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158 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark, amoral but compelling story
A hundred petty warlords are struggling to carve their own pieces out of the Broken Empire, the divided remnants of a glorious, high-technology society obliterated in a monstrous war. Little has survived from before that time aside from a few books of philosophy and war, and religion.

Prince Jorg, the son of King Olidan of Ancrath, is a boy of nine when he sees...
Published on 29 July 2011 by A. Whitehead

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dont be put off!
The first book in the Broken Empire trilogy was ok and there are review after review of the pros and cons on Amazon so will not bore you with another. What I will do however is urge you not to be put off by the Prince of Thorns as the other two books are fantastic. Honestly, completely worth the slow start.
Published 1 month ago by jpiper1


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158 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark, amoral but compelling story, 29 July 2011
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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A hundred petty warlords are struggling to carve their own pieces out of the Broken Empire, the divided remnants of a glorious, high-technology society obliterated in a monstrous war. Little has survived from before that time aside from a few books of philosophy and war, and religion.

Prince Jorg, the son of King Olidan of Ancrath, is a boy of nine when he sees his mother and brother brutally murdered by agents of Count Renar. When Olidan makes peace with Renar in return for a few paltry treaties and goods, Jorg runs away from home in the company of a band of mercenaries. As the years pass, Jorg becomes cruel, merciless and ruthless. He sees his destiny is to reunite the Broken Empire and rule as the first Emperor in a thousand years, and nothing and no-one will deny him this destiny.

Prince of Thorns is the first novel in The Broken Empire, a trilogy which was fiercely bidded over by several publishers before HarperCollins Voyager won the publishing rights in the UK. It's being touted by Voyager as 'the big new thing' for 2011, to the extent where they are even giving away copies to people who have pre-ordered A Dance with Dragons from certain UK bookstores.

This faith is mostly justified. Prince of Thorns is a remarkable read. Well-written and compelling, it is also disturbing. Anyone who's ever bailed on reading Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books because of a horrific thing the main character does a couple of chapters in will probably not enjoy this book either. Jorg is a protagonist with the quick wits of Locke Lamora, the charm and resourcefulness of Kvothe but the moral compass of Gregor Clegane. The book has the protagonists (the word 'hero' is completely incompatible with Jorg or his merry band of psychopaths and lunatics) doing things that even the bad guys in most fantasy novels would balk at, and for this reason it is going to be a challenging sell to some readers.

Lawrence writes vividly and well. The dark and horrible things that Jorg and his crew get up to are mostly inferred rather than outright-described, which is just as well. Lawrence also avoids dwelling on Jorg's physical actions too much in favour of delving into his psyche, working out what makes him tick, presenting these ideas to the reader, and then subverting them. As the book unfolds and we learn more about Jorg's hideous experiences, we realise why he is the way he is, though at almost every turn Jorg also chides the reader for thinking he is trying to excuse himself or beg for forgiveness. He is simply presenting the facts and the context and leaves them to decide whether he is the logical result of circumstance or someone who could have saved himself from this dark path if he had chosen to do so. Lawrence's aptitude with the other characters is no less accomplished, with deft strokes used to create vivid secondary roles concisely and with skill.

Outside of the excellent characterisation, Lawrence paints a vivid picture of a post-apocalyptic world. The ruins of an earlier, technological age (probably our one, though the map suggests that if it is, the geography of the world has been radically transformed, at least in the area the story takes place) paint the landscape, and it's interesting to see references to familiar names and places. The works of Plutarch, Socrates and Sun Tzu have survived, as has the Christian faith, and in the distant east place-names sound more familiar (Indus, Persia). This evokes the feeling of a world broken and twisted, the new rammed in with the old, the effect of which is unsettling (I think it might be what Paul Hoffman was going for in The Left Hand of God, but Prince of Thorns does it much better). I assume more about the world and the history will be revealed in the inevitable sequels. Whilst Prince of Thorns is the opening volume in a trilogy, but also works well as a stand-alone work. Whilst there is clearly more to come, it ends on a natural pause, not a cliffhanger, which is welcome.

