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Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1) [Format Kindle]

Joe Abercrombie
3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Extrait

The Greater Good
There was a harsh gale blowing on the night Yarvi learned he was a king. Or half a king, at least.
A seeking wind, the Gettlanders called it, for it found out every chink and keyhole, moaning Mother Sea’s dead chill into every dwelling, no matter how high the fires were banked or how close the folk were huddled.
It tore at the shutters in the narrow windows of Mother Gundring’s chambers and rattled even the iron--bound door in its frame. It taunted the flames in the firepit and they spat and crackled in their anger, casting clawing shadows from the dried herbs hanging, throwing flickering light upon the root that Mother Gundring held up in her knobbled fingers.
“And this?”
It looked like nothing so much as a clod of dirt, but Yarvi had learned better. “Black--tongue root.”
“And why might a minister reach for it, my prince?”
“A minister hopes they won’t have to. Boiled in water it can’t be seen or tasted, but is a most deadly poison.”
Mother Gundring tossed the root aside. “Ministers must sometimes reach for dark things.”
“Ministers must find the lesser evil,” said Yarvi.
“And weigh the greater good. Five right from five.” Mother Gundring gave a single approving nod and Yarvi flushed with pride. The approval of Gettland’s minister was not easily won. “And the riddles on the test will be easier.”
“The test.” Yarvi rubbed nervously at the crooked palm of his bad hand with the thumb of his good.
“You will pass.”
“You can’t be sure.”
“It is a minister’s place always to doubt—-”
“But always to seem certain,” he finished for her.
“See? I know you.” That was true. No one knew him better, even in his own family. Especially in his own family. “I have never had a sharper pupil. You will pass at the first asking.”
“And I’ll be Prince Yarvi no more.” All he felt at that thought was relief. “I’ll have no family and no birthright.”
“You will be Brother Yarvi, and your family will be the Ministry.” The firelight found the creases about Mother Gundring’s eyes as she smiled. “Your birthright will be the plants and the books and the soft word spoken. You will remember and advise, heal and speak truth, know the secret ways and smooth the path for Father Peace in every tongue. As I have tried to do. There is no nobler work, whatever nonsense the muscle--smothered fools spout in the training square.”
“The muscle--smothered fools are harder to ignore when you’re in the square with them.”
“Huh.” She curled her tongue and spat into the fire. “Once you pass the test you only need go there to tend a broken head when the play gets too rough. One day you will carry my staff.” She nodded toward the tapering length of studded and slotted elf--metal which leaned against the wall. “One day you will sit beside the Black Chair, and be Father Yarvi.”
“Father Yarvi.” He squirmed on his stool at that thought. “I lack the wisdom.” He meant he lacked the courage, but lacked the courage to admit it.
“Wisdom can be learned, my prince.”
He held his left hand, such as it was, up to the light. “And hands? Can you teach those?”
“You may lack a hand, but the gods have given you rarer gifts.”
He snorted. “My fine singing voice, you mean?”
“Why not? And a quick mind, and empathy, and strength. Only the kind of strength that makes a great minister, rather than a great king. You have been touched by Father Peace, Yarvi. Always remember: strong men are many, wise men are few.”
“No doubt why women make better ministers.”
“And better tea, in general.” Gundring slurped from the cup he brought her every evening, and nodded approval again. “But the making of tea is another of your mighty talents.”
“Hero’s work indeed. Will you give me less flattery when I’ve turned from prince into minister?”
“You will get such flattery as you deserve, and my foot in your arse the rest of the time.”
Yarvi sighed. “Some things never change.”
“Now to history.” Mother Gundring slid one of the books from its shelf, stones set into the gilded spine winking red and green.
“Now? I have to be up with Mother Sun to feed your doves. I was hoping to get some sleep before—-”
“I’ll let you sleep when you’ve passed the test.”
“No you won’t.”
“You’re right, I won’t.” She licked one finger, ancient paper crackling as she turned the pages. “Tell me, my prince, into how many splinters did the elves break God?”
“Four hundred and nine. The four hundred Small Gods, the six Tall Gods, the first man and woman, and Death, who guards the Last Door. But isn’t this more the business of a prayer--weaver than a minister?”
Mother Gundring clicked her tongue. “All knowledge is the business of the minister, for only what is known can be controlled. Name the six Tall Gods.”
“Mother Sea and Father Earth, Mother Sun and Father Moon, Mother War and—-”
The door banged wide and that seeking wind tore through the chamber. The flames in the firepit jumped as Yarvi did, dancing distorted in the hundred hundred jars and bottles on the shelves. A figure blundered up the steps, setting the bunches of plants swinging like hanged men behind him.
It was Yarvi’s Uncle Odem, hair plastered to his pale face with the rain and his chest heaving. He stared at Yarvi, eyes wide, and opened his mouth but made no sound. One needed no gift of empathy to see he was weighed down by heavy news.
“What is it?” croaked Yarvi, his throat tight with fear.
His uncle dropped to his knees, hands on the greasy straw. He bowed his head, and spoke two words, low and raw.
“My king.”
And Yarvi knew his father and brother were dead.

