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Prince of Thorns

(The Broken Empire #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  105,402 ratings  ·  7,523 reviews
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days wh ...more
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Voyager (first published 2011)
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Phoebe Saunders I'm a woman and a feminist and this is my favourite book trilogy, written by my favourite author. It's dark and bloody and confronting and utterly com…moreI'm a woman and a feminist and this is my favourite book trilogy, written by my favourite author. It's dark and bloody and confronting and utterly compelling to me. It's also beautifully written and made me laugh and cry.

I honestly recommend this trilogy to everyone. I also open my recommendation with "Jorg is a very, very bad person". He's an anti anti-hero. He is unredeemed, but as you read, you grow to at least understand him and I felt really rewarded by that. I have read this trilogy two times and felt rewarded every time.

OK, so I recommend this book to everyone, but re-reading your question, I don't think this is for you (I feel like am betraying the author here!). As Daniel says, these issues will keep coming up for you and will completely overshadow your experience. It won't be a pleasant read.

Also, I now note that you asked this question a couple of months ago...now I'm curious what you decided to do?(less)
George No, absolutely not. This one is adults-only, particularly unsuitable for "young adults". Because in order to appreciate it, you have to set aside some…moreNo, absolutely not. This one is adults-only, particularly unsuitable for "young adults". Because in order to appreciate it, you have to set aside some of your morality.

It's similar to what you do when you read a burglary caper. You well know, before and after, that stealing is wrong; but during, you just don't pay attention to that inconvenient moral standard as you follow and enjoy the twists of plot, the artistry of site casing, lock-picking, etc. Until and unless the narrative lets you bring it back into play.

Which is all pretty harmless there. Your moral sense should rebound w/o permanent harm.

But for this book, what you need to temporarily set aside is your conviction that casual violence--murder and torture--are wrong and that their perpetrator should repent his evil and turn from it. Because that would be the wrong artistic choice here. The retrospective in the last chapter goes just about as far as it ought in waking you up to your own morality while leaving Jorg's in a somewhat different state.

Even at pushing-70 I'm not wholly sure I've come out of the experience unscathed. As a tweenager, I don't think I could have had such an experience, because I wouldn't have been mentally flexible enough to enjoy the book in the first place ... but if I had been, I think it would have been injurious to me.

The opponents of pornography claim that you can't objectify a lust-object in imagination w/o having it coarsen your real-life sex life. In sufficient frequency and undiluted by better attitudes, I'm certain that's true.

So while I'm definitely going to read King of Thorns, it won't be for a while.

P.S. If you think that temporarily setting "Thou shalt not murder" to zero is no more serious than similarly dialing down "Thou shalt not steal" for the sake of an entertainment, I find I can't tell you why I know that it is. Nevertheless, I do know it.(less)

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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Mark Lawrence
Mar 07, 2011 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mine
Great to see Prince of Thorns still getting so many reviews in its 10th year!

You can now get a 10th anniversary signed special edition!

Grim Oak Press have produced a deluxe leatherbound edition with full colour internal art.

85 of 750 (plus 52 lettered) copies remain - they'll be gone soon.



Those of you wanting to get a copy of The Broken Empire signed & numbered, limited edition, omnibus … well, you're too late. All gone. You can, however
Rick Riordan
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've heard of dark fantasy and anti-heroes, but this is the darkest fantasy with the anti-est anti-hero I've ever encountered. Our protagonist Jorg is only thirteen, but do not mistake this for a kids' book! Jorg is already the leader of a cutthroat gang of marauders, and has killed more men than most seasoned warriors -- including innocent civilians and a few of his own followers. Despite all this, I found myself rooting for Jorg, especially as more of his past is revealed, and we learn why he ...more
Robin Hobb
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had to grit my teeth several times to get through this, and more than once I wondered, "Why was this recommended to me?" Then the pieces began to fall into place. Not a tale for the faint of heart, but well worth it to prevail. Trust me. ...more
Sep 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
I can't get behind a book that has the main character raping girls in the first few pages.
No thanks, I am good.
I have read a lot of books with rape in them, but I have to say they were mostly with a female protagonist.
One of my favorite fantasy series, The Deed of Paksenarrion, Pak's lets herself be tortured for five days and nights, and rape isn’t the only thing that she has to suffer.
I understood why the character did this, I also understood why the author wrote the story the way she did.
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Um?
I'm purposely using cat gifs to try and soften this review up a bit. I don't think it will help, but I just couldn't bring myself to search for anything bloody by the time I finished this book.

See that little boy on the cover, in all of his 14 year old glory?
By the fifth page, I hated his guts. He repulsed me. Repulsed! And I'm not talking about just disliking his personality.
Oh, no! Full-on skeeved out.
The kid is an unrepentant murderer and rapist!


So why 4 stars, huh?
Weeeeell, he's just insane
Nov 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one, really
Here's Cliff Notes to my review: The Blade Itself Lite, with significantly less character development, a typical revenge plot and little redemption.

