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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid book
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...
Published 3 months ago by Parm

versus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The characters feel like poorly fleshed out versions of previous books
Having read the first law trilogy and the stand alone red country and heroes I was looking forward to this. Unfortunately this story feels very underwhelming compared to previous books. The characters feel like poorly fleshed out versions of previous books. Theres no bloody nine, or shivers, no dogman, no cripple,
No bayaz, not that I expected these characters but I...
Published 2 months ago by Joseph Smith


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid book, 7 July 2014
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Joe Abercrombie practicing restraint., 3 July 2014
By 
J. Lesley "(Judy)" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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. That is definitely a hallmark of Abercrombie's works since it is very often difficult to tell his hero from his villain. There is a plot twist at the end of this novel which came right out of nowhere for me, but it certainly did work for the story. I was surprised to find no obviously cliff-hanger ending since I understand there are to be more books in this series. This can definitely be read as a completed novel if you don't choose to continue following Yarvi's adventures. I would find it very, very hard to not read any other books that follow this one.

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns. Then strikes., 20 July 2014
By 
Selene (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
"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.

Discussing "Half a King" at Goodreads, Abercrombie gives a nod to Rosemary Sutcliff's "Blood Feud". I can see Sutcliff's "Warrior Scarlet" here as well - the story of Drem, the young Bronze Age boy who must kill a wolf before being accepted as a man of the tribe, despite his withered right arm. This is the stuff of archetypical hero quest, but Abercrombie's Law is Sod's Law. Anything can happen and frequently does - there are plenty of lethal twists and turns to keep us on our toes and add a gritty new dimension to an old theme. Who will be the next to stumble all unwary through the Last Door? Can Yarvi accept that power demands the sacrifice of friend as well as foe? Vengeance is a double-edged sword; the end may only be the beginning and home may no longer be where the heart is. Can't wait to see where Yarvi's journey takes us next.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Half a story, Half an adventure, 11 Oct 2014
By 
Karen (Bradford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Originally, I was recommended this book due to it having similar themes to game of thrones. However, after my initial confusion about the way that the book was going in the first few chapters, I found that the book was quietly and confidently becoming a strong and independent style all on its' own, much like the way (SPOILERS BEGIN)Yarvi reclaimed the black chair.(SPOILERS END)
An amazing book for both newcomers and veterans to the theme of Kings betraying each other and becoming commoners and better men because of it, and a refreshing take on that theme it is!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but watered down Abercrombie, 7 July 2014
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not half bad, 3 July 2014
By 
"Whatever your questions my answer is steel."

Joe Abercrombie is one of the biggest names in modern fantasy. His first First Law trilogy more than filled the void left by that other titan in the genre George RR Martin whilst the 'Song of Ice and Fire' creator wrestled with his "Merenese knot" between 2001 and 2011. The First Law was a grim and gritty series, that was also darkly funny, and it cleverly subverted many of the tropes that had once upon a time made fantasy seem such a stale realm of writing.

However, since his original trilogy Abercrombie has seemed somewhat lost, unable to decide what next. 'Best Served Cold', arguably his most well written work (at least in terms of prose), seemed to point at a way forward, hinting we might see the other side of the conflict we had witnessed in the First Law books - the Gurkish perspective. But what followed next in 'The Heroes' was instead a retread of a conflict we had already witnessed before: a Union versus The North battle devoid of the emotional context provided by the campaign that unfolded in the First Law.

If 'The Heroes' already felt derivative then 'Red Country' seemed to hint that Abercrombie was well and truly running on fumes by 2012. The squalor, the grim nature of the setting and his characters, the terse verbal barbs - all hallmarks of the author - were now turned up to 11 in a novel that felt like Joe Abercrombie trying his damndest to write a Joe Abercrombie book, with the inevitable result that the book felt tired and forced (and full far too much of the author's love of 'Deadwood', 'Red Dead Redemption', and Westerns in general).

