Book Review – Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (spoiler free)

Jorg’s soul is dark and full of terror – but I couldn’t look away.

I read the Red Sister trilogy quite a few years ago and had been meaning to read Prince of Thorns ever since.

However, as always with my TBR, newer books got more publicity, or else a friends would want to do a buddy read and so Prince of Thorns remained on the shelf.

Then last week, when I was going through my unread books and I picked it up and read the first page. I was INSTANTLY gripped. Jorg’s voice was very dark, dripping with dark humour and wit – but still, the darkness was unapologetic. In short, Jorg makes the Blacktongue Thief look positively wholesome.

I have to say, dark voices are hit and miss with me. I’ve started many a ‘dark book’ only to find the voice too relentless or too dry… or too unredeemable.

In this case, Mark Lawrence has created a character that is evil, but we understand why he is like this. The added humour and Jorg’s ability to know in himself where he has crossed the line makes the character readable – a feat that is down to the author.

I also really enjoyed the magic systems. Warring mages vying for control of an empire and using kings and queen like pawns on a chessboard, necromancy, and poisonous thorns. The world is also interesting. A mixture of taverns and tourneys gives this book a feel of dark-ages Europe. Though it can’t be; modern authors are referenced, which perhaps means this is set far into the future, during a new dark-age perhaps.

It does have a feel of Game of Thrones, but it is much much darker. The magic is more potent. The mages are more manipulative, the kings who are playing their game of thrones, utterly ruthless. There are no Ned Starks.

And so Jorg somehow doesn’t always feel as awful as he should. He is surrounded by terrible people on all sides, and that isn’t even counting the ‘brothers’ who follow him. Characters like Little Rikey, Makin, Liar, Red Kent, and Brother Burlow are often complicit in Jorg’s crimes – but somehow by the end I didn’t hate them either.

Terrible people living in a terrible world.

And as I said, I couldn’t look away.

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