I was very lucky to be sent an advanced readers copy of Half a King by Joe Armstrong. I read this one on my Kindle so I have no clue what size it is, although on Goodreads it says it’s 352 pages. On first impressions I wasn’t so sure about this book. I’m a fantasy fan, although I prefer the novels I read to have mythical creatures (especially dragons). This seemed to be similar to game of thrones, but without the magic.
This book is about a prince (I’m not so sure of his age, although I would estimate him being about 16) whose father and older brother die in battle. He is left to rule the country, but lacks the strength of a leader. He preferred to study and renounce his titles. His soldiers don’t respect him, and it would seem that neither does his family. The story tackles how the prince overcomes his difficulties and fulfills an oath.
I was so excited to read a book where the main character, Yarvi, is a person with a disability. This is not common in books and is extremely refreshing. Armstrong does really well to make sure that Yarvi is represented as a human being first and I think this is important for all authors to remember.
The other characters are amazing, with lots of strong females to balance it out. These include an alcoholic pirate captain and an intelligent queen. Yarvi reminded me a little bit of Tyrion Lannister, he has the same sarcastic and witty defences that make him so loveable.
Whilst this book is set in a fantasy land, which is very much like medieval England, it was a coming of age story. It definitely went against the normal tropes. Who else discovers themselves whilst they are battling pirates?
It could also be set in a post-apocalyptic future. Lots of references to elves (which could be interpreted at 21st century humans) and the shattered sea (nuclear war, bombs). I enjoyed seeing how Joe Armstrong interprets his view of the future and it’s certainly different to anything I’ve read before.
It is action packed and the action is extremely well written. I like fight scenes that I am able to work out in my head and I had so much fun reading about all the blood and the gore. The book is also quite sad in some places, although I won’t tell you where because I think it is best you find out for yourself.
I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the diversity of the characters and the fast paced action. My first impression was definitely wrong and I will be reading more books in this series, as well as other works by the author. It comes out on the 15th July and I recommend you go pick up a copy.