Revue de presse

“A fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page 1 and refused to let go.”—George R. R. Martin
 
“Tremendously entertaining . . . lightning-fast and filled with a wonderful collection of rogues, villains and two-faced bastards . . . From the first chapter [Joe Abercrombie] wastes no time as the reader is swept up in a gripping tale of betrayal and revenge.”SciFi Now
 
“Once this plot has its teeth in you, it will not let go. . . . Abercrombie’s masterful storytelling means that everything, from the characters that you come to love and despise, to the sprawling world that is explored, is enthralling.”Fantasy Book Review
 
“Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea is a fantastic yet believable backdrop to Yarvi’s struggle, a vivid imaginary land.”—The Seattle Times
 
“Intriguing characters . . . nonstop action.”—Chicago Tribune

Half a King is my favorite book by Joe Abercrombie so far, and that’s saying something.”—Patrick Rothfuss
 
“As in all Abercrombie’s books, friends turn out to be enemies, enemies turn out to be friends; the line between good and evil is murky indeed; and nothing goes quite as we expect. With eye-popping plot twists and rollicking good action, Half a King is definitely a full adventure.”—Rick Riordan
 
“Enthralling! An up-all-night read.”—Robin Hobb
 
“Polished and sharp, perhaps his most technically proficient novel yet . . . I dare you to read the first chapter and try not to turn the next page.”—Brent Weeks
 
Half a King can be summed up in a single word: masterpiece. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a Viking saga. It’s a revenge tale and family drama and the return of the prodigal son. But most of all, it’s this: a short time alongside people as weak and blundering as we are and, in the midst of it all, as heroic. Far too short a time, as it turns out. What a wonderful book.”—Myke Cole
 
Half a King is full of all the adventure I’ve come to expect from Abercrombie and a tenderness I never knew he had.”—Sam Sykes


From the Hardcover edition.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2244 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 385 pages
  • Editeur : Harper Voyager (3 juillet 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00I7K2FZ8
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This book is Ok. It's not very good, a lot of "déjà vu" from Abercrombie.
From the same author and with the same quest for vengeance, Best served cold is far better.
Maybe the trilogy will be worth it. So I'm waiting for the sequel.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  490 commentaires
39 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Boy-kings and Vikings and Bloodthirsty Oaths! 15 juillet 2014
Par Neil Hepworth - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
After six excellent books filled with grit and gore, written for adults, Joe Abercrombie decided (as I understand it) to recharge his batteries by writing a fantasy YA trilogy, starting with Half a King. You’d be forgiven if you thought, after reading the first few chapters, that this was going to be a normal, mundane, (if well written) coming of age YA story. Well, you’d be wrong. And not half wrong, but all wrong. (How many half-jokes can we fit into this review? Because if a half-joke is a joke that is only kinda funny, well, I’m full of those - just ask my students...)

The story starts as one might expect after having read the back of the book: boy prince who unexpectedly becomes king only to have it snatched away from him, thus igniting a revenge story. That does indeed cover the first few chapters, and while revenge is the motivating force for our heroic half king, it’s not a glorious revenge (well, the book is glorious, but the revenge is sour). Half a King is an intelligent and powerful combination of adventure and vengeance filtered through the lens that reminds the reader revenge rarely turns out the way you think it should.

What’s not immediately clear by either the cover art nor the back cover blurb is that this book is less fantasy and more viking. Some of the beginning descriptions confused me until I stopped trying to visualize it like Game of Thrones, and instead visualized it like Eric the Red.

One aspect that I find most impressive about the book is how lean and focused the writing is. Let’s be honest: when was the last time you read a great fantasy book that didn’t require a six month’s leave of absence to finish? Half a King is fit and trim. There is only one point of view, characters come and go, and the plot moves quickly. There were so many scenes that could have been explored, but Abercrombie only tackles what it right and what is necessary. And so the book feels focused. It’s fantastic.

The other reason I find this book so appealing is because I can’t think of another YA author writing in this non-magical fantasy setting. Most other YA fantasy books are bursting (sometimes stupidly so) with magic and flighty fantasy: Harry Potter, Eragon, The Lightning Thief all come to mind. But Abercrombie has created a mature fictional world. It comes with normal men and women who kill or are killed, who beat or are beaten, who cheat or are cheated, who do what they must to survive. It is fascinating and heartbreaking to watch good characters try to navigate this gray and murky place.

