My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Today on the blog I’m reviewing King of Thorns, book two of the Broken Empire Trilogy, by Mark Lawrence. Overall, I give this book 4.5 stars. [Side note: my rating system is out of 5 stars, but I will rarely give a book 5 stars.]
Prince Jorg of Ancrath is now King Jorg of Renar, having stolen the small kingdom from his uncle at the end of the first book. Like the first book, this one follows two time lines: the present day, which consists solely of the happenings of Jorg’s Wedding Day; and four years ago, which spans a year or more, showcasing events that happened after Jorg took over Renar. The present day has the now eighteen-year-old Jorg getting married to the twelve-year-old spitfire, Miana (my favorite character in the trilogy). It would be a joyous day, except for the fact that tens of thousands of the Prince of Arrow’s soldiers are hold-up outside Renar Castle ready to burn the place down. The Wedding Day timeline follows Jorg as he tries to defeat Arrow’s army. The four years ago timeline picks up shortly after Prince of Thorns left off. Jorg is King of Renar, but finds being King to be a bit dull. He and his road brothers venture out into the broken empire with their new titles and what unfolds are the events that lead up to the Wedding Day.
Where Prince of Thorns focused mainly on the external things happening to Jorg, King of Thorns bring his internal struggles into focus. As the story unfolds (in both timelines) you quickly learn that King Jorg is being tormented by a pesky little thing known as a conscience, which was something he lacked when he was only a lowly prince. His conscience comes in the form of the ghost of an infant boy that follows Jorg everywhere, living silently in the shadows. The ghost never speaks, but is always there, and it ages over the course of the book from an infant to a four-year-old. And this ghost represents the best plot twist in the entire trilogy (in my opinion) because it is the one that finally breaks Jorg.
Overall, King of Thorns is my favorite of the trilogy. The plotting is great, the pace is fast and Jorg has developed into a more likable, well-rounded character. It is now clear exactly when and where this story takes place. Mark Lawrence did a good job of integrating the “ancient” builder’s technology, with the “modern” magic-sworn system.
There were two small things that kept me from giving this book the full 5 stars. First was Katherine’s diary. While the pages helped give us better insight into the object of Jorg’s obsession, I didn’t think that most of her passages were necessary to further the plot. They felt a little bit like filler to me. The other problem I had with this book was that Jorg’s introspection became repetitive and long-winded after a while. Both of these are minor things that don’t really take away from the enjoyment of the book.
Like I did with Prince of Thorns, I highly recommend King of Thorns to anyone itching for a good dark fantasy with a strong antihero and lots of bloodshed.