Book Review: Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire Book 1) by Mark Lawrence (published by Harper Voyager)
Grimdark fantasy Prince of Thorns is a dark, gruesome read with an evil bastard of a main character, but I loved it! It tells of Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath who, at nine years old, witnesses the horrific murder of his mother and brother which sparks an unyielding desire to wreak bloody revenge. Jorg leaves the comfort of the castle to cut his teeth on murder, rape and brutality with a band of outlaws.
The story is told from two interwoven timeframes. We see Jorg at nine/ten and learn of the devastating event that sparks his anger and psychopathic tendencies, and then years later at thirteen/fourteen when he decides to return to the castle and confront his father. Along the way Jorg and his outlaw ‘brothers’ meet ghosts, monsters, mages and necromancers as well as destroy some shit and generally cause mayhem.
Jorg is despicable, but also strangely likeable. He’s intelligent, funny, unpredictable with a big dollop of arrogance and self-entitlement thrown in. He’s a fighter, and although what he does is awful, he’s got a purpose and the ambition is driving him. He also has a pinch of humanity as, in an off-hand way, you can see how he has been affected by his mother and brother’s deaths, and his father’s reaction, as well as the deaths of some of his 'brothers'.
My only issue with this book was the references to the real world e.g. philosophers, Latin, biometrics etc. This confused me and my idea of the setting – were they living in a strange future of our world? It was only minor though, and the characterisation of Jorg was what carried this novel for me.
I read this quickly in a few sittings. The writing is excellent and the pace fast, with no heavy concepts to try to grasp or intricate worldbuilding that bogs down the story. If you are ok with violence, and are happy with a villain for the main character, then give this book a go. I’ll definitely be reading book two soon!
My rating: 4/5
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