I loved this coming-of-age fantasy about the young prince of Gettland named Yarvi, who was training to become a minister (a celibate advisor and healer in service to the King) but unexpectedly became King himself when his father and older brother were ambushed and killed. Yarvi is not only still a teen, but worse, has a crippled left hand, which meant that he did not have the respect of the kingdom’s men, for whom the ability to fight is what makes you a “man.”
Yarvi may be smart, compassionate, and blessed with a good singing voice, but he still feels tormented. This passage nicely encapsulates his situation:
“How he loathed swords and shields, and detested the training square, and despised the warriors who made it their home. And most of all how he hated his own bad joke of a hand, which meant he could never be one of them.”
“He had always been weak, but he never felt truly powerless until they made him a king.”
Yarvi vows to do his best and to avenge the death of his father and brother, but soon, he is betrayed from the most unexpected quarters, and is forced to grow up to be a man in ways he never would have anticipated.
Evaluation: This book has all you could want of a heroic epic saga. It is impossible, in my opinion, not to fall in love with Yarvi, and not to be drawn in by the exceptional nature of the trials that form his life’s journey. While it does have an ending, two sequels are scheduled, and I, for one, can’t wait. If you have not yet read anything by the very talented Joe Abercrombie, this book will serve as a great introduction.
Published by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, 2014