Friday, 17 June 2011

Fiction Friday: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire)

by Mark Lawrence

Published:  4th August 2011 by Harper Voyager

Source:  ARC (Waterstone's promotional copy)

Blurb (as per Amazon):

When he was nine, he watched his mother and brother killed before him. By the time he was thirteen, he was the leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king...

It's time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what's rightfully his. Since the day he was hung on the thorns of a briar patch and forced to watch Count Renar's men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent his rage. Life and death are no more than a game to him-and he has nothing left to lose.

But treachery awaits him in his father's castle. Treachery and dark magic. No matter how fierce, can the will of one young man conquer enemies with power beyond his imagining?


You know, I warned them that we do this for a living. I said it to their leader, Bovid Tor. I gave them that chance, I always do. But no. They wanted blood and slaughter. And they got it. 
Jorg, Prince of Thorns, p.1/2 

What I thought: 

Now, let me start by telling you I was really happy to get this book (I had it on my amazon wishlist) for FREE! I found it on the shelves of a London bookstore, where it wasn't supposed to be, and because someone put it there and I found it I got to keep it! *happy dance* 

Ahem. OK. So what did I think of the book? The cover of the ARC I have compares the story to George RR Martin's A Game of Thrones, so I started reading it in expectation of intricate political manouverings, bloody fights and a general epic-ness that most modern fantasy seems to lack. 

In reading it, however, I was put more in mind of The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman, or the Godless World Trilogy by Brian Ruckley. Lawrence has the same gritty style of writing as these two do. 

Jorg, in particular, reminds me of Hoffman's Cale - a young man (a child by our standards, but they both live in worlds that require adulthood at a younger age) who has seen too much, who's view of the world and the morals he keeps as a result of the violence and pain he has grown accustomed to. 

Lawrence drops the reader straight into the action, lets us see Jorg in full (somewhat sociopathic) action. He and his band of ruffians are busy raiding a village with all the blood and guts that implies, and Jorg is in no way reluctant to do his part and more. 

Only as the story progresses does Lawrence reveal what made Jorg into the person he is today, and thus opens the reader's eye to what's really at stake...but I won't go into details, I don't want to spoil anything. 

Suffice to say there's more to it than a ruthless and bloodthirsty young prince and his not-so-merry band of men. 

What I thought of the characters: 

Jorg is something of an anti-hero. He's ruthless, blunt, deliberately unpolished and not just a little cold-blooded and bloodthirsty. And yet, I couldn't help liking him, couldn't help sympathising when little details of his past slipped out. 

His men are thoroughly unlikeable, with the exception of Makin. They have no redeamable characterisics that I could find, but that makes them even more interesting, or rather it is fascinating to see Jorg's dealing with them. 

Throughout the book, Jorg is very definately the main character. There is no one who comes close - what I mean is that while there is a peripheral involvement of a female character whom Jorg shows interest in, this book is dedicated to Jorg himself, almost exclusively. This is not a bad thing. It's gotten to the point where most fantasies place such emphasis on 'love interests' that the line to the romance genre has blurred somewhat. It's nice to read a 'traditional' sort of fantasy, gritty or not.  

What I thought of the setting: 

This is fantasy, with a twist - the world is not something you'd recognize (ok at least I didn't), other than the universality of a war-torn country. And yet, Jorg's education includes familiar authors from by-gone days, he swears by this really a fantasy world, or is this our world in some distant future or alternate universe? It's certainly an interesting amalgamation of sword-and-armour fantasy and an almost post-apocalyptic vibe. There's more to this, but I won't go into any more details - I don't want to spoil anything!

What I think you should consider: 

If you liked The Left Hand of God (or the Godless World trilogy) you will probably like this book, too. Don't let the reference to Game of Thrones on the cover (uhm...if that is even ON the normal cover and not just the ARC) mislead you. This is a single-character focused story, not a sprawling epic covering multiple viewpoints - or perhaps just not yet? It is only the first part in the series, after all. Who knows what the future will bring? 


(8 out of 10 cupcakes)



Wendy Lu said...

Excellent review, Tessa! Very thorough and well-written, plus I like how you included a quote. :) Sorry I haven't visited for a while, I've added so many blogs to my radar and it's so hard to keep up with all of them!

Free books are always awesome. ;) I'll keep a look out for this one!


Weaver said...

Great review.

Blake said...

Sounds like my kind of book, T. I'll make a note of this.

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