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367 pages, Kindle Edition
First published June 3, 2014
Battles are all about strategy, and strategy pivots on priorities. Since my priorities were Prince Jalan, Prince Jalan, and Prince Jalan, with “looking good” a distant fourth, I took the opportunity to resume running away.Replace "Prince Jalan" with "Khanh" in those sentences, and you got me down to a Tee. Which might go a long way towards explaining why I loved the main character so much.
There’s power in a name. “Prince” has served me very well—something to hide behind when trouble comes.Prince Jalan is the equivalent of, not Prince William, or Prince Henry, but more like Prince Andrew. You know, Queen Elizabeth II's completely worthless son who spends his time womanizing, racking up debts, and being an embarrassment to the throne.
She had to have seventy years on her, but no one would have called her more than fifty. Handsome or not, though, her eyes would turn any man’s bowels to water. Flinty chips of dispassion.Because she's fucking terrifying. And her unseen companion, the Silent Sister is even more so, because she has haunted Jalan, one of the few who can see her.
She turned that awful face towards me, one eye dark, the other milk and pearl. It had felt hot, suddenly, as if all the great hearths had roared into life with one scorching voice, sparked into fury on a fine summer’s day, the flames leaping from iron grates as if they wanted nothing more than to be amongst us.Sometimes he thinks he's crazy. Maybe he is.
"Men of the Drowned Isles broke amongst us. Some living, others corpses preserved from rot, and other creatures still—half-men from the Brettan swamps, corpse-eaters, ghouls with venomed darts that steal a man’s strength and leave him helpless as a newborn."Seriously, what a fucking killjoy, that Snorri. If only his name didn't sound so cuddly. A few stories of monsters roaming the night, the doors of hell, or, rather, Hel, opening up.
Tenth in line to a throne will get you into a not-insignificant number of bedchambers, but if a man dons the scarlet cloak of the Red March riders and wraps his legs around a destrier, there are few ladies of quality who won’t open theirs when he flashes a smile at them.Well...baby steps.
I could see corpses and timbers, some black against the hot glow, others melting into it. Even the wind’s strength couldn’t keep the scent of roasting flesh from my nostrils. The walkway ran with hot fats, burning even as they spilled down the inner wall.Truth be told, it's a fairly generic high fantasy universe, but I liked it anyway. It is the same world as that of Prince of Thorns, and it reminds me a lot of the MMORPGs that I have played, which is why it feels so familiar. There are mighty Nordic Viking men, a team of bluff, blunder-filled, brave, hardy souls who are filled with a sense of honor and pride. I can't remember much of Prince of Thorns, but the setting in this book feels a lot darker, with elements of the undead, and a quest not for the throne, but into the bowels of hell itself.
I’ve always found hitting a man from behind to be the best way to go about things. This can sometimes be accomplished by dint of a simple ruse. Classics such as, “What’s that over there?” work surprisingly often.That is the opening line of the book, and right then and there, I knew Jalan and I were going to get along just fine. Jalan is my favorite sort of character, an anti-hero who starts off taking the easy path, and is consequently dragged onto the hard path (and the only path), kicking and screaming all the while.
“You’re a man of honour.” Louder this time, looking right at me. Where the hell he got that idea, I had no notion.He is a womanizer, he has a terrible, snarky sense of humor. His sense of honor is nonexistent, as is his sense of loyalty and friendship.
“Yes,” I lied.
“We should settle this like men.” Absolutely the last words I wanted to hear.
“What’s his name?” A tall Nuban girl with copper loops through her ears and a mouth made for kissing. “How is he called?”He tends to avoid things, and memories, when they get unpleasant.
“Snorri,” I said. “It means wife-beater.”
I have a bad habit of blanking unpleasantness from my mind—something I’ve done since I was a child. They often say the best liars half-believe their lies—which makes me the very best because if I repeat a lie often enough I can end up believing it entirely, no half measures involved!But he is not without his complexity, throughout his escapades, he maintains a sense of loyalty, however he struggles against it. Jalan is not without honor, not without conscience. And he has depths and insights one would hardly expect from someone who is self-professedly "shallow."
Bravery is just a different kind of broken. Scared of being a coward, is that what bravery is? Am I brave because I don’t fear being afraid? You’re of the light; the light reveals. Shine a bright enough light on any kind of bravery and isn’t it just a more complex form of cowardice?”Snorri:
Snorri cut me off. “I took the prince out of the palace, but the palace is still crammed firmly up the prince’s arse. You need to stop moaning about every hardship, stop chasing every woman you lay eyes on, and concentrate on surviving.Snorri is Jalan's perfect foil. He is a warrior, through and through, with all the pride that is in his name and heritage. He is a hulking Viking brute to Jalan's sleek, sheltered princeliness. Snorri kills, but he kills with a purpose. He is not without mercy, but only to those who deserve it. Those who betray him will suffer the consequences.
