Review – Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.

 

 

So,

I’ve been harping on about this book for the last 3, or is it now 4 months? Time to review ….

I’m a fan of fantasy, all fantasy really, but especially fantasy with grit or that something magical and special. (I’m a huge Jacqueline Carey fan – see my review on Kushiel’s Dart – I love her work and have read everything she has to offer. I place Martin,Rothfuss, Irvine, Donaldson, Weeks and Lynch in this fantastical group of literary godliness.)

Mr Lawrence has now fallen into the gritty, addictive, compelling and, for want of a better word, bloody awesome fantasy list.

I bought it on my kindle on the 4th September after watching an exchange on a social networking site involving a reviewer and the author. I know, that sounds horribly voyeuristic, but it’s true.

What grabbed me was the way the author really stood his ground; normally you see authors shy away from negative publicity in fear of a domino effect – but immediately I admired Mark’s determination and decision not to bow down, and he was right not to, the reviewer was wrong (more on that in a minute.)

I bought the book on the back of that. I think that if you can respect and admire the author – then you’re onto a winner.  And I do admire Mark, he’s hardworking both professionally and personally and he takes time out to talk to fans about writing, about technicalities of writing, about tv, about news, anything really. All good publicity I guess, and in this case – it really worked for me. Too many published authors surf on the wave of their success and don’t take time out to chat to fans. (I could name a few …)

Eurgh … that sounds like I’m sucking up … I’m not.

Right, the book, enough wittering Sam …

The Prince of Thorns – so what’s it about?

Briefly, the book is written in the first person, meaning we read as though we are the main character (MC) who is Prince Jorg, son of King Olidan of Ancrath. Jorg watched as his mother and brother were brutally murdered when he was nine years old. He runs away with mercenaries, and becomes a cruel, twisted and ruthless young man. The book opens with a nice bloody scene and sets the tone immediately.

Jorg sees it as his destiny to reunite the empire under one emperor – him; and he’ll stop at nothing to achieve his goal.

Now, I’m not a professional reviewer. I don’t give a toss about a lot of areas in a book as long as I enjoy the story. I didn’t enjoy this story, I LOVED it. As an aspiring writer myself, I can appreciate the time and dedication Mark put into his world building, the history, the religious, the philosophical aspects that all come together in this almost post-apocalyptic world. First person is notoriously difficult to pull off, so hats off to this author.

Fantasy books have come a long way in the last decade, we’ve moved from traditional high fantasy stories with simple good vs evil, to a more indepth analysis of the human psyche. Things aren’t always black and white, our MC’s aren’t necessarily good and sometimes they can be evil twisted bastards who surprise us with their actions – oh especially about halfway through the book!!!! … I’ve heard the phrase “metaphysical fantasy” batted around, and I think that this would overlap into that genre. It makes you sit up and think, makes you think people, so refreshing in today’s banal literary times….

A lot of newish authors have tried the grey coloured MC. Abercrombie is one (remember I said I’d come back to the reviewer/author comments?) … Well, Prince of Thorns was compared to Abercrombie’s work and the reviewer was critical and harsh. I actually wondered if he had read P.O.T at all … this book is far superior to Abercrombie’s work.

I’ve read all of J.A’s work and while he writes the twisted MC and writes it well, they become predictable, samey and frankly boring. Jorg of Ancrath is far from predictable, he’s morally reprehensible, unpredictable and wild.

I would place Prince of Thorns on par with the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin, no joke, deadly serious. If the next two books live up to the first – then I don’t doubt that Mark Lawrence will be worldwide name whispered in the darkness by bespeckled fantasy geeks (such as me, minus glasses) at many conventions as we all climb over each other and beat young children into a pulp for the chance to meet and greet …

 

Here’s the link to amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Prince-Thorns-Mark-Lawrence/dp/0007423292/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326202995&sr=8-1

 

and if any of my lovely friends wants a copy for birthday, Christmas, Easter etc etc then I’ll happily buy you one.

 

Enjoy! …

 

Don’t say I didn’t warn you – this is violent people!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Delicious Combination …

I’ve just finished such a great book that I think it deserves its own blog post … “Kushiel’s Dart” by Jacqueline Carey.  A friend recommended her books about 6 weeks ago (thanks Chris!) So I added her to the list and last night decided to tackle the mammoth 990 page tome.

I was hooked on the first page, the clever story telling paired with the wonderful way that Carey tells the story from what we presume is Phedre’s memories and recollections is truly captivating.

I read the book in about 7 hours and I was drawn to Elua, Naamah and Kushiel (the deities) who settled on Terre D’Ange (medieval France for all intents and purposes.) This is a world where prostitution is not frowned upon but is a religious calling (Naamah’s calling.) Rich patrons will regularly buy the virginity of young Naamah acolytes and those that do see their social standing and position increase.

The book follows a young girl called Phedre who was sold at the age of 4 by her courtesan mother to a pleasure house, by the age of 10 her indenture is transferred to a political meddler whose keen gaze spots that she is different, her left eye bears the mark known as “Kushiel’s Dart” a red blemish.

She is trained in the art of pleasure, espionage, language and art and Phedre is thrown into the world of Terre D’Ange.

As “Kushiel’s Chosen” she is an anguissette – she draws her pleasure and strength from sexual pain. True S&M style. Her virgin price is high and she becomes a coveted creature for the higher echelons of the court. She is the only chosen known to be alive.

As Phedre discovers her “gift” we discover more and more about the royal court, the land of Terre D’Ange, her master and then the elusive and damn right gorgeous Joscelin – a celibate warrior sworn to Phedre’s service by her master.

She starts to pay off her indenture and to show the world that she is working towards freedom, the work on her “marque” begins, a large tattoo covering her entire back.

I wont go on with the story, but Carey has won me over, this was a HUGE novel to devour, but I did so with joy, the erotic scenes are just beautiful and the whole S&M description really hit a chord with me … Wonderful eye opener in that sense and very emotional.

Carey isn’t just another cheap “Mills and Boon” writer looking for quick sexual kicks, she is a master of her art. Each word and sentence beautifully thought out and constructed. I genuinely CARE for the characters, I understand their pain, their love, the reasons for their very being.

I would recommend this book to both male and female fantasy readers, the prose is excellent, the sex is mind-blowingly hot, the political intrigue is full of twists and turns, the battle scenes top notch and the overall pace superb … Can’t really say anything more than that!

Oh and Robert Jordan loved her books …