LONCON 3 – Friday

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Second day of the convention. It’s not going to be the cake walk that was Thursday. People tend to get one day passes for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These next three days the que for book signings and all other relevant panels will be hell.

After my morning tea, complimentary my gracious hotel, I stroll down to the convention center. The sun was shining bright this fine Friday. Strange. All my life I’ve been told of how gloomy London was. The weather was nothing short of perfect the week and a half I spent there. I decide to do my loop around the information desk, noting any activities that seem appealing. I signed up for chocolate tasting on Saturday. Time will tell if I remember to attend it or not.

First up on my “to-do” list was a book signing. Where Pat Rothfuss had his own personal signing, the next one consisted of about eight authors next to each other. I wanted to get my Half A King signed by Peter V. Brett. I hadn’t read any of his work, but I knew him and Abercrombie were friends. It would be a nice addition to the non Abercrombie signings in his book. The two people behind me both brought copies of Unfettered, the short story collection made to financially support Shawn Speakman after his cancer treatment. Neither of them knew each other. I assured them I do indeed have the book, but in Kindle format. Not much I can do there in regards to a signing. When it’s finally my turn I try to inform Mr. Brett why I’m having him sign a book that is not his. Unfortunately I talk too fast and too low, and frankly, sound like I’m mentally unstable. He’s still nice enough to do it, while laughing of course. He takes a picture to show Joe since their hotel rooms are right next to each other. Success!

I shimmy over to the George R.R. Martin book reading. Easily a seat is obtained. I can barely contain my excitement for an hour long reading of The Winds of Winter! Clearly I was not thinking straight. He instead read passages from his upcoming “The Sons of the Dragon”. I’m pretty sure that’s what it was called. It’s back story into the House Targaryen. As entertaining as it was, my enthusiasm had been shot. I must admit that George is a great story teller. Obviously in writing, but also vocally. The audience had a good chuckle over him stating that this book was due out four years prior, “like all of my other books”.

It was time. The coffee roundtable with the big dog himself. Joe Abercrombie. Got there as fast as I could. Joe and I walk in at the same exact time, both forgot to pick up coffee or tea. As we are all waiting for the other lucky fans to arrive he comments on how awkward this is. He had no idea he was to bring his own refreshment. Before I even had the chance to, this girl, for the life of me I cannot remember her name, perks up and offers to run and get him a cup of tea. I cannot express the hatred I have for her, but dammit do I respect the woman. After the rest of his fans arrive—nine of us total—we begin our chat. The first few minutes are him going on about what we should talk about. After a bit of nervous giggles from the fans (okay, mostly me), there was plenty of talk. The majority of the questions I’d heard him answer before in different interviews. How different was it writing Young Adult? When will we see more Logan? Do you plan to write in the world of the First Law again? I asked him some dumb questions about his current movie/television watching habits. Talked a bit about Arrow, and how damn good looking everyone in that town is. Mr. Abercombie was everything you want in a hero. Stayed long to chat with us. Didn’t mock anyone. Just a generally nice person. Very, very witty. You can tell that the humor from his books is all him. It’s just flowing out of the guy. Extremely nice and even got a picture with him.

Joe Abercrombie, Jack Black, and I

Joe Abercrombie, Jack Black and I

Two breakfast burritos later I go to a panel about book covers. I’m always curious on how much say authors have on this issue. Some covers are just atrocious. And no surprise here, it’s all about what sells. The panel was called “The Politics and Economics of Cover Art”. The standouts here were Irene Gallo and Justin Landon. Irene is the art director for Tor books and Justin is the guy behind Staffer’s Book Review, and also did the Tor re-read of all the Joe Abercrombie books. Justin looks like an all American jock who in no way would read fantasy. As it turns out he’s one of the coolest guys in the world. If you ever have a chance to meet him at a con, or any type of event, I strongly suggest it. The guy is super knowledgeable about fantasy, too. There was some ribbing about hooded figures on covers. It’s whatever sells. That’s literally their only motivation. Justin says there is an attempt to try to get less sexist covers out there, but it’s a slow process. According to Irene the authors get SOME say as to the covers. It varies on author. Typically they are to write up a short summary of the book, and characters in the book to the artist. Just so they have something to work with. And I found out Bane has terrible cover art.

