Saturday, 27 July 2013

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence - a review

King of Thorns continues the story of  Honorous Jorg Ancrath, now ruling the Renar Highlands, taken from his uncle at the end of Prince of Thorns. It is now four or so years after the events of Prince and all is not well.

The Prince of Arrow and his army are at the gates and ready to take Jorg's castle and lands. The Prince of Arrow is intending to become the emperor of the 100 Kingdom's and all prophecies seem to say he will be successful in his quest.

As before the main story is set in two timelines - "now" and "four years earlier". The events of the two timelines work well to take the story along at a good pace, events in the past being revealed, often, just as they become relevent to events "now".

Added to these timelines we also get scraps from the journal of Katherine Ap Scorron, Jorg's aunt, the one woman he really seems bothered about (and that may well be an understatement!). Also, part of Jorg's tale from "4 years ago" led to events that were to drive him to insanity. The only cure for this was to visit a man who put all these events in a box "NEVER to be opened". These events trickle out slowly through the tale so you seem to have four storylines going on but it is done in such a masterful way that I at no time thought "what the hell is going on here"

Many middle books in trilogies are travel books and this is no different. The "4 years ago" section covers a lot of ground from the lands of ice to the Mediterranean like land of his Grandfather. The difference is that many middle books can be the weaker of the three. This is certainly not the case here, not by a long way. The land of this series is obviously future Earth. You can tell by just looking at the map. The place names are often very similar to the world we know now as well (Barlona for example) and as before, there are hints of the science from the world before. Mark Lawrence paints a wonderful picture of his world and it is a pleasure to travel in it.

Jorg always seems to be at his best when the odds are against him and with the Prince of Arrow at his gates there seems to be no way of winning. The events at the climax of this story - I never saw them coming. The author throws such a curveball as I haven't seen in a long time. The twist is very, VERY clever.

With this book Mark Lawrence hasn't just pulled the rabbit out of the hat, he's also taught it to do tricks, learn spanish etc get my drift. Possibly the best fantasy book I have read this year and the only reason I am giving it 4.5 stars is that on this performance Emperor of Thorns (which is now in my possession) will be even better and will earn the 5 stars.


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