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147 of 156 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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49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Expected more
There has been much made of the fact that Prince of Thorns features a rapist as the main character, that it is far too dark and bloodthirsty, that it bears great similarity to Joe Abercrombie, that it objectifies women. I would dispute every one of these points. Every single one.

Prince of Thorns features a young boy as the protagonist, someone who offers his...
Published on 27 Aug 2011 by A. L. Rutter


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147 of 156 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 (****) 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 11 Feb 2014
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Mike (Bristol, ENGLAND) - See all my reviews
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From the very first page The Prince of Thorns will hook you. The storytelling is compelling and if you enjoyed Game of Thrones you will not be disappointed with this. It is very easy to read and highly enjoyable. Looking forward to starting Book 2 now. Don't hesitate, buy it now.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The start of a fantastic trilogy, 28 Feb 2014
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What a fantastic series of books. The main character has so much going on, with so much background you can't help but keep reading.

The plot is original, so much so that I had to re-read parts just to ensure I had got the gist of it. That is not to say the writing is bad, its brilliant, it just that you always get the feeling something else is going on but never quite sure what. Upon finishing, it all becomes clear.

I would recommend this trilogy to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a really good read., 10 Feb 2014
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I was a bit dubious about this book so download as a free read. Very pleasantly surprised a good quick read with plenty going on. Shall have to download the next instalment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 29 Mar 2014
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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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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and best read since Game of Thrones, 20 July 2012
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This review is from: Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3 (Paperback)
I bought this book not really expecting much, the reviews seemed good so I thought I'd give it a go. I do most of my reading on the commute back and forth to London. I picked it up on the way to work, and to be honest I was instantly captivated and don't really remember anything else happening in the days between the act of picking it up and finishing I didn't put it down. The only disapointment I found with Prince of Thorns was that it had to end. A truely great read for the fantastists among us. The best book I've read since Game of Thrones, Can't wait for the next in the next in the series!
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49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Expected more, 27 Aug 2011
By 
A. L. Rutter "Floor to Ceiling Books" (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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There has been much made of the fact that Prince of Thorns features a rapist as the main character, that it is far too dark and bloodthirsty, that it bears great similarity to Joe Abercrombie, that it objectifies women. I would dispute every one of these points. Every single one.

Prince of Thorns features a young boy as the protagonist, someone who offers his band of brothers "a different sort of treasure" to keep them sweet, someone who has raped women but only ever off screen. I've seen far, far worse occurrences of rape in novels - for heavens' sake, Steven Erikson has women raping the bodies of dead soldiers in Memories of Ice. Yes, there is rape - but nothing worse than presented in historical novels that I have read. When you have a marauding band of criminals, there will be raping and pillaging.

It is a dark and bloodthirsty novel, I would agree - but, once again, nothing that hasn't been done far worse before. It is grim at times for sure. However, I would argue that grimy fantasy is still flavour of the month, so Prince of Thorns should prove popular on this point.

Prince of Thorns bears very little similarity to Joe Abercrombie and absolutely none to George R R Martin - I'm surprised it was marketed in the slipstream of A Dance With Dragons. For me, Prince of Thorns shares more with Wolfsangel by M D Lachlan. It is basically the novel that Paul Hoffman of "The Left Hand of God" fame wishes that he had written. There are dreamlike sequences of necromancers (rather than witches, as with Wolfsangel), and there is a relativity with our world (as with The Left Hand of God).

And the woman thing. There ARE female characters in this novel. And they act independently of men. Men do not drive their story. In this respect, it was perfectly satisfactory. You cannot write a novel about a marauding band of brothers and try to include strong women who are the equal of the men; it doesn't fit the tone or the passage of the novel. I can't actually see why people have complained about this fact.

Now that I have refuted these claims, what did I think of the book? Prince of Thorns is readable, but, at the moment, not much more. I would be interested to read a sequel to see whether my personal issue can be addressed.

This issue is that I felt as though I was reading the outline of a novel. There were events in Prince of Thorns, but they felt slight and as though there should have been more involved. I was left dissatisfied by my reading experience because I felt as though Lawrence was fully capable of producing better, but hadn't fleshed out Prince of Thorns enough to achieve this.

With regards to the post-apocalyptic world - well, yay for not being yet another faux Medieval world. But DO MORE WITH IT! The world surrounding Jorg could have been interesting and unique. It could have been like nothing in any other fantasy world so far created. Instead, it felt stale and very, very underdeveloped.

Like I say, Prince of Thorns was readable. I liked certain characters very much, I enjoyed the structure and I would want to see more from Lawrence - but I do want to see a significant improvement on Prince of Thorns. A very tentative yes from me.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Heart of Darkness beats inside the Prince of Thorns, 30 July 2011
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Fantasy Lore - See all my reviews
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One trend in the fantasy genre, which waxes and wanes through the years is the device of the cruel, murderous and/or insane protagonist. I don't mean protagonists who can be cruel, who have murdered and whose experiences have unhinged them (because you'd be hard-pushed to name a protagonist in fantasy who didn't boast one or all of those qualities). I refer to protagonists who maim, rape, torture and murder, because they're psychotic. This trend isn't one I'm particularly fond of, if only because it so often means sacrificing a depth of human feeling that is for me the epitome of the very best fantasy tales. But being that `Prince of Thorns' falls into this category and given its hype I decided to begin reading with as much of an open-mind as possible.

My impression of the first few chapters of the book was that the characters and settings were a little bit bland and two-dimensional. So I was disappointed not to be struck by the rich, complex and mesmerizing fantasy epic I'd been lead to believe lay in these pages. Despite this, in the beginning something keeps you turning each page and it isn't just the intelligence of the writing, it's the audacity of its anti-hero Prince Jorg, who is the most despicable protagonist since Thomas Covenant.

`Prince of Thorns' can't be described as high fantasy; there just isn't the depth to the characters or the world building. There are prolonged periods in the book of quite cliched battles and quests (of the tired 1980's swords & sorcery fantasy sort) that are entirely pedestrian, but these periods are punctuated by momentous scenes that offer pure enjoyment, and the capricious nature of the main character is usually the catalyst for these scenes. By the time the reader is half-way through the book it does become clear that there is something a little bit special about `Prince of Thorns', not necessarily in the plot, which concerns slaughter, scheming and a subtle sprinkling of magic (i.e. many of the ingredients you might expect of the genre), but more in the refreshing sense of unpredictability and the glorious insanity of the main protagonist.

Mark Lawrence does, in my opinion and on the evidence of this debut title, deserve much of the hype that's been piled onto this, his debut work, if only because he's the best new fantasy writer I've sampled in recent years. `Prince of Thorns' doesn't rival the work of his most popular contemporaries in the genre, for the reasons I've previously given, but he's constructed a good story here, one that may begin in a slightly two-dimensional fashion, but which gradually builds and remains entertaining to the final page.

I've only sampled a handful of debut fantasy tales in the last few years, because it's so very rare for the product to live up to the hype. `Prince of Thorns' is different- it's not world-class, but it's distinctive and well-constructed enough to be the foundation for a long and distinguished fantasy-fiction career for its author. While I haven't added Mark Lawrence to my mental list of fantasy authors whose newest publications I must never fail to purchase, I can say that I am going to be reading how ever many more installments there may be in this particular series.
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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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