My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first book I’ve read by Joe Abercrombie and thankfully, it did not disappoint. I have a soft heart for fantasy and I especially love political intrigue and kingdom disputes. This book delivers this but it mainly focuses on Yarvi’s struggle to come to terms with his frailty and make use of his mind. Despite being so cunning and intelligent, he does not put it to good use at first and the environment in which he lived in was not conducive to his thought process. He learned to sharpen his mind because of his status as a prince but he slacked off big-time in the physical department because of the jeers, taunts, and immense pressure brought on by his fierce king and superior brother. Yarvi’s weakling hand hides a keen but cowardly brain and he just as quickly learns the consequences of passivity and his years of meek actions. One of the best things about this book is the fact that there’s a bigger picture and it’s not just about Yarvi’s hardships. He is the main character but he is not the star of the show; rather, he’s the poor chap who goes through a bildungsroman. Life has treated him harshly the moment he was born into royalty with a deformed hand. It then continues to buffet him once he becomes king. There’s more to Thorlby than the eye can see and we have many sly characters from his mother to the female minister. What’s more, in all the grand scheme of things, Yarvi was only a pawn. I’m not going to spoil it as the surprising plot twists and ultimate reveal is satisfying and mind-blowing. It’s what makes this book surpass all the other fantasy and the light-YA books nowadays. A book can be entertaining but it’s a rare gem for one to be intelligently and meticulously planned out. The storyline carries itself smoothly and the characters are chiseled sharply and contrasted. This is what good fantasy should be and of course, there’s betrayal, blood spilled, and riches won.
Thank you Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book.