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Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns (edition 2012)

by Mark Lawrence

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Title:Prince of Thorns
Authors:Mark Lawrence
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Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

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English (36)  Dutch (1)  Albanian (1)  German (1)  All languages (39)
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This is the beginning of a highly regarded fantasy series that begins when Jorg - prince and heir apparent of Ancrath - is quite young. The narration by Jorg alternates between when he is only nine and when he is all of fourteen.

At age nine, Jorg witnesses the murder of his mother, who is the Queen, and his younger brother. He vows to get revenge against Count Renar, whose men were behind the assassinations. Five years later, at age fourteen, Jorg has wreaked a lot of havoc as he and his “band of brothers” murdered, raped, and burned their way through the Empire, but he still hasn’t managed to get close to Renar.

By the end of the book though, he at least knows what has been holding him back, and is ready to commence the next stage of his journey.

WARNING! Spoilery Discussion Follows! Skip to Evaluation to avoid all spoilers.

I had several problems with this book. My biggest complaint is that what Jorg does and accomplishes not only at age 14 but at age 9, really, really stretches the limits of believability for me. I’m not just talking about Jorg’s personal behavior, but about his influence over others, all of whom are grown men and are criminals, fighters, and knights. Yet at both ages, Jorg is regarded as their leader, and this is even before they know that he is prince and heir to Ancrath.

In addition, yes, this is a fantasy, but there are a bit too many magic elements for my taste. Not only are there ghosts, necromancers, dream-witches, and other monstrous creatures, but there is the matter of the mages. It turns out that Jorg behaves as egregiously as he does because he is being manipulated by an evil mage. His nemesis is being manipulated by a rival mage. “We’re all pieces on someone’s board…” (i.e., "game of 'thorns'”). This is all very much in the tradition of classic stories of the chaos and bloodshed resulting from interference of the Greek gods, but I don’t much like it in that context either. I prefer characters to have self-determination.

This book is gory and full of grotesque images, which would be bad enough, but it is also full of amazingly bad attitudes toward women. There is nary a good thing said about any of them except for Jorg’s mother, the Madonna in this world full of whores. Even when Jorg finds a young woman his own age attractive, he considers her a threat to his independence and strength. Thus he prefers “painted whores” to satisfy his physical needs. In any event, none of these women receive more than cardboard treatment.

On the other hand, a rather clever and welcome surprise is the discovery that this medieval world is actually the result of the previous nuclear destruction of civilization - the Day of a Thousand Suns - some 1100 years in the past. Thus this is a post-apocalyptic story set in the future, rather than a story that looks back to ancient times. At least some of the monsters then become explainable as genetic mutations. Similarly, this twist explains the various “Builder” artifacts Jorg occasionally encounters, as well as the references to Western literature.


Evaluation: This is a brutal, bloody story replete with many disturbing images. The main character is as shockingly charismatic as he is cold-hearted, but the author does supply a reason for his pathology. It is possible his nature will “improve” in later volumes.

Note: This book and the two that follow it (King of Thorns and Empire of Thorns) have garnered a great deal of acclaim, received nominations and awards in the field of fantasy writing, and have resulted in a devoted fan base. It happens not to be my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean a lot of other people aren't enamored of this series. ( )
  nbmars | Oct 14, 2014 |
Anti-hero is too mild to define Jorg. ( )
  Gobbers | Sep 28, 2014 |
This novel was both less than original expectation and better for a great finish to the first edition in this series. The story seemed to have a lack of direction (or at least one that I didn't relate to) for at least the first half of the story. In addition, there is a significant amount of (seeming) violence that I just took for effect. I am glad I continued with the story as what didn't make sense at the beginning becomes clear as the story builds to a great finish.

4 stars for the finish and I look forward to continuing this story in the second part, [b:King of Thorns|12891107|King of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #2)|Mark Lawrence|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1322539112s/12891107.jpg|17382436] ( )
  ConalO | Sep 21, 2014 |
Jorg is not the normal kind of protagonist you see in everyday books. He's a prince but not the kind that saves the damsel in distress. If I'm being totally honest, Jorg would make his most cunning attempt to take advantage of the poor damsel. It was her own damn fault for being in distress because if there's one thing Jorg learned it's that altruism doesn't exist. His brother was smashed into the rocks and his mother was raped all the while Jorg was held in a prison of poisonous thorns. He's learned to accept that pain is a part of life, the only part that one can take for granted. One of my most favorite lines--
"“Tell me, tutor,' I said. 'Is revenge a science, or an art?”" ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 13, 2014 |
Full Review (very mild/minor spoilers referencing an event early in the book): http://tenaciousreader.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/prince-of-thorns-the-broken-empi...

My initial reaction when I finished was just. “Wow.” And as dark as the book was, and with Jorg, well, being Jorg, I wasn’t sure I could say I “enjoyed” the book just because the connotations that go with the word “enjoy” and the darkness of the book just dont seem to work well together. More time has passed since then and I think perhaps “intriguing” is a better word choice than “enjoyable”, but regardless, it is a story that I was completely absorbed with and one that I know I will continue on. I know that as time has passed and I have become slightly more detached from the story, I will find myself using the word “enjoy” just out of habit (because regardless of word choice, I am a huge fan of the book). As I said before, Jorg is such a unique character, that to have the tale told from his POV really lends a different perspective and tone to this than other books I have read. ( )
  tenaciousreader | May 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Prince of Thorns is without a doubt the most original and most memorable fantasy debut of 2011. It's difficult to imagine how another book could top this one
added by mark32 | editRisingShadow.net, Sami Airola (Feb 27, 2011)
"This is a lean, cold knife-thrust of a novel, a revenge fantasy anchored on the compelling voice and savage purpose of its titular Prince. There is never a safe moment in Lawrence’s debut"

added by mark32 | editRobert V.S Redick
"Dark and relentless, the Prince of Thorns will pull you under and drown you in story. A two in the morning page turner."
added by mark32 | editRobin Hobb
Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence is the best fantasy read I’ve had since Alan Campbell’s Scar Night. It got hold of me from page one and didn’t let go...
The Prince of Thorns is an apt title for young Jorg - as a character he is not heroic at all. He is twisted and violent, calculating and merciless. Yet I couldn't stop reading - regardless how many times Lawrence's brilliant descriptions made me wince and clasp my hand to my mouth in disbelief. It was freaking awesome!

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Lawrenceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chan, JasonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Voor Celyn, de beste delen zijn nooit kapot gegaan,
To Celyn, the best parts were never broken
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Raven! Altijd weer die raven.
Ravens! Always the ravens.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
"Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse."

Once 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's bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a 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. The thorns taught him a lesson in blood...Copyright 2010, Mark Lawrence, All Rights Reserved.The Prince of Thorns is the first volume in a powerful new epic fantasy trilogy, original, absorbing and challenging.

Mark Lawrence’s debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.
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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?… (more)

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