Friday, December 16, 2011
Bastard Reaction: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Jorg Ancrath is a charming fourteen year-old sociopath who has set in motion a path to reach the high throne. Prince of Thorns is the debut book by Mark Lawrence, first of the The Broken Empire trilogy. It's a novel I've been highly anticipating, and it didn't disappoint when I finally managed to read it.
Prince of Thorns introduces us to Jorg as he travels with his band of Brothers; stealing, killing, and raping at their will and pleasure. Behind all these atrocities, Jorg has been setting a plan towards winning the game of thrones, to become the king above all kings, fueled by his fearful reputation and war genius; win the war, become Emperor. Along this road, he has to face his father as well as a quest of revenge as we learn about Jorg's past, and the reality of the world he lives in where all may not be what it seems.
It was a real pleasure to read this book, there's just something that I find quite alluring at being inside the head of a sociopath, or a psychopath for that matter, particularly when narrated in the first person. It always comes to answering the questions "why", "what", "how"; why is Jorg acting the way he does, what motivates his actions, and how he reasons the world around him. As such, this book will have some detractors because it can be an uncomfortable read, particularly when coupled with the imagery of the depicted atrocities. It's also subject to misconceptions. Worth mentioning that not all atrocities are detailed in a graphic manner, like the allusions to rape, but mainly the violent action scenes are detailed as such. A great deal of the enjoyment of this book will depend on how you find Jorg as a character, and more importantly as a narrator.
On the surface this is a straightforward book, which can be entertaining for some or confused as shallow by others. My main interest in the book is that what happens behind the scenes, so in many ways what is left unsaid forcing the reader to fill in the blanks and speculate; hungry to see what comes next to shed a better light on the events that compose Prince of Thorns. It's one of those books that I think it's very dependent on reader perspective and how much work they put into it. I am by no means a good reader, but I like to think that I delved enough into it. Don't like to read books more than once, but once you're done reading it, this book can be read from an entirely different perspective than with the one you entered the experience, giving new insights about what occurred.
Depending on the angle from which you approach this book, to me this novel was mainly one about manipulation and a twisted and inhuman cost-benefit analysis interposed by a journey of self-discovery.
Aside from the discomfort of content for some, this is an easy book to read and a page turner. For all intents and purposes a short book, but not a light one. I thought the prose was excellent, distinct, and economic. As mentioned before, found the narrator to be quite interesting and enjoyed his observations, at times inflicted with a bit of humor, while disturbing at others.
Don't know if there are any manga readers among you, but if you're a fan of Berserk you might want to have a look a this novel, and if you're not a manga reader and you enjoyed Prince of Thorns I think it would be worth your while to give it a go. The antagonist of that series reminds me of Jorg a bit, and has a few other elements in common, but we warned Berserk is quite disturbing and sick.
Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns was an excellent read for me, certainly one of my top ones for the year, one that I'm highly recommending. Once again, how you find Jorg's narrative will greatly influence how you experience the book. Well received and praised by the majority, it has also been a book that has become a bit polarizing for some; inducing strong reactions. Jorg to me is an awesome character, and can't wait to experience this world more through his eyes and in his mind. Maybe I'm just bit twisted myself. I hope you join Brother Jorg in his journey, but remember not to get on his way. Wouldn't want you to lose your head for saying something stupid. Looking forward to the sequel, King of Thorns which should be released at some point in 2012.
You can buy Prince of Thorns from The Book Depository.
Please visit Mark Lawrence's website and his blog for more information.