Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire 1)

Prince of Thorns - Mark  Lawrence This book is great. It's also incredibly violent and graphic and has a whole host of completely unlikeable characters! I mean, if that doesn't get you interested right there, I don't know what would! Starting points, you'll either get sucked into this book right off (guilty as charged) or you will be so nauseated that you'll put it down right away and probably not continue. It's graphic, and the gore starts at the very first page. Now, if you're someone who has to really like the narrating character, then this book isn't for you. I mean, Jorg really isn't that likeable. He doesn't even really have any redeeming qualities. However, if you're someone more like me and you adore flawed characters, then you're probably going to like Jorg because MAN he is flawed. The book literally begins with a slaughter. Jorg and his 'brothers' - the band of roguish men that he travels with - have just finished decimating a village and are just finishing up when the book begins. As I said, the gore begins right off. Now, the gory stuff really isn't written to be nasty or vomit inducing or anything. It's just violent, and gory.... and really violent. The narration is from Jorg's point of view, and switches back and forth from being the present and four years earlier when Jorg was ten. (We are dealing with a fourteen year old main character here. Brace yourself.) Jorg is a great character, if you're okay with really not liking much about him. He's violent, angry, angsty, vengeful, proud. You name that deadly sin and Jorg has it! It was a little awkward at first when you first realise that the narrator is a rather young boy, and yet is more violent and colder than the grown men that he travels with, but as the story progresses it makes more sense. The chapters that deal with Jorg's past show why it is he's like how he is, and what happened to make him that way. One problem is, because there is a whole band of men that Jorg travels with, it is hard to keep them straight at the beginning. But, i mean, a lot of them die throughout the book so there's less to keep track of by the end! Don't really bother getting attached to many of the characters, they're probably going to die (hey it's like reading a GrrM book!) And, speaking of George R.R. Martin, his influence over this book is really really obvious. At times it was a bit too obvious. The book deals a lot with the idea of life and war just being a game. Jorg compares this war that he's in and his life to being just a game and everything and everyone are just pieces in the game. Before he makes an important action, there will be moments where it is laid out like a move on a chess board. However, the number of times he says something about the 'game of thrones' was a little ridiculous. Like, I know that that is a pretty generic statement, but really, it's kind of obvious where that was inspired from. Regardless, the phrase worked with the story and the whole idea of everything being a game did lend itself well to the plot and Jorg's narration. It gave him a tiny bit of endearing character, because he is rather detached from the situation, viewing everything as if it were a game. The only real problem i had with the book is that I had absolutely zero sense of setting. It tells you about the broken empire and few hundred kings that are all dreaming of one day reuniting the empire as a whole. But Jorg was constantly referencing ancient to modern philosophers ( from Socrates to Nietzsche ) and there were actual geographic places that were mentioned. However, it was obviously a fantasy setting. So, i was confused whether or not we were supposed to be viewing these places in a European setting that is apparently set apart from time? Or if it is a world in and of itself with this realistic elements in them? It was all rather confusing. Aside from that, though, the book was very well written. The pacing was great, i really didn't put it down after I started it. Even though the characters aren't that loveable, i did like them. But really, you have to really like this kind of book to get into this. You have to be someone who likes flawed characters and gritty plots. Because that was basically all this book was. Flawed characters and gritty plot.