Published by Del Rey on July 15, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy, Young Adult
*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”
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. And he must do it all with only one good hand.
The deceived will become the deceiver.
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.
The betrayed will become the betrayer.
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.
Will the usurped become the usurper?
But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.
How one becomes half a king
Half a King features young Yarvi, the youngest prince and now King of Gettland as his father and eldest brother have just been murdered. This thrusts Yarvi into a role that he never wanted nor one that anyone seems to think he is fit for because of a deformity he has to his arm / hand – essentially lacking one hand all he has there is a stub and one finger. He has spent his youth studying for the Ministry. A path of study, healing, wisdom and advising. Now that he is to be king his dream of being a minister is over.
No betrayal could cut deeper
Not even days into his kingship he suffers a terrible betrayal from one he thought the closest to him. With the scene set we have the makings for an extreme revenge story. Due to the betrayal Yarvi subsequently finds himself sold into slavery and is placed on a trade vessel. I have to admit that everything that transpired up until the point Yarvi lands on the trade ship I had a hard time getting through. Yarvi is such a whiner and seems to do a lot of wallowing in self pity. Much of it because of his deformity and then much more because of how he thinks everyone views him. I had a hard time with this because I have known people close to me that have a similar birth defect and it doesn’t seem to embitter them to the world and have this petulant behavior. Maybe I’m reading too much into his behavior and perhaps his inner dialogue is harder on himself then he outwardly showed, but there is no way for me to really know that since we got to see so much of his self pity.
Friends in the lowest places
The saving grace of this novel for me was most definitely the companions that Yarvi makes along his journey for revenge. They are dynamic characters with seemingly more personality than Yarvi himself. I do have to admit though that Yarvi did grow on my considerably as the story progressed and he matured. Such that by the time the book ended I liked him instead of being annoyed by him.
“Pick your enemies more carefully than your friend,” Nothing was muttering at the flames. “They will be with you longer.” – pg 186
I have to admit one of my favorite characters in the novel was a man named ‘Nothing’ – he had a habit of saying steel was the answer to everything and that ‘death waits for us all’ heck at one point I thought I should have counted the number of times he said it but he also said some of the funniest things.
“Death waits for us all,” said Nothing. “But she takes the lazy first.” = pg 171
“What is the world coming to when an honest man cannot burn corpses without suspicion?” – pg 186
As you can see, there were a good number of cool one liners in this book and I found myself frequently stopping to save them. It was fun reading and had me smirking. I also liked the fact that the book sparked some great conversation between myself and several other buddies who had read it, in regards to authors writing in adult genre fiction and then releasing a young adult book of the same genre.
It is for one’s own sake that one does good things.- pg 99
The author that wrote this is known for his grimdark adult fantasy (none of which I have currently read at this time). I’ve noticed a few people note that they consider this book to be a very watered down version of his writing. I however didn’t find the grimness to be watered down and think its a decent book to introduce say a young adult or even adult reader to the fantasy genre if they haven’t already read his previous books. Depending on a reader’s tastes, reading this first might entice them to read his darker works. Or if they already know they want something very dark then according to my friends you should just jump straight to his adult books bypassing this one. Bear that in mind when deciding to pick this up. This is definitely a good book worth reading regardless and I don’t believe that it should be categorized as a young adult book just because it has a young protagonist. Could it be considered a young adult novel? Yes. But it also makes a great crossover adult fantasy novel. Read it and hopefully enjoy but prepare for some gritting of the teeth through the first fourth of the book until the pace picks up a bit.
*quotes taken from an advanced reader edition of the book and may be different in the published version*