Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Half A King Half A King
by Joe Abercrombie

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

Half a King is Joe Abercrombie’s latest novel and also the first instalment in "The Shattered Seas" trilogy. Half a King is this reviewer’s first foray into the works of Mr Abercrombie and it proved to be a remarkably enjoyable experience.

Half a King is set in and around the Baltic Sea some unknown time in the future. Something untoward has happened to our current civilisation with the societies bordering the sea have reverted to a proto-viking culture with tribal kings, farming, trading and raiding being the substance of local life. Into this milieu is born Jarvi the second son of king Urthil. Due to a birth defect giving him only half a left hand Jarvi has elected to study for the priesthood and forswear his claim to the throne. But the unexpected death of both his father and older brother propel him to the kingship –that’s when his problems really start, after all who would want to follow a warrior king when he can’t even hold a shield. Betrayal and abandonment quickly follow, then the hard life of a galley slave.

Despite being the first book of a trilogy Half a King can be read as a standalone novel; the story is complete unto itself although the author has left enough threads hanging for further parts to be added.

I really liked this book. The setting and characters’ motivations were believable, as were the deeds those characters performed – and in the background was a wider world with other dramas and factional politics; the story was more than Jarvi and his attempts to regain his lost throne and gain vengeance on those who sold him out. I shall definitely be seeking out more in this series.

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