Thursday, September 3, 2015

Review: Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence

Release Date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Voyager
Source: Library
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.
From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.
Mark Lawrence's debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, and sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.

I'm purposely using cat gifs to try and soften this review up a bit. I don't think it will help, but I just couldn't bring myself to search for anything bloody by the time I finished this book.

See that little boy on the cover, in all of his 14 year old glory?
By the fifth page I hated his guts. He repulsed me. Repulsed! And I'm not talking about just disliking his personality. Oh, no! Full-on skeeved out.
The kid is an unrepentant murderer and rapist!

So why 4 stars, huh?
Weeeeell, he's just insane enough to be interesting. And to be quite honest, I kept hoping little Jorg would somehow redeem himself. In some way. Just a little bit!
But the little bastard just kept on slicing throats, throwing people off cliffs, and shooting arrows through the hearts of anyone he really cares about.
To be fair, Jorg has Batman syndrome. He watched the slaughter of his mother and little brother when he was only 10 years old.
He has some unresolved issues...

Except instead of taking the Bruce Wayne approach to things (I will SAVE Gotham!), he's gone all dark and demonic on the inside. Hate will do that to you. It's ok to get angry, you just have to channel it the right way. Hate? Not sot much. That shit will just eat you up.
And then who's gonna want to adopt you from the shelter?

So, Jorg started out an angry 10 year old, and when he finds out the King (who just happens to be his father) won't attack the man responsible for his mother & brother's death, he loses it. He hates the king who attacked his family, and he hates his father for letting it slide. In a rather spectacular show of lunacy, he runs away from home and takes up with a group of killers, eventually becoming their leader.
Hate, amirite?
What comes after hate?
EVIL, that's what! Pure evil! The kind of evil who thinks it's funny to taunt the farmer you just gutted by telling him you just found his daughters. Mmmmm. Yummy!
It's a slippery slope, people! If you let yourself go down that road, you'll find yourself sucked in deeper and deeper..with no way out.

And that scene, with the dying farmer, is where we start the journey with Jorg. He's a few days shy of 14, and already the leader of his motley band of Brothers. You would think it would be impossible for a kid to have somehow taken the leadership role, especially among a group of hardened murderers.
In my mind, this is how his takeover would have gone:

But Jorg is a fearless, scary little shit. And he's not the type to back down. Ever. To anyone.
I kinda had to respect that about him, you know?
At any rate, the kid is ruthless enough to scare these guys into submission.

Besides, the vast majority of his crew were not the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree. They were good at raping & pillaging, but that was as far as their mental capacities took them. In other words, they may have been scum, but they weren't very hard to manipulate.

However, along the road, he runs into his father's priest. In a cage. No, seriously. Jorg (naturally) wants to kill him, but decides to use him to herald his return back to his kingdom.
But not before he stares down an army of the undead, and sends them running for the hills.
Yeah, I know! I told you this little fucker was scary!

Alright, once he makes his grand entrance back at the castle, that's when this show really gets going. Jorg finally gets to face-off with his father!
Except, it's not as cool as Jorg imagined it in his head. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite of cool.

Turns out, his father has remarried, and the new wife is preggers with Jorg 2.0.  Unfortunately, dear old Dad doesn't exactly want his asshole, runaway son taking the throne away from his new spawn. Naturally, Jorg's first thought is how he's going to kill the pregnant bitch.
Because he's sweet like that...

But before he can even begin to starting plotting ways to push his stepmother down a flight of stairs, he runs into her sister...his new aunt.
Aunt Hot Babe!
And now he's conflicted. I mean, he likes her so much he doesn't even want to rape her!
WTF, Jorg?! Are you losing your edge over a girl?!

Ehhh. Not really. He debates whether or not to kill her, just so he doesn't have to worry about getting too attached. Luckily for her, it doesn't matter for long. Because Papa King is sending him on a suicide mission to take out one of the enemy kingdoms. If he returns victorious, it will prove his loyalty and restore him as the heir.
Hahahahahahaha! Yeah, Jorg isn't falling for it, either.

But  there's not much he can do but play along. His father has a powerful magician with some scary powers. This dude can get inside your head, read your thoughts, and control your body.
And Jorg, surprisingly, has managed to get on his bad side.

Although, to be fair, this guy has managed to get on Jorg's bad side, as well.
For the record, my money was always on the psychotic tween...

Ok, the rest of the story is full of exciting adventure! Mutants, necromancers, and radioactive waste are waiting for our intrepid band of don't even remotely resemble heroes. But the good thing is, you really don't care when any of them bites it. Well, except for that one guy...

There are plenty of Big Secrets that come to light by the time this story was over. But towards the end, there was one thing the king did that I really didn't see coming!

And then there was that other thing that made me think Jorg might be redeemable. Ish.
See, there is a bit of a hole in the kid's memory. Not much, mind you. Just a teeny tiny chunk.
But it turns out to be quite a doozy!

Alright, so is Jorg the kind of character that I think most people will like? No.
He's just about as rotten and unsympathetic as they come.
However, by the end of this book he had learned one very important lesson that I think will resonate with everyone.
Sexytimes with a willing hooker is much more pleasant than going the old forcible rape route.
Awwww. He's really growing as a person, don't you think?

My point is, this is DEFINITELY not a book for everyone. I liked it, but that was only because I knew what I was getting into beforehand. If I could find a Trigger Warning cat gif, I would put it up in a heartbeat! However, because I can't, I'm just going to close the door, and let you decide for yourself whether or not you want to read this one...


Olivia-Savannah said...

I loved the cat gifs that broke up this review, but it was quite a long and detailed one! Thanks for that <3 I loved reading every word and it must have taken quite the time to write up. It's so interesting that you hated that character, but felt pulled enough to read more about them. I don't think I have that before for me, personally.

My recent review and giveaway:

Anne Hannah said...

It was weird. Hating the main character, but still wanting to read more? Crazy!

Anne Hannah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Harkness said...

Jorg Ancrath's story told in cat gifs. Beautiful. I think even he would like it!

I had the same reaction to Jorg. I swear I kept reading just to find out WHY I was reading about this horrible kid. That and he's immensely quotable. I hope you check out the rest of the series; Jorg has a lot more secrets...

Anne Hannah said...

Huh. Really? You may have convinced me to pick up the next book. Thanks, Melissa!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

You know I've heard many fantasy fans enjoying this series. But I don't remember hearing about the boy as a rapist and murderer. I missed that. How did I ever miss that? *sigh* Oh well. Thank you for sharing that. That would be something I'd like to know going in so I could be ready.

Sarah H said...

I kept hoping Jorg would somehow manage to redeem himself, too! Maybe I have a twisted mind but unlike you I didn't exactly hate Jorg. I just found him too interesting to hate. Does that make sense? However, I rated the book a little lower than you. I found Jorg way too unrealistic. The kid is 14 and yet look at how intelligent he is and all that he can do. Besides, I didn't buy his change from normal boy to serial killer after witnessing the death of his mother and brother. I thought it was way too abrupt, something else should have happened to make it more believable, imo. I haven't attempted to read the next book, yet. Jorg is so dark, I need to prepare myself mentally before reading his adventures, lol.

Anne Hannah said...

I need to prepare myself, too, Sarah! I need time to recover...

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