Tag Archives: Prince of Thorns

Book Review: Emperor of Thorns (Mark Lawrence) (4 *’s)

Emperor of Thorns is the third book of Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series. You can find my reviews of the preceding books here: Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns. I’ve been looking forward to this book, and I enjoyed it considerably. It continues the story of Jorg Ancrath, now a king, 20 (I think) years of age. He’s still ruthless and basically corrupt, but he has grown to care for his pregnant wife and soon-to-be born son. And now he has his eyes set on the throne of the Emperor which has been vacant for over one hundred years.

The story begins with Jorg Ancrath and a small contingent of his loyal forces being escorted by the Gilden Guards to the formal meeting of the kings to select an emperor called the Congression. Much of the present day tale follows him and his journey on the road. He encounters undead creatures of various sorts: common undead soldiers, and more powerful lichkin. Throughout there are flashbacks to Jorg’s adventures five years ago when he traveled to radiation poisoned lands in search of ancient technology, the land of the Moors to meet a powerful caliph and his mathmagician, and to Vyene, the seat of the empire. He has his trials and tribulations along the way, influenced by both modern magic and ancient technologies (that’s kind of a funny twist I just noticed: modern magic and ancient technology). The whole leads to a climax in the Empire’s throne room where he confronts the horror of horrors: the Dead King, leader of the unholy armies of the dead.

Strengths: the writing was excellent, the story gripping and sufficiently convoluted to keep me engaged, and the plot was well done. Weaknesses: I’ve said in my prior two reviews that I was not fond of the character of Jorg as a main character since he’s basically evil. He’s grown on me to a certain extent, and I do enjoy his adventures now. He’s grown a little: he cares somewhat for his wife and even more for his son. That doesn’t justify anything he’s done, and makes the juxtaposition between himself and savior of the realms an odd one, to say the least. Finally, I was raised Catholic and the prevalent corruption throughout his Church did not appeal to me. He can paint his Church any way he likes, of course, and the modern Catholic Church has known some well-deserved criticism for its moral failings at times, but not one of the priests in these novels really measured up to any of the priests I have known in my life.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book and I’ll give Emperor of Thorns four stars out of five.

Book Review: King of Thorns (Mark Lawrence)

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence continues telling the story of Jorg Ancrath that the book Prince of Thorns began. You can read my review of Prince of Thorns here. Anyway, King of Thorns starts some four years later. Jorg is now eighteen and is king of his captured kingdom, Renar. As the story begins, his castle is about to be besieged by an army led by the Prince of Arrow, a well-regarded, “well-meaning” conqueror who wishes to bring order and stability to the hundred kingdoms. He’s brought an overwhelming force to accomplish the task: 20,000 troops to defeat Jorg’s 1000 behind castle walls.


The entire book consists of the story of that day and a series of flashbacks to important events that occurred in Jorg’s life that impinge on the present … most of these happening when he was fourteen (after he’d won himself that castle from his uncle). The central theme of the book revolves around a magical box that Jorg keeps at his side at all times. Part of him wants to open the box, and part of him knows he shouldn’t. That box holds a piece of his memories—a group of memories so horrific and painful he had a wizard take them from him and place them in the box, because he, Jorg Ancrath, could not deal with the horror of them. What memory does the box contain? What secret is so terrible it threatens to destroy a young man like Jorg Ancrath, a young man who has seen and committed more atrocities than most men experience in their entire lives? The only way to truly answer those questions is for Jorg to open the box and regain his memories. But, as it was at his order that the memories were incarcerated in the first place, is that really a wise decision? Once done, it cannot be undone. Much like Pandora …


Strengths: the writing was excellent, the story creative, and the plot engaging. I normally prefer to have “good” characters to root for, but Jorg is fun in his own way and is starting to grow on me. Besides, it looks like Mr. Lawrence is using Jorg’s basically evil side to show growth and change in the character as he matures into someone a little less cruel and ruthless. We’ll see where it goes. Weaknesses: other than the evil nature of Jorg (which I mentioned in my previous review), the only weakness I can think of is the large number of Brothers in Jorg’s company. I really can’t keep any of them (or very few of them) straight. It’s too confusing.


Anyway, I’ll give Mark Lawrence’s King of Thorns four and a half stars out of five.

Book Review: Prince of Thorns

Prince of Thorns is Mark Lawrence’s debut novel. It tells the story of Jorg Ancrath, a mere youth of fourteen who has already seen too much of the world’s horror. He was born and raised a prince in a royal castle, but in his tenth year, his mother and younger brother were assassinated before his very eyes, and the guilt and pain of that experience still weigh heavy on his soul.


At first I thought this book was set on an alternate Earth. There are references to Plato, Jesus, and other elements from our world, but I did not recognize the map and there were elements of real supernatural activity. As the story progressed, it became apparent that it was meant to be a post-apocalyptic version of our world. Which I have mixed feelings about. Lawrence pulled it off well enough; it wasn’t a flaw in the writing that concerned me. I don’t know, I guess I just prefer my fantasy to be pure fantasy, without the corruptive touch of science—because once you let science into the story, everything has to have some kind of scientific support.


Anyway, the story revolves around the young Jorg Ancrath who is leading a band of outlaws, ravaging the countryside, killing, raping, and plundering. They are not nice fellows. Then, Jorg and his men return to the king’s castle where danger of another sort lurks around every corner, and Jorg is given an “impossible” mission to prove himself. He sets out boldly, but this time his very future is on the line.


Strengths: the writing was good, the story was interesting, and there were no logical flaws that I saw. The book was written with dark humor. Weaknesses: although the main character was a fourteen year old, I would not recommend this book for that age group: I would limit it to adults. There was violence, of course, but that’s to be expected in fantasy—and there was also some limited sexual scenes. My biggest complaint, however, was that the hero was as much as villain as anything else. He was cold and calculating and did a number of horrific things. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my heroes to be actually heroic and to possess a few virtues. They should be looked up to; they should not be exemplars of savagery. Beyond that, I can think of no other major weaknesses.


I’ll give Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence four stars out of five.