Oh, I get it. It’s like a snowflake, and also a sword. I can’t imagine that would be a very efficient or easy-to-wield weapon. Perhaps an accident on the training yard leads to the king losing his other half? In any case, the cover’s fine (non-offensive, if bland) and fits the mould for YA fantasy, though holds nothing on Abercrombie’s previous covers (the dude’s damned with comparisons to The First Law‘s covers for the rest of his career, they were so good.)
io9‘s Charlie Jane Anders calls Half a King “a classic ‘coming of age’ story about Yarvi, the youngest son of a warrior king.” Fans of Abercrombie should feel familiar with the concept, and io9′s full description sounds like it is sure to please. “Because Yarvi is born with one disabled hand,” Anders explains. “He’s regarded as ‘half a man,’ and he can’t ever live up to his father’s expectations of what a real man ought to be. He’s expected to go into the ministry instead of becoming a soldier or an heir to the throne — but after his father and brother are killed, he’s thrust onto the throne (the Black Chair) where he has to find a way to rule. But of course his journey doesn’t turn out to be that easy.”
Along with the cover and synopsis, Abercrombie released the first chapter of Half a King. An excerpt of the full excerpt:
There was a harsh gale blowing on the night Yarvi learned he was a king. Or half a king, at least.
A seeking wind, the Gettlanders called it, for it found out every chink and keyhole, moaning Mother Sea’s dead chill into every dwelling, no matter how high the fires were banked or how close the folk were huddled.
It tore at the shutters in the narrow windows of Mother Gundring’s chambers and rattled even the iron-bound door in its frame. It taunted the flames in the firepit and they spat and crackled in their anger, casting clawing shadows from the dried herbs hanging, throwing flickering light upon the root that Mother Gundring held up in her knobbled fingers.
It looked like nothing so much as a clod of dirt, but Yarvi had learned better. ‘Black-tongue root.’
‘And why might a minister reach for it, my prince?’
‘A minister hopes they won’t have to. Boiled in water it can’t be seen or tasted, but is a most deadly poison.’
Mother Gundring tossed the root aside. ‘Ministers must sometimes reach for dark things.’
I can just picture mothers and fathers reading this to their children as they lay curled within the warm cocoon of their blankets and jammies, Abercrombian nightmares biding their time until the light is flicked off.