As YA fantasy lit, the novel is new and fresh. Don’t worry if you found Abercrombie too vulgar, violent or lewd in the past. Half a King dials down the sex and gore by many factors, but Harry Potter this ain't - people die and life is miserable, even if you do have traveling companions at your back. Half a King will appeal to a wide range of high schoolers and adults alike. The novel is intense and lean, immersive and visceral. There is no reason for you not to pick it up. This is Joe Abercrombie’s best book yet, and you will love it. I certainly did.
24 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Not terribly original, but for Abercrombie, that's not a terrible thing 16 mai 2014
Par Sean Rueter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
The latest from Joe Abercrombie is something that, if this book remains a stand alone novel, will probably be viewed as one of his lesser works. But that's not at all to say that it's not an enjoyable read. The tale of a prince who is viewed as 'less than' because of a physical handicap attempting to get revenge on those that wronged him with the aid of mismatched crew of fellow underdogs isn't particularly novel (and is reminiscent of two popular characters from the books that inform our sword & sorcery zeitgeist, Tyrion and Daenerys of Game of Thrones). The author does infuse the tale with much of the sinister naturalism that made his earlier works so special (The Heroes is a my personal favorite, but you can't go wrong with any of The First Law trilogy or the three novels that followed set in that same world & time). Partially due to it's considerably shorter length, however, changes in the characters' behavior can seem to come out of nowhere and the major plot twist comes across as a pretty far-fetched coincidence and doesn't feel earned.

There is certainly enough very interesting world-building on display that, should Abercrombie return to the lands around the Shattered Sea, that this entry might seem stronger as part of a longer series. As it is, this is a quick, fun read, but if you're new to the author's work, I'd start with his debut trilogy to see what all the fuzz is about.
21 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Nothing will prepare Yarvi for the truth. 13 juillet 2014
Par D. C. Stolk - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
"Half A King" is the first volume in Joe Abercrombie's Shattered Sea fantasy trilogy, and is, to sum it up in one sentence, a coming-of-age story that is set in a Viking-age fantasy world. I'll give the bare bones of the main story-line and try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, before I give my reasons for the star-rating I chose for this book.

"Half A King" tells the tale of Prince Yarvi, the youngest son of the Gettland king. Because he was born maimed - he has a twisted, knobby hand on one side - he is seen as only "half a man." Not suited to be a warrior, Yarvi is studying to become a minister. On the night before he's to take his final Minister's Test, which will make him renounce family and birthright, his uncle Odem brings world-shattering news: his father King Uthrik, and also his heir, Yarvi's elder brother, have both been treacherously murdered by the Vanstermen. And now, Yarvi is suddenly thrust into the kingship.

The thin golden band of the King's Circle on his brow, his bottom about to be planted on the Black Chair and a marriage to his cousin Isriun in the very near future, Yarvi now has to prove to his people that being maimed doesn't make him only "half a king." He must take up his father's sword and lead a raid against the Vanstermen in revenge, even though the High King has forbidden open war. As usual with Abercrombie, a lot of things end up having double meanings. Take for example the oath of vengeance he swears before he sets out: "Let it be a chain upon me and a goad within me."

Before long, Yarvi is in chains indeed. Treachery during the raid has him make a desperate dash for freedom. Although everyone else believes he dies in his escape attempt, he manages to survive by the skin of his teeth but ends up in Vansterland. Captured - but not recognized - he is sold as a slave to the owner of a merchant ship, and shackled to the oars. Making friends among his oar-mates, and even meeting someone who may become a love-interest, the largest part of "Half A King" is taken up with how he finds a way to escape his iron collar and manages to outwit his pursuers. He also needs to find a way to steal his throne back from those who tried to stab him in the back, while keeping the adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" firmly in mind. Suffice to say that Nothing will prepare him for the truth.

The final verdict. As can be expected from Joe Abercrombie, the writing is outstanding. So... why the four stars? Well, it all seemed to lack a certain depth. Yes, the basic story is good, but when compared to his other work, it seemed to me a bit watered down, although this might be because he still has to find his "voice" as this novel is intended for younger readers. In parts, it also got somewhat predictable, although he had me with one of the big twists at the end - that one I didn't see coming (to avoid spoilers, I'll keep it vague and will only say it involves a revelation about one of his companions). But that said, there were a tad too many other startling coincidences that made things less believable. Case in point: the `deus ex machina' that happens during the pursuit that forms the core of the book, and saves the life of one of Yarvi's companions. Hence the four stars.

