In Joe Abercrombie’s latest fantasy we meet Prince Yarvi, born with a crippled hand. When his father and brother are killed, Yarvi unexpectedly finds himself king. Yarvi never wanted to be king, and feels he is woefully unprepared to take on the role. A king should be able to swing a sword and carry a shield, and he can do neither. How can a crippled king truly lead his people? Quickly, his fears are realized as betrayal takes the throne from him. Now Yarvi must fight for his life while withstanding brutal hardships. Yet, Yarvi endures, and through his trials, his true strengths begin to be revealed. Now on a quest to reclaim his throne, Yarvi may find that half-a-king is the strongest king of all.
Joe Abercrombie has written a number of brilliant fantasy titles, but many of them are too grim and dark for me. And at first, I was not overwhelmed by the brilliance of Yarvi’s story, as some of the story choices seemed a bit cliched, and feared this was going to be a rehashing of older, more familiar tales. I kept reading, and I can tell you that the story is not cliched; if anything, it just took an extra chapter or two to truly grip me.
But grip me it did. With Yarvi’s coming-of-age tale, Joe gives us a compelling character and a marvelous fantasy world, but one where hope and possibilities are allowed to live and flourish. Highly recommended.