Next was the “Imagining Fantasy Lands: The Status Quoe Does Not Need Worldbuilding”. This panel was, interesting. The majority of the time was spent talking about Tobias Buckell and how he deals with being a white Caribbean. Don’t get me wrong, the whole panel was interesting, but didn’t really deal with the topic. By the way, Tobias wrote up a classy explanation for the talk, seeing as how it got a bit controversial. I didn’t notice but I’m an idiot so, there you go.

My last event was the “The Problem with Making a Living Writing SF&F: Have We Become Too Niche?” panel. There were oodles of aspiring writers at this one. This was my first chance at seeing Scott Lynch. I was pretty depressed about missing his signing earlier. It was worth missing because I got more Abercrombie time, but damn did I want his signature. In line I met Susan from Germany and Kim from Australia. My goodness was Kim the talker. Extremely friendly but talked my ear off. Wanted to know about my whole life practically. Seeing as how my life is awful, this bored her quickly. Still she’s one of those people that can brighten a person’s mood instantly and I’m glad to have met her. Scott Lynch talks about how he accidentally posted his novel online and that’s how he got a book deal. He bashed the state of fantasy with other bloggers online so much, that finally someone said, “Why don’t you guys just write your own then?”. Scott took up that challenge and wrote the first chapter of his first book. The rest was pretty much history. Someone saw it, sent it to a publisher, and they asked for more. Lynch hadn’t written more but he said, give me two days and wrote his ass off. The author of the book HEX looked fifteen. And he was about to become a pretty rich man, thanks to American book and movie deals. They all agreed to increase your presence on social media, but not in a way that’s always promoting something. One of my favorite panels so far. Good authors, good discussion, good friends, good times.

Chatted with Robert from Cardiff afterwards for about fifteen minutes. Felt that eight o’clock tiredness coming and decided to call it a night. Once Upon A Time In Mexico was on when I got back to the hotel. It was the perfect finisher to a wonderful Friday. So thank you everyone at Loncon 3 on Friday, and thank you Johnny Depp. 

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“Timeline” – I Should Have Watched Back to the Future

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Timeline seemingly offered everything I could ever want in a novel. It was written by Michael Crichton, who isn’t the most prized author out there, but The Lost World is in my top ten. The plot revolved around time travel. I’ll watch almost any movie, no matter how awful, if they have to go back in time to save someone or something, without changing the course of history. And on top of that, the characters would be time traveling to the middle ages. I’ll forever have a love for knights in armor and fair ladies. Unfortunately my expectations were just too high. The book was a let down, and while enjoyable, it was definitely forgettable. It’s been two days and I’ve already forgotten what happened.

As always, Crichton does incredible work when describing the technical aspects of complicated ideas. In this book it was the concept of time travel. It’s actually going to a different universe, not exactly traveling in time. It has something to do with quantum physics. Most other authors would make that subject completely boring, and while I retained barely any of it, I did enjoy myself when reading.

The ones who have this technology are your typical shady big business. They allow a professor to go and test it out. Unfortunately he gets lost in during The Hundred Years War, and they recruit his assistants to go in a get him. They’re mostly all historians. You have the one character Andrè, who has been in love with the time period his whole life. He knows all the different languages, can shoot a bow, proficient in broad sword fighting and jousting. Right from the start you know he’s going to be of use when they all go back in time. Kate is your typical hard nosed tom-boy character. And Chris is the good looking, but oft heart broken regular guy. If I had to choose, he would be the main character but it fluctuates between those three nicely.

In the end it was like eating junk food. You get that instant satisfaction, but you regret it after and wish you’d have eaten a banana. The characters were decent. I particularly liked André, but the dialogue was sub par and minimal character development. Chris had the most growth as a character. The ending was definitely rushed. Everything just happened to work out in their favor the last twenty minutes. I understand it’s hard to end a book, but after reading The Way of Kings my expectations were sky high.