This is a blood-soaked, cynical and unrelentingly bleak novel, but it also has a rich vein of humour, and there are a few 'good' (well, relatively) characters to show that there is still hope in the world. There are some minor downsides: a few times Jorg seems to 'win' due his bloody-minded attitude overcoming situations where he is phyiscally or magically outclassed, and there's a few too many happy coincidences which allow Jorg and his men to beat the odds, especially right at the end. There's also an event about three-quarters of the way through the novel which is highly impressive, but may be a bit hard for some fantasy fans to swallow.

Prince of Thorns (****½) is a page-turning, compelling and well-written novel, but some may be put off by its harsher, colder aspects. Those can overcome this issue will find the most impressively ruthless and hard-edged fantasy debut since Bakker's Darkness That Came Before. The novel will be published on 2 August in the USA and two days later in the UK.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evil hero, interesting world, dark story - and a great read, 27 Oct 2014
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The opening chapter of this book involves a band of brigands slaughtering most of the male inhabitants of a village, raping their daughters, looting the corpses and then setting the whole place on fire. All of them seem to be having a wonderful time, particularly the deeply sinister first-person narrator.

Having picked this book up without knowing anything about it other than that it was a highly recommended fantasy novel, I wasn't sure what to make of this attention-grabbing but disturbing opening. Had the author written a prologue that was broadly unrelated to the rest of the novel to set the scene and demonstrate the grimness of his world? Or was the hero going to swoop into the village and be avenged on this bunch of murderous psychopaths? And then, as dying villager muses that his murderer could be no more than fifteen, the chapter ends with the line, "Fifteen! I'd hardly be fifteen and rousting villages. By the time fifteen came around, I'd be King." And I came to a shocking realisation that this sadist was actually our protagonist, the titular Prince of Thorns. Basically, if you've ever read a Song of Ice and Fire and wished that the whole thing was narrated by Ramsay Bolton, then this is the book for you.

The fashion nowadays is undoubtedly for fantasy characters to be presented in moral shades of grey, and often even to be outright anti-heroes. But I've never read anything in the fantasy genre that makes the "hero" so utterly, irredeemably villainous. The closest comparator I can think of is a Clockwork Orange, and the main character, Jorg, did seem to share some characteristics with that books hero beyond his love of ultraviolence - a scene where he sits and reads Plutarch following a massacre particularly jumps to mind. I can imagine some people really struggling with this approach to characterisation, but frankly, I loved it. It made for such a different read and the author did a fantastic job of making me root for Jorg while hating myself for doing so. He also struck a nice balance between explaining his behaviour (trauma and a desire for revenge following the brutal death of his mother and young brother, the need to survive and thrive in a cruel world, a horrible father) without ever excusing it. Jorg is almost painfully self-aware, and makes no excuses to the reader. I have an awful tendency to fall in book-love with villainous characters, but some of Jorg's specific actions as well as his overall attitude to life were sufficiently beyond the pale that I never got to the stage of liking him. Nonetheless, he fascinated me.

While it's undoubtedly both a clever and a well-executed device, an evil hero is by no means all this book has going for it. The world is interesting, firstly because the concept of a hundred little principalities fighting to seize control of what was once a united empire allows for lots of politics and scheming. Secondly, because what it quickly becomes clear that what as first feels like a classic medieval fantasy world is in fact a post-apocalyptic earth where the survivors have lost the use of technology and returned to feudal ways. And somehow also gained a degree of magic - possibly through radiation left behind by a nuclear war, though that wasn't fully explained. I'm not sure this always 100% worked (why would people replicate medieval norms quite so exactly?) but it added an extra level of interest and distinguished the setting from your average fantasy novel. It did remind me a bit of the approach used in the Book of the New Sun series, where what appear to be towers are actually abandoned spaceships, but that's no bad thing.

The plot is entertaining and flows well. The writing is great. It's not over-clever or pretentious, it simply works. At times it's actually quite funny, if you can cope with dark humour. The violence is ceaseless and at times extreme, but it's never really gratuitous or lingered over. Most of the really bad stuff (the rapes, the torture of a bishop by sticking needles in his brain etc etc) happens "off-screen" and is mentioned in passing by characters, not described in loving detail by the author. I'm not someone who likes to read about violence for violence's sake or who will choose to read a book because it boasts of being "dark." I could never get on with Joe Abercrombie's book, partly because the world depressed me too much, but despite the fact that the world and the protagonist presented here are if anything, even darker, it somehow kept me entertained and almost cheerful, swept along by the sheer energy and enthusiasm of the protagonist. In his absolute determination to succeed in his quest to become Emperor of his fragmented world whatever it takes, he reminded me of Lucifer in Paradise Lost, though unlike Milton, Lawrence knows full well he's of the devil's party.

