Sunday, September 30, 2012

Prince Of Thorns - Mark Lawrence


Prince Of Thorns
Book One Of The Broken Empire
Mark Lawrence
 
Ace
 
Dark Fantasy
 
At the age of nine, Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath watched helplessly as members of a rival noble house murdered his mother and younger brother.  It changed him.  Soon afterwards, he left the Tall Castle, the home of his father the King, and took to the road with a band of outlaws.  By the age of thirteen, he was leading the band, remorselessly pillaging and burning his way through the land.  He plans to be King by age fifteen.  After that, he will “win the Hundred War, reunite the Broken Empire, and be Emperor.”
 
At fourteen, Jorg and his ‘brothers’ travel back to the Tall Castle.  Now of legal age, Jorg plans to take up his birthright as heir to his father’s kingdom.  But his father has essentially written him off after years of absence.  He’s taken a new Queen, who is carrying his new heir.  Jorg understands that politics, war, and life itself as simply a large-scale game.  He wants to be the one moving the pieces.  His father has other ideas.
 
This is an amazing new work of dark fantasy; ‘dark’ being the operative word.  If you’re looking for cute elves and sunlit glades, look elsewhere.  Violence is a way of life, and much of it is quite graphic.  Jorg is very much an anti-hero.  At thirteen, he’s quite comfortable ordering the burning of a village and its inhabitants.  Rape and murder are everyday events.  (Note for readers: while the violence is graphic, the rape is only referred to; it happens ‘off screen.’)  Jorg is not likeable; but he is compelling.
 
The world created here is solid and real.  There has been war raging among various kingdoms of the Broken Empire for as long as anyone can remember.  Alliances shift almost daily; attacks and assassins are commonplace.  Jorg is fueled by rage; feeling that his father bartered away the lives of his mother and brother for goods and alliances instead of mounting a counter-attack.  The narrative moves from Jorg’s current life to the events of four years ago, until the entire story is uncovered.  The flashbacks never sidetrack the story.  Everything that happens serves to move the plot and characters forward.  For readers who can take the dark edge of the story, this is a real find. 
 
Rating: 8
August 2011
ISBN# 978-0-441-02032-4 (hardcover – also available in pb)

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