Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review - Prince of Thorns

Sometimes nice things happen. I stumbled on Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns a while back and immediately put it on my reading list. The first pages were enticing. I also read the related short story, Sleeping Beauty, a very powerful story that was an excellent introduction to the world I was about to enter. So yesterday, during a break, I loaded my Christmas gift card into my Barnes & Noble account and purchased Prince of Thorns and its sequel, King of Thorns. My Barnes & Noble apps (android and Windows desktop) gave me some fits, but they eventually loaded. I started Prince of Thorns and soon passed as far as I had previously sampled and I could not put it down. I finished it shortly before going to bed. It was a wild ride that I highly recommend.

The main character, Jorg Ancrath, is a piece of work. We quickly learn that he was traveling with his mother and younger brother when the carriage was attack. In the process of throwing them all from the carriage, Jorg ends up in a thorny brier patch and watches as first his brother, then his mother, are murdered. The thorns hold him tight making him unable to help. Needless to say, this scars him. Through the course of the book more pieces fall into place to further explain the horrible path he ends up on.

This book is a mixture of Jorg in the present, and the Jorg of four years previous as he starts the journey that he finishes in this book. Now, I don't want to give away too much of the story because that is part of the charm of this book. It is better to read about it yourself. But I will say that he grows and manages to pull several different goals together in a magnificent finale that is perfectly in keeping with his character. Fantastic storytelling.

I will, however, go into a bit more on the world that Mark Lawrence has created. This is our future. How far in the future isn't know exactly, but it is just over a thousand years after an apocalypse destroys the world sometime in our future. From the maps, the sea levels have risen and the world has reverted to a medieval culture. But something about the cataclysm has let magic lead into the world. Not a lot, mind you, but between radiation poisoning and mutation, and the barrier between our world and the world of the dead being weakened, plus some remaining bits of technology, the author has woven a fantastic image of a future where things are more strange than they are in real life. It is a fantastic idea and a combination I have not seen before. As a fantasy author myself, I really loved seeing his world building and found it seamless to the story.

Next up in my reading is the sequel. I actually started it already and am 3 chapters in. It is a little longer but already promises to be just as good.

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