On My Bookshelf: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Title: Half a King
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Genre: Fantasy, Vikings, Revenge
My Rating: 3/5

Prince Yarvi, born with only one hand, is studying to be a royal adviser when his brother and father are murdered. Yarvi is forced to take the throne, but is promptly betrayed. Thought to be dead, Yarvi is captured and sold into slavery as an oarsman on a trading ship. He must use his education and his wits to escape slavery, return to his homeland, and revenge himself in order to take his rightful place as king.

I picked this up as a Valentine’s Day “blind date” from my public library. I wasn’t thrilled when I opened the packaging. It looked like one of those royal court dramas that have been popular since Game of Thrones. However, I was moderately interested when I started reading. The Viking-esque world was neat, and the characters were different, though I never really connected with them. I generally don’t care for betrayal-and-revenge plots, but this one was enough to keep me mildly entertained throughout. The ending was where the book soured for me. The big twist made sense from a plot and character development standpoint, but Yarvi was completely out of character for a good chunk of the ending. He spends most of the book being horrified by violence and hating that he has to be king. At the end, Yarvi is suddenly unmoved by violence and is determined to commit horrific murders to take the throne. It was way too sudden to be a real character development arc. Overall, the book fell flat. I wasn’t excited about it at any point.

“You may need two hands to fight someone, but only one to stab them in the back.”

Half a King, Joe Abercrombie

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