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Showing 1-10 of 468 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 569 reviews
on October 26, 2015
Mark Lawrence is probably one of the best fantasy writers out today. He's also one of the most polarizing. It's weird, but the man invokes incredibly extreme reactions in people and he's probably divided the fandoms *I* frequent more than any other author save Stephen Donaldson. The reason for this, at least from what I observed, is simple: his heroes are bastards. I confess, I have only two novels to draw from, both starring the same character, but lack of information has never stopped an academic from making a snap judgement before so why should it now? His hero, Jorg, is a brutal antihero whose young age and somewhat black comedy crimes grates on certain readers badly.

Personally, I find him hilarious. Which should probably disturb me.

But doesn't.

The premise of the novels is there's a hundred kingdoms spread across post-apocalypse Neo-Medieval Europe ("The Broken Empire"). Teenage Jorg Ancrath is the prince of a minor nation of these, blessed with a child prodigy's intellect and thorough education. He's also blessed with an immense ruthlessness and sociopathy (helped along by unnatural forces) which allows him to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. These goals include: avenge his mother's murder, get revenge on his father, kill his uncle, and take over the Empire in no particular order.

King of Thorns picks up after he's accomplished two of these goals and taken over his uncle's kingdom. Unfortunately, the book opens with Jorg's position worse than before with an immense foreign army bearing down upon him, a hopelessly outmatched army in his castle, a child-bride waiting to wed him in his chapel, and (worst of all) no decent clothing to wear. The rest of the book's anarchic ordered series of events explains how Jorg got into this pickle and how he's going to try to extirpate himself.

I like Jorg, I do. He's actually, to be perfectly honest, not nearly as bad as all that. I mean, yes, he's a murderous bastard who does something nightmarish with a lion but Jorg is only slightly worse than most fantasy heroes aside from this. The vast majority of his worst actions were done under mind-control or by accident. I mean, yeah, he activated a nuclear bomb which destroyed a city but who hasn't wanted to do that? Mark Lawrence does a wonderful job of making it always apparent Jorg is someone seriously messed up but always redeemable.

Well, except for the lion bit.

Bad evil genius prince!

One element I strongly liked was the increased role of Princess Katherine, a character I strongly liked in the previous volume. Here, we get many of her journal entries and watch her develop into a character who is equal and opposite to Jorg in almost every way. There's a number of moments which amount to, "wait, that scene didn't happen that way?" However, that's just part of the story. Who can trust memory, really?

If the book has any flaws, I'd have to say it's the fact it's full of a lot of seemingly aimless wandering. The strong central core of revenge from the previous book is absent and Jorg is floundering somewhere with no one to direct his attention. I was also troubled by the constant back and forth between flashback and present-day chapters even if I came to appreciate how it all came together. Finally, I very much was annoyed by the fact there was a conflict between the heroic Prince Orrin and the not-so-heroic Jorg being set up throughout the entire book which didn't get, in my humble opinion, a satisfying payoff.

Despite this, I've got to say this is an even better book than Prince of Thorns and that's a book I loved despite its psychotic protagonist (or because of it--I write The Rules of Supervillainy after all). Newcomer characters Miana, Prince Orrin, and Prince Egan are all entertaining. Miana reminds me of Swedish Princess Christina, daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, which is a rare character to be compared to. She's a young woman, wise beyond her years, but intelligent and aware in the way nobles daughters probably were more than fiction tends to portray them as. One of my favorite parts of the book is when she talks to Jorg about their kill/death ratio in the coming battle--heady stuff for a twelve-year-old.

I also liked the fact Prince Orrin is the kind of character who would be the protagonist in a more idealistic series but he's dealing with an environment far too treacherous for his Stark-like honor to triumph over. Despite what Jorg says, I don't believe for a second he'd have ever opened his gates (i.e. surrendered) to him. Is it better to be the doomed moral victor or the victorious evil one? Is it too much to ask for both? In this series? Probably.

In conclusion, if you like grimdark and antihero protagonists then you could far-far worse than this series. Those sensitive to such things, though, should note that it has a woman dealing with sexual assault as a major plot point as well as copious graphic violence. Jorge, even if he's not responsible for all of his actions, is still a jerkass who just so happens to have the brains of Batman, the wit of Spiderman, the lust for carnage of the Joker, and the body of a teenager.

