Thursday, May 2, 2019

Road Brothers (Tales from the Broken Empire) by Mark Lawrence

Don't read this collection of short stories unless you've read Mark Lawrence's The Broken Empire. Here be spoilers. Road Brothers does exactly what it says – short stories sketching in back story for Jorg's band of brothers, offering tasty little snippets of history, to colour in the details.

So I'm assuming that if you've read Mark's other books, you'll be no stranger his style, which offers astute observations on the darker side of human nature set in a world that's still picking up the pieces of a cataclysm that destroyed civilisation as we know it, throwing it back into a dark age that marries up ancient, malfunctioning technology with dark magic. This uneasy blend is not quite fantasy, nor is it SF, and I love that ambiguousness of the setting.

Perhaps my favourite story out of the lot is the Nubian's origin, giving readers a tantalising glimpse into a post-apocalyptic Africa. Okay, so I'm biased because I love stories set in my stomping ground, and the Nubian was one of my favourites from the trilogy. (He stood out the most for me out of all Jorg's companions.) In my mind, some stories were more vignettes than a structured short story, but because I'm invested in setting, this didn't bother me so much and I appreciated the filling-in of gaps.

Essentially, this is an exploration of brotherhood, and the bonds between the brothers brought to life in the trilogy. It is about found family, notions of loyalty and honour, and also the complicated relationships between blood-relatives. Mark's writing isn't for everyone, but this selection will be valuable to those of us who're already immersed in his world.

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