Friday, August 23, 2013

Emperor Of Thorns - Mark Lawrence

Emperor Of Thorns
Book Three Of The Broken Empire
Mark Lawrence

Dark Fantasy
Note:  If you haven’t read the first two books (PRINCE OF THORNS and KING OF THORNS) in this series, then, really, where have you been?  If you prefer your fantasy light, populated by cute creatures, and right always winning the day, you’ve come to the wrong place.  Not that there’s anything wrong with light fantasy; but that’s just not what this series is.
For those who have read the first two books, but had to wait for this one, the author kindly includes the salient points up front in “The Story So Far.”  It’s enough to refresh memories and catch up with Jorg, now King of seven lands.  His story begins on his twentieth birthday, as the Gilden Guard march into his castle to escort him to Congression.  Congression is a once-every-four-years event in which the Hundred, rulers of each land, gather to attempt to elect an emperor.  With one vote per land ruled, it’s nearly impossible; and, indeed, there has not been an Emperor to unite the broken lands for too long.
Jorg has a plan to change that.  His plan has been laid over the course of years.  The story moves from Jorg today, to the Jorg of five years earlier, travelling through the lands.  What seems like an almost aimless series of adventures turns out to be so much more.  Among the many opposing him is the Dead King, a ruler who rose in the Drowned Isles, and who uses necromancers to blight those who would deny him.  One of these is Chella, a necromancer well known to Jorg.  Interspersed with Jorg’s story is Chella’s story.  On Jorg’s side (he hopes) are the long-dead Builders, who left their data-ghosts to guard their technologies.  The prize is the future of the broken empire and everyone in it.
I wouldn’t advise new readers to start here.  I’d advise you to start Jorg’s story with the first book.  There’s just so much that goes into making the character of Jorg, that I’m not sure newcomers will fully appreciate his attitudes or his decisions the way longtime readers will.  Even though he’s now married, a king, and an expectant father, Jorg is still one of the most compelling anti-heroes of fantasy fiction.  I’ve never encountered a character quite like him, and I doubt that I will again.  He’s that best of all things: a unique and believable creation.
As always, the author moves the story along through by moving the story back and forth through time.  Even at the end, there’s more to tell, more to learn, and another blow to be struck.  Through the author, Jorg is a master at turning a phrase.  Self-deprecation is a sharp edge with him, although his new maturity shines through.  He’s seen more of life than a twenty-year-old should, but this experience and his drive are what put him within reach of the emperor’s throne.  It’s never pretty, but his methods are undeniably effective.  These books remind me of why I love fantasy; and reading this book truly made me want to go back and start the series from the beginning.  This goes on the short list of series to be re-read, back-to-back, just to watch the story unfold again.
Rating: 9
August 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25685-5 (hard cover)


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