‘Half a King’ is the first book I’ve read in quite a while. It was a good choice for me to get back into reading: short, fast-paced and with lots of twists and turns. I finished it in a day and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s apparently part of a trilogy (to be followed by ‘Half the World’ and ‘Half a War’), but the book ends with most of the loose ends tied up.

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‘Half a King’ follows Prince Yarvi, the youngest son of the King of Gettland, as he ascends to the throne and promptly has it stolen from him. With a deformed hand, and being a poor warrior, Yarvi never thought he’d be King, and everyone else doubts him just as much. When his father and elder brother die, he is quickly thrust into power. He is quickly betrayed, and swears vengeance on everyone who took part in the plot against him.

The rest of the book follows his struggles as he survives the attempt on his life, tries to get back to his home and find a way to take back his throne. It’s exciting, and there are lots of twists and turns, with Yarvi making plans that quickly go awry. There’s a pretty big twist right at the end, that I didn’t see coming, but in hindsight, there are plenty of clues. The conclusion wraps up the story neatly, and it could end here, though I can also see how there will continue to be problems in Gettland that will provide plenty of fodder for a trilogy.

The story is pretty fast, and Abercrombie doesn’t dwell on the details. Yarvi, and a few of his companions are fleshed out in more detail, though I felt the swordsman Nothing ended up being a little one-dimensional. He’s amusing, but mostly all he does is laugh and encourage people to fight and get killed. I enjoyed the book most when Abercrombie brushed against the effect on the characters’ values and choices of the terrible circumstances they found themselves in. My favourite quote was ‘I used to think I was a good man’.

All in all, it was an enjoyable, quick read. The book tied up most of the loose ends and the story could end here, though if I happen across the rest of the trilogy when it comes out, I’ll most likely read it.

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