This book is aimed at the YA-market, and as such, the tale is less grim and bleak than Abercrombie's usual work. The swearing is also toned down - let's call it PG-rated instead of R-rated, to use a movie analogy. Of course, as in all his novels, there's only a thin line between good and evil and his somewhat cynical worldview (in which everyone is morally ambiguous) and his trademarked dark humor is prevalent throughout the tale. Although it's the first in a trilogy, for those who now may groan and don't want to sink their teeth into another trilogy or (who knows) maybe yet another umpteenth-ology: "Half A King" also works very well as a standalone novel. So: recommended for fantasy lovers in search for a good read, or all Abercrombie fans out there.
15 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Half A Book 15 juillet 2014
Par Salmon Dathers - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
Joe Abercrombe is one of my favorite living writers. His genre-defying work in the First Law trilogy is so good I have forced every friend of mine who even remotely likes fantasy to read the books. And Best Served Cold is one of the best books I've read this century.

So when I say HALF A KING is not very good, please understand it comes from a place of love.

The story: a young, nerdy prince finds himself king after his father and brother are killed. And then finds himself quickly not-king after a sudden and inevitable betrayal. Not-the-king is left for dead, sold into slavery, sold as an oar-slave and then meets a ragtag bunch of lovable roughnecks.

Spoiler-Free, here is what went wrong.

1. Unlike Abercrombie's other books, Half A King is limited to one POV. Just Yarvi's. One of the delights in Abercrombie's writing is the way he plays with POVs to give us multiple, conflicting takes on events and characters. None of that is present. Instead we have a myopic, book-smart and world-dumb privileged, entitled boy to follow.

2. The hero spends like 4,000 pages on a boat. Doing boat things. Thinking about boats. Just . . . no. Nothing interesting ever happens on a boat in fantasy novels. It's just a treadmill the character hops on so that when they hop off they have become a man, or whatever. You may as well play a Level Up sound -- DING! -- and just have the main character add a few points to his stats and get automated followers, for how obvious and trite it is. I have a friend who literally skips to the end of a boat scene in ever fantasy book, based on the theory that story-wise it's just treading water (pardon the pun). That is totally true here. Just skip past it. There is no character development or plot movement on the boat that you can't pick up in five pages of post-boat wandering, which brings me to . . .

3. Post-boat wandering. When you read Tolkien, did you just love the seemingly endless trudging across the countryside? Did you wish it felt even longer? Did you think the Hobbits weren't miserable enough while they trudged? Boy, have I got a book for you.

4. Over half the book is just a dude on a boat or walking through woods. This is not interesting.

5. The characters--with a few exceptions--are pretty flat. Which is a shame! Because Abercrombie usually has a deft hand at sketching out a variety of fascinating characters. No one in this book comes close to the Bloody Nine or Dogman or Murcatto.

6. It reads as pastiche of his better books. Missing limbs? Check. Thrown from a tower and left for dead? Check. A drunk and flamboyant pirate captain? Check. Vague conspiracies? Check.

7. Yarvi's goal is to avenge his father and regain his throne. But the reader never gets any idea of why Yarvi would be a worthy ruler. He's not especially just, empathetic, or wise.

8. The twist comes out of left field and does not feel earned at all.

I'm guessing that the next book in the Half-a-Whatever series is the first of Abercrombe's books that I won't read, which is a shame.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent start to a new fantasy series 28 juillet 2014
Par bookpixi - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
This was an excellent fantasy book and a great start to a new fantasy series.

Surprisingly, this was the first book by Joe Abercombie that I have read and it was an excellent introduction to his writing. Prince Yarvi has plans to forsake his title and go into the Ministry but when his father and brother are killed he is forced into the role of king. Feeling inadequate due to his deformed hand he defers to his mother and uncle and goes on a quest to revenge their deaths. Things don't work quite as he expected and he finds himself in circumstances far more dire.

Yarvi starts out the book as a sympathetic yet pitiful character. The setting of the story has a nordic feel to it and the characters reminded me of Vikings so it was easy to imagine how a prince with a deformed hand is something to be laughed at and not to be king. Yarvi feels the sting of this and is very unprepared and does not have the confidence to be king. Watching Yarvi's life experiences over the course of the book and how they change and shape him were part of what make this a great book. He makes some difficult choices in this book that didn't always seem like the right thing but each step in his path helps him gain confidence and grow as a person. I also liked the characters that he spends most of his time with. They are well developed supporting characters and really add to the story.

The story itself was really interesting and picks up a lot when Yarvi ends up on the ship. From that point on it was hard to put this book down as I became engrossed in Yarvi's story. There were several surprises in the book and it often took turns that I didn't expect. The writing was excellent and helped me imagine the world that Yarvi is in. This book also had a well-developed world and we get to see many parts of it over the course of the book.t

Overall, this was an excellent fantasy novel. It could be classified as YA due to the fact that Yarvi is younger but other than that it reads just like an adult fantasy novel. I would recommend this to fans of Robin Hodd's Farseer trilogy as it has a similar idea of a young man growing into himself. I will definitely be reading the second book in this series and will also plan to check out some of Abercrombie's other books.

I received this book from the publisher for my honest review.
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