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 he has sharpened h
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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
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.
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 book
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
When I opened the package containing Joe’s book (not addressed to me), I rubbed my hands together. I cackled. I stroked my beard. I got to work.
The trick, of course, is to write something that sounds positive, but may not be. You also have to avoid fragments that can be pulled that undermine your snarkish intent: “I love John’s frequent use of correct punctuation in his work!” could be undermined. A canny publicist will pull real praise out of a reckless phrase, like so: “I love John’s…work.” or, stretching morality, even “I love [this] work!”
If you write something the publisher doesn’t use at all, you’ve failed. (That is, unless you can get it to stick on Goodreads or Amazon.) And if you write something amazing but not specific to the target, people will just attribute it to Mark Twain. (“Any brilliant double-edged quote from an American author will be attributed to Mark Twain.” –Mark Twain) As you can see, a daunting task indeed.
So… a quote for Joe Abercrombie, eh? *cracks knuckles*
There are myriad correct ways to address Joe Abercrombie’s work; one of them even involves praise.
Let’s just get this out of the way. The low-hanging fruit*:
Though slender, I wouldn’t call it half a novel. Half a King isn’t half bad!
Is Half a King Abercrombie’s best yet? You’ll half to see for yourself!
*reviewers punning on the Half in the titles of this series, that there is a sin of weakness–unless you can make many puns in your review or find one that others have overlooked. I know, it’s hard to resist. You’ll be forgiven the “half” puns on this first novel. Do it on novel two and three, and you’ll earn sighs and derision, respectively.
Hitting where it hurts (the wallet):
There is only one way to show how much I enjoyed this book: I scanned it and am distributing it to the whole internet for free!
Here’s a good one for readers who like to believe they don’t look down on the YA genre:
Now writing Young Adult fantasy, Joe Abercrombie has finally found his intellectual home.
The baffling, yet catchy:
This book seals it: Joe Abercrombie is the Kanye West of fantasy.
The sneaky slander:
Critics have wondered, is there a Joe Abercrombie without the f-word? Fuck yes!
The secretly snarky:**
Will this novel make shortlists everywhere? Well, I certainly wouldn’t give it the axe!
**Only works if you know a rarely-used idiom, AND that the Gemmell Award is a battle axe.
The grimdark (the challenge here being to attach the mildly pejorative label “grimdark” to Joe’s work without ever using the term directly):
Some worried that Abercrombie’s move to Young Adult novels would mean a loss of his grim, dark tone. Though the events of this novel are often grim, dark themes aren’t overwhelming. Much as in the Brothers Grimm, dark colors are used to highlight moments of humor.
The needlessly cruel (may be attributed to Mark Twain):
Definitely worth picking up from the remainders shelf.
Worth every penny I paid for it. (My thanks to the publisher for the free review copy.)
I look forward to being able to get the whole series for half off.
My real blurb:
Perhaps his most technically proficient novel yet, I dare you to read the first chapter and try not to turn the next page. Some wondered if what makes Joe Abercrombie so different would survive the transition to YA. Abercrombie fans, have no fear: Polished and sharp, the un-adult-rated Abercrombie is still unadulterated Abercrombie.
Ugh, you have no idea how my stomach sinks to write actual praise. Dammit, Joe.