04 October, 2013

Review - Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire #3) by Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence likes to claim that authors are not their characters, but I think we need to look at the facts.

Jorg Ancrath:

1. Single-mindedly takes the world by storm.
2. Spreads his wit (among other things, blood and guts included).
3. Flips everything on its head, traditions, magic, you name it.
4. Encourages blasphemy and the slaughter of innocents.
5. Will stop at nothing to reach his goals of claiming the title of Emperor.

Mark Lawrence:

1. Single-mindedly takes the fantasy world by storm.
2. Spreads HIS wit (and probably other things we won't name here).
3. Flips the fantasy world on its head with his antihero fantasy filled with modern technology and countless subverted tropes.
4. Encourages blasphemy and the slaughter of innocent bloggers and authors (through words only of course ... hopefully).
5. Will stop at nothing to reach his goals of claiming the David Gemmell Legend Award.

We're not fooled Mr. Lawrence, no not by a long shot. The next thing we'll see is Mark kicking around Joe Abercrombie's decapitated head.

And yes, this is to say, Emperor of Thorns [US] [UK] was excellent. The perfect conclusion to an excellent trilogy. It's actually hard to imagine that Lawrence is a debut author and this his debut series.

The writing is up there with Joe Abercrombie, filled with great one-liners and quotes at each turn of the page. The following were literally within a page of each other and I could add so many more:
"When a decision is inevitable you may as well take it as quick as possible so that you still have something left to deal with whatever consequences may arise." (p. 172 Hardback)
"When you're in a dark place, and your light is going to run out before too long, you get on with things. It's a wonder to me how few people apply that same logic to their lives." (p. 173)
It's also just about impossible to stop reading this fascinating character Lawrence has created. Jorg Ancrath is compelling from the first page even when you quickly learn how really terrible he can be. I think there's a lot to going out and doing, accomplishing those things you set out to do whether it's looks feasible or not and Jorg does it all. I honestly do think that there's a lot of Lawrence in Jorg or vice-versa just because of the things that Lawrence himself has overcome. Publishing traditionally is difficult enough, but he can also literally say he is a rocket scientist. He even has a family of four, one of whom is severely disabled (and she is publishing amazing stories that my son absolutely loves btw!). This is a man who sets out to accomplish what he puts his mind to. (I know, I'm just setting myself up for a wonderful review deletion from GR)

Really the only negative thing I can say is that the timeline gets a little crazy by this last volume. King of Thorns introduced a portion of the book that took us back "four years earlier" and which portion continues into Emperor of Thorns. The only problem is that it's a year later in the present so "four years" becomes "five years earlier," which later in the book (spoiler alert!) becomes four years earlier even though it is still called "five years earlier." Make sense? There are also flashbacks in the present time that add to the timeline fun, but it's nothing that takes you longer than a moment or two (days? not me, no way) to puzzle out, if that. I'm glad the reader is trusted enough to figure it all out, we can't all be rocket scientists can we? :)

Lawrence asks us what happens if the good guy can't make it to save the day and you have to settle for the guy who has done terrible things. The guy you really shouldn't have to root for but who will get the job done. Is it worth it? It's amazing how well he pulled that off. Brutal fantasy that will make you cringe, that will make you think, and that you can't stop reading. Mark Lawrence is in for a terribly long writing career and Emperor of Thorns is about as perfect an ending as you can get.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (super duper highly recommended with cherries on top)

The Broken Empire Trilogy: 
1) Prince of Thorns (review)
2) King of Thorns (review)
3) Emperor of Thorns


Unknown said...

Just finished the series as well and my only complaint was this last book seemed to have more "magic" than the others and I wanted the anachronistic world from the first two. That said, I still enjoyed it as well.

Bryce L. said...

I actually really liked the increased magic usage, book one had little, book two had more, then book three added a bunch more, but I can definitely see where you're coming from. Really it's quite the reading experience.