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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous fantasy adventure
When King Uthrik and his heir are taken through the Last Door on the edge of a murderer's sword, Prince Yarvi ascends the Black Chair, wearing the King's Circle on his brow. This was not the destiny Yarvi had hoped for. His wish had been to complete his spiritual training and to become a minister as plain Brother Yarvi, no longer a prince. To his father and brother, Yarvi...
Published 12 months ago by Kate

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
This feels like an outline to a book rather than a finished item. It's really not a patch on joes other series of books. I think it lacks depth and rushes along too fast and too shallow.

It's a real shame as I've loved his other work. This was simply too short and had an unfinished feel to it. It felt like a slim story forced to fill a hardback book that should...
Published 1 month ago by A. Davenport


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous fantasy adventure, 3 July 2014
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) (Hardcover)
When King Uthrik and his heir are taken through the Last Door on the edge of a murderer's sword, Prince Yarvi ascends the Black Chair, wearing the King's Circle on his brow. This was not the destiny Yarvi had hoped for. His wish had been to complete his spiritual training and to become a minister as plain Brother Yarvi, no longer a prince. To his father and brother, Yarvi had seemed half a man, one of his hands deformed beyond use. Restrained by unkind words and deeds, Yarvi is unprepared for kingship. It seems like cruel destiny, then, when he is cast from the throne through the greatest of treacheries, thrown into the sea, from which he is reborn as a slave, an oarsman and, finally, a warrior and one of a band of brothers and sister, each with their own vengeance to wreak, especially Yarvi who has a throne to claim.

Half a King is a fantasy adventure but for me it is fresh with the sea air of a Viking saga. It has a suitably traditional, ageless theme - the young prince overthrown who must prove himself as a warrior and leader before he can become king - but Yarvi's character, and so many others aboard this novel, is so distinct and original that there are surprises throughout and our expectations as to the outcome of such a saga are wonderfully challenged. The ending is superb.

Once Yarvi is an enslaved oarsman aboard the South Wind, Half A King comes to life in fabulous ways. The female captain Shadikshirram is a painted monster and a joy to read. One slave who dared to try to escape is now literally ground under her foot every day, renamed as Nothing. Others aboard have taken on grotesque personalities due to the iron collars around their necks and the chains around their limbs. But fortune lends a hand, accompanied by desperate, determined violence, and once Yarvi and others of the enslaved crew escape, he learns the first of several valuable lessons about the nature of man, servitude and power. He also learns for the first time about friendship.

The journey across the Shattered Sea is a marvellous one, rich with perilous adventure, brotherhood, even the spark of romance, as one mystery after another is teased and unravelled. The strength of the characterisation is matched by the beauty and power of the mythology of this world. Its spirituality and greed are brilliantly developed, an enigmatic history hinted at. For me, the inhumanly built, ancient towering remains around the Shattered Sea were a reminder of the Roman ruins that fascinated Saxon travellers. The language, too, is vibrant and vivid and rich in colour and meaning.

In one distinct way, this is a society that stands out from our own ancient past. It is full of powerful women - from queens and captains to priests, navigators and householders. Kings and princes might still hold the sway in politics but in many ways this is a matriarchal society. The female characters are, for me, along with Yarvi himself, the highlight of Half a King.

I'm not a great reader of fantasy, usually preferring stories bound by history or science, but there is so much in Half a King that I could relate to, reminding me of Old English and Norse poems, and an ancient sea-tied society that had to make sense of its icy, harsh, feudal surroundings. There is no magic here, just a mythology, and no supernatural beings, just hints of a distant, forgotten elfish past. This is, I understand, Joe Abercrombie's first Young Adult novel. Reading it, though, I would never have assumed it was for readers of any specific age - it has timeless appeal. There is also, thank heavens, much more to come. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series, 7 July 2014
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) (Hardcover)
Review

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

(Parm)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great world building, 14 Jun. 2015
Prince Yarvi doesn't want to be king, he isn't a fighter at all. Instead he's training to be a minister. Because of his deformed hand he can never be a good warrior. When his father and brother unexpectedly die he must take the throne. While he's still really young and not prepared he still does what he must do. Unfortunately someone he loves betrays him and it almost costs him his life. Instead Yarvi becomes a slave. He isn't strong and with his one good hand nobody has ever given him the feeling that he's useful. Now that he's on his own he has to be as powerful, capable and smart as he can be to escape his dire situation. Yarvi also wants revenge. Together with his new friends he comes up with a plan, will it work and will it be enough?

Half a King is the first book of the Shattered Sea trilogy. I instantly liked Yarvi. Not having two whole hands is such a big deal in his world. He has a sharp mind and a great character, so I knew he'd be all right. Even though someone betrays him terribly he keeps fighting for what he thinks is right. He never gives up and I loved that he's so brave. I liked the world building very much, it's done thoroughly with a lot of colorful descriptions. The friends Yarvi makes are all interesting characters and it was great to read about their lives and their secrets. The action scenes are really good and they kept me on the edge of my seat. This first book of the trilogy makes me curious to read more. I desperately want to find out what will happen next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, 14 Feb. 2015
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Took me a while t get into it but couldn't put it down after a while, has a great twist at the end involving a certain slave. Although not as dark and depressing as some of his other books (being a so called 'young adult' novel) it's still got everything about Abercrombie that I love. If you enjoyed his other books I strongly recommend this,in fact even if you haven't you should still give it a go.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Abercrombie book, 15 Feb. 2015
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My favourite Abercrombie book, far better than the only other one I have read: "Best Served Cold". The characters and story are very interesting, the back story and setting fascinating. Good character development and unexpected twists at the end. Just because it's billed as "young adult" fiction, that does make it a bad read: there's much to recommend about this book to any reader.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exhilarating, wild ride of a story!, 21 Mar. 2015
Prince Yarvi is training to be a minister when his father and brother are brutally murdered. Being the only one left, he must ascend the throne of Gettland. But the people are not so sure, Yarvi has a crippled hand, and his people are not sure he is not up to being the strong and fearsome leader that they need. He swears to avenge his father, but the shattered sea is full of corruption, and Yarvi must travel the world in order to avenge his family, and save his life.

