Review: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

half-a-kingHalf a King
by Joe Abercrombie
Narrated by John Keating
Series: Shattered Sea #1
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Published by Recorded Books, 2014 (Del Rey, 2014)
Audiobook, purchased
336 pages
9 hours, 17 minutes
Grade: B
Narrator Grade: B
Synopsis: “I swore an oath to be avenged on the killers 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 itself. 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’s path may end as it began – in twists, and traps and tragedy…

“The fool strikes. The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns. Then strikes.”


“What is the world coming to when an honest man cannot burn corpses without suspicion?” asked Nothing.


  • I enjoyed this book a lot.
  • Prince Yarvi is a survivor and he has lots to survive during this book. He’s also smart. He’s had to learn to use his wits in a world which values physical strength.
  • I like how much Yarvi grows and changes during the course of the book. He learns the value of loyalty, planning and friendship.
  • The book mostly features Yarvi traveling by ship and overland. The area they were in kind of made me think of books about ancient Ireland, Britain and surrounding areas I’ve read. One book in particular I read a few years ago (Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale by Donna Jo Napoli) about a princess kidnapped from Ireland and her travel around the oceans and seas until finally she reaches Iceland. That story is based on an ancient Icelandic story.
  • Yarvi finds out revenge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
  • So many well-written and fleshed out characters–Nothing, Samael, Shadikshirram. the Queen and many others.
  • The end of the book is a surprise.
  • The narrator is good.


  • There are slow parts in the story. This could be part of listening to the book over a long period of time.
  • It was sometimes hard for me to keep track of all the characters since there are lots of them.

About the author

  • Joe Abercrombie is a British fantasy writer and film editor. Besides The Shattered Seas series he has written The First Law Trilogy as well as stand-along novels.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This is the first book by Joe Abercrombie I’ve read, but I plan to read more.
  • This book took me a while to listen to–too many things happening to listen to an audiobook as much as I wanted to.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book by an author you’ve never read before)
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading (audiobook)

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

2 thoughts on “Review: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie”

    1. I can’t say he’s my favorite author yet, Nathan, but I did enjoy this book and I have some of his adult series, too, so I want to read them.


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