Friday, 2 August 2013

Book Review: 'Emperor of Thorns' by Mark Lawrence

My world has ended.

And it’s all because of Mark Lawrence.

‘Emperor of Thorns’ was released yesterday in the UK, and even at a hefty 592 pages I finished it this morning…Rome might not have been built in a day, but like I said at the beginning of this review, Mark Lawrence has ended my world in less than 24 hours.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lawrence’s ‘Broken Empire’ trilogy, then you must have been sleeping under a rock for the past few years because its gathered so much attention from reviewer and reader alike that Jorg has all but become a household name. People have at once flocked to Lawrence’s banner, showering praise and pleasantries for his talents, whilst others have been up in arms, accusing him of ‘needless animal cruelty’ or ‘over indulging in the rapey-ness’ within fantasy.

Me? I’ve got my pitchfork out, not to join the mob of naysayers, but to rally to Lawrence’s cause.

I like ‘The Broken Empire’ trilogy.


I FREAKING love it.

To a reader, the main character Jorg Ancrath, is like that kid at school your parents warn you to stay away from. He doesn’t listen in class, he’s never on time, never tucks his shirt in, can never keep himself out of trouble…locks the janitor in the closet, shaves the school cat, sets fire to the science lab because it’s funny to wedge magnesium strips in the top of teacher’s lighter. Jorg is dangerous – and he knows it.

That’s the sheer beauty of it.

If you thought Geoffrey Lannister was a loathsome, wicked, evil, decrepit, malignant, hateful, blasphemous…how do I put this…fucker, then you haven’t met Jorg yet. Jorg is worse, for one simple reason. He’s aware of what he’s doing, which is also the reason why you fall in love with him.

Like that kid at school, you can’t stay away. It’s impossible. You’re intrigued, you want to know more. And, after all, it’s better to have him as a friend than an enemy.

In ‘Emperor of Thorns’ Jorg sets out to do what his creator, Lawrence, has so successfully done. Get people to flock to his banner. Namely the kingdoms of the Hundred. But it’s not the living that Jorg has to worry about, it’s the Dead King and his army…

So, in a story where existence as we know it has been totally and utterly destroyed after nuclear war, where the Dead rise…you can see why I say my world has ended.

You’d be wrong.

My world ended when the story did. Lawrence is a master of weaving – dropping plot devices here and there, scattering them far and wide. Through split time narratives, at first, the reader debates whether these little additions have purpose other than to add colour. It’s safe to say that NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM is wasted. Forgive me for using the tapestry example, but Lawrence weaves thread after thread into a grand masterpiece, and when it’s done he lays it at your feet for your admiration. It’s beautiful, one of a kind. You take a step closer to get a better look...

…Then he rips it right out from underneath you, leaving you flat on your ass, bewildered, shocked.

And then you smile. With an ending like that what else can you do but smile? There’s no other fitting way to finish Jorg’s story other than that. It’s perfect. For readers it’ll definitely have a Marmite effect – you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. In ‘Emperor of Thorns’s case, however, I reckon you’ll either ram it into every available orifice you crave it so much, or you’ll poison yourself with it.

Because this trilogy was that good, because it came to life on the pages, because I wanted it to go on forever…when I finished it, my world came to an end.

Touché, Mark Lawrence, Tou-bloody-ché.


  1. Did you read my review. I put off reading the last half because I didn't want it to end. But it wouldn't be as good if it didn't end.

    1. I had a point like that about 3am this morning...but, because it was 3am, and my head was so full of the story I knew that I couldn't sleep, so my only option was to forge onward!

    2. I understand that. I can't wait for his next series.