Age: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Rating: 4 stars
Rosie Thinks: This is the first YA novel Joe Abercrombie's written. His other novels are all standard Abercrombie - dark, gritty, sharp, bleak, all characteristics that don't translate well into the YA genre. But somehow, Abercrombie transitioned perfectly into a younger audience and still maintained his characteristic voice and style.
Prince Yarvi wants nothing to do with the throne and the country where he's looked down upon for his one crippled hand, yet the death of his father and brother force him into becoming king. He isn't there long, however, before a betrayal sees him usurped, thought dead, and on a treacherous journey to avenge his father and regain his unwanted throne.
From the beginning, Yarvi fascinated me. I was very intrigued to see how Abercrombie would develop him, and what trials he'd throw at him. And I wasn't disappointed! The development is slow and subtle, and the trials cruel, but it shapes him into this incredible character that I wanted to read about. His character and his actions are all so incredibly realistic, and Abercrombie has captured the mind and voice of a boy coming of age. Yarvi has insecurities and is physically weak in a world where only strength is respected, yet he still grows into a powerful character, with his intelligence and cunning. Probably my only problem with the whole story was that I didn't quite connect to Yarvi as much as I should have, especially at the beginning.
The secondary characters are all fantastic, both the good and the evil. None of them fall into cliches, and each had their own personality. One thing that I also noticed is the way Abercrombie wrote the women in the story. I've read a lot of fantasy stories, and way too many female characters fall into the 'strong warrior' or 'helpless maiden' stereotypes. George R.R. Martin has that famous line about how he writes women: 'You know, I've always considered women to be people'. And that is exactly what Abercrombie has done - he's given us female characters who are just as diverse, individual, and well-developed as the male ones! Yay!
The writing in this story is utterly brilliant. The dialogue is on point and was alternatively hilarious or emotive when it needed to be. Abercrombie doesn't mess around with useless words or repetition - his writing is super easy to read and the action-packed plot moved fast. When I began to get bored, the plot pretty much punched me in the face with a new twist. And oh my gawd, the twists at the end almost killed me - they keep going until the very end! And Abercrombie weaved in hints throughout the entire novel, and while I did pick up on a few, the fast-paced plot distracted me every time! I had no idea how Abercrombie would give me a satisfactory ending, but he didn't disappoint!
There were so many lines in this story that I loved, but I'll leave you with my favourite:
"If life has taught me one thing, it's that there are no villains. Only people, doing their best."