Half a King - Joe Abercrombie's take on YA Fantasy
Yarvi was born the son of a king, but unfortunately for him, the gods also saw fit to give him a crippled hand. In his father's eyes this means that he will never be more than half a son with a future no better than half a man, so Yarvi finds himself destined for women's work as a minister. This is actually a good fit for Yarvi because he has a sharp mind and he finds that his apprenticeship to Mother Gundring, the Minister of Gettland, goes quite well. Yarvi is eagerly awaiting the upcoming test that will promote him out of apprenticeship when both his father and his brother are unexpectedly killed on a diplomatic mission. Now Yarvi's life course is forever altered and he finds that he must take the throne instead. Upon doing so he is counseled to swear a blood oath to avenge his father and brother and kill the person responsible for their deaths. Now Gettland has half a king and Yarvi must figure out how a cripple who can't even hold a shield is supposed to carry out an oath of vengeance...
Joe Abercrombie is known for his dark, gritty fantasy writing and since I am a big fan of his First Law series I decided to give this YA series a try. The story is written in a much simpler way than the First Law series as it is told entirely from Yarvi's point of view and doesn't jump around between many characters, but it is still Joe Abercrombie so many bad things happen to Yarvi as circumstances go from bad to worse along the way. The world is richly crafted and feels well thought out for such a short book. Yarvi's experiences are also varied and interesting but when it was all said and done it felt like it was written by half an Abercrombie. The humorous moments amid the dark occurrences were much fewer than his other work and the story itself just didn't have the bite it needed to really grip me; however, the ending was really well done and the story came together nicely and ended on a high note.
John Keating is the narrator for the audiobook version and although he is a talented narrator I am not certain that he was the best choice for this material as his voices and accents took away some of the edge from the story. I think ultimately I would recommend reading this one over listening to it to maximize your enjoyment of the story.