Book Review: ‘Prince of Thorns’ by Mark Lawrence

prince of thorns mark lawrence

Grit and Determination

Mark Lawrence’s The Prince of Thorns, the first installment in The Broken Empire trilogy, took several false starts before I got through it. The first chapter was gritty, and not in the way that I suspect the author intended. I made it through on the third try, and was intrigued enough that I’ll go in for the other two installments once I have an opening in my ever-increasing reading list, but I’ll be able to wait.

I haven’t enjoyed reading about a teenager protagonist since I was myself waddling through those adolescent years of alternating confidence and complete confusion. Coming of age stories like The Perks of Being a Wallflower do nothing but remind me of the dork I was when I was that age. When Thorns opened with a young (13-year-old) gloating about how much he loves killing, how he is the leader of a band of bloodthirsty savages…I set the book down. I couldn’t take him seriously. Well done, kid.

Slipsliding Here and There

But I picked it up again after hearing people recommend it based on other books I enjoyed. Nope. Tried it again earlier this year in China because I had too much time on my hands. I got through it, and even liked parts, but it felt rushed. Something that I have come to forget fantasy can be filled with. I had grown accustomed to Rothfuss, Lynch, and Martin. All of them writer’s who have a mastery over pacing. This one was jumpy, much like the arrogant protagonist.

I couldn’t empathize with him all that much. I didn’t really care if he succeeded or didn’t. Perhaps the only reason I’ll continue with the series at some point is simply to see if Lawrence develops the lad into something more as he becomes the King of Thorns and later Emperor of Thorns.

Plenty of People Loved It…I Didn’t

Not much else to say. After all the blood was spilled and coagulated, I was left with a story that had some clever world-building (minor possible spoiler: it’s apparently post-post-apocalyptic), and some ‘subverted expectations,’ but didn’t get me wondering what would come next. Probably just some grunts and growls and violence. Hurrah…

Rating: 2.5 out of 5