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Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) Hardcover – August 2, 2011

865 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This book is brilliant.” --Galaxy Book Reviews

“[A] morbidly gripping, gritty fantasy tale.” --Publishers Weekly

“The best book I’ve read all year…[Lawrence] pulls you in and doesn’t let go.” --New York Times bestselling author Peter V. Brett

Prince of Thorns deserves attention as the work of an iconoclast who seems determined to turn that familiar thing, Medievalesque Fantasy Trilogy, entirely on its head.” --Locus

About the Author

Mark Lawrence is a research scientist working on artificial intelligence. He is a dual national with both British and American citizenship, and has held secret-level clearance with both governments. At one point, he was qualified to say, “This isn’t rocket science—oh wait, it actually is.” Married with four children, he lives in Bristol.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; 1 edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441020321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441020324
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (865 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say 'this isn't rocket science ... oh wait, it actually is'.

Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

168 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
All I can say about this book is "wow". Actually, that's a lie; I have a lot more to say. These kind of grim, ultra-harsh fantasies with anti-hero leads are really hard to write well. Getting the right mix of believability and twisted viciousness in the protagonist, while not making the reader totally hate him, is tough. Before reading this, KJ Parker (Fencer trilogy, Scavenger trilogy) was the undisputed king in this area; now Lawrence (the author) joins him as one of the great masters of dark fantasy.

The plot is solid: in a Jack Vance "Dying Earth"-ish future, scores of petty kings and nobles compete to reclaim an empire, while in the shadows magicians and necromancers manipulate and control events for their own agendas. The protagonist, Prince Jorg, has been on the road with the roughest band of killers for four years, forging himself into a weapon after his mother and brother were killed in front of him. Having taken control of this brotherhood of brigands, he decides to return home and attempt to take his birthright, sparking further trials and conquests.

The writing style was very good, the pacing was great, and flashbacks filled in the backstory in nicely digestible pieces. As a note, I'm normally not such a fan of flashbacks, but Lawrence managed to keep them germane, where each one helped further the main storyline, rather than distracting from it. Lawrence, like Parker, really excels in his character portrayal of Jorg, and captures his semi-psychotic nature. I liked the combat writing too; typically fast, vicious, and clever, it avoided pitfalls of unbelievable actions or lengthy, technically complicated duels, while still included more than enough blood and bodies.

Overall a great effort, and possibly the best dark fantasy I've read since the Fencer trilogy. Recommended to anyone that likes a dark fantasy, and particularly to those that like KJ Parker (and vice versa).
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Amanda M Lyons on August 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What a wonderfully dark and often humorous trip this books has been!

Prince of Thorns is the story of Honorous Jorg Ancrath as much a prince of thievery and cruelty as he is to the throne currently occupied by his less than chivalrous father. A smart quick-witted and brutal 15 year old, Jorg is often taken for less than the sum of his experience. He is no less than a rogue and has more than earned his place among his Brothers of the road by cracking skulls as much as by leadership.

Jorg is no ordinary teenager. He's lived among the brutal marauders, under their rules for the last four years. He left his father's castle by his own choice at the age of ten on a quest to avenge his mother and brother who were horribly murdered before his eyes. His quest as yet unfinished he travels his world making war and death his stock and trade. Until that is he's brought home and the path he's chosen is forced to change.

I haven't read a book with such a great first person narrative in ages! Jorg makes no bones about just what sort of person he's become since he left his father's castle telling us exactly what it is he and his men do as they wander about in as clear detail as he cares to offer. Jorg it seems has become an evildoer and relishes the action and battle he finds with his comrades though that horrible night which changed his life is never far from his thoughts. While this should make him a less than sympathetic character it well and truly doesn't! While he's capable of a great deal of wrong he's also a very keen wit and is clearly acting to survive in a world he feels has no sympathy for the innocent. He is essentially giving his world back the same pain and misery it has given him only with a lot more charm and cunning than it bargained for!
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Blodeuedd on August 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Note: review by a friend

Brother Jorg, Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath, will be King by fifteen. Emperor by 21, probably. But at the moment he is a road bandit, rapist, butcher, torturer. And he is the hero of the book Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence.

You get heroes of all kind in fantasy literature - heroes with varying degree of skill, powers and motivation. The good guys are pure of heart and clean of face. Then we have the anti-heroes, the unwilling heroes who have the hero-hood thrust upon them, but they always come through, and finally show their heart of gold.

Brother Jorg is at the far end of that scale, you might say. He is a stone cold bastard, thirteen year of age, killed more men than the plague. But ok - the land is riddled with war; the feuds between the little kingdoms have been going on for decades, centuries. If he can become the Emperor, at least there will be no more war.

Prince of Thorns is the first book of a trilogy, where we will follow Jorg's path. The set is an alternate Europe (with magic, ghosts and monstrosities), refreshing it its simplicity. The focus is entirely on Jorg. His stubbornness and lack of fear is legendary - he survives against overwhelming odds by a mixture of intelligence, brutality, dirty tricks, cunning, necromancy, etc.

What do I think about it? If you can get through the initial revulsion in the first dozens of pages (where the author really grinds your nose into the feces of brutality and immorality, to get your mind on the right track) it's a wonderful book! A page turner, I personally read it in one sitting. Ok, you may learn that Jorg has had a rough childhood to motivate his deeds, but that doesn't really matter.
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