Review: Half a King / Author: Joe Abercrombie / Publisher: Del Rey Books / Release Date: July 8th
Following a similar line of thought to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, Half a King consists of a tale of betrayal, political manoeuvring and war. Set in a world in which the more fantastical elements are kept to a bare minimum, it follows the journey of Prince Yarvi. Born a cripple and a weakling, Yarvi is forced to ascend to the throne upon the sudden loss of his father and favoured brother to lead their country in a time of war. Unsuited to the role and with little support, it is not a task he relishes. One which is soon to be made all the more difficult by those who desire the Black Chair for themselves…
While it wears its influences on its sleeve, Joe Abercrombie’s book nonetheless maintains its own identity and never stoops to outright slavish imitation. With no mention of Others, wolves and less focus upon the politics of war, the book instead follows a single story – namely, Yarvi’s efforts to survive following the tumultuous events which lead him to ascend to the throne. Unlike his brother, he is not a warrior, forcing him to utilise any means he can get in order to find his way back and take revenge.
Yarvi’s quest brings him into contact with a multitude of different figures and is used to flesh out elements of the world as the book progresses. You’re given enough details to want to keep reading but never enough to fully understand the world, a strength as this will keep you invested but it's also a failing as the book never quite provides the answers you want. There are glimpses here of a truly fascinating world on par with the Twilight Reign series, but as this is Yarvi’s series it’s frustratingly never the complete focus of any scene.
Furthermore, while the book has a strong story it reads as if basics have been ignored. Abercrombie seems to have skipped any real introductions for the characters or setting, and the opening is extremely jarring.
Half a King has the beginnings of a great tale, but never goes quite far enough. Give it a look if you like the sound of the blurb, but don’t expect anything perfect.