Just finished reading Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence which in defiance of my early impressions turned into a very good read. And, to explain myself with that remark – this is quite a gory bloodfest of a read told by a protagnoist who is the very epitome of a anti-hero yet the author not only manages to engage your attention and keep it but also makes you want the lead character to succeed.
This is a story of revenge, set in a futuristic post apocalyptic world where the inhabitants and their world resemble something from mediaeval times with dark castles, kings and jousts and yet this is a twisted future where ghosts can roam, dark magic is possible and strange mutated people have evolved in the aftermath of destruction.
The story starts with Jorg and his band of reprobates killing, pillaging and looting, taking whatever valuables and pleasures they can along the road. They’re not really nice (and that’s a big understatment). And yet, though you would think this would be a very unpalatable read, you’re almost immediately interested in Jorg. The story jumps back and forth between the present and four year’s earlier and thereby gradually provides you with some very relevant and illuminating background to Jorg.
This is a gritty and fast paced read which seems to lurch from one impossible situation to the next. I think as you read along, although Jorg and his band are an unsavoury bunch you come to realise that they are not the worst. Treachery and political maneouvering are rife and not everone or everything is always as it seems. I will say, and not that you probably will, don’t get too attached to the characters because ML shows no hesitation in sacrificing them!
I don’t want to elaborate further because it would be too easy to give away spoilers and I think this book is best read with no prior knowledge. In particular there’s a twist at the end which leaves you wondering how Jorg’s character will develop in the next installment.
In terms of criticisms I did find it a bit of a stretch to believe that Jorg was capable of everything written about him – mainly because of his age and also because I couldn’t help thinking that some of the characters he kept company with would probably have just slit his throat whilst he slept rather than let him give them orders.
But, I came to like Jorg, he’s well written and you spend a lot of time inside his head listening to his own thoughts. He’s certainly not soft and fluffy but there was the odd glimpse, when the barriers came down, that you could see how things could be very different. I think this is a really intriguing story and find it difficult to believe that this is a debut novel!
It will be interesting to see how the next book develops.
I would definitely recommend this if you don’t mind your adventure to be quite gritty and blood soaked.