Emperor of Thorns: 3 Hardcover – 1 August 2013
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- Hardcover : 592 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0007439067
- ISBN-13 : 978-0007439065
- Dimensions : 14.1 x 4.9 x 20.9 cm
- Publisher : Voyager - GB (1 August 2013)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
‘An excellent writer.’ George R.R. Martin
Praise for Prince of Thorns:
‘Dark and relentless, Prince of Thorns will pull you under and drown you in story. A two-in-the-morning page turner. Absolutely stunning… jaw-dropping’
‘Excellent – on a par with George R.R. Martin’
‘[A] morbidly gripping, gritty fantasy tale.’
‘Lawrence’s poetic prose is amazing, far and away the best of the modern fantasy authors’
PETER V. BRETT
About the Author
Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say 'this isn't rocket science … oh wait, it actually is'.
Between writing and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.
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I'd read this series before the Red Prince trilogy, though there is minor overlap and you can read them independently. This is a mature and serious writer at the toip of his game. All his stuff has a much higher calibre of wrtting and imagination tan anything else being written at the momemnnt. This is the work of someone we will be hearing more of. I class him in the Bujold, Weber, Mcaffrey, Moon, Webb, Ringo, Modessitt, Feist calibre.
Prince of Thorns was a pretty decent read, King of Thorns started to lead down a path I feel this series shouldn't have gone down and Emperor of Thorns just let the horse bolt through the door KoT opened.
The book was a half decent read, up until the point of a robot man (Spoilers? Meh), thinnly veiled attempts at hiding who the antagonist was after halfway through this book (If it wasn't entirely obvious?) and just questionable usage of different timelines (and text to go along with it).
Gone are the majority of the 'brothers' from previous books, Rike's still going strong, as is Makin. But the rest seem to have pretty much bitten the bullet, and with them, most of the semblance of a series from the beginning.
One of the main antagonists from the previous books comes back with something less of a vengeance in as much as a sidekick to the Dead king.
One of the massive grudges I held with this book, and the previous, were the usage of "4 Years earlier", and "5 Years earlier", I figured it'd be a passing phase, telling a story alongside a second story, but it all just seems far too much of a coincidence as the story drudged along through the reeds of Jorg's history. And this, along with 'the builders' ruined this book, and verged upon the series, for me.
Half of the alternating chapters flashback in time by a few years and continue the story, began in book two, of Jorg's travels round the Empire, developing his power and knowledge and learning more about "the builders" and their technology. This fills in some of the blanks that left that end of Book Two slightly confusing, notably where and how Jorg got a gun. Like before, this aspect was very episodic and there were some parts I definitely enjoyed more than others. A little pruning would potentially have been useful here.
The other half is in the "present" and was much stronger on the whole. Miana, Jorg's child bride, is now fifteen and pregnant with his heir, congression, the four-yearly event where all the kings gather to attempt to elect an emperor from amongst their numbers (so far unsuccessfully) is upon us, and the Dead King, merely hinted at in earlier books, is basically attempting to take over the world and fill it with dead things. As this brief summary suggests, this section is action-packed and dramatic, and it provided some of the best show piece scenes in the whole series, even if at times, I sometimes felt the author almost had too many plot lines running simultaneously.
There was a lot of character development going on here, which left me torn. On a technical level, I admired the way the author humanised Jorg and had him start to feel regret for his earlier actions and concern for others. On the other hand, I have to admit that I missed the driven psychopath of book one. Indeed, while I accepted him gaining a conscience, I could have done without him gaining self-doubt. His absolute drive and self-belief made him a fascinating character to me. That said, I loved the strength of his feelings for his new baby - genuinely touching. And considering these feelings, and considering how he tends to react when people mildly inconvenience him, I was waiting with baited breath to how he'd react to someone who tried to kill his son. Let's just say I wasn't disappointed.
As far as other characters went, most of the "brothers" took a relative back seat here, but it's still a strong supporting cast. I loved Miana (one of the few people who ever feels like a match for her husband) and I was hoping they'd develop a strong relationship and he'd get over his weird teenage crush on Katherine. She was a little more interesting in this book now she'd developed dream powers, but I still couldn't understand the depths of his obsession, especially with what feels like the perfect woman for him at his side and pregnant with/mothering his child.
I can't give too much detail without spoiling some plot points, but there were some scenes I was almost certain would be in this book, based on all the rules of storytelling, such as Jorg having a final showdown with his father or some combination of seducing/killing/conclusively getting over Katherine. I got the impression that the author avoided these scenes to avoid cliche, which is understandable, but I felt that the novel lost something as a result. Sometimes things become cliches for a good reason.
The ending was conclusive and suitably dramatic and mostly hard to predict (although I figured out one of the key plot point a few chapters in). On the other hand, the ending was extremely complicated and convoluted, and left me wondering what the hell had just happened. Still, you certainly can't accuse the author of giving readers a cop-out.
That feels like quite a lot of complaints for a 5-star review of a book, but that really sums up how I feel. It was a great read, well-written and unusual. I admired the way it took risks and though for me, some of them didn't quite work out, I'd rather a few brave plot choices that I didn't enjoy than more of the predictable same old same old. As with the rest of the series, this isn't for everyone, but if you'd read this far, I'd definitely recommend this as a fitting, if sometimes frustrating, conclusion.
We pick up where King Of Thorns left off, and we are once again split between two timelines that converge to bring the full meaning of the story together, as well as the addition of Chella's point of view for a handful of chapters, all to further the story in an interesting and eventful way.
"To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.
The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.
This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don't look to me to save you. Don't think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don't follow me.
Follow me, and I will break your heart."
That, coupled with knowledge from the previous two offerings in the series, should let you know that this final book is every but as sinister, every bit as entertaining, and every bit as wonderful as this terrific series deserves. I won't spoil the specifc contents of the pages, as they are there for you to discover and love for yourself, but I will say that the ending was inevitable, well-crafted, and absolutely perfect for the charatcers, the story, and the readers. Honorous Jorg Of Ancrath will forever be one of my favourite characters, and his story is one that I can't recommend highly enough.