Expectations were my problem. I had this book on my “to-read” list for so long, putting it on a pedestal it never belonged on. You go in with the proper excitment level and Timeline will be a good read. I’m sure there’s much better Crichton work out there. Two of which I can vouch for—Jurassic Park and The Lost World. Hell, I’d even put Pirate Latitudes up there. Okay maybe not.

If you need a quick fix then check this book out, but don’t let it be your first introduction into the time travel genre. There’s so much better content out there.

LONCON 3 – Thursday

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This year was my first time attending the World Science Fiction Convention. Hell, it was the only time I’ve been to a convention. From August 14th to August 18th I was at the Excel Convention Centre in London, England. After all, this was my opportunity to meet all of my favorite authors. Joe Abercrombie? Check. George R.R. Martin? Check. Rothfuss? Hobb? Haldeman? Lynch? Check, check, check, check. I just so happened to be backpacking around Europe at that time anyways. Having already wandered aimlessly through Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam, the United Kingdom was my next stop.

The day before I was due to fly from Amsterdam to London I happened to come across Brandon Sanderson tweeting about books he was signing in Schiphol Airport. Joe Abercrombie also saw his tweet and asked him to sign his new book, Half a King. You can find Brandon talking about it on his blog. The next day I was sweating bullets, hoping those books would still be there. I NEEDED something for my authors to sign at the convention, plus how cool would it be to already have them signed by Brandon Sanderson?! The stars happened to align. I was by Gate F and there were two Words of Radiance books left. And one Half a King! I tweeted them a picture of the signed books, which lead to a well deserved retweet from the god that is Joe Abercrombie. As you can tell, I’m a bit obsessed.

I get to the hotel on Wednesday night. It’s a quaint place that is literally right next to Excel. Rise early the next morning, chug a cup of tea, throw on my Resident Evil Umbrella Corporation shirt and make my way over. All of the events and panels start at ten in the morning. I get in line to grab my registration around quarter past nine. It took no longer than twenty minutes, but man, later in the day that thing was HUGE. Also, found out that in Europe they call “lines”, “ques”. I’m a fan of their way. Because I signed up so late—literally the night before—they had to write in marker on my VIP Pass. All the other attendees had such professional looking ones, and here I am with “Mattyo” hand written on mine. Great start.

It was still early so I moseyed on over to the information desk. This is where you sign up for all the events for the next few days. You get in line and do a circle around the table, signing up for the event you want. You can only put your name on paper for one thing and then you have to circle (or square) around again. In all honestly, the line was never too crazy, which made it pretty tempting to just go around and around. I didn’t want to be too greedy so I signed up for “Tea with Joe Abercrombie” (Rothfuss and Lynch ones were already fully signed…). That was for the next day and consisted of you plus eight other people sitting around a table with the author talking “bollocks” for an hour. That’s the word Abercrombie used to describe it.

While in line I met a friendly fellow named Robert from Cardiff, which he was proud to inform me was the capital of Wales. Robert himself is an aspiring writer who shares a mutual love for Abercrombie, Lynch, and most of all Patrick Rothfuss. Together we decided to check out the panel, “Does the Future Need to Be Plausible?”. The panelists were no authors I’ve ever read, but the topic did interest me.

Robert and I settled for standing room only as all the chairs were taken. The moderator did a wonderful job of keeping the flow and getting all the authors involved. There was a point where they all started bashing one of my all time favorite “So Bad It’s Good” movies, The CoreAlso under fire were Die Hard 2 and Falling Skies. As they should be. I thought the best point was brought up by Mr. McDonald. He stressed that it depended on how you wrote your characters. It doesn’t matter how strange your devices of the future are, or if they hold up twenty years from now. If your characters are as comfortable with “insert strange new technology” as we are, say when using a toaster, then it won’t matter. The readers will be more accepting of it and it won’t even be an issue.

