Monday, 22 October 2012

Prince of Thorns - Two Minute Review

Although I've not managed much gaming lately, I've still ploughed through plenty of books. The latest fiction book I finished was Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, a fantasy released in 2011.  By many measures, PoT is your standard fantasy fare.  Starting not quite in medias res, we meet the protagonist, Jorg, in the company of a criminal gang, burning their way though a rural village.  The pacing is fairly quick and we soon discover more about Jorg's past, the associated tragedies and how he ended up where we found him.

Put simply, PoT is character driven fiction, specifically one charater, Jorg.  If you don't take to him fairly quickly, you'd be as well putting the book down and not bothering.  In fact, you could read the first two or three chapters in a bookstore and decide before even buying the book.  So what's so engaging about Jorg?  Well, his age and situation aren't what you might initially expect, he has a fairly odd view of the world that is really engaging, but what grabbed me was that he (very early in the book) makes an undead wight run away in terror!  How he manages it is one of the questions that drew me in.

The author has adopted a very easy, flowing style of writing, something that has become very common recently, and combined with the fast pacing, I found that the pages just flew by.  In this respect, Mark Lawrence has a lot more in common with Kristen Cashore or Peter Brett than with more "wordy" authors like Peter Hamilton or Iain M Banks.  So don't expect to need a dictionary here, the depth comes form the dialogue and Jorg's internal monologue.

There were a couple issues to get past before I could fully enjoy PoT.  Firstly, Jorg has a copy of Plutarch he enjoys reading.  Now this is the Plutarch, so what's he doing in a fantasy world?  Hmmm, not sure if this is clever or lazy on the authors part.  It only really affects the plot directly once, so at the moment it feels a little unnecessary, but that may change over the next two books (because, obviously, every new fantasy has to be a trilogy or a quartet or a series or something!)  Secondly, PoT is written in the first person i.e. I did this, I think that...  Not that this is a huge problem, indeed it is almost mandatory given how Jorg explains his view of the world, but it does lessen the tension somewhat as you know the hero can't die!

Despite that, PoT is a highly enjoyable, highly readable little fiction.  If you need a quick fantasy fix, and you could easily read this in an afternoon, I'd heartily recommend picking this up.  Better yet, have a quick read of the first chapter on Amazon, PoT continues like it begins.


  1. You objected to Plutarch, but not Neitzsche, Popper, Shakespeare, lightbulbs, chemical weapons, a nuke and the map being a slightly flooded Europe? You're saying you didn't spot this was our future?

    1. No no, it's pretty clear where and when PoT is set. As this was only a quick review, I wanted to keep it as spoiler-lite as possible.

      Nor am I really objecting to the author using them, I'm just asking what does their inclusion bring to the book.

    2. surely the question is what does their inclusion do for the trilogy? It counts more in the long game I expect. It certainly ramps up in King of Thorns.

    3. Errr, yeah, that's what I pointed out in the main post. However, in my opinion, just because something is important for future books shouldn't excuse an author leaving a first book undeveloped. Thanks for the comments.

  2. Sounds a good read I may give this a go myself!

  3. I had this in my hand the other day in Waterstones but put it back because you just don't know, thanks for the review as I may now pick it up!

  4. I don't think you two would be sorry if you did.