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Road Brothers Paperback – November 1, 2017
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Well, in this collection, Mr. Lawrence gives fans exactly what they have been craving: a closer look at Jorg’s “road brothers.” Here the curtain is pulled back on Makin, Red Kent, Rike, The Nuban, Gorgoth, and even Father Gomst. Each individual getting to air, at least, some of their hidden secrets for everyone’s reading pleasure.
It all starts with “A Rescue,” where Makin takes center stage. The tragic lose of his family at the hands of marauding knights is touched upon, used to explain why the jovial, beloved Makin of the past no longer exists, replaced by a bitter, vengeful man whose presence makes everyone uncomfortable. And when he becomes a soldier to King Olidan and helps avert a fiery end to young Jorg, the future seems set, especially as he foresees his own role in helping the young prince grow to manhood.
“Sleeping Beauty” is a Jorg centered tale, which I have previously enjoyed and reviewed separately on Amazon.
“Bad Seed” chronicles the poignant yet grievous tale of Alann Oak. This youth committing a horrible crime at a tender age; the act haunting him his whole life, even as he tries to forgive himself for it, deny his baser nature and live a peaceful life as a farmer, husband, and father. Something he seems to be successful in doing until fickle fate destroys it, turning him into Red Kent.
“The Nature of the Beast” takes a closer look at Sabitha the witch and her interactions with and observations of Rike, as he and his road brothers pillage her village. Naturally, a witches curse is involved.
“Select Mode” finds Jorg and the Nuban as prisoners of brigands. Their captors driving them toward “the arc” where they will be judged worthy or unworthy to join this band of “Select.” Broken remnants of the Builders technology play a major role here, as an ancient message is mistaken for something much more divine.
“Mercy” sees Mr. Lawrence returning to Makin. Now, his quest for vengeance upon his family’s murderers takes center stage. A woman named Ellen is his co-conspirator, while the terrified Gorlan is the cowed youth, who attempts to negotiate his own survival. And during the three’s conversations, Makin’s desire for justice through vengeance becomes very clear.
In “A Good Name,” readers finally get a glimpse at the Nuban’s mysterious past. The how and why of his presence in the Broken Empire is suggested, even as a special guest star (the father of Snorri from The Red Queen’s War) plays a major role in the Nuban’s growth into a man. All of it offering a logical reason why this warrior would go on to become somewhat of a mentor to the young Jorg.
“Choices” centers on the choices of Gorgoth. This enigmatic monster of a man risking all to save his family from the dangerous, toxic depths of their mountain home. The whole story somewhat of a morality play, as Gorgoth wishes to be a good person in a harsh world — even if he might be selling his soul to the devil to accomplish what he believes is right.
With “The Secret,” Mr. Lawrence takes his storytelling to new heights. This tale within a tale mesmerizing in its pacing and progression; the narrator slowly weaving his story of betrayal and assassination to a bedazzled princess, who never sees the truth until it is too late.
“Know Thyself” ends this collection on a high note, as Father Gomst and his interaction with King Olidan’s two young sons is highlighted. Naturally, Jorg and his brother William steal the spotlight with their youthful viciousness, but Gomst’s feelings toward his old student is certainly put into a new light.
For me, short story collections work best if there is a narrative focus; a common thread which holds the separate pieces together, molding them into a coherent whole. And Road Brothers has exactly that quality. Each of these diverse tales highlighting the hidden past of these characters, exposing their personal travails, and grounding their actions in The Broken Empire into a realistic whole. All of which means that if you love Jorg and his story, then you will love this collection of tales, but if you hate the Ancrath prince and his road brothers, then these stories won’t change your mind about them at all.
In Road Brothers: Tales from the Broken Empire, the author offers us a closer look with back stories featuring Makin, Red Kent, Rike, the Nuban, Gorgoth, Father Gomst, and even Jorg himself. Be forewarned that this collection is for people who have read the Broken Empire trilogy and who are looking for more. It is not meant for newbies who would like to give Lawrence a shot, for each short story contains spoilers for the books.
The problem with anthologies and collection of short stories is that they usually contain a few worthwhile reads, while the rest is often half-assed and lackluster material. Not so with this one, I'm pleased to report! Some tales are better than others, that goes without saying. Yet each short story was a quality read that gave us insight into the lives of the Road Brothers. They all focus on events that helped shape them into the battle-hardened men we meet in the series.
Here's the blurb:
10 short stories from the lives of Jorg and his Road Brothers. Contains spoilers for the Broken Empire trilogy. 5 of the stories have previously been published in anthologies. Contains the short story 'Sleeping Beauty' that is also sold separately. A total of 43.000 words or just over half the length of Prince of Thorns.
Oddly enough, "Sleeping Beauty" turned out to be my favorite tale of the bunch. It's surprising because this short story was written when a reader dared Mark Lawrence to write a Jorg/fairy tale mash-up. The result was simply awesome. As the title implies, it is a nod to Sleeping Beauty and it occurs upon Jorg’s return to Ancrath from his first visit to Vyene. Jorg wakes up strapped to a table with Builder technology all around him. Ghosts from the past will discover that Jorg doesn't like to be threatened. I'm always a big sucker for back stories, so I've always loved all the glimpses from the past the author has offered over the course of both the Broken Empire and the Red Queen's War trilogies. Hence, having Jorg deal with a remnant of the Builders' era was a treat.
"A Good Name" wasn't far behind as far as quality is concerned. It is essentially the story of the Nuban and even features Snorri ver Snagason’s father. Focusing on the Nuban's development from a young man to a fearsome warrior, this short story makes us understand how he became some sort of mentor to a young Jorg.
"A Rescue" and "Mercy" feature Makin at different stages of his life. In the former, having lost his family he becomes a soldier for King Olidan. While in the latter, now a bitter and vengeful man, Makin tracks down those men who killed his family and makes them pay the ultimate price.
"Bad Seed" is the tale of a boy named Alann Oak and whose fate is to become Red Kent. "The Nature of the Beast" shows Rike being cursed by a witch and explains why he acted the way he did at the end of Emperor of Thorns. "Select Mode" is an interesting tale featuring Jorg and the Nuban, as well as a malfunctioning remnant of Builder technology which spawned a brotherhood of warriors.
"Choices" features the mutants Gorgoth and his sister Jane right before the arrival of Jorg. It explores the notions of free will and destiny, as Gorgoth attempts to be a good man in a harsh world. "The Secret" features the assassin Brother Sim posing as a storyteller. "Know Thyself" is the last short story and it brings the collection to a close with style, as Father Gomst realizes that educating young Jorg and his brother William might be the death of him.
All in all, Road Brothers: Tales from the Broken Empire takes the focus away from Jorg Ancrath for the duration of a few short stories and by doing so adds layers to an already convoluted grimdark saga. Fans of the Broken Empire trilogy will find a lot to love about this collection, especially since you can download it for just a couple of dollars.
Most recent customer reviews
There is nothing funnier or cuter than reading about Jorg (6) and William (4) trying to murder their father, jumping on...Read more
The short stories were great, as usual for the author.Read more