Review: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Half a kingI’ve been meaning to read Joe Abercrombie for ages…I’ve heard so many great things about this writer. So when NetGalley had his first YA available as an ARC I thought I would apply. I am so glad I did! What a fantastic novel!

I have somehow convinced myself that I am not a fan of the fantasy genre. However, every time I talk myself into trying one I often find myself with a novel that I love. I am flummoxed trying to express just how much I loved it. This is one of those novels.

Here we have a young man with a deformed hand. He is passed over to be the next King and instead is to become a minister. Circumstances come about that change everything and the young man is indeed, offered up as the next King. This is a position that he has never wanted. He is just a young boy that lacks the strength and confidence to be a leader of men.

As often happens with kingdoms and politics, the young man finds himself betrayed and left to fend for himself. Armed only with only his wit he must now try to reclaim his rightful inheritance. He finds his champions among the lowest of men and they set out upon a quest to set the kingdom to right.

This is classified as a YA novel and I can understand that. I would caution that it needs to be mature YA. There is some violence within these pages. I think any novel such as this might appeal “out of the box” to young males. There are kingdoms, high seas and sword fights abound. However, I must give major props to Abercrombie here….even though the “hero” of the story is a young man, some of the strongest characters within these pages belong to not men, but to women and young girls. Abercrombie does a fantastic job of erasing all gender bias lines. The strong women in this novel are not “out of the norm”. No one even takes notice of them as females. They just *are*. There are enough of these strong females that there is little doubt that in Abercrombie’s fantasy world they are not a rare occurrence. No one looks twice at them or questions their power just because they are females. The men just follow them as they would any leader….it’s a nice thing that you don’t often find in popular novels. Strong independent women should not be a thing that one should even feel the need to comment on or point out….but sadly, I do feel that need…..and I find it refreshing to find these leaders of men in YA novel. Bravo, Abercrombie.

I am hard pressed to pick a favourite character out of this novel. There are just too many great ones to try to pick from. Abercrombie places this young man in just the right circumstances to not only build a weak boy into a strong man….but he does so with such finesse that lessons learned build up his character as well. He also places just the right mix of good and bad people in the young mans path to enable this wonderful transformation to occur. These lessons and the transformation are not without heavy personal and physical price. If you’re looking for a feel good happy story full of kitten whiskers and puppy tail wags, you are best to go elsewhere….

I can’t wait to read the next installment in this series. There are so many ways that this story can twist and turn….it will be a grand adventure for sure…..

And I can say that I have moved Abercrombie’s other books up my TBR list as well…..

Bravo! Bravo! Job well done, Mr Abercrombie!

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review

Buy it now Half a King by Joe Abercrombie