It’s not very often you root for a protagonist in a story who does a whole lot of killing. Innocent killings, mind you. As a child, I’m sure you grew up listening to stories where the hero defends the innocent and slays the evil of the world. It’s cliche but yet not that much people mind because that’s how it’s ‘suppose’ to be. Well, the Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence breaks this strategy and goes for the complete opposite. Rather than reading about a hero who does every good deed asked of him/her, the main character sets out on a path of revenge and will stop at nothing until he gets it. That means burning villages and killing people who stands in his way, either friend or foe. Make no mistake about it. Prince of Thorns is a fantasy book about revenge. Not justice, but revenge.
“When he was nine, he watched his mother and brother killed before him. By the time he was thirteen, he was the leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king…It’s time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what’s rightfully his. Since the day he was hung on the thorns of a briar patch and forced to watch Count Renar’s men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent his rage. Life and death are no more than a game to him-and he has nothing left to lose. But treachery awaits him in his father’s castle. Treachery and dark magic. No matter how fierce, can the will of one young man conquer enemies with power beyond his imagining?”
After reading that summary, you’re probably thinking what the heck? But yes, our main protagonist is nothing but a young boy. However, don’t let his age fool you because one wrong move and you’ll find yourself writhing on the ground with your throat slashed open! The good thing is though, Brother Jorg is no simple minded kid that you can just push around. While he is young of age, it seems as if he has the mindset of a person with much more life experience under his belt. Here is the where the author shines. Prince of Thorns is told through Brother Jorg’s eyes and so this is a first-person POV. Throughout the book, you’ll find yourself reading about the thoughts and wants of Brother Jorg and what makes him tick. A lot of simile and metaphors will be used to describe things. A big word of caution to readers out there is that Prince of Thorns can be considered a very ‘violent’ infused book. There are a lot of killings and so it will be gory at certain times. However, I really don’t see it as overwhelming to the point where it’s just all the author focuses on. It’s certainly gritty and dark but if you’re the type who hates gore and blood, you’ll want to think twice about picking up Prince of Thorns.
Throughout the book, you’ll also get to learn about Brother Jorg’s band of brothers. Each has a distinct personality and many will not hesitate to kill for their leader. It’s definitely funny and entertaining when you think about it. How can a boy of just 12-13 years old lead a group of bandits that comprises of grown men? Well, for one, he is the rightful heir to the throne so that does give him some power. Jorg also has a witty mind but most dangerous of all, he’s sort of a psychopath. He relishes in violence and many a times, he imagines himself strangling or even gutting the person talking right in front of him and actually finds comfort in it! Of course, he’s not all animal. But for the most part, you’ll just have to read the book to find out more about Jorg Ancrath.
Prince of Thorns is a fantasy novel and so you’ll have your usual castles, knights in shining (most often times the opposite) armor, sword fights, taverns and whorehouses and a whole lot of traveling. Magic does play a part in the book but not what you would expect. For example, don’t expect wizards to cast massive fireballs or call down lightning from the sky. I was a little sad about the series not having a dedicated magic system. However, the author still manages to capture your attention even without a fancy magics. For example, the last fight scene was very well done and satisfying. Prince of Thorns is only the first in the trilogy set so if you made it to the end, you’ll no doubt be left wondering just what more can this Prince Jorg accomplish? How many sacrifices will he need the next time around? Will he have a lover? What schemes will he next come up with to conquer foreign lands? Will revenge and anger still play a role in shaping his life and destiny?
There are definitely no shortages of authors out there writing fantasy novels. What makes Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns so incredible is that he created a character that you just hate and love at the same time. This is due to a large part in him not sticking with the usual strategy of creating yet another hero of sorts that we’ve most likely read or seen a hundred different times. Prince of Thorns is a refreshing book in that it’s definitely not your average cup of tea. I really wish more authors (of all genres) would consider doing what Mark has done here rather than following the script every time. Characters in books are humans too and sometimes, they shouldn’t always be so nice and courteous!