Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence REVIEW

Note: This book is not for children. Yes, it’s about a 15 year old boy. But it’s about a boy thrust into a world of blood and ruin. Not for children, or squeamish readers. If this was a movie, it would be a hard-R. You have been warned.

For the last two years or so, in Fantasy groups on Facebook and beyond, I’ve been hearing quite a bit of praise for Thorns. I put it on my massive reading list for a while, and finally got to it last year. Thankfully I stopped procrastinating about reading it, and finally finished it this year.

The book centers on Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath, heir of Ancrath. When he nine years old, he witnessed soldiers belonging to Count Renar, murder his little brother and his mother, while he watched helplessly from a thorn bush he fell into.

Jorg’s father, King Olidan, refuses to get revenge for the senseless murder, so Jorg decides to take matters in his own hands, and leave the castle to plot his revenge. By age thirteen, he becomes the leader of a group of brigands, and by age fifteen he decides to return home and become King… But some things are easier said than done. (And that’s all I can say without spoiling the book.)

The book is told entirely from Jorg’s point of view, in the first person. (Rare for a Fantasy novel to be told from that view, but Lawrence handles the challenge beautiful.) He is cold and ruthless, yet he’s also very sarcastic and at times made me laugh out loud. And it’s largely the humor that kept me reading, and the unpredictability of Jorg’s actions.

As for Jorg the character, he’s not a large brute that bashes everything that moves that you normally find in revenge stories. He is small and skinny, preferring to outthink and outmaneuver his opponents, giving him a big advantage in a world of darkness and brutality. And thankfully Lawrence writes the antagonists s of the tale the same way, and makes them just as memorable as Jorg.

Another thing different about this tale is that everyone is equally capable of good and bad. A good break from clearly defined and moustache twirling characters.

Even the writing style is refreshing. Descriptions are short, and to the point, moving the story along at a quick pace. As a writer, it’s a style one can and should aspire to.

Overall, I give Prince of Thorns  4 ½ Stars out of 5. If you like your Epic Fantasy on the gritty side or revenge stories, you should give this book and the rest of The Broken Empire series a look. Should also appeal to fans of David Gemmell, Joe Abercrombie, and Scott Bakker.

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City of Scars: Book One of The Skullborn Trilogy by Steven Montano– First look!

city_of_scarsCity of Scars (Book One of The Skullborn Trilogy)

By Steven Montano

Release Date: June 28th, 2013

Cover Art by Barry Currey

It’s been three decades since the Blood Queen led her legions on a brutal campaign of conquest and destruction, and the Empires are still struggling to rebuild.  Now, in the distant aftermath of the war, the real battle is about to begin.

Haunted by the crimes of his past, fallen knight Azander Dane ekes out a mercenary existence as he drifts from one city to the next.  His latest job is to hunt down Ijanna Taivorkan, a powerful outlaw witch desperately seeking a way to escape her destiny.

Dane and Ijanna find themselves in Ebonmark, the City of Scars, where deadly crime guilds and shadowy agents of the White Dragon Empire prepare for a brutal confrontation.  Pursued by apocalypse cults, mad alchemists, exiled giants and werewolf gangs, Dane and Ijanna soon learn a deadly lesson – in Ebonmark, only the cruelest and most cunning can survive.

City of Scars is the first volume of The Skullborn Trilogy, an all new epic fantasy adventure from the author of the Blood Skies series.

Check out bloodskies.com for more!