Half a King

Half a King

by Joe Abercrombie

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“The Shattered Seas trilogy has worked its way into a very exclusive group of my favorite fantasy novels of all time.”—James Dashner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner

“A fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page 1 and refused to let go.”—George R. R. Martin

“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.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Joe Abercrombie’s Half the World.

“Tremendously entertaining . . . lightning-fast and filled with a wonderful collection of rogues, villains and two-faced bastards . . . From the first chapter [Joe Abercrombie] wastes no time as the reader is swept up in a gripping tale of betrayal and revenge.”SciFi Now

“Once this plot has its teeth in you, it will not let go. . . . Abercrombie’s masterful storytelling means that everything, from the characters that you come to love and despise, to the sprawling world that is explored, is enthralling.”Fantasy Book Review

“Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea is a fantastic yet believable backdrop to Yarvi’s struggle, a vivid imaginary land.”—The Seattle Times

“Intriguing characters . . . nonstop action.”—Chicago Tribune

Half a King is my favorite book by Joe Abercrombie so far, and that’s saying something.”—Patrick Rothfuss

“As in all Abercrombie’s books, friends turn out to be enemies, enemies turn out to be friends; the line between good and evil is murky indeed; and nothing goes quite as we expect. With eye-popping plot twists and rollicking good action, Half a King is definitely a full adventure.”—Rick Riordan

“Enthralling! An up-all-night read.”—Robin Hobb

“Polished and sharp, perhaps his most technically proficient novel yet . . . I dare you to read the first chapter and try not to turn the next page.”—Brent Weeks

Half a King can be summed up in a single word: masterpiece. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a Viking saga. It’s a revenge tale and family drama and the return of the prodigal son. But most of all, it’s this: a short time alongside people as weak and blundering as we are and, in the midst of it all, as heroic. Far too short a time, as it turns out. What a wonderful book.”—Myke Cole

Half a King is full of all the adventure I’ve come to expect from Abercrombie and a tenderness I never knew he had.”—Sam Sykes

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804178334
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/15/2014
Series: Shattered Sea , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 13,701
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Joe Abercrombie is the New York Times bestselling author of Red Country and the First Law trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged, and Last Argument of Kings. He spent ten years as a freelance film editor, but is now a full-time writer who lives in Bath, England, with his wife, two daughters, and son.