“An axe for me. Swords trick you into thinking you can defend. With an axe all you can do is attack. That’s what my father named me. Snorri. It means ‘attack.’” He lifted the axe above his head. “Men think they can defend against me—but when I knock, they open.”Snorri is a compassionate man, a loving man, a family man who will--and does--go to the ends of the earth to save his family. He is a man on a mission. Their bond is a tenuous one, but one that works to both their benefits.
The air between Snorri and me spat and sparked as our hands shaped to grasp the other.Nope! I didn't misspell that, because THERE IS NO ROMANCE IN THIS BOOK. There's just the joyous bromance of Snorri and Jalan. Ok, fine, so I may be stretching it a little, but come on, a giant of a Viking and a golden-haired prince? A girl can dream.
He brought his hand closer to mine and a pressure built against my skin, all pins and needles and fire.I kid, I kid. There's no true romance in this book between Snorri and Jalan, just an uneasy alliance that forces them together through magic. But truly, Snorri brings out the best in Jalan, and I can totally ship them for that =)
Snorri’s magic had reached into me again and made me brave. In that moment I wanted to be the one to stand between the child and her attackers. To keep her safe. And failing that, to hunt them to the ends of the earth.
“Battles are all about strategy, and strategy pivots on priorities. Since my priorities were Prince Jalan, Prince Jalan, and Prince Jalan, with “looking good” a distant fourth, I took the opportunity to resume running away.”
“When you become a father, it changes you." Snorri spoke towards the fire’s glow. "You see the world in new ways. Those who are not changed were not properly men to begin with.”
I’m a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever, let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play, or bravery [...] I’ve always found hitting a man from behind to be the best way to go about things.And I said: "you! Harem! Now!" Ah, young love! So passionate, so romantic! So full of crap! ← oops, sorry about that. Just a slight overreaction on my part due to the anger, disappointment and utter disenchantment I experienced at the hands of Mr Lawrence.
“Bravery is just a different kind of broken.”
“I was more ass than assassin.”
“I’m a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever, let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play, or bravery.”
”Two heroes, one led willy-nilly by his cock, the other northward by his heart. Neither bringing their brain into any decision of import.
I’m a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever, let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play, or bravery
”An axe for me. Swords trick you into thinking you can defend. With an axe all you can do is attack. That’s what my father named me. Snorri. It means ‘attack’.” He lifted the axe above his head. “Men think they can defend against me—but when I knock, they open.”
I really had a love/hate relationship with this one!
First, the hate: The main character, Prince Jalan Kendeth, was the type of character I really hated. The entire novel he spent trying to get “away” from what was happening. He was more likely to run away from conflict than anything else. If his new friends needed help he was probably the last one they could depend on. His main focus of the entire book? Find a way to get back home to his gambling, drinking, and women. Find a solution to the conflict that was plaguing the world? Not his problem.
The love? Snorri ver Snagason, the Viking! He was the exact opposite of Prince Jalan. If he saw something wrong, he was the first one there to make it right. If there was a conflict, he was the first one to rush in swing his great big ax. HIs fighting prowess was unequaled. He is the one throughout the book pushing forward toward the final conflict. Jalan is the main character of the book and the story is told through his eyes but Snorri is the driving force of the book. Without him, there would be no story, no plot, no conflict, nothing.
Another problem I struggled with was the lack of action throughout the first 80% of the book. There were bits and pieces here and there but it just was not enough to keep the book exciting for me. It seemed to be page after page of listening to Jalan bitch about his gambling debts, being chased by some girls older brother because he’d slept with his sister, the ground is too hard to sleep on, it’s too hot, too cold, he want’s to go home, or some other complaint. It just went on for page after page after page and continued throughout the novel. I get that was Jalan and it was his character but it got old for me after the first 25%. It just didn’t add anything to the story and slowed everything down. Made it hard to want to come back to the book when I had time to read.
For me, the great thing about Mark Lawrence’s writing are the descriptions. They are stunning in their detail and realism. He describes these vast frozen wastelands and it’s like being there yourself. You can’t help but shiver! Don’t even get me started on the fights! For me, this is what really made the book worth reading.
I am hoping book two spends a lot less time with character building. I know Jalan is an ass. We can move on now. Let’s just concentrate on the plot now.
“We all practice self-deception to a degree; no man can handle complete honesty without being cut at each turn. There's not enough room in a man's head for sanity alongside each grief, each worry, each terror that he owns.”