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

You know the basics of how a story is constructed, right?

Protagonist A goes on a journey. He mets a variety of friends along the way, maybe a love interest (or two) – all in an effort to defeat the evil antagonist in an epic, final battle.

Well Mark Lawrence has decided not to do any of this – every trope is subverted.

And it is amazing!!

Is Jorg the protagonist or the antagonist? I’m not sure. The Prince of Arrow feels like he should be the protagonist – and I suspect in any other fantasy story he would be.

What about the journey? Well, it’s completely non-linear for a start. Time goes forward and then backwards. Memories are hidden, then released.

There is an epic battle though, but for what reason is it being fought? To defeat evil? Pride? Love?

Does it sound fantastical enough yet? No? Well there is plenty. More perhaps than Prince of Thorns.

Mages are still a-meddling, necromancers are still watching from the marshes (and still raising the dead). There are magical objects, and we learn more about the builders and why things fell apart… and why under the right leader, things could be rebuilt.

In terms of our protagonist/antagonist, Jorg has started to feel the consequences of what he did in Prince of Thorns. The boy has become a man. But what kind of man? Worse, better, different?

And this is the journey that blew me away. We still get plenty of time with ‘The Brothers’. Sir Makin is still everyone’s friend. Little Rikey is still terrifying – but Jorg is the star of the show. It is his journey that is most intriguing. Revenge is still a driver, but the childish vengeance is fading into something colder and deeper. Guilt is swimming inside him now.

It’s a brilliant book. It breaks all the rules, subverts – and yet delights.

Onwards to The Emperor. What kind of Jorg awaits me there? I can’t wait to find out!

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