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Half a King

(Shattered Sea #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  58,267 ratings  ·  5,624 reviews
Previous cover edition for ISBN 9780007550227
For all editions see here

Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself - all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold
Paperback, 373 pages
Published January 29th 2015 by Harper Voyager (first published July 3rd 2014)
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Alissa The works are unrelated and set in different worlds, so you can safely pick whichever you like first. I agree with Lee Dunning though, Half a King is …moreThe works are unrelated and set in different worlds, so you can safely pick whichever you like first. I agree with Lee Dunning though, Half a King is not completely a discontinuity, but it's very different from Abercrombie's previous books, so if you had been meaning to read him forever, The Blade Itself is your pick.(less)
Stas Although there are some references to the same world as the First Law, they're mostly just in-jokes. It's most surely not the same world, as there are…moreAlthough there are some references to the same world as the First Law, they're mostly just in-jokes. It's most surely not the same world, as there are very few common threads between the worlds, apart from the fact that they're both medieval.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, I would like to taunt you all just a little bit. Because I got to read an ARC of this book and you have to wait until it comes out in July.

But I can say this: This particular book is worth the wait.

I've been a fan of Abercrombie's stuff for years. His worldbuilding is great, his characterization is marvelous, he writes an amazing action scene...

Yeah, simply said, his craft is undeniably excellent.

That said, sometimes I put down one of his books and think to myself, "Well, I guess
Brent Weeks
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blurbed
Opportunities to blurb one’s nemesis are rare indeed. Having been published in ye olde aught-7, Joe Abercrombie is the elder in our Sith-padawan duo, whilst I have only been in print since late, late 2008. Our careers have followed similar trajectories: each of us receiving early and effusive critical praise (oh wait, that was him), each of us selling millions of books (him more millions–or a more… ebullient publicist), each of us winning the David Gemmell Legend Award (oh wait, that was me), ea ...more
Emily May
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy, 2014
Once, after his father had hit him in a rage, Yarvi's mother had found him crying. The fool strikes, she had said. The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns.
Then strikes.

Half a King is the kind of book that creeps up on you gradually, painting a picture of kingdoms and slavery and backstabbing until you think this is basically another fantasy set in the comfort zone of the genre, and then it hits you hard when you least expect it. I kid you not, there were three huge "twists" in this boo
Robin Hobb
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just so no one thinks I'd review a book I hadn't read, yes, I got to read it already as an Advanced Reading Copy. I've enjoyed Abercrombie's books before but this one had an exceptionally tight focus on the protagonist that I really liked. And the story does not compromise anywhere. It's a coming of age story but that trite description does it no justice. No spoilers here, just a whole hearted recommendation. ...more
Rick Riordan
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m a big fan of Abercrombie stark gritty fantasy books for grown-ups. His fiction pulls no punches and takes no prisoners (unless those prisoners are later tortured and executed). So I was curious to see how he would approach the world of young adult fiction in Half a King. The answer: brilliantly. Abercrombie creates a fantasy world that is somewhat neo-Viking, set around the Shattered Sea (the Baltic and North Atlantic?) ages after the elves (21st Century man?) shattered god (Blew everything ...more
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes fantasy
Recommended to Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ by: Faye, la Patata
12/29/17 - ON SALE for $2.99:

Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

It's not a secret that YA fantasy is second to only UF on my preferred genres list. It's also not a secret that YA fantasy has been falling flat for me recently. With the exception of Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, the last 6 or 8 YA fantasies I've read have been disappointing at best, DNFs at worst.

It was getting to the point that I was doubting myself, thinking that I was in some kind of genre-specific book funk, an
Shattered Sea Book 1: Boom! My first Joe Abercrombie read. And I just couldn't put it down. Read in an evening. Off-key, wonderful page turning, grab you by the seat of your pants, the rise and fall of a disabled Prince! You what? Yeah, you heard me! Great read. 8 out of 12.

2017 read
Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️
4.5 Stars

This was my first Joe Abercrombie story and it definitely won’t be my last. In fact, I already have the next book in my hands.

It was slow to start for me, but such is always the case in first of a series books when there is solid world-building afoot.

I really enjoyed Abercrombie’s writing. It just seemed to flow so effortlessly. I would feel as though I had just sat down and then realize I had already blown through 50 pages. And I am a sucker for short chapters.