The last fifteen minutes were devoted to questions, but these things hardly ever do much good. Most of the time one person rambles on for what seems like an eternity and doesn’t even ask a question at the end. It’s more of a comment, or their perspective on something. I was starving so off to the food court I went. As I sat eating my bacon and cheese croissant (and their bacon is not the bacon us Americans are used to), I decided to attend the opening ceremony at noon. It’s in the auditorium so I wouldn’t have to bum rush a room to get a seat. Side note, it was at this point I was able to take out money from an ATM! Let’s just say prior to this I was having some trouble getting money out. A topic for another day.

The opening ceremony was cute. They did a skit that involved the crowd being students at Hogwarts. I wasn’t expecting the amount of props that were used on stage. It was reminiscent of a “Whose Line Is It Anyways” game. They introduced all of the Guests of Honor, none of which I cared much for other than Robin Hobb. One of my favorite segments involved them showing the design of the Hugo award for this year, and how it has changed throughout the years. Really cool stuff. Still I decided to leave early. Didn’t want to get a bad spot in line for the Pat Rothfuss book signing.

Leaving early paid off, as I reserved a spot in the front of the line. Had the chance of meeting a very nice girl by the name of Eleanor. She is from the glorious lands of northern England (I have no idea what that looks like) and had the most beat up copy of The Name of the Wind that I have ever seen. She told a cool story of when she went to a Phillip Pullman book signing. Apparently Neiil Gaiman was there as a moderator or something of the sort. Unfortunately Pullman had to cancel, turning the event into a Neil Gaiman signing. Most of the books though were by Pullman. So it was a bunch of people getting those books signed by Neil Gaiman. This is relevant because I was getting Rothfuss to sign my copy of Half a King—that was already signed by Brandon Sanderson.

Right as I’m next in line, none other than Joe Abercrombie walks up next to Rothfuss at his signing table. As they are chatting I scoot up and slowly slide them my copy of Half a King. They both look at me with looks I’ll never forget and Rothfuss suddenly bursts into uncontrollable laughter. Even more so when he finds out that Sanderson has already signed it. Abercrombie admits he’s happy that I at least bought the book, no matter who I get it signed by. Really cool moment. Afterwards, Eleanor gets Patrick and Joe to sign her notepad that she looks at when she’s going through tough times. Patrick writes “love what you do”, while Joe puts down “The price of success is enemies”. I think that’s a good summary of both their writings. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

Off to grub again. I know, I know. Standing in the que really does make you hungry though. Two sausage rolls and a bacon cheese bite later, I head down to the George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis panel, “A Conversation with George R.R. Martin, Connie Willis, and Paul Cornell”. You could tell that the both of them were really good friends. Connie is a vibrant speaker and had so many good barbs at Martin. There really is nothing like two great writers talking shop, and reminiscing in general. Actually scratch that. There’s nothing better than two old friends shooting the shit. That’s what it came down to. Willis started talking about how she hates when you know the main characters won’t die. She talked about a popular television show from back in the day that I’m totally blanking on. The shows two protagonists were always untouchable, although anyone who was associated with them were as good as dead. She remarked how in one episode, the new bride of one of the characters was killed, right when they walked out of the church! To which Martin dryly replied, “I usually kill my characters in the church”. Safe to say that got laughter and a round of applause. Martin was asked what questions he hates. While he said he doesn’t hate any question, he is tired of the same questions over and over again. Especially from interviewers that think their question is one he’s never heard before (cough Who is your favorite character cough). He gave a shout out to Stephen Donaldson, whom he is good friends with. If you didn’t know, I’m a pretty big fan of the guy. Back when Donaldson put out The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant they were a huge success. Probably the best selling fantasy books up to date. And Donaldson thought, “Okay, I have a lot of Donaldson fans out there”. Then later he wrote the Mordants Need duology and it didn’t sell nearly as well. It was then he found out that there weren’t as many Donaldson fans as he thought as there were Thomas Covenant fans. Martin wonders if this will happen to him once he’s finished with ASOIAF. It was a great conversation between the two and it’ll stick with me forever.

