Book Review — Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1)Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally, the character I’ve been waiting so long to read about! Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath is truly a twisted and tortured soul, with absolutely no recognizable moral values. He kills on a whim, inflicts violence without reproach, and is unyieldingly self-centered.

So why do we love reading about him? Part of it is the same reason that Glotka is so popular from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy: a morbid fascination with violence and an insight into the thought process of these seemingly brutal men.

But the difference is that Jorg seems to enjoy his violence. And not from an evil villain point of view either. It seems to be succumbing to his primal human nature. He has no hesitation when it comes to questionable actions. Don’t like what someone just said about you? Stick a sword through his throat. Someone challenged you to a duel? Fight dirty and shoot him with a crossbow instead.

There are those little moments in life when our brains come up with wild fantasies, that of course we would never dream of carrying out. Things like smashing your car into the guy who just cut you off, or punching the grocery clerk who is taking too damn long to process your order, or throwing your computer out the window when it crashes. You can keep going, and I hope you know what I mean, but like I said, they are fantasies for most of us, and reality for Jorg.

If you’re not squeamish about violence and situations where your jaw will actually drop (“he did what?!?!” or “what the &$%# did I just read?”), check out this taunting tale with a delicate touch of horror that reads like poetry.

The one small drawback for me was the lack of a secondary world. The setting seems to be largely inspired by Europe, and there are a lot of real concepts thrown in there, like the Pope, Aristotle, and Sun Tzu. It’s just a weird proportion of what is invented and what is carried over. The nuclear bombs and computer programs did it for me. I’m sure there’s a mystery in there, as I’m starting to see hints of a post-apocalyptic world, but I don’t think it adds anything to the story.

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