10/10
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on December 31, 2015
Prince Jorg begins as a child, a child with deep hurts and bruised by loss. This shapes his mind and ambition. He is revengeful, bitter and brutal.

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.
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on April 19, 2017
Genre: Fantasy
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.
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on September 3, 2012
I just finished Mark Lawrence's, "King of Thorns" last night, and I must say that while I enjoyed "Prince of Thorns," it's predecessor, the sequel solidified my admiration of Lawrence as an up and coming fantasy author.

Lawrence is gutsy, to say the least. In the first book, he chose to tell a conflicted coming of age story, but in reverse order, starting with Jorg and his band of brutal, unmerciful bandits raping and pillaging the land, only giving the backstory of the troubled Prince of Ancrath later. Lawrence must have known that he would lose readers - especially those who found Jorg's morality, or lack there of, a little too much to handle. We eventually got our explanations and the origin story for his sociopathic nature. Still, as a reader, Jorg was difficult to identify with because of the shock of the first half of the book.

Enter the second book. Here, Lawrence gives us much more backstory and situates Jorg with character-types we weren't privy to in the first - characters that remind Jorg that human lives might indeed be worth something. In this context, Lawrence gives us several emotionally gut-wrenching scenes, offering us glimpses into the complexity of Jorg's character. Readers who did not enjoy the first book should definitely try the second. Very rarely do authors make readers bleed the injuries suffered by their characters, and Lawrence does that successfully in several scenes.

The book is told in two primary time frames, the present, while Jorg is 18, and 4 years prior, directly following the events of the first book. Interspersed between these time-jumps were diary entries told from Katherine's perspective. As several other reviewers have noted, the initial 100 pages were a bit difficult to navigate, primarily because in addition to time-jumping, the reader had to figure out where the story actually was in each of those time points. This was not a problem with the latter half of the book.

Supporting characters were well-flushed out. Katherine, in particular, has developed tremendously, and we also get introduced to an additional strong female lead.

As with the first book, the mythology of a post-apocalyptic world was rich, and the juxtaposition of ghosts, trolls, and machines certainly makes the story less predictable.

In sum, "King of Thorns" outdoes its predecessor. I certainly recommend picking up a copy. Lawrence is unpredictable and one of the most interesting fantasy authors to read.
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on January 6, 2016
Why? Why did I wait a full year to read this book after thoroughly enjoying Prince of Thorns last December? This book was every bit as good as that one, probably better. Either way, this is proving to be a VERY memorable series. Certainly one of the best written. Lawrence's prose is right up there with HobbThuss (Robin Hobb and Patrick Rothfuss).

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.
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on October 18, 2015
After going through the whole series it is very hard to write a review of just one book so I decided to make one for all three - Prince, King and Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire)

What Mark Lawrence has done in this series is just amazing. I started reading “Prince of Thorns" half- hearted with only one review given by my wife :) She told me I should definitely give this book a chance as it was something I had never read before. After finishing it (within a week) I have to say she was right! The story itself is great, well written and thought out and Jorg is an exceptional character! I’m 100% sure you will hate that guy at the beginning… then you will start understanding him. And exactly at the time when you start to like him BOOM Mark comes up with an idea which makes you hate him again :) It not just Jorg of course. The rest of characters in this book are also great and memorable. They really complete Jorg’s story and make the read even more interesting. And the way Mark goes with the story… Really, really good book!

I cannot spot big differences between “Prince” and following it “King” and “Emperor”. I read some reviews of these two books but just out of curiosity. When you finish book one, especially such a great one like “Prince”, you do not really need any review to convince you to grab another one. Yes, it is truth that you can never be sure if next book is as good as previous one and if the story is not going to become boring, predictable or just stupid… Well it is certainly NOT what happened here. All books in this series are just great and each one complete the other. I have to admit I had no clue what was going to happen at the end of the story and, unlike some other readers I read the reviews of, I did not guess who the Dead King really was… Maybe if I had had some time to think about that when I was reading I would have guessed, but the truth is that I just devoured these books :) I had great time with all of them and I’m sure I will read that story again :) I own now all of them on my Kindle and printed versions were already ordered :)

Every book lover knows that feeling - when you finish reading an exceptionally good book you feel empty knowing there is nothing more. The ending of “The Broken Empire” brought me such filling… I’m just happy Mark keeps woking hard and there are new books, new characters coming :)

Thank you Mark for these books!!!!

