Emperor of Thorns is the third and final book in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy.
Continuing where King of Thorns left of, Jorg now finds himself having defeated the Prince of Arrow and his kingdom has expanded dramatically. Yet it is still not good enough for the young king, even with his first child on the way from a wife he is growing fond of – not something he ever saw coming. But Jorg has bigger plans; he wants to be Emperor and nothing, not even the Dead King, is going to stop him.
While Jorg journeys throughout the lands in order to attend a vote that could get him his dreams, an old enemy dodges his footsteps. Chella might not be the necromancer she had once been, but she still has a job to do and will not rest until it is done – even if it is out of fear of the Dead King who seems so interested in Jorg.
But Jorg had to embark on a journey before he was able to get that far in the first place. As with his other two novels, Lawrence keeps a dual narration in two different times happening; dating back five years to show Jorg continuing to travel the lands on his own, venturing into two lands and finding more about the mysterious Builders and their type of magic dating back from long ago.
The trilogy has been a good one. The characters have been surprisingly likeable despite their violent natures and the reader’s first introduction to them. The reader really gets the feel of going on a journey with Jorg and watching as he turns from a twelve year old into an eighteen year old; he goes from a boy to a man. But although he grows and matures, he doesn’t lose that edge that first gripped the reader’s attention, making his growth both plausible and believable.
However… The ending of the trilogy was a massive disappointment. Considering Lawrence’s ability to create impossible situations and have the characters walk away from them, the route he went down to bring it to a close felt like a let-down. Only just avoiding the cliché ending of “it was all a dream” by only a few paragraphs, the ending had no satisfaction or even clear explanation of what had just happened. Although by the very end you got a sense of knowing what was going on, there were a few paragraphs that only caused confusion for the reader rather than clarifying anything. It ties up loose ends, but feels like it could have been so much more.
From the reviews of the previous two books, it is true that I have enjoyed this series. Each book has been engaging, humorous and imaginative, taking a mixture of the old and new, of kingdoms and emperors and tying it all together in a boy who loves to kill just a little too much. The enjoyment of the rest of the trilogy makes the ending even more disappointing, however.