The last panel I attended was “Ideology versus Politics in Science Fiction”. It included authors:

Probably one of the worst panels I attended. Only because the moderator didn’t show. It really does make a difference having a competent moderator, or one at all. The conversation lagged a ton and there were too many awkward silences for my taste. Probably should have checked out another panel. I’d never seen Kim Stanley Robinson so I wanted to at least hear him. Fortunately they kicked out all of us that didn’t get a seat as to us being a fire hazard. I was more than happy to leave, but at this point I was exhausted. Felt like it was a good first day and that I’d go home and read some The Way of Kings. That was Day One of Loncon 3. Next I’ll write about my eventful Friday, including tea with Joe Abercrombie!

 

“THE WAY OF KINGS” – The WAY to write epic fantasy

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You need to be a certain kind of crazy to read a thousand page novel. You’d have to be even crazier to write one. And to write one worth reading? Crazy, but as I found out, not impossible. As of yesterday, I am finished The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson’s introductory book to his Stormlight Archive series. A week from now will be the four year anniversary of its original release date. What all fantasy fans are asking, and what I asked myself post reading, is what took so long? It wasn’t the sheer size of it. I’ve read The Stand. Twice. The uncut version, too. The fact that it’s the beginning of an unfinished series didn’t bother me. A quite long one at that. I’m in deep already with ASOIAF, The Kingkiller Chronicles, and The Lightbringer Series. What it boiled down to was one, lingering thought. I’m not totally sold on Brandon Sanderson.

To be fair, I had only read The Mistborn Trilogy (plus Alloy of Law). And while I enjoyed reading them, there was just something about his books that didn’t stick with me. I’m always in favor of darker toned fantasy books. Nobody will likely top George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie. Their work will stick with me forever. But Sanderson had two things distinctly going in his favor.

1. The man is a magic system savant. Allomancy was a joy to read about. Sanderson introduces his magic from the get go, but subtle enough throughout his book that you don’t even realize how familiar you’re becoming with it. It’s so in-depth and thrilling that I couldn’t help but yearn to experience it in real life, or at least in video games (wish granted?).

2. I want to know what happens next. His characters may be light, the prose not on the same level as Rothfuss, and in general not as violently graphic as the grim dark group, but damn he writes a fine story. Never once have I contemplated not finishing one of his books. Not even you, The Well of Ascension.

After four years of pondering, and a trip to Loncon 3 just last week, I decided to take the plunge. I really needed an epic fantasy to read. I wanted something gargantuan. Immerse me in a world, any world. Sometimes real life bears down on you hard, and in those times, it’s nice to be able to take a journey. I decided that journey would include Kaladin Stormblessed, Dalinar Kholin, Shallan Davar, and most importantly, Brandon Sanderson.

We are introduced to Roshar, the land full stone and plains, with a beautiful assassination. Really. Read the first chapter before you die. It’s one of the best action sequences I’ve ever read, up there with the first time we meet The Bloody Nine. The Assassin in White kills the king. This has a lasting effect throughout the world. Obviously. I mean, he kills a king. It severely changes the lives of a few characters we meet. One way or another, these people are put in positions of leadership. To the core, that’s what TWOK is about. Being a leader, or what it is to be a good leader. A decent person.

Kaladin questions the leaders surrounding him. LIghteyes. The Almighty. Himself. What constitutes being able to lead people? Can everyone be saved? Can you protect while killing? Our these leaders noble? What is nobility? Why does one keep failing? Failure. I can’t remember a character failing so many times as I have Kaladin Stormblessed. Sanderson does a wonderful job at building his story. We see him at multiple times in his life, witnessing him retreat into apathy, succumbing to so many personal blows. Kaladin must overcome so much, and not a page is wasted. It’s a long road for the young darkeye, but it’s the reason I’ll be meeting him step for step.

