Makaia's Reviews > Prince of Thorns

Prince of Thorns by Mark  Lawrence
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's review
Mar 20, 2011

really liked it
Read in March, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I love this author's work. I've known him for a while, and have read several of his unpublished short stories and poems, which have gone deep beneath the surface and entertained me, inspired, lingered. Prince of Thorns is no different. As the author's major publishing debut, it offered me a different door into his creativity, and believe me, as an aspiring writer, I sprinted through it.

The cover had me thinking the book was a bit different than what it turned out to be--a strictly sword and sorcery affair rooted in a dark age, medieval times, perhaps, because there are about thirty medieval-looking swords on the cover. But there's a twist: A post-apocalyptic twist. The story apparently takes place after the world has been hit with weapons of mass destruction.

The lesson then is: don't judge a book by its cover. On the cover the prince's stance is a la David and Goliath, yet darker--a warrior victorious over many kills. And it's a stunning image, invoking thoughts of hard-fought battles, triumphs, and change. But it made me wonder--if a society, post-apocalyptic as this one, once knew how to make missiles and guns, then why does said society revert to using swords? If swords and cross-bows can be smithed, why can't guns? What further confused me about this, was why, after the apocalypse, would the remaining people of a society revert to archaic lifestyles--the speech, the dress? I would think, given the many apocalypse theories/films/books out there, that once humanity had been decimated, time would stop* rather than revert*. I'm thinking of Fallout 3 where the apocalypse happened somewhere between 1920-1950something, and trends were dictated by the height of technology at the time of its downfall: People still listened to the same music, scavenged for and clung to their guns, computers, appliances, etc. And once the Rapture was over, there wasn't a religious person left on the planet.

It seems that what the author has done here is revert society back to the dark ages, pre-Renaissance and sans Humanism, instead of showing the way society was at the time of the apocalypse. The overall ambience, after the point in the story when I realized it was post-apocalyptic, changed for me. I felt splashed cold with this element. This doesn't detract from the author's talent, though. As a writer, you learn to hold things up to the light and look at them critically, to look through them to find how they work. As a reader, you just go with the author's flow, and if they're talented, as this author undeniably is, then you enjoy the ride.

The writing is excellent: A blend of fantasy trope and voice-driven literary fiction. Every sentence is taut, Jorg's observations fiercely confident. Many passages hearken to the author's earlier poems. If, by chance, you're an aspiring poet, join his Yahoo! poetry group, be kind to some folks who just want their poetry read, and if you can find them, read the author's poems. Or search for his poems online. They're amazing and provide an excellent context for his prose.

While the story might appeal more to the male sect, given its packaging, it's a universally blasphemous-fun read in the vein of "A Clockwork Orange" that for many moments had me rooting for vengeance. What compelled me to finish Jorg's story was a strong empathy for him; a hope, perhaps, that vengeance against everyone who crossed him wasn't all there was to his legacy. And it wasn't. Impressive moments range between the socially relevant and the emotionally relevant. Love is felt by Jorg in the poetical form of hooks sinking into his heart; it absolutely affects pain in him, and this is conveyed with the kind of coarse beauty one would expect from a tortured soul. Poignant philosophies and brilliant sarcasm are scattered like little gems along the way to the end. Yes, from a fifteen-year-old boy.

Never mind the genre. Read this book and be surprised by the character as author Mark Lawrence blurs the lines between lovable and detestable, noble and evil, retribution and vengeance.

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Reading Progress

03/02/2011 page 134
35.0% "Keeps on surprising me."
03/06/2011 page 163
42.0% "Second paragraph, chapter 21 - so beautifully written I reread it 3 times, then stopped reading to post. Jorg has a spooky, keen sense of our darkest emotions; maybe the sense one would have if one had been betrayed; mixture of fearlessness and duty. There's so much to say and yet barely half-through. Excellent so far; everything it should be and then some, then some more. Putting the Do Not Disturb sign up now."

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