Review of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

That snide bastard Joe Abercrombie has done it again - perhaps even better. To be honest I haven't been inspired to read beyond the first novel in a series for much of the year, but with the Shattered Sea trilogy there was just no stopping. I've read Abercrombie's First Law series, and because they are so wonderfully violent and grim dark I was skeptical about him tackling YA - not that I don't love YA, I just feared he'd tone it down. He didn't, much. The violence is just as graphic, but the characters aren't quite as despicable, and there are some nice lessons to be learned (if you look real hard). No blunting of his imagination here, nor his penchant for wild and unpredictable shifts in narrative - and I love that. You still have no idea who's going to live or die or what the hell is going to happen next or to any of the characters - and yet nothing is a terrible let down or pisses you off. It all just works. Extremely well.

If anything, he's refined his terrific ability to narrate with efficient description and dialogue, and his talent for creating stark, wildly different and exciting characters and storylines just keeps getting better. I am particularly appreciative of his talent for coming up with each character's speech patterns, defining characteristics, attitudes, and "words to live by." If you liked "you can never have too many knives," you'll love what he comes up with here.

Half a King caught my attention immediately, and though there is of course some world and character building that needs to be done, it's all drawn along by an intriguing and well timed plot. A grand adventure of a young man in a grand epic world - with a lot of wonderful characters to help him through, and plenty of surprises.