Feels suspiciously like watching a dog-fight video from ASPCA. Violent, powerful with a lack of finesse, subtlety or characterization, and the only redeeming aspect might occur at the end. The main character resists personal growth and opportunities for redemption, and commits violence after violence. We open as he watches a man die with his belly ri
Jan 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Potential serial killers/rapists and murderers as a how-to manual.
Recommended to Lis by: Unfortunately, me.
Shelves: reviewed, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grimdark fans
Buddy read with Jorg's fangirl, Anna

Here it is, I finally got around to this famous Grimdark novel. Let it be known first that Prince of Thorns is not my first Mark Lawrence’s book, the first was Red Sister, his newest and what the majority of his fans considered as his best work so far. Though I can’t say the same for the series yet, Prince of Thorns, the first book in the Broken Empire trilogy, one of the most famous Grimdark fantasy in the market and Mark Lawrence’s debut novel is inferior co
Terry Brooks
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This month I am recommending both PRINCE OF THORNS and KING OF THORNS by Mark Lawrence. They are two of three, with the third not yet published. I have read the first and am halfway through the second. As a fantasy tale, Prince Jorg Ancraft's story is quite extraordinary. It begins when he is 13 and already a stone cold killer with a horrific past. This is a dangerous and risky protagonist for any author to put forth, but Lawrence does it with verve and confidence. It is like a train wreck from ...more
Aug 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I kept seeing good things and/or controversy about Prince of Thorns everywhere I looked, and everyone loves controversy. I decided to take the arc along with me to Worldcon in Reno, with the intention or reading it by the pool (I am still not comfortable taking an expensive eReader poolside).

Boy, am I glad I did.

Prince of Thorns had me by the balls in the first chapter. I found myself stealing time to read just a page here and a page there, and whenever a rare block of time opened, I commandeere
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Pretty much everyone in this book is a damn bastard! And a big thank you to Mark Lawrence, a cool as hell author who steered me away from things I wouldn't be able to handle. Authors like that rock in my world! Kudos

Jorge and his crew are the people you love to hate. I know Jorg went through hell as a child (well he's still a child to me at 14) But that doesn't mean you have to grow up being a dick. Sure, kill all of the people that were involved in your family's killing but not innocence. And n
John Mauro
Aug 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My complete review of Prince of Thorns is published at Grimdark Magazine.

Prince of Thorns is simultaneously a grimdark fantasy, a post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller, and an epic revenge narrative told from the point of view of a first-rate sociopath. The sociopath in question is Honorous Jorg Ancrath, a brutally violent prince-child whose actions are not guided by any accepted sense of morality. As we learn more about the tragedies of Jorg’s childhood, we recognize how he became so twisted and
Charlotte May
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 ⭐️

“Tell me tutor’ I said. “Is revenge a science, or an art?”

Okay. So Prince Jorg is a fucked up little psycho. After suffering serious loss due to violence, at a young age. Jorg is hell bent on revenge.
With his band of brothers they raid and pillage their way through their enemies towns until they reach the final showdown.

Jorg is a hard character to root for. He is just such a messed up kid I can’t get on board with his behaviour. There is rape, racism, murder, torture. You name it. Also
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had heard so many good things about this book and although I'm not a fan of the gritty dark fantasy I think this was done exceeding well. Mark's prose is very well written and I found myself noting a number of particularly well done sentences, which is unusual for me to notice.

From time to time, fans of my series ask me to do a prequel on my character Royce and how he was when in the Black Diamond Thieves Guild and before the calming influences of Gwen and Hadrian started to shape him. From no
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
Disclaimer: This is not a book for the faint-hearted or the easily offended. There is violence and a 14 years old prince with a total lack of conscience.


Now, did you ever have a really bad day? Did you ever want to punch something/someone just to vent your anger? Did someone ever belittle you and you had to hold your tongue? Did you ever imagine how it would be if you were free to do whatever the f*ck you want to? No morals or laws to contain you. No conscience to keep you in check.


Well, yesterd
Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews
May 10, 2022 rated it really liked it
Check out my new youtube channel where I show my instant reactions to reading fantasy books seconds after I finish the book.

A good start to the series involving bad people doing bad things to each other

Prince of Thorns was a very enjoyable read for me, in part because of the positive trajectory this book took through it's telling. As I started the book I was extremely worried that I was going to hate it, as I didn't love the writing style and the dual storylines (one past, one present) felt
Sean Barrs
I’ve always had very mixed feelings about Lawrence’s world, but at this point in the series I did actually think it was fairly good. I thought the second book was much the same, then the third book was the complete ruination of this fantasy universe, but I’ll address that fully in my later reviews of the series. For now though, the Prince of Thorns was exciting and dark. However, it did have some major problems that limited it severely.

A dark protagonist

Initially, the first few chapters al
Petros Triantafyllou
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For more than a year I had only written 1 review for The Broken Empire trilogy. A terrible mistake, and one I regret deeply, considering it's my favorite story, and Lawrence my favorite author respectively. Each installment deserves a separate review, so i'm here to deliver.

