Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence #review

Title: Emperor of Thorns (#3 of The Broken Empire)
Author: Mark Lawrence
Publisher: Ace, 2013

Finally I got to finish this trilogy, and it’s a lovely feeling of completion for someone like me who rarely manages to follow through with a challenge of this nature. Jorg as a character is fascinating. When we meet him in book one, he’s impulsive and prone to perpetrate horrendous acts of violence. Not much has changed by book three, and he still very much possesses the ability to act before he thinks, but his motivations (in his mind) are clearer. Here is a man who cares deeply about two things: his family (latent guilt toward his brother’s death) and also claiming the emperor’s throne. He proves again and again, that he’s not afraid to sacrifice anything and anyone to get what he wants. This might upset some. [Okay, that was totally an understatement but jawellnofine] ← **more laughter**

While at the start of his journey, he primarily wants the throne simply for the sake of having it (that’s how I see it, at least) his motivations have shifted somewhat near the end. Now Jorg wants that throne because he knows he’s the only one with the will and the knowledge to save the world from certain fiery destruction (possibly also motivated by the fact that he wants to leave some sort of legacy for his son).

As always, Mark Lawrence treads a tricky path with his narrative running on different timelines, with multiple story arcs that cross reference each other. The jumping between past and present will no doubt infuriate readers who like linear stories. At times I felt there was a little withholding of key information, but the pace is so fast, and Jorg is such an unreliable narrator, that I was happy to cling on for the ride.

Jorg is ever the ladies’ man [says the reviewer amid sick laughter], and his relationship with three vastly different (and dangerous) women is complex. Katherine’s fate is still inextricably twined with Jorg’s, bitter as their past grievances are, and Miana is anything but the shy, retiring damsel. As the mother of Jorg’s son, she proves to be every bit as ruthless as the father when it comes to protect family, and as such perfectly complements Jorg. Chella the necromancer is introduced as a viewpoint character, which is a little jarring at first for those of us accustomed to Jorg’s first-person narrative. Her observations are nonetheless key to the story, and offer valuable insight.

As can be expected in one of Lawrence’s novels, bloodshed, carnage and large-scale destruction is never far away. I am also glad that he decided to irrevocably stamp this story with “the end”, and resist the temptation of a drawn-out multi-book series prone to the exhaustion of ever-escalating “too much awesome”.

The resolution of The Broken Empire trilogy is apt. To be honest, I hadn’t been quite sure where Lawrence was going with it, but when it happened, I sat back with a small smile. Jorg is the kind of guy who likes solutions. The only problem is his solutions aren’t always to the liking of the affected parties.

Dear Mark, thank you for showing us Jorg’s world, and I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

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