I have read all of Joe’s (adult) books. His tales to date have all involved gritty, violent characters in hack-n-slash fantasy settings laced with a good dose of swearing. Joe’s prose is top notch and the stories are engaging, funny (at times) and have all been a great reads. His character, Glokta, from the First Law series is the best fantasy character I have read in the past 20 years.

Half a King is an attempt at YA (young adult) in that the swearing has been toned down (almost removed …but not quite) but the grit remains. Yarvi, is Half a King due to having a crippled hand. He’s supposed to take to the priesthood but is rudely thrust into life as a young king when his father and older brother are killed in battle. What then ensues is a tale of betrayal and revelation where many characters are not as they seem and the ending is difficult it not impossible to predict. Yarvi is betrayed and spends time as a slave before making his way home to attempt to take his rightful place as king.

I would be interested to see if teenagers do take to it. I imagine that the primary readership will remain with those who read his earlier books. That could, of course, include teenagers but I suspect most (like me!) left their teenage years behind some time ago. I hope it works for him. This is another quality story, well written and with great characters and plot. I recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy or those considering checking out the genre. It would be a good place to start and deserves to do well.

Rating out of 5: ♦♦♦♦

Suggested age: 12-16 (and up)