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It was a thrill to read King of Thorns, the second book of The Broken Empire trilogy. I love the fact that it’s not a linear told story, but shifts between memories of four years ago, the present day and even diary entries of another character. It keeps the suspense going as it all unfolds in front of you and you start tying things together yourself. The climax of the book was all the more satisfying for it.
King of Thorns is dark, epic fantasy, more suited for the adult reader. It’s around 432 pages full of action, blood, necromancy and dream magic, obsessive love, and more. Note: there will be spoilers on the events of Prince of Thorns, so read that one before reading on here!
We follow Jorg Ancrath again, now as a King. He’s haunted by the ghost of a young boy, has a mysterious copper box, and wants to be with the woman who sides with his enemy (not to mention she hates him). He’s in a bit of a pickle, as twenty thousand men march toward the gates of his castle, far outnumbering him.
It often seems Jorg gets out of trouble by mere luck, but he’s smart and can easily piece together different sources of information to make it one grand idea. His ‘superpowers’ that he picks up help of course, but it only works because he’s prepared to risk it all. Or as Miana says:
“The air hung heavy with the metallic scent of rain. I wondered: if I stood out there, in the flood, would the rain wrap a grey life and make it shine? Should I stand, arms spread, and raise my face? Let it wash me clean. Or did my stains run too deep?”
I grew more fond of Jorg throughout this book. It was nice to see he’s grown up, but still as violent as ever. Just more thoughtful about it. Sometimes. Turns out he’s not the complete sociopath I thought he was in the first book; there’s more complexity to him now. I’m curious to see how his relationship with Miana evolves in the third book. They seemed well-matched, but anything can still happen, really.
“Sensible, honest. I don’t even know how to pretend those things.”
The world-building was great; I love the fact that it’s a future world to ours, where somewhere along the way technology was so incredibly advanced (such as advanced AI’s). It’s never quite clear what happened to have caused that all to crumble down, but my guess is it had something to do with the technology being our downfall. In specific the ‘Builders’ sun’ that Jorg used in the first book. Also: how great is it that so many things of the ‘old world’ get destroyed, but that books remain!
“Sometimes you can only win if you’re prepared to sacrifice everything.”
The prose was once again beautiful with many philosophical undertones. I love that about Mark’s writing, in every book that I’ve read by him so far. It’s also no mean feat to write a non-linear story. It takes a certain skill to know when to go back in the past, and when to reveal what piece of information to add to the climax of the present story-line (if that makes sense).
“I wonder if we don’t all go stamping and crashing, crashing and stamping in our own little circles going nowhere. And I wonder who it is that laughs at us.”
Still not sure how I was rooting for Jorg the whole time when there’s an actual good-hearted Prince he’s facing who, in any other story, would have been the hero. I think it just shows how good a writer Mark Lawrence is. So, if you love a story with a good anti-hero, who would have been the villain in any other story, I would always recommend this trilogy.
Have you read the Broken Empire? What were your thoughts on King of Thorns? Or do you have any other questions or comments? Let me know below!