Portable Magic – A Book Review Blog

Half A King – Joe Abercrombie



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 world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge. Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy.


Joe Abercrombie is a beast in the fantasy realm. His First Law trilogy is well known and equally well loved. Known for his characterization and unique world-building, it was a surprise to me to find a young-adult series written by him.

Picking this up for my participation in the #Norsevember reading challenge, hosted by Alex (@blogspells) on Twitter, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ve read The Blade Itself. He’s famed for his dark and gritty characters. How is that supposed to translate into young-adult?

Well, let me tell you, it did. Yarvi’s struggles bend in a way to make him such an interesting character to read. At the beginning of the story, we are given ample opportunity to see why Yarvi wouldn’t make a proper King. He hasn’t been trained in the art of war. He is weakened by his disability. He doesn’t think like a ruler. Yet, when his father and brother die in battle, there is no other choice.

This story takes many twists and turns and while I would love to explore those twists in this review, I do not want to spoil anything. I will say that this is a novel that showcases that a disability does not have to impede one’s goals. Yarvi’s struggles are real and human but that never stops him from pushing forward. It never makes him question if he should be fighting.

I absolutely loved this story and I have already moved on to the next novel in this series. I have said it before but if you hesitate in picking up young-adult, let this be the novel that pushes you to realize books like this exist in the YA realm. Even tackling tropes and putting the author’s twist on said tropes.


“The fool strikes. The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns. Then strikes.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Half a King

“Pick your enemies more carefully then your friends, they will be with you longer.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Half a King

“When you’re in hell, only a devil can point the way out.”
― Joe Abercrombie, Half a King


Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1) by Laini Taylor