Unfortunately while I enjoyed the very beginning of the novel, I found overall it to be lacking any true depth.
In the beginning of Half a King we have Yarvi, a reluctant king who would rather be a "minister" (expert in herbs, history etc.). A plus? Yarvi was also a self-deprecating fellow who made me smile to myself a few times. Then there was the twist about 15 percent in which I should have seen coming but I hadn't reread the summary to have it forefront in my mind. I thought the twist was pretty great, especially since I did not know it was coming, at least not so early (again, the blurb would have changed this). All of these elements should have resulted in a higher rating than 1.5 stars from me, unfortunately everything went awry from there on out.
Overall I found there to be a dumbing down of the fantasy genre by the author, which I can only assume was done because he was trying to appeal to a YA audience. What some authors do not seem to understand is that YA is a significantly broad term and there is absolutely no reason to water anything down just so it appeals to all ages. Why exactly do they believe this to be necessary? Because of this I found the worldbuilding, story and characterization to be lackluster. The worldbuilding is almost nonexistent, especially when it comes to the elves. Who are these elves and what significance do they have exactly? Yes, there are ruins and such but that is about the extent of their inclusion yet they are made out to be of such importance to the world. The characters as a whole felt fantasy cliche, buddy troupe cliche, and I did not feel as though I knew any of them very well by the end. And Yarvi? He became a character I could not even care for as he suddenly became heroic and absurdly out of character from the beginning that I saw no traces of the cowardly, self-deprecating individual I first met.
The writing was simply okay, it certainly did not blow me away in any way. There were a number of fantasy cliches and it made the twists, character traits and worldbuilding all the more annoying because not only were they cliche, they were clearly not fleshed out. Again, I suspect this is due to the whole "YA" classification. After the first 20 percent I found the book to be a dull, buddy troupe movie that I have seen before.
In addition, the random eyeroll worthy comments regarding love interests, namely between Yarvi and Sumael, were unnecessary and out of touch with the rest of the story. Again I cannot help but think that the author thought this was necessary due to it being YA. There was no supporting evidence of a relationship between Yarvi and Sumael, but we apparently were supposed to believe there was.
Overall a watered down fantasy cliche that I found to be dull for about 80% of the time.