Ah, the honorable high prince Dalinar Kholin. The brother of the murdered king from the first chapter. All his life he’s been a military leader. He’s the Blackthorn, it’s what he does. But now that his inexperienced nephew is king, everything seemed to have changed. He’s been having wild visions during high storms, leading to rumors about his mental stability. He’s been reading, a hobby mostly used by women. The one who used to wreak havoc on the battlefield now talks of peace and an end to the war on the Parshendi, those responsible for his brothers death. The question comes up, is this man fit to lead us? Has old age crippled him? Will his weakness, in mind and spirit, lead to our city’s demise? The other high princes can sniff blood and they certainly go for the kill. Can Dalinar keep his honor while fending off these predators, domestic and foreign? It’s a joy to read and I suspect none were disappointed when the time for that answer came.

Shallan Davar is a princess who traveled to become an understudy to Jasnah, the dead kings daugther. Jasnah happens to be considered the brightest academic in all of Roshar. It would truly be an honor for Shallan to study with her as an apprentice of sorts. But is that all there is to Shallan’s story? She is torn between doing a duty for her family or actually learning from the smartest woman in the land. I’d have to admit her story arc was the least interesting to me. Although Sanderson does a wonderful job at writing women. Not that it should matter, women are people just like anyone else. You should just write PEOPLE. But far too often do I come across male writers who have trouble writing from the female point of view. Sanderson is just one of the best I’ve read at doing it.

Sanderson’s world building is in top form in TWOK. The Shattered Plains is so desolate, and so, well, epic. The creatures are described with such flourish that when pictures actually came up courtesy of drawings from the characters, they were spot on from what I had envisioned. Roshar is clearly a world hardly explored in this first book, but from what he did paint he did expertly. The cities have distinct feels, as well as the different races. It’s a dark, but beautiful world he’s created.

The only complaints I’ve read amidst the thousands of positive reviews are that it starts off incredibly slow. And well, yeah. The book is a thousand pages long. I went in knowing you need time to build up the world, acclimate to the magic, meet the characters. Just know that when you’re three quarters through the book you better have a clear schedule, because you’re not putting that book down for anything. When it kicks into high gear I couldn’t contain the goosebumps from coming. Especially a scene near the end, that had me cheering, crying, laughing, almost throwing up, all at the same time. Those who have read it know what I’m talking about.

Those moments are why I read. Especially fantasy. I love grim dark and all it has to offer. But there is a time and place for epic fantasy. Sometimes I need to throw on the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. Who doesn’t get gooesbumps when Aragorn gives that speech to Legolas and Gimli? That’s why I read (and watch) fantasy. Those moments. And The Way of Kings delivers one of the all time “Goosebump Moments”.

I have a signed copy of Words of Radiance sitting in my room. It will be read. But I’m going to give it time. When I’ve read a great book I like to let it settle in for a while. This was the beginning of the journey that is The Stormlight Archives. And as they say, Journey Before Destination.

The Last Door Stands Always Open

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Nothing compared. Not the wait for Breaking Bad’s final season. Nor the twenty miserable years before becoming a “man”. Hell, not even the two hours stuck in traffic while having to take a massive…you know. There has been nothing more excruciating in my life than the two year wait for Joe Abercrombie’s new novel, Half a King.

Abercrombie last published a book back in 2012, the fantastic fantasy/western Red Country. Financially it’s the best work he’s done so far (although I’ll always be partial to The Heroes. That book is a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned). After topping the New York Times bestseller list, Abercrombie seemed to be on top of the world. Fans were clamoring for the next installment in the world of The First Law. It was then that his collective fan base went into the spiraling depression that I have succumbed to these past two years. First he informed us he would be taking a well deserved breakRed Country had burned him out and he needed time to think, read, relax, etc. And then came the bombshell. Joe Abercrombie went soft. No more grit. Good riddance grim-dark, good afternoon….Young Adult? Joe freaking Abercrombie is writing a novel in the same category as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games? Say one thing for Mr. Abercrombie, say he’s full of surprises.

