Monday, 20 August 2012

Review: Prince of Thorns

Prince of Thorns
Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Is it true that we need to be broken before we can be reborn? No. But bleeding can sure do the trick.

Thorns can bleed you better than a knife. Briar thorns so deep they hook to the bone. Where a knife goes in and out, you go in and out of a thicket. The knife goes in, blood comes out. You go in…who knows what comes out? But, I did.

Before the thorns, before the person that I am now, I was a son and a brother. I’m still a Prince, but I gave that up for the road. Being a son and a brother was taken from me. The thorns gave me a new family. Brothers, though not by blood, but they’ve spilled enough of it for me. Yet there’s more blood to run, and though I lost my old family, I still have a claim to the family fortune.

And that fortune is a throne…’

Prince of Thorns is the stunningly dark debut by Mark Lawrence. In my opinion a noir-fantasy, the novel is the first part of a trilogy known as ‘The Broken Empire’.

The reader is introduced to Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath, a fourteen year old boy-Prince who leads his ‘brothers’, a band of bloodied outlaws, across the land, raiding, raping and razing. Jorg’s dark path has an end in sight, that of winning the game of thrones. His quest for the revenge of his brother and mother’s murders has set him on the path for his father’s throne, and later, the title of Emperor.

I found myself drawn along by this book, fascinated with Jorg’s decisions and insights. Written in a first person point-of-view, the reader is able to see the Prince’s rationale, and though might not commit themselves to similar actions, the philosophy of the sociopath is addictive.

Without saying too much and spoiling it for those of you who do decide to read this book, the story has more than a few surprises in terms of world building and setting. Personally, I think that this is one of the best conceptualised fantasies of the year, despite the mixed reviews that I have seen.

Not only are the characters, the setting, the pace, and the voice masterfully wrought, but the overarching plot and the ‘behind-the-scenes-grand-scheme’ are of equal measure. On one hand, Prince of Thorns works as a marvellous standalone novel, but on the other its already got me itching for the next in the series.

Mark Lawrence…you’ve certainly got me hooked.

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