“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”

At this point I’m probably going to sound like a broken record, but Joe Abercrombie’s writing is just magical. Where to start with Half a King? There’s a whole array of characters, and each one has an incredible amount of depth and emotion to them. Yarvi is a fantastic character, he is flawed, vengeful, clever and incredibly likeable. I think this has been said numerous times but he’s not too different from the wonderful Tyrion Lannister. Not just Yarvi, there are a whole host of characters that are incredibly likeable and fascinating to look at. I won’t go into detail about them all but they vary in so many different ways - some were hilarious, some sarcastic, some friendly, some not so friendly. Abercrombie manages to fit in a wealth of information and backstory without ever making the story tedious.

The plot is fantastic, you really never know what is around the corner. There’s loads of fast-action fighting scenes, as well as chapters about the corruption and war simmering in Gettland. It has something for everyone, vengeance, war, corruption, a little hint at romance, maybe a little magic? As it is the opening book in the series, there are little hints at things to come, and if anything that just makes me more excited for the rest of the series.

Half a King is a gripped read, I hardly moved in devouring the story. One thing that really struck me is the female characters in the book. Often in epic fantasy you find the female characters remain in the background, but all the women in this story are kick-ass and fantastic. If I could have a dinner party with fictional characters, I would invite them all and watch the chaos commence.

As always with Joe Abercrombie’s books it is exceptionally well written. There are a couple of chapters that are a little slower paced, but the action quickly picks up in the following chapters. It’s gearing up to be a really great series, with book two and book three due out in July this year, what are you waiting for? Get reading the Shattered Sea trilogy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Yarvi Halfhand, 12 April 2015
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is best known for his 'first law' series of books, which are fantasies strictly for older readers, as they don't pull any punches with the language and the violence.

Here he tries something different, with the first of a trilogy in an all new setting. And a book that can be read by young adult readers also. There's no strong language and no adult situations, but some violence, albeit not too graphic. Ideal reading age would be thirteen and up thanks to that.

The book runs for three hundred and seventy three pages. It's divided into four parts. Which are further divided into shorter chapters.

Although it's the start of a trilogy, it's one of those opening books that does feel quite self contained, but still leaves enough loose ends to allow for more to come.

Set around a large body of water known as the shattered sea, this is a world of countries and kings the people of which are best described as viking like. There's a nordic feel to it all. There are interesting hints of how this world came to be.

The main character is a young prince from one of the kingdoms of this region who is called Yarvi. Not a great warrior thanks to not being able to use one of his hands, he has been training as a minister instead.

Fate, however, has a few surprises in store for him. He is forced to become King after all. Then he is betrayed and left for dead. Forced to survive by his wits he swears to get revenge and reclaim his throne.

His odyssey has only just begun...

This is a very readable book right from the off. The prose is very clear. The made up names all being nordic in style mean they've got a certain familiarity so they're never a problem. And although it sticks to one viewpoint character and never tries to be too epic, this all means you're swept along very nicely.

Initially Yarvi's self depreciation can be a little annoying, but you do get quickly used to it. And what does feel for a moment early on as if it might become over familiar instead becomes fresh and original, thanks to an interesting setting. Helped by those aformentioned interesting hints. The level of world building as compared to character drama is just right. Yarvi does also become very likeable very quickly, so he's a sympathetic lead.

He grows and changes a lot over the course of the story. There's a good bunch of well developed supporting characters. And some good dramatic and adventurous scenes that keep things moving along.

It does drop off slightly pace wise in the middle. But then it rallies superbly in the final quarter, with some really good twists and turns and plot - and character - development. The way this ends out is really not how you would have expected at the beginning.

And it does leave you looking forward to book two.

A really good read. Whether you're thirteen or older. If you're looking for more of the same style as his earlier books this may not suit, but if you're prepared to give it a try, then it's well worth a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What I like about Joe Abercrombie is the dark humour which runs ..., 10 Mar. 2015
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What I like about Joe Abercrombie is the dark humour which runs through al of his novels and the fact that often he asks how can the situation get worse and then what would happen - and instantly the situation gets worse, etc. Its like the old Tom & Jerry cartoons or Laurel & Hardy when just as it feels as though it is all over then another brick falls down the chimney and hits you on the head. He's great if this sort of thing rocks your boat - I love his style!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 5 for me!, 2 Jun. 2015
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I really enjoyed it. I've read other Abercrombie books where some chapters and storylines really dragged on with little happening. Here there was plenty of twists, loads of action and similarly to the First Law trilogy he has managed to create an exciting world with many interesting charracters which will hopefully be explored in further detail in part 2.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good read with a new set of characters., 4 Mar. 2015
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Read the first chapter on the kindle sample system, this book is slow to start but does get going as you read. The style is typically Joe Abercrombie and i knew it was one of his as soon as I started reading it. I must admit to being an Abercrombie fan having read all of his previous books and was not disappointed with his characterizations .
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Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1)
Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) by Joe Abercrombie (Hardcover - 3 July 2014)
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