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Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) [Hardcover]

Joe Abercrombie
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 July 2014 Shattered Sea (Book 1)

A classic coming-of-age tale set in a vivid and richly-imagined world from Sunday Times bestselling author Joe Abercrombie.

‘A fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page one and refused to let go’ GEORGE R.R. MARTIN

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.

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.

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.

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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Frequently Bought Together

Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) + Prince of Fools (Red Queen's War, Book 1) + Tower Lord: Book 2 of Raven's Shadow
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; 1st edition (3 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007550200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007550203
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 15.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, as well as the standalone fantasy Best Served Cold.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, and his daughters Grace and Eve. He still occasionally edits concerts and music festivals for TV, but spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels.

Here are the First Law Trilogy in series order:

The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
The Last Argument of Kings


Best Served Cold

Product Description


‘Abercrombie writes fantasy like no one else’ Guardian

‘This is my favourite Abercrombie book yet’ PATRICK ROTHFUSS

‘Joe Abercrombie is fast becoming my favourite writer. HALF A KING is a remarkable achievement — thrilling, enthralling, and relentless. The action is frenetic, the characters are as sharp as the blades they wield, and the humour is biting. It's sure to garner him a whole new legion of fans’ DEREK LANDY

‘Perhaps his most technically proficient novel yet, I dare you to read the first chapter and try not to turn the next page. Some wondered if what makes Joe Abercrombie so different would survive the transition to YA. Abercrombie fans, have no fear: Polished and sharp, the un-adult-rated Abercrombie is still unadulterated Abercrombie’ BRENT WEEKS

‘Enthralling. An up-all-night read’ ROBIN HOBB

‘HALF A KING can be summed up in a single word: Masterpiece’ MYKE COLE

‘With eye-popping plot twists and rollicking good action, HALF A KING is definitely a full adventure’ RICK RIORDAN

About the Author

Joe Abercrombie was born in Lancaster on the last day of 1974, the son of an English teacher and a sociologist. He spent much of his youth in imaginary worlds, and left school with a good idea of how to make stuff up. He moved to the big city, learned to brew tea, and ended up as a TV editor, working on documentaries, events and concerts for bands from Iron Maiden to Coldplay. But in the darkness of the night he was still making stuff up, and his first book, The Blade Itself, was published in 2006. He now lives in Bath with his wife Lou and their three children Grace, Eve and Teddy and makes stuff up full-time.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but watered down Abercrombie 7 July 2014
I am a massive fan of this talented writer. Given his reputation for dark, realistic and adult fantasy I was interested to see how this would translate into a "Joe lite" YA novel.
So, heir to throne has a deformed hand and a lack of agression, so of course his uncle tries to kill him and then steals the throne. Our hero swears revenge and then has a journey of personal growth and gathers an odd group of friends as he gets the chance to take back his kingdom.
Taking the full grit out of the novel does water down what Mr Abercrombie is so good at, but this is still very readable. The author does not really do heroes, his characters tend to be very grounded and deal with what's in front of them.
So our half a King' survives by wit and not brawn and with some very odd companions. This Joe lite novel does feature the humour, the characterisation and the twists of his normal works, but by going 'lite' it does take a little something away that takes this into the less than outstanding novels we have become accustomed to.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid book 7 July 2014

Joe Abercrombie is one of “THE” authors in the fantasy genre, the first law series is one of the best series in the last 10 years. But for me the first law world series seemed a slow decline, maybe it was due to an expectation set too high? but after Red Country i was really struggling to read another book.

But when the wonderful Jane Johnson starts to spread the word about an exciting new book its hard not to catch that infectious excitement. It was thanks to that lovely lady that i found myself the proud owner of an advance copy of Half a King, even then i had to fight my TBR (to be read) pile and reticence, Then we hit the week of release and i knew i owed both Jane and Joe a read of the book.

I’m so glad i did, While the setting and the people are not Norse the whole world has a very Norse feel to it, the culture and mindset is very much a Norse / Vikingr group. The men are fighters, honour and blood are key to their world. When Yarvi finds himself first a King, then a slave he must learn to overcome his weakness and fight for his vengeance, too fulfill his oaths. As ever with an Abercrombie book there is never just one great character, we are spoiled, from the main group of oarmates to the side characters, Kings, soldiers and ministers, there are so many great nuances in each and every character.

