Prince of Thorns
18 January 2014 1 Comment
Author: Mark Lawrence
Summary: From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that putsa chill in him. Returning to his father’s castle, Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5
Review: I decided i wanted to read this book over a year ago, but when i picked it up to start reading it last week, i couldn’t remember why. I thought (and now know) it was because of the post-apocalyptic setting, however one or two goodreads reviews left me extremely nervous about starting to read it.
I have now learnt my lesson about how much faith to place in random goodreads reviews; they were highly over dramatic and unfair, and in one case, the reviewer hadn’t even read more than the first few pages.
Yes, there are some nasty things in this book. Yes, the main character, Jorg, is not a pleasant person. No, they are not reasons to dismiss this book or (necessarily) not enjoy it.
There is plenty of action and plot, mostly consisting of fighting, murder, death and destruction with a bit of family drama and testing of friendships. But what this book mostly seems to be is a character study of Jorg, and i’m okay with that.
The blurb describes Jorg and immoral, but I can’t decide if he’s immoral or amoral. In truth i think he is a little of both. He recognises that others may call him evil and think what he does immoral, but he himself has no problem with it–he has no morals. Except that, in some cases, he does. Jorg considers doing and does do things he, personally, does not find appealing, because he believes they should be done. He hurts people he cares about and does not enjoy it.
Prince of Thorns is told in first person, and that’s perfect for getting inside Jorg’s head. Except is everything he thinks his own thoughts? Even he isn’t sure. Which just makes him an even more fascinating character, as far as i’m concerned.
Jorg was not my favourite character, though, not by far. The Nuban and Makin share the top spot. They had more depth (and more mystery, since we don’t actually find out that much about them), while still have enough of the ambiguous morality for me to appreciate them. Also loyalty. They didn’t always agree with Jorg, but they respected him and, equally, he always respected them–it was them it pained him to hurt.
The post-apocalyptic setting was too subtle for me. It was excellent, and realistic, really, i am just fascinated by the idea and crave more information. Over a thousand years after a nuclear war and the surviving humans (and mutants) have worked their way up to something resembling the middle ages. There are only hints at what happened and what’s left behind. Their ‘castles’ are the foundations of long-destroyed skyscrapers, Jorg quotes Nietzsche and the swearing is crude and straightforward. Of course the best bit was when they… with the… but i won’t spoil it.
There are two more book in this series, and i think i will, at some point, give the second one a go. If for nothing else than to glimpse more of this intriguing post-apocalyptic setting and follow Jorg in his unhurried but determined ambitions and craving for revenge.