I guessed the first twi
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

There I was, peacefully reading a decent, interesting YA fantasy, a sort of Viking-flavored coming-of-age story about the adventures of a physically weak, studious 15 year old prince with a crippled hand. Prince Yarvi briefly reigns over the kingdom of Gettland when his father and brother die, but he's betrayed and abruptly descends from the throne to abject slavery. Yarvi, determined to regain the throne and take revenge on those who betrayed him, has to overcome various obstacles (and people)
elena ❀
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
From the many cages ranked around the walls they looked down on him now, the doves, and one great bronze-feathered eagle which must have brought a message from the High King in Skekenhouse. The one person in the lands around the Shattered Sea who had the right to make requests of Yarvi now. Yet here he sat against the dropping-speckled wall, picking at the nail on his shriveled hand, buried beneath a howe of demands he could never fulfill.

It's really hard for me to review this. The b
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
When his father and brother are killed, half-handed Yavri finds himself king. His reign is woefully short as he is betrayed and left for dead. After being rescued and sold into slavery, he plots his revenge...

I got this from Netgalley.

After the unbridled awesomeness of The First Law and its spinoffs, I was curious to see if Joe Abercrombie could tell a story set in another world. Turns out he can.

While Half a King is marketed as Young Adult (or Adults That Don't Enjoy Reading About Sex and/or Vi
The fool strikes. The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns. Then strikes.

Half a King is what I would call a very traditional fantasy. It’s about kings and queens, princes and the fight for the throne, wars and conspiracies. It is set in a world that resembles medieval Europe/the Viking era and in many ways it isn’t a very original story.


It is utterly fantastic.
This book really demonstrates what a great writer Joe Abercrombie is, that he was able to take something so traditio
Faye, la Patata







*eyes shift to father*

*eyes shift to mother*

*eyes shift to brothers*

*eyes shift to grandmother*

Curious..... very curious indeed....

*eyes shift to dog*

Okay, you're cool, dog. I doubt you even know what I'm talking about.


This. Book. Is. AWESOME.

This. Book. Is
Robin (Bridge Four)
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Brandon Sanderson orThe Emperor's Blades
Recommended to Robin by: Kat Stark Stark
on sale 9/30/17 at amazon for $2.99

Just as good the second time through. Still a 4.5 star read.

4.5 Stars

This is my very first Joe Ambercrombie book and as an avid high fantasy reader I can’t believe I haven’t stumbled onto him before. He does a great job at blending a great world with fantastic characters and story without getting caught up in the drudgery of over explaining everything. After finishing this I was sure of three things, I will anxiously await the next installment of this series,
Sean Barrs
I remember how excited I was when this book came out. When it came through the letter box, I practically screamed like a little girl because the cover looked that awesome. I’d just read the First Law Trilogy and was eager to see what this would be like. When I began reading I was so shocked at the complete change in style, complexity and quality. Don’t get me wrong, I do like this book, but it was nowhere near as accomplished as his previous novels.

Predictable in the beginning


I’m still quit
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
It's hard to describe the feelings of reading this book. It starts off with Yarvi training to be a minister. As luck with have it he ends up being king after his father and brother are killed. Yarvi is young and born with only one good hand so of course he is teased and tormented.
I hate to give away any of the story because it's an adventure I think you should take without any foresight into it.
I'm so glad I started reading fantasy or I would have missed this gem. I will
Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
Heck yes. This is how you write High Fantasy. SO GOOD. So easy to follow. Oh man.

Review to come!

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Natalie Monroe
4.5 stars

"The fool strikes," she had said. "The wise man smiles, watches, and learns.

Then strikes."

Sorry if this review contains a lot of incoherent gushing and fangirling. I just sent my brain to her room for not making me read this sooner.

Come to think of it, all of you deserve to be there, too. You know who you are, my so-called friends with your four-star, five-star reviews. Why didn't you tell me to read this sooner??? All of you, room.

Yarvi is about to take his minister's test when n
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was an OK YA fantasy. The story was a bit predictable but it did have a mix of action and intrigue, and a few twists and turns that kept the pages turning.

Yarvi, unfavoured second son (one with a frowned upon crippled hand), was never supposed to be king but had to step into the role after his father and brother were murdered by a rival king under the banner of a peace meeting. Yarvi swears vengeance but soon finds he has as many enemies in his own court as he has in rival kingdoms!

I was
Mayim de Vries
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will tell you one thing about this book. No, actually, I will tell you one word. No, in fact, I will tell you Nothing. Nothing!!! 

