It feels great to get back into this! Welcome to the series where you get a great insight into one of the most messed up teenage protagonists you will ever meet. A psychopathic, murdering bastard.
And I love him.
All hail Jorg Ancrath, King of the Broken Empire!
First, I will say I am only halfway through the first series by the awesome Mark Lawrence. I’m about a third through King of Thorns. So many books on my backlog!
However, I did finish Prince of Thorns late last year. And I quite liked it. You can certainly tell it was the first novel and it is rough around the edges, but it has a rugged, dirty charm that drew me in the more I read it.
Mark absolutely nails his protagonists, and what I read was one of the best examples of world-building and characterisation I have ever read. Jorg is a complete psychopath, and I adore him. Sure, his childhood trauma goes some way to explaining how much of a mess he is, and while I cannot relate with the protagonist much, having a refreshing insight into what could well be the villain was enjoyable to go into, even if a lot of his scenes were uncomfortable. This book also pulls no punches from the get-go. Torture from the first page? You got it. Piss off Jorg? You’re liable to losing a few balls. Murder, rape and watching villages get torn apart by war? Yep.
It is gritty, violent and brutal from beginning to end, and I love it.
A lot of people have criticised the book for the violence, especially early on. And some people will be turned off by the constant in-your-face aggression. There is a heavily implied rape scene within the opening few pages, so that might serve as a warning. It’s certainly not for everyone.
There are far worse out there. While Prince of Thorns does do the grim-dark tone in a rather heavy style, it was done in a way I never found outright offensive. Unlike stuff like The Sword of Truth (Goodkind…looking at you here), I never felt the need to just put the book down out of protest. I’ve always had a strong stomach for fiction though and I can tell that it is not real, though I completely get why this level of violence in books can turn people off. This book is controversial for a good reason.
The setting in a post apocalyptic medieval Europe is nice to read through, and I enjoyed the fighting scenes as well. There were some things I did stop to think about however. As much as I love Jorg as a character (He grows on you throughout the series), his rampage with his band of outlaw knights almost feels insert fan favourite character. How he got this band of stronger and deadly men to obey him, I have no idea. While Jorg is extremely well done as a character, some of the others are just there for page numbers, which is a bit of a shame. The Nuban and the priest Mentor could have been a lot more interesting in hindsight, but they tended to be overlooked. I forgive this because of everything else melding together like peanut butter and jelly, and Mark really improves on this in the following book, King of Thorns.
The narrative is also oddly blunt in places, and flops around quite a bit. It took me some time to adjust. This didn’t really bother me either, but it might put some readers off.
In my Goodreads review, I gave Prince of Thorns an 8 out of 10, and I stand by that. It’s not for everyone and deserves its controversy, does suffer from some development flaws and teething troubles from an opening book, but I genuinely enjoyed the read, and I am continuing to enjoy my journey through the Broken Empire.
Check out the book down below: