Author Mark Lawrence has won over audiences everywhere with Prince of Thorns, his exciting debut novel.
Nine-year-old Prince Jorg is forced to watch as his mother and brother are slaughtered. Fleeing the palace, Jorg joins a bloodthirsty band of thugs. But he’s determined to take back what’s rightfully his, so he returns to the castle a few years later - unaware of the dark and powerful magic that awaits.
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“Vivid … full of wonder. This book is brilliant.” (Galaxy Book Reviews)
No one can tell you whether you are going to like a book or not. When I read the first few pages of this book, I had this sinking feeling that I was really going to have to TRY to like it. The first person narrative felt eccentric and the protagonist felt archetypal and narcissistic.
But it just kind of got under your skin. Not after a few chapters. Right away. It's like when you're watching a TV show and you can't put your finger on why you like a character. Not in the labored foreshadowing-of-redemption kind of way. But because they scratch an itch or make you think.
THEN I whispersynced over to the audiobook and it all just clicked. I've had audiobooks before that were more enjoyable than reading the book, but this was different. This was like the voice actor shed light on the character and made the narrative voice feel 'right.' Suddenly it wasn't a borderline annoying teen with daddy issues - it was Alex from Clockwork Orange, except now he's a sellsword fighting witches, or whatnot. Yeah, I know, it's kind of crude/rude to compare one character to another, so don't go running away with that analogy. That's just how it was perceived by me.
Prince of Thorns is rough and dark and super melodramatic in a medieval film noir kind of way. I can understand why some people don't like it. But I also kind of think it's bound to have a cult following. I'm still not sure whether the book is truly good or not, but putting it down is hard and I think about it all the time, like a disturbing dream I wish I hadn't woken up from.
I love to read. I also love to write. I'm a harsh critic and very, very, very rarely give five star reviews to anything. Three stars for me is an average representation of literature and not a bad review by any stretch.
Mr. Lawrence can obviously write. The vividness of the battle scenes in Prince of Thorns proves that. They are good. But, the problem is that same talent to write is not translated into other parts of the book. Most importantly, character development and plot. This story is very shallow in those departments. It feels like a draft of a complete novel.
For me, it was just lazy dark fantasy. A decent listen for sure, but not some elite (or even great) tale. It barely registered as average thanks to Mr. Lawrence's writing of the aforementioned battle scenes.
But, I stand by my statement that the story itself is lazy. It tries to be grit and gore and no more. Prince Jorg is one dimensional and never developed into the sort of anti-hero that I could root for. The encounters that stand in his way seems like they are only partially serious.
I suggest it if you like a nice, quick dark fantasy listen/read, but know going in that you are going to get a tale that is about blood and Prince Jorg's quest for vengeance with no meat to the bones.
I know a lot of people like this series, but I couldn't get passed not finding a character I really liked. I don't mind grimdark, but this just didn't grab me. The writing was fine, it was just the story itself. The narration was actually really good.
This is a rich smooth syrup of poetic prose. Words so thick you can not see through them. Not a watercolor but an oil painting with texture, depth and color, mostly red. This is also a study of madness as seen from the inside and a how-to on making a monster.
All the characters are Jorg. It is his vision that is your window to his world. You only see through his eyes. All others are what he tells you they are. Reality is what he wants to believe. His values, that all can be sacrificed and all is a means to an end, is what drives this book. That all must bend to his will. That one or two well placed corpse will make others more compliant. He is assured that men will fallow him because they will! Things will happen as he wants, because it will! Because he is Jorg.
Do I like Jorg? No. Would I ever want to meet him? Hell no! Do I want to read the next book, as well as anything else by this author? Yes please. Because fellow readers this man can write!
One way to judge a book is by the echoes it leaves in your mind. Do you think about it? Where you changed by it? Did it disturb you? This one will be lurking in the dark corners of my mind for a long time.
I would indeed.
The narrator brought the different cast of unique characters to life and read brilliantly what was already a well written story.
I loved the characters. Yes, even the evil prince himself. They all have powerful personalities and the narrator brings them to life so magnificently.
I'd say the scene where the prince and his men take on the force many times their size in the ruins.
For being such a dark tale, there is comedy, and I did laugh to myself as I listened.
You have to know what you are getting into. The dark moments of the book may seem a bit much (The main character contimplates about killing just about every single person that speaks to him) but it IS a story with an anti-hero. Someone you aren't supposed to love. Someone that believes the ends justify the means. And Jorg does believe that and would kill near anyone to get what he wants, but in the context of the story, he does so in a way that absorbs the listener in every moment.
I have read and listened to a lot of fantasy books and I have no issues with anti-heroes as lead characters; however, Jorg just isn't an interesting character and I was never able to get behind him. At 9 years old Jorg experiences a terrible trauma as his mother and brother are killed while he is helplessly caught within the thorns of a nearby briar patch. His father, the king, is unwilling to risk war with Count Renar, who is behind the murders, and he basically agrees to put the matter aside in exchange for some economic concessions. This shapes Jorg into a monster bent on revenge against both Count Renar and his father.
Jorg becomes the leader of a band of thugs at the age of 13 and the book is experienced from inside his mind. That is a dark place and frequently Jorg envisions ruthlessly killing those he interacts with. Sometimes those thoughts are converted to action and sometimes they aren't but they are constant. Jorg frequently kills men 3 times his size through an improbable series of events and he quickly furthers his agenda against his father and Renar. Eventually it is uncovered that there are more powerful individuals behind the scenes who manipulate key people as pieces in a giant game of thrones. Jorg himself discovers that he is being manipulated and he adds his puppet-master to his list of targets.
Now I love a good revenge tale more than most and I'm willing to let questionable behavior slide in the name of revenge on those "who deserve it" but this book never got me there. Jorg is too young, has no redeeming qualities at all, and the improbable events are just too unbelievable. There is also nothing truly unique about the fantasy world although the book does get interesting at times it doesn't really last.
This isn't a terrible book but I still suggest that you pass on this one. If you want to listen to dark, gritty fantasy or root for an anti-hero then there are much better choices available. I give this 2.5 stars only because James Clamp did a decent job on the narration and his performance kept the story moving along. It just never wound up where I wanted it to be.
If you are looking for friendly talking dragons, and Happily Ever After this book is NOT for you. Violent, dark and brooding. Reminds me of books by Brent Weeks and Joe Abercrombie. I am downloading the second book now. This one was a bit short for my taste.
You must have a high tolerance for violence, but I think this is a great audiobook. The narrator is fantastic for Prince Jorg. The main character is far from a good guy, but he has enough qualities for you to root for him anyway, kind of like Tony Soprano or Walt from Breaking Bad. I'm on the third book now and I highly recommend the whole series for fans of dark fantasy.
cynical planning underdog
The hero was not all powerful but accomplishes amazing things while morally suspect
Take Tomas Covenant or the Warded Man and add a healthy dose of nastiness
No... this has not turned me off fantasy or even gritty, dark fantasy... but it may make me hesitate next time I read such conflicting reviews about a book. I assumed as I love such authors as Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett, Martin, Stephen R Donaldson etc who are all reputed to write "gritty" fantasy, that I would love this book too. I even bought King of Thorns before I had started this one. I really enjoy the anti-hero; the conflicted and complicated characters; but I guess in the end I personally need at least a spec of redemption. I forced myself to finish listening to the book, but in the end decided that though I found Jorg morbidly interesting and compelling, that I really did not care enough about Jorg or the story to find out what happens in the next books.
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