This book series (Shattered Sea) probably would have been my first review if it weren’t for the massive haul of books from Penned Con and Book Fest.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said…
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Synopsis From The Book
“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 that his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.
(The red was necessary, because in cover it is colored. I wanted to give you all the full effect.)
Short Synopsis By Me
Yarvi is the second Prince of Gettland and a few days away from testing to become a Minister. Once a Minister, he would have no ties to the throne and the scorn cast upon him due to his disfigured hand. Only, his father and brother are killed by a distant enemy, making him King against his wishes. When he is brutally betrayed, Yarvi is made to fight for his life and fight to return home.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
There is a map inside the cover! I repeat there is a map inside the cover! A prince aiming to retrieve his crown? A trilogy? Praise by many authors that I know and adore? Yes. I’m excited (perhaps not as much as I am for MEM, but pretty close). I do love myself from political power struggles in fantasy worlds.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
It was a treat, but I often am well versed in discovering which books I will like and which I will not. This I liked. What I think I loved the most was that the plot twist I should have seen coming I did not see. That does not happen often, not to me at least. The main cast was excellent, and the supporting cast as supporters.
What I Liked:
Queen Laithlin: I love her. I have decided that I love her. It seems to me that I have a soft spot for powerful women and queens as of late. I love that her word is weighed more heavily than gold. She is the most trustworthy and cunning individual. The plot of the book revolves around her and her worth over everyone else. I found this fascinating, in truth.
Nothing/King Uthil: His plot twist was not one I saw coming and for his craziness I adore him. His vanity and narcissism, pride for his country, and skill with a sword? I am happy with him and the way his story in this book ended. Since I plan to review the entire series, I will say he does end up as King. He is the rightful King, and I respect that.
Yarvi, who is our main character. He goes from coward to skilled politician like his mother. He ends up where he belongs, as a Minister. Him becoming King, then a Slave, then a Prince once more was quite the transformation. I feel as if calling this a transformation, however, is wrong. Yarvi always had it in him to be this person. He was his mother’s son, and dedicated to being a Minister. What it was, was that he was provided the grounds to let that part of him bloom. It had always been there, he just had to learn how to use it better.
Mother Gundring and the Ministers. I like their shade of grey and their oaths that they must keep. I find them fascinating characters and hope to see more of them as we continue in with the plot.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
More of our villains — Odem in specifics. I feel that he was evil for evils sake. In truth I did get it, that it was Mother Gundring in the shadows that was the one who pulled the strings. What bothered me was that his own personal motivations stemmed from simply greed? I often have a hard time believing families would kill each other out of greed when it isn’t an attribute of their family to begin with. There doesn’t seem to be a history of brother killing brother in the past. Was the greed and want for the crown so much that he’d kill two of his brothers? I am not sure, for I do not feel that I was convinced of it.
Speaking of brothers killing brothers, I’m not convinced by Odem and Uthrik killing Uthil either. So he was vain, and their greed for the throne overwhelmed them? Why? Also, how were these boys raised if they turn their hands against each other so easily? It is not a good way to run a country, especially a war loving one. Had their older brother been weak, perhaps I would have understood. Their people and country live for war and shame the weak, but I am still not convinced. For Uthil was strong and brother turning against brother only adds to instability within the country. I do realize that greed was a major theme within the book, but it still does not convince me for brother against brother.
More of Isriun, her transformation was not convincing to me at all. Not really. I do not understand her motivations. She was trained to be a minister. I need to know more about her, and her father’s hold over her. I expect more of her.
The other side characters Sumael, Jaud, Ankran, and Rulf. Those who survived, I expect more of. I hope Ankran’s family is at least more developed. I feel that each of their stories had so much potential and then two died. I suppose that since this is a series there will be more. Hopefully.
Why You Should Read:
There are some interesting politics between the people of the world that are exciting, and worth exploring. I think that it isn’t often that you have such an interesting cast of strong King and Queen characters. This book does not leave many openings for future books, so as a stand alone novel it can work just fine. We will see how the remainder of the book series goes.
Time Taken To Read
2 hours 30 min
I do admit that I lost track of keeping quotes very early on. Sorry, I’ll do better with the next book! I would like to note that Mother Gundring and the Ministers’ philosophies in general are quote worthy, even if I forgot to write them down.
” ‘ I lack the wisdom.’ He meant he lacked the courage, but he lacked the courage to admit it.
‘Wisom can be learned, my prince.’ ” Yarvi to Mother Gundring.
“Always remember: strong men are many, wise men are few.” Mother Gundring to Yarvi
“On the battlefield there are no rules.” Yarvi
“They say her word is valued higher than gold among merchants, because gold may go down in worth but her word never does.” Isriun about Queen Laithlin.
“The wealthier a man is, the more he craves wealth.” Mother Gundring.