There are some books I'd recommend to nearly everyone. This is not one of them. If you like clean-cut heroes, shy away from violence or simply want to see some signs of joy and goodness in your fantasy worlds, you should probably stay away. But if you're looking for a very different and original fantasy novel and think you can cope with a dark world and a morally empty lead and a ruined world, this is a great and surprisingly fun read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story drew me in to a world I couldn't leave - a true reflection of fantastic writing. Despite the challenges faced by the c, 16 Aug 2014
This review is from: Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3 (Paperback)
Prince of Thorns has been one of my more recent reads from the fantasy genre. It was given to me as a gift from my older brother.
From the moment I started reading I was hooked. The story drew me in to a world I couldn't leave - a true reflection of fantastic writing. Despite the challenges faced by the characters and the 'darker' areas of the book, I felt a relation and deep connection to the characters, a connection that made the whole series become a favourite, leaving me feeling a little bit empty when I had finished!
I can't recommend Prince of Thorns enough - a very, very good read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THE TRILOGY NOW!, 16 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3 (Paperback)
I'm not much of a writer, so I'm far better suited to reading the words that others have written.. and what a set of astounding books to read!

Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire trilogy is an absolute masterpiece, so much so that this is the second time I have bought the set as I NEEDED a physical copy to add to my book case.

If you're thinking about purchasing the trilogy, think no more, BUY IT!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dont be put off!, 29 Oct 2014
This review is from: Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3 (Paperback)
The first book in the Broken Empire trilogy was ok and there are review after review of the pros and cons on Amazon so will not bore you with another. What I will do however is urge you not to be put off by the Prince of Thorns as the other two books are fantastic. Honestly, completely worth the slow start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and Sadistic - same editor who does GAME OF THRONES, 14 July 2014
This review is from: Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3 (Paperback)
1st Book of the Broken Empire Trilogy
The book follows Prince Jorg, the last son of the hateful King of Ancrath who decides to embark on his own journey to earn his father’s favour and carve his own life. At first he starts as the lowest in a band of brothers who roam the roads, but by the end he is the defacto ruler of his men and a thorn in his fathers side.

Jorg is a controversial figure who will polarise readers as he is a killing, heartless, and most probably, molesting teenager, however you still can’t help but root for our a vigilante/antihero as he uses cleverness to overcome his enemies who have overwhelming numbers.

Its a very refreshing book but be warned if you don’t like the content of Game of Thrones you won’t like this (the editor of this book Jane Johnson is the same as GRR Martins). But I would 100% recommend this book. Give it a go.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 29 Mar 2014
By 
k. "k." (Norwich, Norfolk, England) - See all my reviews
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If you like Game of Thrones you will like this. You have to get used to it jumping back to the past, but other than that a great read. Read them all now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was hooked!, 3 Feb 2014
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A real twist on historic and modern times, an engrossing read, couldn't put it down! Mark Lawrence can certainly twist time!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 26 Jan 2014
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give it a chance very dark coming of age story about an intelligent, strong willed, lost young man blundering his way through a disaster of his own making.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrifically Intense, 20 Sep 2014
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Mr. G. Patmore (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3 (Paperback)
This book pulls no punches. When authors usually make out their characters to be ruthless, they invariably end up being good, but Jorg Ancrath is the first character who's been utterly ruthless and stayed true to that idea.

And you know what? It's brilliant.

Maybe some people won't go in for non-stop darkness of character, the manipulation, the violence, the outright raping, killing, stealing - and above all else: not caring. Jorg Ancrath is by far one of the most interesting, complex and entertaining characters I've ever read, and would hate to meet. I've read all three of these books and I can say without a doubt that this one, the first, trumps the others.

Highly recommend. It's intense.
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Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3
Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3 by Mark Lawrence (Paperback - 12 April 2012)
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