Lawrence's debut is a milestone in modern fantasy. Solid writing and well-crafted characters, witty humor and sentimental elements, controversial circumstances and teeth-grinding situations, all skilfully combined in creating
Jun 20, 2013 rated it did not like it

I hated the main character from the start. He is a 14 year old boy leading a gang of ex-convicts. He is the anti-hero, with the book opening detailing his rape of farmer's daughters, and frequent visualizations of just about every person he meets dying to his blade in their chest or cutting off their head. Yeah we get it. You have to be cruel and disgusting to be the leader and you are the young boy that is so "bad" he frightens ghosts.... Riiight.

At some point I just stopped caring.

At lea
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, grimdark, library, own
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

I’d heard a lot about Prince of Thorns before I picked it up. Naturally, some of the reviews were positive and some of them were negative. After reading the novel, I can honestly say I understand both points of view, because I found myself mesmerized by Mr. Lawrence’s first-person narrative yet horrified by the person I was reading about. But, beyond any doubt, this is a book that every fantasy fan should read at least once - and many will read over and
James Tivendale
Sep 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Introduction to the Prince of Thorns - Prince Jorg. Mark Lawrence's creation of a charismatic, intellectual evil being that is arguably on par with Anthony Burgess's Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange. Unlike American Psycho's Patrick Bateman and other fictional psychopaths - we are presented reasons to sympathise with our pal Jorg as an event when he was 10 shocked his very soul and led to his stupidly cool nickname (see the book title) :)

This book is shown (like many good debut books I have
Feb 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I had a lot of fun with this one. I'd read lots of discussion before actually jumping in and I have a couple things to say about it.

1. The rape at the beginning, while I in no way support this type of behavior, isn't graphic and does a good job showing how depraved these guys actually are. If it didn't include rape in some way, I really don't think it would have been nearly as believable, I mean, this is medieval times. Nobles were supposedly exercising their droit du seigneur. Again, not that I
Luna. ✨
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 STARS ★★★

"Tell me, tutor,' I said. 'Is revenge a science, or an art?”

*I'm going to use Joffrey gifs for this review.

* warning this review contains un marked spoilers


Firstly I feel I need to clarify my rating because it honestly nearly got 4 stars. But I just couldn't get past the start, I absolutely hated it, I, nearly DNF at 10%. I was really excited to read prince of thorns it had been on my the list for ages, I can remember staring at it and thinking can't wait to read it i do not r
There’s a line in “Not the Same Anymore” by The Strokes that always reminds me of this book: The child prisoner grows up to seek his enemy’s throat cut. This is the essence of Prince of Thorns: an exploration of how one Jorg Ancrath, after watching his family get brutally murdered in front of him, falls into the depths of his unchecked rage and becomes a Dostoevsky-style psychopath. It’s at once a psychological thriller, a frightening dystopia, a grimdark classic, and a fascinating character stu ...more
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“Tell me, tutor,’ I said. ‘Is revenge a science, or an art?”

After reading and loving Lawrence’s Impossible Times series earlier this year, I decided to start reading his other books. This is also a known controversial series in the adult fantasy world and I always stand somewhere in the middle when it comes to those. I like to think of myself as a fair reader and I succeed in seeing what people liked or hated in those kind of books.

The story
Aug 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Prince Jorg ran away from his castle with a band of highway robbers. This merry company kills, rapes, burns, and does all kinds of related activities with full Jorg's participation. Did I mention sometimes the merry band is afraid of Jorg? Did I mention Jorg is only fourteen? Anyway, the guy decides it is time to return home. This is where the real fun begins.

The shocking part of the book - atrocities committed by 14-year-old - did not work for me. There are several reasons. I suspect I became
Dana Ilie
Jul 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandonat
DNF at page 200.
Is not the violence and the age of the Prince Jorg, but apart from that the book is not tell me anything.....
I will give it another try at the insistence of a friend
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

4.5 Stars

“War, my friends, is a thing of beauty. Those as says otherwise are losing.”

Houston commercial photography

If George R.R. Martin wrote young adult stories, they’d probably end up a little something like Prince of Thorns. In the first four pages the reader is exposed to raping and pillaging and beheadings . . .

Houston commercial photography

The Prince of Thorns is Prince Jorg – a boy who watched his mother and younger brother get murdered and who was pretty much left for dead
Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Like most of the reviewers I'm baffled as to who I could possibly recommend this book to or if I should recommend it. On the other hand I couldn't put it down. The protagonist, Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath, is someone I abhored/admired from the first page until the last page. This book is disturbing, compelling, haunting, beautiful, disgusting and completely entertaining. The writing whispers evil thoughts into your mind. Your hand itches for steel. You start running through your mind every pett ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1), Mark Lawrence

When he was nine, he watched as his mother and brother were killed before him. At thirteen, he led a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king.

It's time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what's rightfully his. Since the day he hung pinned on the thorns of a briar patch and watched Count Renar's men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent hi
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Other books in the series

The Broken Empire (3 books)
  • King of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #2)
  • Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #3)

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