Emperor of Thorns: The ideal ending to an excellent trilogy

Mark Lawrence Emperor of ThornsEmperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence fantasy book reviewsEmperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

King Jorg, at the ripe ol’ age of 20, rules over seven nations, but that’s not enough — it’s never enough. He’s now ready to make his bid for emperor of the Broken Empire which has been vacant for many generations. This is a position that is technically won by vote, but how one goes about getting those votes is the trick. Also Jorg hasn’t yet accomplished his life-goal; bloody vengeance against his father. All Jorg’s surviving enemies continue to dog his trail but now Jorg has a chink in his armor; his queen and unborn child.

What can I say about the THE BROKEN EMPIRE trilogy — note the word” trilogy”— to describe its total and complete awesomeness? Everything about it is perfect. Each book is a contained story while at the same time each is still a part of a bigger story. The titles themselves, Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, and Emperor of Thorns, clearly define the chronological order so that numbers are not required. Emperor of Thorns is a “for real” conclusion. It’s the ideal ending to an excellent trilogy. (I highly recommend that every writer read Mr. Lawrence’s afterword. It says what I’ve wanted to tell every author since this trend of never-ending fantasy epics started.)

Jorg Ancrath is one of my favorite fictional characters. He’s brutally ruthless but charming at the same time, almost as if he’s bi-polar. (Now that I think about it, he reminds me a little of Charlie Sheen.) I’d love to throw back a cold one or two with this guy, but having a beer with Jorg is most likely to be one’s last. Somehow, even knowing this makes Jorg’s company all the more fascinating.

I particularly like the world that Mr. Lawrence has set his tale in. I don’t want to risk a spoiler for any who haven’t yet read the first two books, so let’s just say, for my two-cents’ worth, I find it much more believable when fantasy worlds have direct relation to our real one.

Of course great plot, characters, and setting aren’t enough. The writing is what makes or breaks any story and it’s where Mark Lawrence truly proves his genius. Although, Emperor of Thorns is technically written in multi-person-point-of-view — the necromancer Chella helps Jorg tell this tale — it’s Jorg’s story just as it has been in the previous books. Instead of just telling the story, Lawrence really brings the reader into the world as seen through the characters’ eyes. He makes this world almost tangible by using just a few well-placed words. I found myself blown away time and time again not only by plot twists, but with Lawrence’s ability to describe things so perfectly. And the dialog, another often overlooked element, is masterfully done. Jorg’s witty one-liners and comebacks are just so damn funny.

Fair warning; just like the proceeding books of THE BROKEN EMPIRE trilogy, Emperor of Thorns is not for the faint of heart or politically correct. It’s a sweaty, dark, fearsome, dirty and bloody tale that his fans, like me, can’t get enough of. But Mark Lawrence still had the brains and guts to end it as the story, or as Jorg himself, demanded.

I absolutely cannot wait to read whatever Lawrence does next.


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GREG HERSOM’S addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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2 comments

  1. Brad Hawley /

    Great review, Greg! Good to see a review from you today!

  2. It’s fun to have done one. Thanks Brad. and Thanks to Kat for letting my slack-@$$ sneak one it. :)

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