If the violence of part one, Prince of Thorns, didn’t chase you away, you probably found a very well written book in it. You will want to continue reading about Jorgy Jorg and his brotherhood in King of Thorns. All three books of the Broken Empire trilogy are quite short so reading the whole thing is not much of an investment – you could squeeze this in between other bigger books. But the quality and impact that you get back for it will push these books to the top of your reading pile as first priorities. I’m sure.
Reading the first chapters of King of Thorns I am at once struck again by the incredible quality of Mark Lawrence’s prose. His lines flow so well that the pages simply fly by in a haze. Chapters end with a quick turn of phrase that make you do a double take before you quickly read on. It hardly ever happens anymore that I can read for hours without getting tired of a book, but I just know that every chapter written by Lawrence will offer more good stuff.
Lawrence is a ballsy writer who doesn’t shy away from presenting characters who are so awful and clever that you read on in fascination, and from turning the plot to outrageous bends. This is especially obvious in part one, Prince of Thorns, to draw you in. In part two, the story is more subdued. Now and then, Lawrence drops a hint that there is some softness in Jorg and that he might change further while growing up.
King of Thorns is a bit like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, in that the second book greatly enlarges the world that Lawrence created, and the emotional core of the story also gains in complexity. We cover quite some territory and see quite some kingdoms.
There are some strange things about the book though. Yes, it isn’t 100% perfect. First, since Lawrence writes in first person and the text is narrated by the main character Jorg, the exceptionally gripping prose is therefore narrated by an 18 year old. It doesn’t feel realistic that a psychotic boy who is just leaving puberty behind can write text with such emotional depth and clever structure.
The second critique is that while the structure of the text deftly jumps from the past to the future and back again, almost every chapter has been given the title: “Four years earlier.” First I got confused because I thought that the chapters jumped back four years every time but that wasn’t the case, and when you have 10 chapters one after another that all play out “four years earlier”, it would have been easier to insert a page before all those chapters with the time announcement, or something to that effect.
But these are minor points. I am very curious now about the final book.