. A blind procession, inexhaustible.

Let me start by saying that this is marketed as a YA novel, but it didn’t feel that way. This feels purely like traditional epic fantasy. Fucking great epic fantasy, at that! You’d be doing yourself a disservice by not checking this series out because of the claim that it is YA.

Our protagonist is Yarvi, the King’s youngest son. He was born with a deformed hand, which left him as “half a king” in the eyes of his people, as well as within his family. Events unfold & Yarvi ends up having to take his place atop the throne. Then shit gets really real!

We are introduced to a diverse cast of supporting characters, both multilayered & complex. They all brought something unique to the table. Nothing, Grom-gil-Gorm, Ankram, Sumael, Jaud, Rulf.. just to name a few! I absolutely adored Nothing from the minute we meet him. He is such a well-rounded, badass character! I especially loved his wit. Abercrombie wrote the female characters with some balls, if you will. As a lifelong SFF reader, I deal with a lot of shitty female characters. Or no female characters at all. This is not the case with Half a King. Shadikshirram, Sumael & the Queen are intriguing, strong, kick ass women. They are so much more than just bit characters on the side. They become a larger part of Yarvi’s world, of Abercrombie’s writing.

Abercrombie is brilliant when it comes to characterization & world-building! I cannot get enough. I have had The First Law Trilogy sitting on my nightstand for three years now. I just recently started buying the Shattered Sea books because I knew I would love Abercrombie, even though I had yet to read anything prior. I decided to begin with Shattered Sea, just because it wasn’t as big of a time investment. If this series is this good, I can only imagine how amazing the world of First Law is!

This is truly an epic fantasy series. It has a little of everything – it is grim, full of bloody battles & plot twists; but also amazing characters that you cannot help but feel like you know & want to root for! I am a sucker for the band of misfits (shocking, I know) & this book is about that exactly! I can’t quite give this five stars, but four enthusiastic stars for the wonderful characters & the atmosphere that Abercrombie has brought to life! I cannot wait to begin Half the World & see what is in store next!

~Holly

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