Mark Lawrence's Reviews > The Hod King

The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
4508542
's review

it was amazing

As an author I know there’s an inevitable degree of fear when you cast your book out on the waters of the reading public and offer them the chance to tell you that your baby is ugly, or worse … average.

I’m less familiar with the other side of the equation, the fear that a long awaited and much anticipated book will not capture the magic held by earlier books from the same author. In a series this can be a particularly sharp anxiety as the author holds in their hands the legacy of beloved characters. To see that squandered would be a sad thing.

This is a long book. Not a George RR Martin doorstop, but substantially longer than anything I’ve written. And … let me end your suspense … it is not merely a 5* book, it’s a masterpiece.

The recent explosion of adoration for these books doesn't surprise me. What shocks me is that it's not much bigger. I’m not surprised that Senlin Ascends made the Goodreads Choice Award semi-final, just sad that it didn’t make the final. My prediction is that readers will be talking about these books long after much of what currently keeps them company on the shelves is forgotten.

Reading these books makes me feel as if I'm a really clever intellectual sharing in something magnificent that only a rarefied few could appreciate. When of course that is the genius of the writing. Actually the series is highly accessible and loved by many, as witnessed by the high ratings and general praise.

To the book then! It’s no secret that I love Bancroft’s prose. If the story were mediocre this book would squeeze 5* from me just because of the razor sharp wit edging the lines. The descriptions deliver whole personas in a single line. In context they are amazing, even in isolation they are impressive. They encapsulate new characters immediately:

Lady Xenia de Clarke talked with the urgency of a burst pipe.

Or deliciously remind you why you love familiar ones:

Voleta surveyed her options miserably. "I think humanity peaked at the spoon, don't you?"

"And I will tell you again, if you ever eat your fish with a spoon, I will appear out of thin air wherever you are in the world, snatch the spoon from your hand, and rap you on the head with it!"


The observational wit had me chuckling on many occasions and I am not given to chuckling.

The Hod King is a masterclass in contrast. In the book a particular ride is described as including a ponderous rise and a sudden terrifying fall. The story begins with a similarly slow (but fascinating rise) then takes sudden appalling turn into darkness. After that it’s a sequence of dizzying highs and terrifying lows. Sometimes in the space of two lines. At one point I was starting to laugh at one line and startled out of it by the next line, one that made my face fall and had my eyes prickling. You’ll know it when you get there.

I read a chunk of this book on a trip to a hospital, a day on which I laughed out loud in a hospital foyer beside a bald skeletal child on chemo and later on the bus home had tears in my eyes while crammed on a bus beside a giant with world class, paint-peeling BO. And not from the ammonia stink … though that would have done it soon enough had I not opted to stand.

There is, on nearly every page, a line so weighted with warmth, wit, or humanity that it makes you pause to consider it. Sometimes all three at once.


A word on the plot, which will potentially have SPOILERS for book 1 & 2, so if you haven’t read them … go do that.

The books so far have centred on Senlin’s quest to find Marya. The previous book ended with us seeing that the Sphinx has located her. In The Hod King Senlin is sent to spy on the ringdom where Marya is. The story unfolds from Senlin’s point of view, and from those of Edith, Voleta, Iren, and Bryon. I love Bryon, he’s such a complex character and so artfully rude. Actually I love all of them. We spend a long time with each of them and it’s generally a leisurely stay, I never felt bounced around. The story telling device has us moving to a new character as the current one falls into peril but I was always captured by the new view on the unfolding but glorious mess. In several places we step back in time to see how the other characters separately arrive at some critical point. It’s all very well done and adds a nice multi-layering to some scenes.


The stakes are raised and raised again, both at the world level and at the character level. Bancroft is not gentle with us. Nobody feels safe. Nobody is safe. And the villains are oh so villainous, while at the same time being frighteningly ordinary and understandable. Take random people and allow wealth and a regimented class system to elevate them above the constraints of morality … and a fair few will become monsters.

Anyway. To conclude. I was thrilled by the story, wildly jealous of the writing, and am now very keen to read the final book.

If you’ve seen my ravings about the previous books. Well this was certainly as excellent, and very possibly better. I would have to re-read to be sure, but this one felt as if it raised the bar in terms of heart-in-the-mouth moments while maintaining the wonder and charm.

Gaze upon my early copy and despair that you have to wait until January! Still, you can pre-order now.





Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #prizes



.
180 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Hod King.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

December 22, 2016 – Shelved
December 22, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
November 6, 2018 – Started Reading
November 6, 2018 –
page 14
2.3% "Bad news, fellow writers, Bancroft continues to splatter the pages with masterful prose and incisive observational wit. Best we pretend he doesn't exist and leave the bar where it is."
November 12, 2018 –
page 169
27.8% "This book! It makes me feel as if I am a really clever intellectual sharing in something magnificent that only a rarefied few could appreciate. When of course that is the genius of the writing. Actually the series is highly accessible & loved by many, as witnessed by the high ratings & general praise.

The recent explosion of adoration for these books doesn't surprise me. What shocks me is that it's not much bigger."
November 12, 2018 –
page 169
27.8% "Whilst I would love Grey Sister to make the finals of the Choice Awards, with all candor Senlin Ascends is far more deserving of such recognition.

Certainly from a writer's perspective there is something outstanding and rarely encountered on these pages."
November 12, 2018 –
page 169
27.8% "A ride is described in the book, including a ponderous rise and a sudden terrifying fall. The story so far makes a similar slow (but fascinating rise) then takes sudden appalling turn into darkness.

I had a chunk of time to read today. I have laughed out loud in a hospital foyer beside a bald skeletal child on chemo. I've had tears in my eyes crammed on a bus beside a giant with world class, paint-peeling BO."
November 12, 2018 –
page 169
27.8% "There is, on nearly ever page, a line so weighted with warmth, wit, or humanity that it makes you pause to consider it. Sometimes all three at once."
November 12, 2018 –
page 169
27.8% "I love Bryon! He's a very complex character, currently teaching Voleta table manners.

Voleta surveyed her options miserably. "I think humanity peaked at the spoon, don't you?"

"And I will tell you again, if you ever eat your fish with a spoon, I will appear out of thin air wherever you are in the world, snatch the spoon from your hand, and rap you on the head with it!""
November 13, 2018 –
page 207
34.05% "Lady Xenia de Clarke talked with the urgency of a burst pipe.

- I wish I could write lines like that :D"
November 14, 2018 –
page 255
41.94% "I don't like that prince," she said. "He's dangerous."

"He is," Voleta said, "But don't you forget, Iren - we're dangerous too.""
November 14, 2018 –
page 255
41.94% "I don't like that prince," she said. "He's dangerous."

"He is," Voleta said, "But don't you forget, Iren - we're dangerous too.""
November 14, 2018 –
page 294
48.36% "This book is too much!

One line I'm chuckling and literally the very next it's, oh my god... no!"
November 15, 2018 –
page 436
71.71% ""If you lie loud and long enough, it eventually becomes the truth."

Someone has been watching politicians on TV!"
November 15, 2018 –
page 465
76.48% "This is (thankfully) a LONG book. I estimate 271,000 words.

By contrast, the longest book I have written (The Liar's Key) is 176,000 words and Prince of Thorns 82,000."
November 16, 2018 –
page 510
83.88% "Worryingly little of the book left now :o

It gets intense! That's why I'm typing this. I needed a moment to settle."
November 16, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary Is this for real being released in September?!


message 2: by Mark (last edited May 28, 2018 01:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Hilary wrote: "Is this for real being released in September?!"

December, I believe.

Also! Look at you and your two kids :D I remember when the big one was a bump! Looking great.


message 3: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary :D Thank you-it’s hard to believe! Time really flies. She’s 3 & 1/2 and my youngest (Darrow) just turned 1. They keep me busy but I’m not going to miss a book of yours!


message 4: by Rilet (new)

Rilet  Kyng December??? I dont think I can wait that long. Currently about 35% into book 2. I dont want it to end


Mark Lawrence IKR! ...also I think it has slipped to January.


message 6: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex So lucky to get your hands on it!


message 7: by Tiki (new) - added it

Tiki I'm jealous... hope it'll be out for the masses soon!


James Lafayette  Tivendale I've just got passed that part Mark. Voleta is being herself in Perphia!


message 9: by Saul (new) - added it

Saul :0


message 10: by Tim (new) - added it

Tim Zaitsev Excited for both authors! And for January when the rest of us can read with glee!


message 11: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve Kimmins I’m so glad it’s not a step down in quality from the previous excellent volumes in the series. Now on pre-order for me.


message 12: by Chip (new) - added it

Chip Must be nice to get an advance copy :/

j/k...can't wait!


message 13: by Jon (new) - added it

Jon Adams Soooo, would you want to rent your copy to me? ;)


 Charlie - A Reading Machine Great review Mark. I'm teasing this one out for a bit so I can savour it.


Swiffer Wonderful review, we share many of the same sentiments. I would call this the best of the three, each better than the previous.


back to top