To be honest, I wasn’t as skeptical as many of his devoted fans. I think it’s incredibly exciting when an author takes a leap of faith, attempting something out of their comfort zone. After reading those blog posts he absolutely has a point. Six (pretty massive) books in seven years. Red Country lived up to every expectation, but I admit it felt a bit overdone. Now, is that because I read every single one of his books back to back? Perhaps. But I’m not going to deny I needed a break from Abercrombie after his western tale. This coming from someone who considers himself an Abercrombie super-fan, a borderline stalker really.

I was more depressed that I had to wait two years for his new project. Now I see how selfish this was. Especially considering what all my brethren over at the ASOIAF Fan Club have been going through all these years. Book depression was heavy, but after a few months I started to feel something. Excitement. Yeah it was two years away. But it was something new from Abercrombie, and I mean new. It’s like wondering how Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant would mesh. Or any weird combination in the sports world. Joe Abercrombie and Young Adult? Never in a million years would I expect to see those two in the same sentence. Well let me tell you folks. Bryant and Paul probably would have led to disastrous results, but the Abercrombie Young Adult child Half a King is championship caliber.

The book centers around Prince Yarvi, the crippled second son of King Uthrik. His left hand is mangled, useless, forcing him into a life with the monastery. Luckily this suits Yarvi just fine. He may not have the skills to be a great warrior, but his mind allows him to excel at this field of work. In Abercrombie’s world, and ours equally, life never sticks to your plan. King Uthrik and his first born are both tragically murdered leaving Yarvi as the King of Gettland. My day is ruined when my parents inform me we are going to my cousin’s birthday party at the last second. One can only imagine how hard Yarvi’s head was spinning after such news.

Not everyone is happy with Yarvi’s ascension to the Black Chair (eerily simliar to a certain popular fantasy seat…). The twists start sprouting right from the start, forcing Yarvi to grow up faster than he ever imagined possible. If you enjoyed Best Served Cold  you will take to his new book well. The revenge factor is heavy throughout, but it is able to separate itself from his previous revenge story as the book goes on. While I won’t add spoilers to this review, I will say, as in every Abercrombie book, the ending gives you a slap in the face. I even tried to see it coming but Joe was too good.

Is this book Young Adult? It is with reluctance that I say it is. Although I think there are deeper themes in this than you would see in most Young Adult literature. I can assure you there is no love triangle. Yet when you write in this genre the main focus will always be a coming of age story. I mean, that’s what we do at Yarvi’s age. We grow, we mature, we experience. None of us are the same as our teenage selves. As played out as that trend may be, it’s just a natural progression for young adult characters. We face hardships, big and small, and learn from them.

The biggest reason for holding Joe Abercrombie in such high regard is the way he paints his characters. He doesn’t always have the most captivating story ( the trilogy dragged at times), but it’s his characters that always suck me in. Now we don’t meet him until almost a hundred pages in, but Nothing is one of my new personal favorites. He’s no Whirrun of Bligh, or Glokta, but he’s like a Logen Ninefingers LIght. A Diet Bloody NIne if you will. And I’m fine with that. Characters like The Bloody Nine aren’t meant for young adult readers. Let’s have them work their way up to that monster.

And really, this book was just a light version of Joe Abercrombie. It had less pages. Less sex. Gore. Cursing. But it doesn’t make it worse. It’s also a leaner, faster read. Never once did I slog. We are always in Yarvi’s point of view, which I found refreshing after reading so many books, like A Song of Ice and Fire for example, that throw a million POV at you. Half a King is the perfect fantasy summer read. It’s light and fun, but with darkness etched in the corners. You won’t feel self conscious for reading a Young Adult novel because it won’t feel like one, even though it would fit the bill compared to The Heroes. In Yarvi’s world, Nothing boasts that steel is always the answer, and it seems that way. But I can tell you that in this world, for Joe Abercrombie, the decision to write this book was not only the right answer, but the only one.

Half a King (Amazon)