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King of Thorns (The Broken Empire) Mass Market Paperback – July 30, 2013
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It’s been four years since Prince Jorg avenged his mother’s death by killing his uncle and taking his throne. In that time, the young prince has matured mentally and physically and has prepared his small mountain kingdom for war. Opening with the arrival of an army of more than 20,000 soldiers and Jorg’s hasty wedding to a young princess, the novel is split between the war in the present and lengthy flashbacks to earlier years; the source of the flashbacks is a mysterious copper box that Jorg keeps with him at all times. The box, which holds the king’s memories, is designed to keep his past safe from his dream-walking enemies. Lawrence masterfully builds tension here, using the few frantic days of battle as the framework for his larger story. Readers who first met Jorg in Prince of Thorns (2011) will cheer for the return of one of fantasy’s most violent, yet strangely likable, antiheroes, and those new to his story will find it easy enough to start here (but they will be eager to jump back to book 1). Set hundreds of years in the future after a disaster ended the time of the Builders, this is epic fantasy only lightly touched by science fiction, and the combination of dark fantasy, male characters, and plenty of violence makes it a perfect read-alike for fans of Brent Weeks and Joe Abercrombie. --Jessica Moyer --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“This dark and gritty fantasy adventure should please fans of military fantasy and no-frills action.”—Library Journal
“The whole book is really like one action scene that doesn’t end...King of Thorns is epic fantasy on a George R. R. Martin scale, but on speed.”—Fixed on Fantasy
“An excellent novel...King of Thorns is very good, more complex, perhaps more ambitious than Prince of Thorns.”—sffworld.com
“A tour de force. ‘Impressive’ doesn’t even begin to describe its content. Truly a phenomenal series so far.”—Choice Book Reviews
“King of Thorns is a novel that solidifies Mark Lawrence’s place as one of fantasy’s most talented authors.”—Fantasy Faction
“This is a dark story that demands attention from its readers but also rewards them immensely for their attention in the end. Read King of Thorns to be shocked and awed by the boy who would be king.”—Fantasy Book Critic
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In Book 2, he remains much like in Book 1 and continues his quest to rule as an emperor. Yet, he evolves into a better man with a conscience, somewhat, but doesn't shed his lust for power.
Now gaining the title of emperor is a must. If he is to revenge his mother and brother and atone for his sins, he must continue his quest in order to stop the forces that set him up to fail, beginning with attempting to kill him the night his family was slain. Each step he takes in the right direction, is one less ghost haunting him.
What's endearing is he grows up, no longer taking for granted aspects of life such as careless murdering of innocents for fun and turning his back to wrongs committed in his presence. He begins to fight for the weak, embraces his family and begins to love, even if he doesn't admit it (it's implied). He accepts his mistakes and acknowledges who he was but is no longer. He looks at his men with new sight, seeing those worthy as friends and stands besides them as a loyal man, no longer a prideful mistrusting tyrant acting out against his hurt by hurting others.
He continues to war with fierce determination, brilliance and a precocious smart-aleck mouth that makes me laugh, like when he says that Makin looked at him as though he asked to have his babies.
Book 2 is amazing and worthy of 5 stars. The story is not a simple construct, or rather a straightforward battle tale. It's edgy with depth.
Frankly, I don't give authors high marks because I like their style or find their afterwords endearing. Writing must be consistent and free of convoluted details.
Interestingly, this series coincides with the Red Queen's War books. Prince Jorg is mentioned when Jal and Snorri visit the palace of the King. It appears Lawrence constructed two series that take place in the same realm with the protagonists having different goal sets. However, after reading book 2, their goals may match up in future books.
Rec Age: 16+
Fave quote: "There is no sound more annoying than the chatter of a child, and none more sad than the silence they leave when they are gone."
I am enthralled by this series. King of Thorns picks up right after its predecessor and tosses you right back into the mayhem! You can't put it down!
I picked it up off my shelf to take a peek at it a few days after I recovered from my Prince of Thorns hangover and ended up standing there at my bookshelf for a near hour.
Lawrence's writing is so beautiful it calls to me and sweeps me away and pulls me down into its deceptive depths.
I've found myself daydreaming about our little Jorgy. Now 18, in this installment. I ponder on what it'd be like to meet such a ruthless, intimidating man-child. I don't know why. But he stirs up strange feelings in me.
I catch myself wondering if he could ever find love. Could love could soften him? Save him from his demons?
I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction of new characters and the new layers they brought. Most especially, Miana. And the intrigue she sparked in me.
I loved the risk Lawrence took with Miana's character. I won't elaborate because I don't write spoilers. But I can say it was expertly done. And I lived for her character development and interaction with Jorg.
And now I know Lawrence can create lovely strong female characters which makes me excited to see what he's done with Red Sister.
I loved -almost- everything about this book. The characters are better and more fleshed out. Not just Jorg (more on him in a minute), but ALL of the side characters. I feel like I know everyone in Jorg's gang intimately. Are they pretty rough? Yes, but each of them is relatable, and most of them (other than maybe Rike) have at least one scene in this book where they are likable. That's a step up from Prince of Thorns.
Great new characters are introduced as well, most notably Jorg's young wife Miana and Jorg's mother's family on the Horse Coast. Miana was one of my favorite characters in the book, and getting to meet the people of the Horse Coast was a great addition to the already awesome world of the Broken Kingdoms.
And then there's Jorg. In Prince of Thorns, I described him as 'basically a villain'. He was immature, vile, and cruel. Did he have reason to be upset? Certainly. But nothing excused most of that behavior. I'm happy to say that in King of Thorns, Mark Lawrence has found a way to make Jorg more mature, responsible, and likable, while still being unpredictable.
Make no bones about it, Jorg still plans to kill his father and become Emperor of the Broken Kingdoms, if for no other reason than that everyone tells him he can't. But certain events in this book reveal Jorg to have a heart. He faces his regrets, and even (in one incredibly touching scene) shows kindness. His journey through this series has been nothing short of awesome, and I can't wait to see where it ends in Emperor of Thorns.
The post-apocalyptic world of the Broken Kingdoms continues to be fascinating as well. We get a few more secrets revealed this time around, and anytime Jorg interacted with technology from our time was a definite highlight for me. The magic system also starts to get more fleshed out, and there are some phenomenal battle scenes, including probably my favorite one-on-one duel scene ever.
Honestly, the only downside to the book (and the reason I gave it 4/5 stars), was the plot structure. The story is told from 3 different time periods in Jorg's life. While each time period story is told chronologically, the way it bounces around was at times super frustrating and confusing to me. I would lose track of when things had happened.
"Wait, why is this a problem for Jorg? That one thing already happened two chapters ago to solve this problem. Oh yeah, that chapter was IN THE FUTURE."
Yeah, it's weird. I would almost suggest skipping around and reading the book completely chronologically. That may be what I do on my reread. That said, this is still an extremely well-written book and part of a great series.
Highly recommended to all Fantasy fans out there.