I recently read Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King, a story of a prince with a crippled hand who becomes king due to circumstances he had not expected…
I enjoyed the story, even though it was highly predictable. I guess once you’ve read one kingly fantasy about the guy that you didn’t expect becoming king, well, they all kind of sound similar. That said, Abercrombie’s writing was solid and the story had enough new details to the standard coming-of-age fare that it kept me reading until the end (which, of course, isn’t REALLY the end). Oh yes, this is a series. It’s all “He Left a Boy; He Returned a Man.” There are shades of George R. R. Martin all over the place, but then Martin is stealing from years of fantasy worlds with kings in charge. The women in the book are few and far between, and somewhat troubled, but then it seems ALL the characters are troubled. The female minister seems a replacement mother, but isn’t. The king’s real mother is Cersei Lannister all over again, minus the incest. There are two romantic figures who show up and are dealt with. The boat’s captain is female, but a drunkard and more than a bit crazy. It’s certain some of those will show up again.
It’s listed as Young Adult AND Adult Fantasy, which is interesting in itself (where is the line anyway? I don’t seem to be able to find it.). There are two more books planned for the series, which seems to focus on Yarvi, the second son of a king who dies in the first few pages. Yarvi is an interesting character, definitely morally good in general, although near the end, he does become a bit more heartless about sacrificing the lives of a few to get his vengeance. A few parts of the story are a bit unbelievable, but it is fantasy, and I enjoyed it anyway.
Would I read the next two? Oh yeah…if they are written in the same way, I will. Abercrombie is not a Faulkner…his turn of phrase is short, to the point, sometimes even brutal. He has written other books that are of a different style and focused more on the Adult Fantasy crowd, and I would definitely try one of those. His writing is interesting enough that it distracted me from the standard plot, so definitely worth a second read. That’s probably any author’s hope…that the first book of theirs that you read brings you back to try another (and then you hope the second one keeps you in).