Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns is a tale of magic and betrayal, violence and love as a young boy seeks to avenge the death of his mother and brother. Avoiding his own father – the king – he must venture through the land with a band of “brothers”, making a name for himself as he goes while he tracks down his enemy.
Prince Jorg hasn’t been the same since the day he was caught in the brambles and forced to watch as some of his family was slaughtered before his eyes. Something awoke in him that day and before long, Jorg finds himself freeing a band of renegades from his father’s dungeon and travelling the road with them, seeking the enemy he holds responsible for the deaths.
However, while Jorg believes he is forging his own path, he soon comes to realise it isn’t that simple. He gets close to his enemy and instead is confronted by the man’s sorcerer. Everything Jorg does from then on is called into question; is it his own free will that tells him to take a different path, or is it because he is being controlled without realising it, just a pawn in another’s game.
After venturing to do the impossible to please a distant father, Jorg tackles demons and necromancers and laughs in their faces. Refusing to die when he should, he takes it upon himself to once again seek revenge for his family – fulfilling his own lust for violence in the process and hoping to be able to free himself from the clutches of evil.
Despite being told from the narration of a thirteen year old, the book is full of violence, lust and bloody fights. Jorg may be a child in years, but the tale makes it quite apparent this is not a child’s story, and by the end he finds himself accepting that he has become a man.
Regardless of the book opening with a bloody slaughter, it is engaging and humorously written for the reader. The violence doesn’t really have attention drawn to it and although there are multiple deaths, none of the characters truly establish themselves enough for it to be emotional.
The amount of characters is a down-side to the book. The content is not that long, so to only get to know one of the characters and not care for the others is an interesting way of approaching it.
However, due to the amount of them that are subsequently killed off, perhaps it works otherwise it would be one rollercoaster of a ride if you felt for all of them. However, it is difficult to even feel for Jorg because of the nature of his character; the reader doesn’t particularly care either way what happens to him.
Prince of Thorns is the first in a trilogy. Despite how it ended and the characterisation, there is something about the world that Lawrence creates that makes you want to read on to find out what happens next anyway. Due to that point alone, it becomes a good read.