A classic coming-of-age tale set in a vivid and richly-imagined world from Sunday Times bestselling author Joe Abercrombie.
Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand.
Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.
But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi's path may end as it began - in twists, and traps and tragedy…
©2014 Joe Abercrombie (P)2014 HarperCollinsHarperCollins Audio FictionHarperFiction - Fiction Audio - Digital
"Joe Abercrombie is doing some terrific work" (George R.R. Martin)
"Abercrombie writes fantasy like no one else" (Guardian)
"This is my favourite Abercrombie book yet" (Patrick Rothfuss)
"Joe Abercrombie is fast becoming my favourite writer. Half a King is a remarkable achievement - thrilling, enthralling, and relentless. The action is frenetic, the characters are as sharp as the blades they wield, and the humour is biting. It's sure to garner him a whole new legion of fans" (Derek Landy)
"Enthralling. An up-all-night read" (Robin Hobb)
"Half a King can be summed up in a single word: Masterpiece" (Myke Cole)
"With eye-popping plot twists and rollicking good action, Half a King is definitely a full adventure" (Rick Riodan)
I couldn't finish this book. Got close, but couldn't quite limp across the finish line, it was just that hard going. Let me setup this review by firstly stating that I'm a huge Abrecrombie fan and I'd probably class him, along with a handful of other writers such as Martin, Sanderson, McClellan and Watson, as one of the best, if not the best, of the modern fantasy genre. If I listened to this book without knowing the author I wouldn't have been able to guess who it was after a multitude of attempts, this book is just so far removed from his previous works. I know this new series is aimed at the YA market, but I still had high hopes and had been hanging out for anything new from him for an age. I was bitterly disappointed that this is what I'd waited so long for.
I found that all characters lacked depth and the lead character was simply unlikable. The real, gritty, interesting, if deeply flawed, characters of the 'The First Law' world were missing from this book. You may not have liked or were able to relate to all of the characters from this world, but they generally intrigued and always kept you coming back for more. I found the lead character of this book so irritating and annoying that I was hoping he'd be killed off, but no such luck.
I also found the narration mediocre at best. I've only listened to one of his books previously, I read all the others, but Steven Pacey was outstanding. This performance was not even close to that standard.
I will not be purchasing the rest of the series and will now need to wait until Joe, hopefully, returns to the world and/or style that made him one of my favourite authors. Let's hope he churns out the rest of this series nice and quick so that this occurs sooner rather than later. I want my old Joe back!
I am the sort of person who desperately wants to be a full-blown nerd, but lacks most of the credentials.
I feel like I'd probably enjoy Abercombie's books a little more if he put more than a couple of months' effort into each.
This is a general tale of betrayal, leading to all the hoops the protagonist must jump through to set things right. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, there are plenty of books out there making a hash of the simple stuff, which this does not.
The narration was a disappointment. Various lands/countries, all with the same accent? I feel like this is a big opportunity missed. Each character more or less had the same voice, but for two or three spotted throughout.
I'm interested enough to check out the rest of the series. This is far from a classic, but worth picking up for a familiar jaunt through familiar fantasy territory.
"Great story. Mediocre reader. "
Abercrombie doesn't disappoint. Good story, if a bit rudimentary. The speak is not great. But ok.
"Good Story, OKish performance"
It was a good story, and i would like hear the rest of the shattered see novels. Yes time well spent!
Not really, i thought he was dead pan and missed some of Joe Abercrombies humor
Just love his books. Hope Joe will continue write his dark fantasy with all his fantastic characters from that evil world he has created
"Enjoyable start to a new series."
The setting. Abercrombie have created a world that seem slightly more inspired by norse culture and nordic history than the average fantasy book. There are for example hints of parallels to the centralization of power which happened in Scandinavia during the Viking age. Not by any means to the extent of giving anyone a lesson in history, but it makes the book more enjoyable to those who already have an interest in norse history I think.
The ending. It might be argued that this is a much lighter read than what Abercrombie usually serves and the characters are not quite as strong or memorable as some of the others he have created, but as establishing a new world with new characters for a new series I think it works well.
I gave an extra star for giving the book an ending that creates anticipation of what comes next without making a cliffhanger. Reading George R.R. Martin have given me a deep aversion of cliffhangers.
Bloody good entertainment.
This is supposed to be Abercrombie for the young adult market. Well this "older adult" is quite happy with it too!
Not quite as gritty as the First Law Trilogy, but equally engaging and raw, and still enough blood and guts to satisfy an Abercrombie fan.
Roll on book 2......
As an enthusiastic listener to Joe Abercrombie's stories I was sadly disappointed by this one. The story is quite 'thin' and the characters largely a rehash of the ones you find in his other books. Despite that I am hopeful that it is an opening for a much better story line as the series proceeds. The narration, whilst good, is not as captivating as the narration in his other audio works by (I think) Stephen Pacey.
"Least good of Abercrombie's books"
when I finished a long non fantasy talking book I was pleased to see that Abercrombie had a new book out on audible and just downloaded it. Should have checked more carefully. This is clearly for Young Adults / teens as opposed to his normal output. That's not to say it's bad, it's just that compared to his usual excellent novels this one is obvious where it's going, no great depth or complexity to the characters. If you don't know Joe Abercrombie's work then it's fine and I listened to it to the end but if you have listened to the heroes, before they are hanged etc you will be disappointed.
"An Enjoyable Story... shame about the performance"
I liked the story, though I much prefer Abercrombie's First Law World. Unfortunately the performance really lets the side down. Bring back Steven Pacey. Where Elliot burbles his narration in a monotone drone, Pacey has the emotional range to bring the words to life. Where Elliot's character voices all sound the same, Pacey imbues each character with a unique identity capable of expressing complex emotions. I will buy Half a Land when it is released, but I don't think I'll buy the audio companion, not if it's narrated by Ben Elliot at any rate.
