King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence is the second book in the Broken Empire series. I loved the first book and was patiently waiting for this release. Finally, book number two is here and you once again get to follow the adventures of Honorous Jorg Ancrath. This time however, he’s no prince. He is now the king. If you didn’t like the first book, I’m willing to bet all my money that you are not going to like this one as well. King Jorg is just not your normal protagonist. In his introduction, you read about a boy poised on a journey of revenge and basically stopping at nothing until he gets it. That means a whole lot of innocent killing. If you enjoy dark and gritty fantasy, you’ve just got to give this series a read. I promise it will be like nothing you’ve read before!
It has been four years since the last book ended. Jorg Ancrath is now King and even has his own castle. Of course, he still has his band of Brothers alongside him. This time, King Jorg is faced with an invasion from Prince Orrin of Arrows. Not only is he horribly outnumbered but the worst part is, some of his memories is lost, sort of. At the age of 19, he is still very young but make no mistake about it: King Jorg can be twice as deadly as men twice his age. Although King Jorg is the same person as before, here you can really sense a slight change of personality. However, just when you think you’ve got him figured out, he does a complete 180. It’s really fascinating to say the least. Is he the same ruthless killer we know him to be? Does he have some sort of compassion? If so, what sparks it? What are his weaknesses? Does he carry any guilt or is he like just human like everyone else?
The writing style is what is so special and different from other books I’ve read. The story is told through Jorg’s personal viewpoint and just like with the first, you get to read about his most personal thoughts and thinking process. The style is definitely unique and if you’ve read the first book, you’ll know what I mean. The story takes place in two different timelines. You have the current time of events and for a better part of the book, you’ll get to also read what took place four years earlier with King Jorg and Katherine. At first it might seem a little confusing because I partly forgot about what happened in the first book but it’s not too bad. There are pieces here and there that recollects the past events. Reading from Jorg’s point of view for the whole book might sound boring to some but I find it not necessarily so. His band of Brothers do make things a bit more interesting. Each have a different personality of sorts but each is willing to kill for their king in a heartbeat and probably in the most gruesome ways possible too.
King of Thorns is about survival in situations where the odds are completely stacked against you. Do you admit defeat or do you do what is necessary to survive even if it will cost the lives of many men? How far can revenge really take a man? How do you separate the weak from the strong? From time to time there will be some fight scenes but interestingly, that’s not the most exciting parts. Sometimes the events leading up to those fights are more interesting than the fight itself. I do admit that it was a while before I warmed up to the book. At first I kind of despised the protagonist but as I read further and further in, I remembered what made the first book so great. As you read along, you have to keep in mind this is not your average story about pure good vs. pure evil. There is always a grey side to things. With King Jorg, that color is a very dark shade of grey. The thing is, he’s perfectly content with that…just as long as he’s on the winning side.