One of countless great quotes from The Broken Empire:

“I think maybe we die every day. Maybe we're born new each dawn, a little changed, a little further on our own road. When enough days stand between you and the person you were, you're strangers. Maybe that's what growing up is. Maybe I have grown up.”
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on July 18, 2017
In short the second book in the Broken Empire series builds off the first one with a strong first and third act. The only flaw I found was the second act of the book felt like it dragged on longer than needed. Specifically, the part where they are in the marshes felt way too long as if to build suspense but there was very little of it. It felt like the only reason it even existed was to fact drop a couple of things and bring back an old friend from the first book. Beyond that, this book was great and I highly recommend any fan of fantasy to read it.
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on March 13, 2017
Reviewed Prince of Thorns calling it a deus ex machina and that continues here... big time. I do have to say, this was my favorite book in the series and I was totally absorbed in the book in the last 100 or so pages. It wasn't a slow start like the first one. It jumped all around timeline-wise, but it wasn't hard to follow and the storyline(s) were entertaining all the same. I liked Jorg's SLIGHT change in demeanor, but he's got a horrible case of the Gary Stus. It's pretty annoying. Really, though. Deus ex machina. Have I said that enough? Loved this book anyway
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on May 19, 2017
This was my favorite book of the trilogy. It started to develop the world/magic system a lot clearer, and helped some of the more absurd notions of the first book come into clarity. It leans into Jorg's tortured childhood and broken family structure, and helps understand how he was forged to be who he is. And the plot mechanism that allows him to hide his thoughts from Sageous is certainly an interesting twist. It allows Jorg to continue to live in that impulsive id that suits him so well, while still gaining a bit of measured wisdom as he ages.
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on June 24, 2015
The journey starts with Prince of Thorns. (My review is on Goodreads, somewhere -- a 5 Star Review). Prince Jorg's journey to power continues in King of Thorns, which I have, just moments ago, finished reading.

Now. For what it is worth, Prince of Thorns is my favorite of the two. I'd have given that book 10 Stars if the option existed. King of Thorns is nearly as worth. 8 Stars, in comparison. Both -- easily 5 Star books.

There is a darkness to Mark Lawrence's writing. While you read you sense nothing above but grey storm clouds. The threat of heavy downpours is always present. The gloom is constant. There is no light. There are no happy endings, as one might expect. There is darkness. There is gloom. Oh, and there is desperation.

The narrative is poetic. I mean, just beautifully written prose that remind me of what a painter can do with a blank canvas. My mind fills with the images that Lawrence writes. It is truly an amazing gift. His talent as an author is more than impressive.

King of Thorns is filled with magic. It bounces back and forth. Half the chapters take place on The Wedding Day. The other half, Four Years Ago. While I was not thrilled with this style (hence the 2 stars shy of 10), it was only due to my own confusion about WHEN I was in the story. Was I in the NOW, or the BEFORE. But that is just me.

Many of the "cast" are back from the first book. Jorg's men. Makin, and Rike, Coddin and Red Kent. Jorg's vicious father. Only he's married now. And expecting a new son. Degran. How nice. A new prince, an apparent heir to the throne.

In a quest for power, Jorg treks across dangerous lands for a purpose. Enlisting the help of family is sometimes essential, even if he has to promise his own hand in marriage. Can nothing stop Prince Orrin, the Prince of Arrows? The armies he's amassed are en route. A war between "kingdoms" is unavoidable. It is what the climax leads to from page one!

The ever elusive Sageous plays inside Jorg's head the way a child plays inside a sandbox. Building, and destroying sand art. Leaving Jorg often dazed, confused, and furious.

Fexler is an interesting "character," something the Builders left behind. A sort of voice of reason for Jorg. No. No. That's not quite right. Maybe a body-less being Jorg can learn from. Confide in?

With Jorg, it always comes down to family. Brothers. Crimes committed, hidden -- but never secret for long. The truth always comes out. Nothing remains buried. The surprises surprise, but are almost expected. Not in a bad way, but in a way that follows what is expected of each character.

The climax, the war, is fitting. I laughed. Sounds crazy. But I did. I laughed at the final "battle" scene. Loved it.

Mark Lawrence has me more entertained that George R. R. Martin. I cannot wait to begin reading Emperor of Thorns.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of Vaccination and Damn the Dead
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