This is my second Joe Abercrombie book, and after the slight disappointment of Best Served Cold, it took me a year to come back to him. Don’t get me wrong, it had all tell-tale signs of a great author, it was just inconsistent in its grim darkness vomiting rainbows at the end. Thus, I approached Half a King wary and with my snark unsheathed. Needlessly. The adventur
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

Since starting to read fantasy again several years ago, there have been a few authors whose names have been constantly whispered in my ear as the “it” writers to try: Peter V. Brett, Brent Weeks, Mark Lawrence, and especially Joe Abercrombie. From all the gushing, I was led to believe that reading a novel penned by Lord Grimdark (as Mr. Abercrombie is called) would not only enthrall me in his fantasy spell but leave me a meth-like addict begging for mor
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 stars.

With his latest effort Abercrombie breaks the mould he has set for himself with his hugely successful series of 'grimdarks' and tries his hand at YA. While this book lacks the depth and complexity of his previous work this is still a fast-paced, enjoyable read filled with betrayal, hardship and adventure and fleshed out with well-written characters.

"I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”

Yarvi is 'half a man', a crippled p
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Half a King is marketed as a Young Adult novel so I’m also going to label it as such, but doing so also feels wrong somehow. It’s not just because it is so different and unconventional compared to what we may think of as “mainstream” YA out there, but I also think adult fantasy readers or those familiar with Joe Abercrombie’s gritty adult fantasy novels will no doubt feel right at home reading this too. Now, if you’re th
Athena Shardbearer
Spoilers ahead!

Buddy read with Alexa

Thank you NetGalley for providing me a copy for review.

Actual Rating:
Overall-4.5 stars
YA-5 stars
Dark Fantasy 3.5 stars

Strong men are many, wise men are few.


A man swings the scythe and the ax, a man pulls the oar and makes fast the know. Most of all a man hold the shield. A man holds the line. A man stands by his shoulder-man. What kind of man can do none of these things?

I didn't ask for half a hand.

I d
Myke Cole
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HALF A KING can be summed up in a single word: Masterpiece.

There is tremendous pressure for authors to ratchet up their performance with each successive volume. Abercrombie set the bar impossibly high for himself with his magnificent FIRST LAW trilogy, and then proceeded to top himself for three successive stand-alone volumes. The expectations for this latest were so charged you could smell the ozone from a mile away.

Abercrombie's secret is character. He is a master of making us love and identi
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, abercrombie
18/25 (72%) 3.5 stars.
I've been meaning to read Abercrombie forever, and this is where I started. It's a good book, and I liked it.
I liked that the protagonist isn't one of the dazillion icredibly gifted, invincible sword fighters that you find in most of this genre's books. Yarvi is a cripple, and he knows it. Throughout the entire book, he survives by a combination of sheer luck and the help of better gifted friends, as Severus Snape would phrase it. I read this book in two sessions which to
Sep 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I'm wavering between a 3.5 and 4 stars for this one, but for now I'll leave it at 4.

After sleeping on it, I've decided to lower this to a 3 on Goodreads, but just know that if I could give it a 3.5 I would. I still recommend this one, it just isn't quite a 4 star read to me. Let me explain:

Half a King is a story of the underdog and revenge and a band of thieves. It has so many tropes and at times the dialogue is quite cliche. But the author occasionally does something so interesting and unexpect
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
He had flung wide the door, and begged Mother War to be his guest. He could not stop this. No one could. Surviving it would be challenge enough.

I loved it. There, I said it.

I think it's a nice way to start my review, because that's the simple truth : I. Loved. This. Book.
It's been awhile since I've read a really good High Fantasy, and I was expecting NOTHING *wink wink* from this story - because I'd never heard of it before it was recommended to me - but I ended up really really enjoying it.

It m
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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While reading Joe Abercrombie's HALF A KING, I was struck by the most peculiar sense of deja vu. Something about the story felt so familiar to me - which is weird, because I'd never picked up anything by this author before in my life!

As I continued reading, eventually it hit me. HALF A KING is like a fantasy version of Robert Louis Stevenson's works. Just think about it for a second, hear me out. You have your teenage boy protagonist who
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed many of this author's books so I thought it was time for me to try this series. It is nice too to know that the rest of the trilogy is already published so I can move on at my own pace.

I must admit to being amazed that this is categorised as YA. I did not detect much difference between it and his other work. With hindsight I can see that it is maybe a little less grim, but not much, and there are no sex scenes, although those are rare in all of his books. And then of course the ma
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Joe Abercrombie was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Manchester University, where he studied psychology. He moved into television production before taking up a career as a freelance film editor. During a break between jobs he began writing The Blade Itself in 2002, completing it in 2004. It was published by Gollancz in 2006 and was followed by two other books in The First Law trilogy ...more

Other books in the series

Shattered Sea (3 books)
  • Half the World (Shattered Sea, #2)
  • Half a War (Shattered Sea, #3)

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