Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review - Prince of Thorns, Mark Lawrence

Let's be honest. I'm not a fan of the inherently bad protagonist. My belief is that ambitions inspire motives and those motives inspire deeds; what is good or evil is but a matter of perspective. Yet something inside willed me to buy this book. Perhaps it was the want for a traditional fantasy novel or perhaps I was curious to see if the inherently bad could be pulled off. Whatever the reason, Prince of Thorns arrived on my doorstep in beautiful hardcover, begging me - or more appropriately, threatening me - to read the pages within.


Plot -
Prince of Thorns has a satisfying balance between pace and plot. The story is easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable as you enter the thick of the tale. There are a few big moments that took me by surprise and the story remained relatively solid throughout. The relationship between the prince (the protagonist) and his father (the king) is epic. However, this is a story where readers should take note of the figures who lurk in the shadows. In essence, the tale is about the game of thrones, the ambitions of a kingdom and the fractured relationship between father and son.

World -
Prince of Thorns is set in your traditional fantasy world. Or so you think. Without spoiling anything, be on the lookout for a very surprising twist concerning the structure of the world. Whereas other fantasy novels exist with elements assumed and accepted as 'the norm', Prince of Thorns sets out to give a logical and clever explanation of why things are the way they are. This is a breath of fresh air, with some fantasy titles relying on readers to accept everything their world offers, just because they should. But do not fret, the world is everything you love about fantasy and more, but also expect the unexpected (to quote a cliched saying).

Characters -
The prince is inherently bad. But that's not the whole story. Lawrence provides you with reasons about why the prince does what he does, and not once did I feel that the prince was an immortal character doing bad things just because he can. There are many other memorable characters too and unlike some authors, Lawrence is not married to them. They can die just as easily as a nameless goon - and Lawrence does not linger on the details. I love this about fantasy novels.


Prince of Thorns is the first fantasy title that I have enjoyed in a long while. I'm looking forward to reading the next two subsequent titles. If you love Robin Hobb, Joe Abercrombie or David Gemmell, you'll like Prince of Thorns. If you're looking for a fun read, light and enjoyable, Prince of Thorns is for you.


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