I do not believe it is possible for Joe Abercrombie to write a bad novel. Short or long, I'm glued to the page from the very first one. Half a King is much shorter than all his other novels, but that hardly diminishes the effect.
I usually read multiple books at a time (cause I'm insane I know) and I found myself putting down others in favor of this one. REALLY good others too.
Here, Abercrombie takes the point of view of only one character, Yarvi, and explores his world, his story. Yarvi is a prince and a cripple. His left hand has been cleft since birth and in a savage, medieval world that's more than enough to ridicule someone, even a noble such as he.
With plans on escaping the political life and joining the celibate Ministry, Yarvi's plans take a 180 degree turn when his father and elder brother die and the kingdom is thrust upon him.
Betrayal and hard times follow and Yarvi's life is anything but desirable. This is the story of Yarvi's growth into himself, despite his weakness.
And like I said, I was glued to the page from the beginning. There's barely a chance to come up for air as the events compound. Yarvi is a fascinating character, full of Abercrombie's wit and charm.
In a world where we take so much for granted, especially sacrifice and hard work, it's nice to see a character like Yarvi who suffers real learning and growth, especially due to his one great weakness, his crippled hand.
I couldn't put Half a King down. It's typical Abercrombie through and through - he'll charm you while he's pulling your guts out.
4.5 out of 5 Stars (very highly recommended)