"Not just for YA or (Joe you had me worried)"
I love Abercrombies books, so had to listen/read this one when it came out, despite it being tagged a young adult story. I figured it would lose so much without his usual dark and gritty story telling.
But happy to be proved wrong, although I didn't enjoy it as much as his adult books I still enjoyed the story, it has his wonderfully deep and complex characters and as ever strong and capable female characters (thanks Joe) loads of plot twists and turns, humour and adventure.
Although a lot subtler and more condensed then in his adult books, the violence is still there just a lot less graphic, so if you like your fantasy gore free this is a safe bet.
Overall an enjoyable viking-esque fantasy story that sucked me in enough that I had to listen to it in one sitting.
Sum it up as a timeless adventure suitable for young adult and old fogeys alike.
And I can't wait for book two.
"A decent enough story, a passable performance"
Worth a listen if you are a Joe Abercrombie fan, interesting sory with the rich background that we expect from Joe
The characters didn't quite reach the exceptionally high standards of the First Law Trilogy but were interesting enough
Audible askes the rather loaded and unhelpful question "how did the narrator detract from the book" especially unfair for some of the great narrators I've heard. Ben Elliot makes a passable effort of this book, not as good as the excellent Stephen Pacey who did The Frsot Law but reasonable enough. Maybe Ben is more of a "YA" narrator, maybe he's new to Audible. It wasn't bad certainly, but theres room for improvement
I thought the book was short however well structured. The story itself was disappointing and basically followed the story of the Lion King!
Currently listening to Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
Well voiced and good distinction between characters
"A great listen!"
I would definitely listen to Half a King again, I really like characters also I wasn't sure about the narrator at first so may have not been listening as closely at the beggining, but I got used to him... he did great job.
I really like the development of the characters I really think Prince Yarvi is a great protagonist he grows so much as a character.
I've never listened to Ben Elliot before, but I think he did a good job. Not sure if he was as good Steven Pacey in the previous Abercrombie books, by comparison his character voices sounded relatively similar to one another.
"Gripping from the first page"
I just finished this today and I'm sitting here slightly stunned. It's been a long, long time since I read something so packed with betrayal, violence, and dramatic plot twists which is also written by someone who draws vivid characters, creates a whole new mythology and has an ear for language and rhythm that lifts his prose almost into a song at times.
The plot of "Half A King", at least as it was described by the publishers, sounded like "Game of Thrones" without the dragons and the nudity. I didn't find that encouraging. I never got past the third chapter of the first "Game of Thrones" book, I listened to a sample of "Half A King" found it well-written and narrated and decided to give it try.
I was gripped from the first page, not so much by the plot as by the tone and pace of the thing: unhurried but focused, like a performer at the beginning of a contemporary ballet, full of controlled energy and potential passion.
Fortunately for me, I had a long commute this week, a round trip drive of nearly 700 miles, during which I could listen to "Half A King". I drank it in: a strange future world, fallen back into feudalism, murder and intrigue at court, a crippled prince unexpectedly becoming a king.
I thought to myself, "Ah, I know where this goes but I'll listen because I'm enjoying the ride". I did enjoy the ride but it turned out that I had no idea where the book was going. After the first plot twist, the ground my complacency was standing on fell away and I tumbled into the unexpected. Then it happened again. And again. And each time without me feeling cheater or tricked. It was more like opening one of those Matryoshka dolls from Russia and finding another doll within and then another within that.
"Half A King" is filled with violence, cruelty, death, betrayal, slavery and, above all, revenge. Yet it does not glory in these things but rather wades through them with the grim determination of someone who's only safe path is through the midden. What it rejoices at is freedom and courage and loyalty, if only because they are so rare.
This was my first Joe Abercrombie book. It won't be my last. Read it, preferably when you can give yourself up to it and let real life fade.
"I was hooked from start to finish"
Abercrombie tries his hand at young adult, and yet again delivers a stunner.
Story – 4.5/5
This is not YA as we know it: Abercrombie has put his own spin on it, providing a brutal, gritty revenge story, but making it accessible to a younger audience. He has done this by simplifying the plot and prose, but it still remains very clever. There are no whiney kids, and there is plenty of death, so certainly doesn’t follow the usual clichés.
As usual, Abercrombie’s characterisation is superb. In a very short space of time, we are able to get a very strong, believable impression on all characters. We watch Yarvi slowly develop into a very strong and likeable character, following him through sadness, fear and despair.
The story is quite fast paced, and gets even faster as the story progresses up until the end. There is plenty of gritty action, clever plans and surprise developments (mostly towards the end) to keep us on the edge of our seats. One of my favourite aspects of JA’s writing is his knack for writing an ending beyond the ending, extending the story past what you would expect and opening the world up for further intrigue and potential future stories. He didn’t disappoint with this either.
All in all, a highly recommended read for both YA and adult alike. The only thing stopping it getting a 5/5 is the reduction in sharp whit that I have grown so fond of from JA, and also the lack of originality in plot in places.
Performance – 4/5
Ben Elliot is a very good narrator. He was able to convey the mood of the story very well, and helped to enhance the excitement, fear and sadness very nicely throughout. The pacing of his reading was also spot on.
His voice acting was good. The distinctions in character voices were subtle, but sometimes a little too much. Just a couple of times, I found myself unsure who was talking, but luckily this didn’t happen often, and the simplicity in the prose allowed me to get back on track very quickly.
I very nearly gave Ben Elliot a 4.5/5, but when comparing to other 4.5 narrator reviews I have given, where there were no issues at all, it seemed a bit too high.
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