Review: Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

I’ve been looking forward to Emperor of Thorns, and couldn’t wait to pick it up once it showed up on my doorstep…

Review: Emperor of Thorns by Mark LawrenceEmperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Series: Broken Empire #3
Published by Penguin Books on August 6th 2013
ISBN: 9780425256855
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 434
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

The boy who would rule all may have finally met his match...

King Jorg Ancrath is twenty now—and king of seven nations. His goal—revenge against his father—has not yet been realized, and the demons that haunt him have only grown stronger. Yet no matter how tortured his path, he intends to take the next step in his upward climb.

Jorg would be emperor. It is a position not to be gained by the sword but rather by vote. And never in living memory has anyone secured a majority of the vote, leaving the Broken Empire long without a leader. Jorg plans to change that. He’s uncovered the lost technology of the land, and he won’t hesitate to use it.

But he soon finds an adversary standing in his way, a necromancer unlike any he has ever faced—a figure hated and feared even more than himself: the Dead King.

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drey’s thoughts:

To say I was surprised by how Mark Lawrence wrapped up Jorg’s story is an understatement. Surprised seems somehow inadequate a word to describe how I felt or what I thought, yet surprised I was as I turned the final pages of Emperor of Thorns. Surprised, impressed, and… wanting more.

Honorous Jorg Ancrath is not a likable protagonist – he’s screwed up, selfish, paranoid, and he really doesn’t care who knows it. Oh, and he’s ambitious too. Not that ambition is a bad thing necessarily, but Jorg’s ambition brings death along in its wake… Then again, just about everything Jorg does brings death along in its wake, whether he plans it that way or not.

In Emperor of Thorns, Jorg has matured some, yet still holds his resentments close. He’s got responsibilities now. A kingdom to run. A son’s arrival to prepare for. A father to kill. And an empire’s throne to win, regardless of prophecy. I can’t say more, not without introducing spoilers, and y’all know how hard I try to stay away from spoilers…

The story is told from three points of view: Jorg’s in current time, Jorg’s from five years earlier, and the necromancer Chella’s from that same five years. We follow as the paths of prophecy and stubbornness collide, watch as actions lead to consequences unforeseen. Jorg is still impulsive, but getting smarter about it – chess seems to help with anticipating effects, even if he still loses more games than he wins. Chella’s story revolves around the Dead King, and sometimes I felt bad for her; about as much as I felt bad for Jorg. Circumstances are rarely kind in Lawrence’s world, and you have to admire (somewhat) those who survive whatever’s thrown their way.

As I mentioned, I was surprised by the ending. Not that Lawrence didn’t drop hints, so I did guess at part of what was coming. Still, wow – I’m impressed. And in a few months (more like 6, with my TBR mountain) I’m going to try and re-read the entire series back-to-back. Because it’s just that good. If you’re a fan of dark fantasy, you’ll have to pick up the Broken Empire series if you haven’t already. And if you want a reading buddy, come nag at me. :)

drey’s rating: Excellent!

Have you read Emperor of Thorns? What did you think?

About Mark Lawrence

mark lawrence

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say ‘this isn’t rocket science … oh wait, it actually is’.

Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.

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