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This review of Prince of Thorns is a bit overdue, I’ll admit. For whatever reason, the first review I dropped on here of this series was the 2nd installment, King of Thorns. I decided to put the Prince of Thorns review on here anyway since it just seems weird to have the other two, but not this one. If you like this review, be sure to check out the review for King of Thorns and Emperor of Thorns as well!
So, the book is all about Jorg Ancrath, a Prince and heir to the throne of Ancrath. In a turn of events that find him trapped in thorns, Jorg becomes the Prince of Thorns from the title. He escapes his home and becomes an immoral boy leading a band of outlaws in a world of chaos. Despite being hardened by life on the road, going back to his father’s castle and confronting the horrors from his childhood is still worse.
“Memories are dangerous things. You turn them over and over, until you know every touch and corner, but still you’ll find an edge to cut you.“
The story has some decent action, already starting in the very opening scene. Many things happen, as we get two different timelines, which is characteristic of this trilogy. One follows what happens four years ago, and helps us understand what drove Jorg to leave the castle with his merry band of men. The other storyline is the ‘now,’ where Jorg’s been raiding the land for a couple of years already. There’s plenty of things happening in this book. There was but one part that I found confusing at the beginning of the book. I think that was because it wasn’t set-up entirely, and I wasn’t expecting to be some form of magic to be present here. So, heads up: there’s ‘magical’ or ‘supernatural’ elements present (or whatever you want to call it).
“Hate will keep you alive where love fails.”
The story is pretty much a one-man-show. The Prince of Thorns follows Jorg’s perspective, and he is the most prominent character of the story. He is not a likable person. In fact, he’s somewhat of a sociopath, killing because he feels like it. Still, even though he’s not a good person, you will end up rooting for him. In part because the other characters just turn out to be even worse, and in the other part because of Mark’s writing style. It’s very immersive, and you just can’t help but go along with Jorg’s thoughts and decisions. Jorg alone is reason enough to read this book, as he’s just a unique character.
Anything that you cannot sacrifice pins you. Makes you predictable, makes you weak.
While there are, of course, side characters, you don’t get that much of a glimpse of them. The one’s that stuck out are Makin, Jorg’s ‘protector’ of sorts. He was a Knight, yet he follows Jorg and his band of Brothers, which is, you know, not very Knightly. And then there’s the Nuban, who is likely the only man Jorg truly cares about, next to Makin.
The world in the Prince of Thorns is more or less a futuristic post-apocalyptic world. It doesn’t state this very clearly, but you can get it from little bits and pieces of information. For instance, they still teach the philosophy of Plato, there’s mention of stories that exist in our time, and the catholic church still exists, only the capitol for that religious power is now called ‘Roma’ instead of Rome. There’s mention of the people they call ‘the Builders’ and all their inventions. From what I gathered, it’s what they call the people that came after us, so in our future. They had existing AI’s and something they call the ‘Builders’ Sun,’ which I can only imagine being an Atomic Bomb of sorts.
Anyway, there are loads of these little details that make the world more ‘real.’ Some of it, especially the things about the Builders, is still a bit vague, but I know more information on this is given in the next books.
“You got responsibilities when you’re a leader. You got a responsibility not to kill too many of your men. Or who’re you going to lead?”
I love Mark’s writing; I just do. There’s some beautiful prose there, and often philosophical phrasings that sound not only terrific but also give actual meaning. The style of his writing is immersive, and there’s an incredible drive to keep on reading.
“I’ll tell you now. That silence almost beat me. It’s the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears. The spirits of the dead have nothing on it. The dead one tried to show me hell, but it was a pale imitation of the horror I can paint on the darkness in a quiet moment.“
Prince of Thorns is an excellent beginning to the Broken Empire trilogy. There’s lots of violence, it has action, and also moments of rest and reflection. Not to mention Jorg is a great character you’ll just love to hate or hate to love. If you haven’t read it yet, I’ll advise you to do so right away!
Have you read this book? Or any other of Mark’s books? What were your thoughts?
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