Because of the above, I wasn't disheartened when the author stated he was taking a break from the First Law world to write a new young adult trilogy. If anything it seemed the best thing possible. It would allow Abercrombie time to recharge his batteries regarding his original series and spend time considering where he wanted to take it - something essential given how old his main characters had become, and the curious proto-industrial state he left the world in come the end of 'Red Country'. Furthermore, the YA setting would also allow for a convenient reining in of his trademark 'grimdark' elements; elements that no how much they had come to define his early writing seemed increasingly cliché and a weight around his neck.

So, finally, how fares this brave new book by Joe Abercrombie?

I'd say it's possibly his most enjoyable book since the original First Law books; at the least it's his best since 'Best Served Cold'. If I thought `Red Country' rather a turgid mess, 'The Heroes', despite being well written, didn't strike me as original or a particularly enjoyable read either. By comparison 'Half a King' is written with a lightness of touch that has been lacking in the author's prose of late. And it's good to see that Abercrombie's line that "I don't feel that I've compromised on the way I've written [regarding this being a YA novel]", isn't just spin and a PR exercise. Whilst it was stunning (in a Abercrombie book) to hear mention of elves, those sorts of moments are fleeting and the same sort of questions that dominated the First Law books, such as "Are our good guys really all that good?", remain; as do other concepts familiar to readers of Abercrombie's previous work, which I won't go into detail about and spoil.

What's nice though is that these themes and questions feel less in your face, less sharp and edgy. Rather they're put on to the page and left there, instead of being constantly drawn to your attention. Again, it's done in much the same way as the First Law books where Abercrombie seemed more willing to trust the reader to pick up on the subversion, hypocrisy and moral ambiguity, rather than constantly point out just how dark and grim everything was.

Whilst I'm aware not everyone shares my criticism of Abercrombie's latest books, I personally consider this a return to form. The bleak morass of 'The Heroes' and the weak effort that was `Red Country' had cooled my enthusiasm for Abercrombie's fiction, but 'Half a King' has restored a lot of faith and has me once again eagerly looking forward to his next work. I'm not saying it captures the terrific highs of the First Law trilogy, but it's an excellent book and I don't think the author could have done much more within the confines of a single book and the YA genre. Here's to hoping that 'Half a World' is half as good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good enjoyable fantasy read, 17 Oct 2014
By 
BVI Diver "BVI Diver" (British Virgin Islands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Half a King is a generally well written and extremely engaging fantasy epic. Engaging characters, good plotlines and enough twists to keep it moving. It only suffers in comparison to some of Joe Abercrombie's other works which are amongst some of the best fantasy I have ever read. The plotline of Half a King is also just a little bit too disturbingly close to Disney's The Lion King for long periods of time, but fortunately it eventually shakes that off, and leaves one ready and waiting for the next book in the series.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The characters feel like poorly fleshed out versions of previous books, 17 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Having read the first law trilogy and the stand alone red country and heroes I was looking forward to this. Unfortunately this story feels very underwhelming compared to previous books. The characters feel like poorly fleshed out versions of previous books. Theres no bloody nine, or shivers, no dogman, no cripple,
No bayaz, not that I expected these characters but I did expect the new characters to be as engaging and complicated. The story is a little more linear and boring compared to previous ones. And to be totally honest the world seems flatter and less impressive. The politics less intrigued. To compare this outing to previous versions is like watching snooker on a colour tv, but having to settle for a black and white picture for the final. Its ok but its not mr abercrombie at his best, I hope part 2 is better.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The First Law trilogy is a long and distant memory., 29 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I have read all of Jo Abercrombie's books and this is by far and away the poorest. It was predictable, basically written and lacked any real surprise. A real dissappointment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A head cracking, cracking read., 22 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Another great entry from Abercrombie. It's strong in beginning, middle & end, & leaves you just the right amount of breadcrumbs to have a chance of spotting a great twist. Has very strong characters who grow on you in very different ways & added to Joe's lack of pulling punches, keeps you worried for them, in just the right way.

For me it has everything I want in a great book.

Loved it.
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