Read an Excerpt

The Greater Good
There was a harsh gale blowing on the night Yarvi learned he was a king. Or half a king, at least.
A seeking wind, the Gettlanders called it, for it found out every chink and keyhole, moaning Mother Sea’s dead chill into every dwelling, no matter how high the fires were banked or how close the folk were huddled.
It tore at the shutters in the narrow windows of Mother Gundring’s chambers and rattled even the iron--bound door in its frame. It taunted the flames in the firepit and they spat and crackled in their anger, casting clawing shadows from the dried herbs hanging, throwing flickering light upon the root that Mother Gundring held up in her knobbled fingers.
“And this?”
It looked like nothing so much as a clod of dirt, but Yarvi had learned better. “Black--tongue root.”
“And why might a minister reach for it, my prince?”
“A minister hopes they won’t have to. Boiled in water it can’t be seen or tasted, but is a most deadly poison.”
Mother Gundring tossed the root aside. “Ministers must sometimes reach for dark things.”
“Ministers must find the lesser evil,” said Yarvi.
“And weigh the greater good. Five right from five.” Mother Gundring gave a single approving nod and Yarvi flushed with pride. The approval of Gettland’s minister was not easily won. “And the riddles on the test will be easier.”
“The test.” Yarvi rubbed nervously at the crooked palm of his bad hand with the thumb of his good.
“You will pass.”
“You can’t be sure.”
“It is a minister’s place always to doubt—-”
“But always to seem certain,” he finished for her.
“See? I know you.” That was true. No one knew him better, even in his own family. Especially in his own family. “I have never had a sharper pupil. You will pass at the first asking.”
“And I’ll be Prince Yarvi no more.” All he felt at that thought was relief. “I’ll have no family and no birthright.”
“You will be Brother Yarvi, and your family will be the Ministry.” The firelight found the creases about Mother Gundring’s eyes as she smiled. “Your birthright will be the plants and the books and the soft word spoken. You will remember and advise, heal and speak truth, know the secret ways and smooth the path for Father Peace in every tongue. As I have tried to do. There is no nobler work, whatever nonsense the muscle--smothered fools spout in the training square.”
“The muscle--smothered fools are harder to ignore when you’re in the square with them.”
“Huh.” She curled her tongue and spat into the fire. “Once you pass the test you only need go there to tend a broken head when the play gets too rough. One day you will carry my staff.” She nodded toward the tapering length of studded and slotted elf--metal which leaned against the wall. “One day you will sit beside the Black Chair, and be Father Yarvi.”
“Father Yarvi.” He squirmed on his stool at that thought. “I lack the wisdom.” He meant he lacked the courage, but lacked the courage to admit it.
“Wisdom can be learned, my prince.”
He held his left hand, such as it was, up to the light. “And hands? Can you teach those?”
“You may lack a hand, but the gods have given you rarer gifts.”
He snorted. “My fine singing voice, you mean?”
“Why not? And a quick mind, and empathy, and strength. Only the kind of strength that makes a great minister, rather than a great king. You have been touched by Father Peace, Yarvi. Always remember: strong men are many, wise men are few.”
“No doubt why women make better ministers.”
“And better tea, in general.” Gundring slurped from the cup he brought her every evening, and nodded approval again. “But the making of tea is another of your mighty talents.”
“Hero’s work indeed. Will you give me less flattery when I’ve turned from prince into minister?”
“You will get such flattery as you deserve, and my foot in your arse the rest of the time.”
Yarvi sighed. “Some things never change.”
“Now to history.” Mother Gundring slid one of the books from its shelf, stones set into the gilded spine winking red and green.
“Now? I have to be up with Mother Sun to feed your doves. I was hoping to get some sleep before—-”
“I’ll let you sleep when you’ve passed the test.”
“No you won’t.”
“You’re right, I won’t.” She licked one finger, ancient paper crackling as she turned the pages. “Tell me, my prince, into how many splinters did the elves break God?”
“Four hundred and nine. The four hundred Small Gods, the six Tall Gods, the first man and woman, and Death, who guards the Last Door. But isn’t this more the business of a prayer--weaver than a minister?”
Mother Gundring clicked her tongue. “All knowledge is the business of the minister, for only what is known can be controlled. Name the six Tall Gods.”
“Mother Sea and Father Earth, Mother Sun and Father Moon, Mother War and—-”
The door banged wide and that seeking wind tore through the chamber. The flames in the firepit jumped as Yarvi did, dancing distorted in the hundred hundred jars and bottles on the shelves. A figure blundered up the steps, setting the bunches of plants swinging like hanged men behind him.
It was Yarvi’s Uncle Odem, hair plastered to his pale face with the rain and his chest heaving. He stared at Yarvi, eyes wide, and opened his mouth but made no sound. One needed no gift of empathy to see he was weighed down by heavy news.
“What is it?” croaked Yarvi, his throat tight with fear.
His uncle dropped to his knees, hands on the greasy straw. He bowed his head, and spoke two words, low and raw.
“My king.”
And Yarvi knew his father and brother were dead.

