Mihir's Reviews > King of Thorns

King of Thorns by Mark  Lawrence
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's review
Aug 16, 2012

really liked it
Read from August 16 to 21, 2012

Full Review originally at Fantasy Book Critic

ANALYSIS: Last year Mark Lawrence debuted on the fantasy scene with his dark and morally tipsy book Prince of Thorns. It shocked many readers and led to interesting debates about the book, its main protagonist and the overall direction of the story. I thought that the writing and storyline was sheer brilliance. Mark Lawrence’s plot had the main protagonist who is a teenage sociopath and who in most novels would be featured as the series villain. The dark beauty of the series is that it dwells into his mind and showcases all that he does and why he does it. It was an excellent debut and one which manages to push the boundaries of dark fantasy so far beyond that those set by its predecessors.

I found this book to be a bit difficult to review because of its complexity, so kindly forgive me for the rambling nature of it below. To begin with King of Thorns continues the pattern of dual storylines found in the first book with the same time period of four years. The first storyline is set four years after the events of the first book wherein Prince Jorg became King though not in the place he set out to be. Currently settled in as the King to the Renar Highlands, he faces dual problems; firstly his castle and kingdom are surrounded by enemy forces from the kingdom of Arrow. Prince Orrin fated to be the Emperor uniting the Broken Kingdoms, stands on his doorstep waiting to knock it down or get Jorg’s support.

Secondly he’s about to get married to a princess called Miana and he doesn’t have the proper attire for it. There’s also the curious presence of a metal box that isn’t supposed to be opened as well as the ghost of a small child that comes and goes in Jorg’s presence. In the other storyline, it begins very much in line after the events at the end of the first book, Jorg has been crowned King and is trying to settle in with his motley bunch. His problems are never far Gog has been having some issues with controlling his fire powers and that has lead to the development of some burning queries. To top that Jorg also gets a visit from Prince Orrin and his brother Prince Egan, both from the country of Arrow and who have plans for uniting the small kingdoms into one glorious empire.

As evidenced by the information above, this book is a huge mix of storylines, both the past and present are intriguing and the author also introduces another crucial observer element in the form of diary entries by Katherine. This story is much more complicated than the previous one, as with the preceding title we had Jorg trying to exact revenge on his family for reasons he thought were just. In this book however we are shown mysteries and things that were only hinted at previously. In the previous volume, the past recollections held a clue to the things occurring in the present. However in this volume, the author cleverly makes both timelines dependent on each other as twists and turns are present in both but their raison d'être will be clear only to the observant readers. Each phrase or narrative turn is to be examined as it will play out in the later half. This book has a lot more travels to it as well than the first book, Jorg and his crew travel as far as to the Thar Desert in Asia and then head north to the Scandinavian coasts. In between these two timelines are also present the diary entries by Katherine and we get a crucial look into her acumen and her feelings for Jorg become crystal clear.

Characterization as in the previous volume is handled competently as the narrator is a sociopath but in this volume we get a slightly more emotional Jorg. Not that he breaks down and repents but in the essence of his actions, Jorg has started taking into account the consequences and effects onto others. There’s also the other characters that make their presence felt namely Katherine who reveals more about herself via her journal entries than previously seen from Jorg’s POV. There’s also princess Miana who is to wed Jorg and even though she’s present for a very small period of the book, she shows fortitude that belies her age and size. I hope we get more of them in the next book. There’s also the prose which stand up to the expectations from the first book, beginning with Jorg and his observations, to the brotherly quotes between chapters, fans of the first book will find acerbic wit, striking dialogue and more in this second outing. There are also certain dark events that get described in a haunting way and particularly one event that leads to the mystery of the boy ghost.

Now with all that has been said, there are certain things that need to be mentioned like the fact that if you didn’t like the first book then the second one will not change your opinion. There’s also some events in this book that will add to the diatribe against a character like Jorg. One of the points which can be confusing to the reader is the travels taken by Jorg and his crew all around the Broken Kingdoms, it often feels as if there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I felt that way as well however quite a lot of it makes sense in the end so readers might want to persevere. There’s also the question about the book’s pace as it slows down in the middle of the book wherein Jorg is shown wandering and experiencing several adventures, and in the present timeline when the beginning of the defense of the castle is shown. Both these things while going on concurrently drag the pace down and might confuse the readers. Lastly one great thing about this book is that we learn the Nuban’s real name as he was too good a character to be left unnamed.

CONCLUSION: Mark Lawrence has definitely upped his game and with King Of Thorns, he shows the evolution of his craft as well making his story more twisted than its predecessor. This is a dark story that demands attention from its readers but also rewards them immensely for their attention in the end. Read King of Thorns to be shocked and awed by the boy who would be king, Honorious Jorg Ancrath and now onwards to Emperor of Thorns.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim Marquitz Morally tipsy? Love it, man. :)

Mihir Considering you write Frank. I would think this is something you would enjoy.

message 3: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim Marquitz Read it and thought it was great.

Mihir Awesome, now the wait for EOT.

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