So I recently finished Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence; honestly a fantastic read.
I am a browser, I walk through a book store (well more like shuffle) and I read the backs of any book that either sounds great (title wise) or looks great (cover wise); and this one caught me on both levels.
First of all the cover, it just screams of darkness, and violence, and frankly all the things I love in a dark fantasy! And then I read the back; Mark Lawrence definitely knows how to write a blurb that sells!
Beware the Prince of Thorns…
When he was nine, he watched as his mother and brother were killed before him. By the time he was thriteen, he was the leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen he intends to be King…
It is 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 hung pinned on the thorns of a briar patch and watched 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 his will, can one young man conquer enemies with power beyond imagining?
Tell me that doesn’t sound amazing!
Right, I started this book late one evening; I was staying over in a hotel and I had grabbed the first book on a pile on the way out, in fact I hadn’t even looked at the title when I placed it snug in my bag. So there at 1am I began reading about Jorg and his band of Brothers, the pages almost bled with the amount of blood filling the words stained into them. I loved it! Sleep came at 4:30 am.
This is a tale of adventure, a tale of magic weaved into the seemingly normal people; players in a game briefly mentioned in the book. You find yourself glimpsing into a darkness that not many would understand, you find yourself surrounded by Jorg; a child! All the way through you have to remember that this child of 14 was tortured, both physically and emotionally, you see him become strong, you see him become weak, you see him do some pretty unreal moves.
There were a few let downs, there is a constant flip between ‘current’ and ‘four years ago’; okay so majority of the book is written about Jorg’s current affairs, his travelling all over the map and slaughtering thousands of people. But then occasionally you get a ‘four years ago’ chapter that gives you hints about Jorgs life immediately after his torture, how he found his band of Brothers and how he became their leaders- this alone would have made a great book! However I felt that it broke up the story, I could see its desired effect, but I think they were slightly misplaced; a chapter too soon- or too late, they seemed to draw away from the build up.
Now the chapters are only a few pages long, across the 319 pages (in my publication- mass market paperback), there were 49 chapters. I love little chapters, I think they keep the story moving faster; and they work exceptionally well when you have an dark fantasy but want to keep it on the shorter side.
A great way to draw in new readers of darker fantasy!
Okay, I loved Jorg; yeah sometimes he did totally unrealistic things and for someone who was so down on his luck, it always seemed to be there right at the moment he needed it! But all round, he definitely is a wonderful character, especially when you see him grow into manhood (years after his first kill may I add!). However he is definitely not the only well rounded character on the board!
At the beginning of every five or so chapters, there is a beautiful eulogy to a side character, something that Jorg has learnt from them, or even a little story.
Brother Roddart stabbed three men in the back for everyone he faced.
Roddart taught me all I know about running and hiding.
Cowards should be treated with respect.
Cowards best know how to hurt.
Corner one at your peril.
So in all I love this book! It was a great way of pulling myself from this reading slump I have found myself in and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes darker fantasy (but it is definitely not for younger readers!) or wants to see what darker fantasy is about.
Be warned though, this is the start of a trilogy (as far as I am aware it is only a trilogy!) so be prepared for craving the next book!
Worth the read!