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Half a King 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
I wasn’t ready for how powerfully written this book is! Why didn’t anyone tell me about Joe Abercrombie sooner? Half a King has created characters and a world that could and should become legendary! A coming of age story of a young and reluctant would-be king, Half a King follows the journey of one young man, whose deformity makes him the object of tauntingly, cruel laughter and the ugliness of those who cannot accept someone who is different. After his father’s death, there is only Yarvi to take the throne, but he is a scholar, not a warrior and the realm needs a strong hand to guide it that the people can trust and believe in. When treachery and betrayal threaten to end Yarvi’s life, he flees, beginning a journey of danger, death and self-discovery that will forever change him from a frightened young boy to a brave young warrior and leader who learns to out think his opponents when he cannot out maneuver them hand to hand. He has made a vow and is determined to keep it, no matter the risk. If Yarvi and his unusual band of allies can survive the long and painful journey, what will he discover when he arrives home? What will he do, with just a few allies to stand with him against the power of the ruling king? Although Joe Abercrombie’s target audience is Young Adult readers, this is one fantasy that will be enjoyed by all ages. Each scene comes to life in brutal clarity while each character becomes a living, breathing person in their own right>? Are there plot twists? Definitely. Did the characters grow before my very eyes? Yes. Are there hidden pearls that make the journey that much better? Certainly. Will heroes rise as I’m cheering for them? Oh, yes. Did I feel like crying when allies fall to their deaths? Yes. Get ready to be swept into an incredible tale of bravery, stamina and determination, rich in detail, emotion and creativity that feels real.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
Superb writing! I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review. Solid 5 Stars! When I first saw this book on Net Galley, I will admit that I passed right by it. I have never read anything by Joe Abercrombie and I must admit I am way behind on my reading. It was not long until I started seeing everyone talking about how great this book is on Goodreads so I decided to take a second look. I am so glad that I took that second look because my Goodreads friends were right - this is a fantastic book. The writing in this book was superb. As I was reading this book, I was amazed at how the pages just seemed to fly by. The characters were simply amazing. I loved Yarvi. He was smart and resourceful and a simply wonderful character. The secondary characters were written with equal care. From Yarvi's mother, his uncle, to his oar mates and Nothing, all of these characters brought depth to the story and helped to bring the story to life. This book really had everything I could have asked for: lots of action, a little romance (just a little), friendship, mystery, and a whole lot of excitement. I am not going to share the plot in this review. This is such a fast paced book that I feel that the best way to discover the plot is to simply read this book. This is a book that I feel comfortable recommending to all readers. I still cannot believe that I have missed out on Joe Abercrombie before this book. I will definitely be looking for other works by this author and future works in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NOT EXACTLY A PAGE TURNER but adventurous. IT DOES SEEM to be missing - comas and other punctuations towards the later chapters , almost like the author got tired of using them. I find myself ---rereading sentences because the meaning is lost--the actual point --of the sentence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was worth the 2.99! I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend, you won't be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting characters up against impossible odds. Moves along at a good clip.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some very interesting chapters, a bit predictable.
Arrat More than 1 year ago
Another great story! It didn't have as many twists as he usually does, but it was still a great story. I highly recommend his other books. They are brilliant, you think you know how it's gonna end, but it's never in the way you expect. I'm already looking out for the sequel!
Ravenclaw226 More than 1 year ago
Oh my goodness! What can I possibly say about this novel other than FREAKING FANTASTIC! I read it cover to cover in under 2 days; easy to get into, and an overall quick read. I don't want to say too much for fear of ruining it, but really, deception, plot twists (oh goodness, the plot twists!), intrigue, slight of hand... I could keep going on but I really shouldn't, just trust me and read it! Other details to intrigue you, the book is a high fantasy (in other words a purely made up fantasy world... think Middle Earth or Westeros, that slightly Medieval-ish feel to it, although I felt more Norse/Northern European feel rather than UK/English inspiration), the main character is not necessarily relate-able but you do feel for his cause as (early on) he does get the short end of the stick several times over before finally realizing that he does have some talent and can stand up for himself. Several intriguing villains appear, some become friends, some friends become villains... it's just too good! Go to the store now and get this book! You won't regret it! Oh and parents, there is nothing to worry about in letting your teens grab a copy too while you are at it! Perfectly acceptable reading for teens through adults!
Anonymous 28 days ago
It was an amazing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly fun read. The twists and turns in the storyline kept one engaged; although the two-dimensional nature of the characters did little to enhance the plot's dips and turns. I could not relate to any of the characters, including the lead character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Abercrombie is a phenomenal writer and storyteller. This book will please both young adults and their parents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was not expecting it to be so encapsulating. Nonetheless, I'd say it is on par with George R. R. Martin's work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
18578951 More than 1 year ago
GREAT READ!!!!!!! This was the 2nd Abercrombie book I have read. The 1st was Best Served Cold. Was not disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Abercrombie is fast becoming a favorite author . Well done!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Much better than I thought it would be. A coming of age tale that has a good plot and well defined characters. The female characters are strong--something I appreciate in a modern adventure novel. Wish there was more regarding the elves that have disappeared. Perhaps the author will delve into this fantasy element more in a sequel?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic! Fast paced, twists and turns, and so worth the lack of sleep :). I whole heartedly recommend. Read the teaser for Half a World, looking forward to reading it as well
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read, surprise ending. Will continue to read this author avidly!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me entertained. Well written with some nice twists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was first introduced to this author with his First Law Trilogy and have been hooked ever since. If you are new to the fantasy genre this a must read. Half a King is a pretty quick read and a great stand alone book. The pacing is fast and the twists do not disappoint