Review — Half a King

People have been telling me to read Joe Abercrombie, and I do have the First Law books in my Kindle library. However, it took Half a King on the bookshelf of my local bistro/cafe before I got going. The bistro doubles as a lending library, so once borrowed, time was limited, and I read it quickly. I suspect had I bought the book, I would have read it quickly regardless because I couldn’t put it down. I am glad I grabbed it off the shelf on my way to pay the bill after a delicious Halloumi salad.

Us authors are often told to give our characters fallibility and make them human. Joe Abercrombie has done that in spades, giving the main character, Yarvi, a physical disability. I don’t want to give too much away, but Yarvi’s missing hand appears to lead to an adventure that kept me reading late into the night.

Yarvi’s excellently developed persona is not alone. All the characters have depth, be they good or bad. Mr Abercrombie’s character-building is awe-inspiring. From the mysterious Nothing to the self-indulgent Shadikshirram, I loved them all.

The only aspect of the tale I found less convincing was the alliance with Grom-Gil-Gorm, which didn’t seem realistic. I failed to understand what Yarvi offered the king, which he did not already have— what added threat. I also didn’t understand why Yarvi waited until his second meeting to offer an alliance. Despite my reservations, the plot point was only a distraction and by no means a show-stopper.

The twists and turns in the book’s final pages gave the tale an added dimension. Each time I thought we were back in stasis, another twist. Brilliant!


I give Half a King five out of five stars. I would recommend it to any fantasy fan. For those of you not yet into fantasy, it’s a great place to start.

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