This was a trip back to the early writing wonder of Abercrombie, i was swamped with the tale, taken on board and tied to an oar, flung into the frozen sea and driven to my limits with my oarmates. All of this Joe manages in such a way as to entertain and enthrall the reader, at no point did i think the book was a Young adult read, and looking back on it i can see its a book for any age, YA through to old farts like me.

Highly recommended

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Joe Abercrombie practicing restraint. 3 July 2014
By J. Lesley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Young Prince Yarvi doesn't seem to do many things well except find places to hide away from everyone and everything. And yet he immediately begins to show signs in this novel of his capabilities as a minister in his world - not in a religious sense, but as a dispenser of wisdom, advice, and common sense. Unfortunately this fantasy world is more a place for the strong and the agile with warfare and fighting seeming to take up most of the lives of those who live here. Yarvi has a disability that he cannot possibly overcome to make him the heroic fighter his country needs when he is elevated to kingship. Naturally his relatively sheltered existence has made him completely unprepared for treachery when it happens. Once he finds himself in the lowliest of all positions he learns that his deformed hand is not what determines whether he will survive. You learn to use the best of yourself to keep living one more minute, one more hour. So what is the best of young Yarvi?

If you are a first time reader of Joe Abercrombie's novels, you need to understand that this is an example of Abercrombie being restrained. The book is undoubtedly aimed at the young adult reader and Yarvi is a young boy moving into manhood who must learn all the hard lessons at once. Because of this, even though the novel is filled with violence and death, it is actually done in a holding-back, ratcheting-back style over previous Abercrombie novels. Fortunately that does not diminish the appeal for someone such as me who has tackled other Abercrombie novels and lived to tell about it. I liked the honest portrayal of these characters where everyone showed signs of weakness but also signs of strengths. Not one dimensional characters at all, more realistic than anything.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Selene
"The elf-ruins might have been stupendous, but the parts of Skekenhouse that men built seemed quite a disappointment. Yarvi curled his tongue and neatly spat over the side of the ship.
'Nice'. Rulf gave him a nod. 'Your rowing's not up to much, but you're coming on where it really matters'."

The incomparable Joe Abercrombie turns his hand to Young Adult fiction with the first novel in his new "Shattered Sea" series. "Half a King" is a cracker; fantasy, but clearly inspired by the medieval world of the Viking raiders and traders, when Christianity was battling for supremacy with the old Norse gods.

This is hallmark Abercrombie - dark and full of moral ambiguity, beautifully written descriptive passages, laconic wit, random, bloody violence and betrayal. There's no sex or profanity, but a long butcher's bill - although not as hardcore as say, "Heroes", Abercrombie takes no more prisoners here than usual. Some might question whether this really is YA rather than adult fiction, but I know I would have loved this story when I was twelve as much as I do today. It's my personal opinion that it is perfectly pitched to a teenage audience while still being an enjoyable read for adults.

One thing we can say without any doubt is that "Half a King" is a classic coming-of-age tale. Its hero, Yarvi, is a sensitive, scholarly young prince who has a deformed hand and plenty of smarts but zero self-confidence. Cast without warning into harsh slavery, Yarvi must toughen up, put all his cunning to work, and untangle a sticky web of treachery before he can find his way home and reclaim his rightful inheritance. Along the way he learns the hard-won lesson that loyal friendship and smiling villains can both be found in the most unexpected places.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 9 hours ago by peter foxton
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down great read in
Couldn't put it down great read in holiday
Published 1 day ago by Barry Glazer
5.0 out of 5 stars romping along like a goodun
I am tired and it's late so this will be brief. A really good story with no padding thank the Gods! It all hangs together, makes sense and ....... There is a proper ending. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Mikey_P
5.0 out of 5 stars I like JA's books for their humour and toughness
I like JA's books for their humour and toughness, and I would say this is one of his best. Cracking storyline, races along. Read more
Published 3 days ago by sailorgirl
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book, can't wait for the next one.
Published 4 days ago by K. Briskham
4.0 out of 5 stars Good enjoyable fantasy read
Half a King is a generally well written and extremely engaging fantasy epic. Engaging characters, good plotlines and enough twists to keep it moving. Read more
Published 4 days ago by BVI Diver
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another excellent book from Joe Abercrombie
Published 6 days ago by Darrell Blackmore
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it!
Published 6 days ago by Mr Andrew C. Allison
5.0 out of 5 stars ... Joe's books and think this is one of the best. Looking forward to...
I've bought all of Joe's books and think this is one of the best. Looking forward to next instalment
Published 6 days ago by Nigel Norman
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Better then I expected it to be.
Published 7 days ago by Sean
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