How did I get it: I recieved a review copy from Ace Books/Penguin. Thank you!
Why did I read it: I was intrigued by the book’s premise and even more so once I learned about how young the main character was.
How I would rate it: 5 out of 5 stars.
Once 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’s bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or 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.
Review: From start to finish, Prince of Thorns was exactly how I want my fantasy to be: full of dark humor, action, great characters, powerful emotions, menacing forces, and awful people being awful. These things were offered up in spades and there is plenty here that I suppose could offend a reader with more delicate sensibilities, but nothing seemed too excessive or simply there for the sake of shock value. I also felt that everything served a purpose and contributed to the story and the feel of Jorg’s journey as well as his world. Ultimately, of course, it is all a matter of taste and I prefer gritty books rife with dark edges than being subjected to the same old books with the same old plots time and time again. While this is definitely a book where I didn’t necessarily approve of a lot of the decisions characters made, I didn’t mind watching them make them.
I’m not sure how many ways I can say that this book was awesome. I’m also not sure that I could have asked for a better main character. I loved the really fresh and often original ideas Lawrence had, particularly everything about the leucrota, the use of magical manipulations, and the way kingdoms were set up, but Jorg… Wow. I already liked the idea of younger progtagonist who isn’t dealing with typical YA things, but nothing could have prepared me for this kid. He was such a powerful, dangerous, forceful, tormented messed of a character that it was impossible for me not to love. So long as it is from a safe distance because he’s pretty lethal.
Really I’m hard pressed to come up with any complaints of significant weight or substance that took away from my enjoyment. I definitely found the references to ancient philosophers, thinkers, etc. that really existed to be very distracting, but I am positive there’s going to be a great reveal at some point in the series about what it all adds up to so I think it worked albeit not as well as everything else. The secondary characters — whether they were on Jorg’s side, opposing him, or a bit more hapless– were all over the map in terms of attitudes, motivations, skills, and emotions, which was great. The pacing is quick, the writing was solid and engaging, and the direction the book moves in is very, very cool. Even when I was only at the midway mark, I knew I was going to be longing for the next book in the Broken Empire series (King of Thorns) for months on end. Now that I’m finished, the pining has already started. I can’t wait to see what happens next to Jorg or his brothers or the world he’s hellbent on ruling over.
In conclusion, awesome! If you like Conan the Barbarian when he’s taking names and kicking butt, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series, or anything along those lines, get a copy of Prince of Thorns as soon as you can. Seriously. ASAP.