In most fantasy novels we have become quite accustomed to heroes with impressive physiques, great with a blade or bow, probably good looking too. There is nothing wrong with that, one of the great things about fantasy writing is that we can escape to other worlds, where an early grave is often only avoided by our heroes’ physical prowess. However, there are other ways to be remarkable, and sometimes it’s refreshing to find someone who survives through their wit rather than their brawn.
That’s the case with Joe Abercrombie’s new ‘Shattered Sea’ series, which starts with the novel ‘Half a King’. The lead character, a prince of a ruling family, has been born with one withered arm and a malformed hand. As he lives in a warrior society, where a man’s worth is judged by how adept they are with their weapons, he suffers the scorn of his peers and his stern father. But our character has assets that the others don’t, a sharp mind and resourceful spirit.
I won’t go into the plot in detail as I don’t want to spoil it, but it is a great tale of betrayal, innocent love, and of friends found and lost. However, what I most enjoyed about this novel is how the character slowly develops and matures. This is nothing new of course, plenty of fantasy novels involve growing up and coming of age, but I like it in this novel because it is subtlety done and in a believable way. The character is far from perfect, and makes plenty of mistakes along the way, but that only helps give him some realism.
This looks to be a great start to the series, so I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this story. If you like your characters clever rather than brawny, I’ll think you’ll like it too…
You can buy this novel here.