Mark Lawrence

Tansy

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i enjoyed it more than the first one - I like the way Jorg is developing - he was a bit scary for a young teen in the first book despite his upbringing, but is becoming a bit of a more well rounded psychopath in this one :)

I wasn't keen on the big nuc weapons in no 1 was a bit deus ex machina for me, but feel its part of the wider story arc
 

elvet

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I just uptaded my comments on the spoiler thread at Goodreads.
I'm about halfway through and have trouble putting the book down at night (have to get some sleep after all :). At first the two timelines (plus early memories) made for a confusing read, but then I found a sort of rhythm where things are falling into place. It's quite well woven together, and the plot is tightening up the further I get on.
I'm also a fan of the 1st person POV. I think it's done very well here and helps round out Jorg's character when you can follow the thought process of an otherwise brutal deed. Mark Lawrence has a way of writing that reminds me of Steven Erikson - it makes me want to read every work and often go over sections a few times to savor all the nuances.
As for the tantalising glimpses into the Builder's world, I can't wait form more details.
 

Connavar

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Spoilers:


I wrote how much i enjoyed the book in Goodreads thread and in reading thread in this forum.

Something troubled me though alot with the post apocalyptic setting of future Europe, the fact There was no people of color. No Africans, No arabs,other Asians..... You cant make the future generic medevil europé of only white people. There are 5,6 million Africans,arabs in France only.

I agree with the critics about this issue. You cant have it both ways and mention Nuban is from. Africque. You have to create fake fantasy europé and not one it loks like There was ethnic cleansing......
 

Brian G Turner

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"Prince of Thorns" has been on my radar for some time - but I'm really hesitant to read something that is labelled as "rapey".
 

The Judge

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There's no rape in it, Brian, though there is a flashback to his mother's defilement (not really seen) and a very cold-blooded reference to the fact the Jorg character is an unrepentant rapist. Lawrence is very clever in the book in that nothing happens on-screen after the first chapter which is likely to make you lose sympathy with Jorg -- although he talks like a psychopath (and he is one) with one exception the people he kills are themselves evil and/or trying to kill him. That actually turns my stomach more than if the rapings etc had continued -- Lawrence is being deliberately manipulative to try and preserve sympathy for someone who doesn't deserve it.

So, no it's not a rapey book. It is a book about a murdering, torturing rapist for whom you are expected to cheer. I found it repellent.
 

Brian G Turner

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It is a book about a murdering, torturing rapist for whom you are expected to cheer.
That's what I'd file under "rapey". :)

Just doesn't sound like the sort of story I'd like to read, even though I kind of should to know the genre better.
 

Connavar

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That's what I'd file under "rapey". :)

Just doesn't sound like the sort of story I'd like to read, even though I kind of should to know the genre better.
If you like Joe Abercrombie, Erikson typ grim epic fantasy you will like this. I have read both books and there is no rape that is big deal. Its mentioned when bandits destroy villages like it happens in fantasy that try to portray grim medevil world.

Its silly to make big deal out of nothing like violent,amoral character. The whole book will depend on if you will find Jorg interesting to read about. Alot of fantasy and crime like Dexter would have no readers if it was something to make big deal about. Its for you or not.

He is like Glokta, terrible person but of course they have redeeming qualities that makes easy for the reader to get past their torturing, revenge seeking self. Hardly the first of their kind in fantasy.

I rather read about sick anti-hero than another farm boy uber mage saving the world ala Feist and co.
 

The Judge

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I can't agree that it's silly to make a big deal out of a book which seeks to make a murdering rapist likeable. Yes, rape happens, and yes it happens whenever thugs go pillaging, as is happening in war zones all over the world at present. It isn't the fact of the rapes Jorg and his men have carried out, it's the implicit acceptance that there's nothing wrong with him having done it. There is no introspection, no doubt, only a defiance that what he's done is done and he makes no apology for it.

Here's a review which might be of interest in helping you to make up your mind, Brian. The comments are also interesting... http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/qpeople-who-like-this-sort-of-thing-q-being-a-review-of-mark-lawrences-prince-of-thorns
 

Connavar

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I can't agree that it's silly to make a big deal out of a book which seeks to make a murdering rapist likeable. Yes, rape happens, and yes it happens whenever thugs go pillaging, as is happening in war zones all over the world at present. It isn't the fact of the rapes Jorg and his men have carried out, it's the implicit acceptance that there's nothing wrong with him having done it. There is no introspection, no doubt, only a defiance that what he's done is done and he makes no apology for it.

Here's a review which might be of interest in helping you to make up your mind, Brian. The comments are also interesting... http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/qpeople-who-like-this-sort-of-thing-q-being-a-review-of-mark-lawrences-prince-of-thorns
I meant these kind of books try to be realistic like killer,rapist would be in those times and are nothing new in this genre. Why not go after Abercrombie and GRRM etc too?

You cant read those and avoid this book like its the plague.


Im guessing you had no trouble with Magical negro character some critics mentioned and the lack of a Europe without any other than white people but the mention of an off scene rape is too much in epic fantasy.....
 

The Judge

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Um... I was dealing with one book here, not a slew of books, so I'm not sure why I should have to bolster my opinion of this one by confirming how I feel about others.

I also don't see why I'm apparently not allowed to worry about rape and the issue of women if I don't also worry about the depiction of non-whites. (And one could turn it on its head and ask why you appear to be so flippant and accepting about the issue of rape.)

But yes, I did have problems with the magical negro, but that wasn't the question Brian was asking about here. As to the lack of specific reference to any other people being of a colour other than white, it might have been to confirm the impression of medieval Europe Lawrence is at pains to give at the beginning. It might be that in his post-apocalyptic world so few people survived, and those few interbred, that after so many generations everyone in that particular area is much the same colour -- and in just the same way it possibly only took 15,000 years for skin colour to change in northern latitudes after our forebears left Africa, the lack of sun has brought about a favouring of paler skin. It may be that others in the book are of different colour, but Lawrence just didn't bother to tell us. Ask him.
 

Brian G Turner

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I meant these kind of books try to be realistic like killer,rapist would be in those times and are nothing new in this genre. Why not go after Abercrombie and GRRM etc too?

You cant read those and avoid this book like its the plague.
I thought a bit point about Glotka was that he was redeemable? My impression was that he was the only character who ended the story with concern for the welfare of others?

As for GRRM - oh, he's heavy with it, but I don't think we ever get a Ser Gregor POV to justify him. :)

My personal point is that I've seen Prince of Thorns come up as a generally well-regarded recent fantasy novel, but I think I've had my fill of unchallenged rapeyness for the moment.

Im guessing you had no trouble with Magical negro character some critics mentioned and the lack of a Europe without any other than white people but the mention of an off scene rape is too much in epic fantasy.....
Interesting comments about the Magical Negro - have a thread already on that:
http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/537696-the-magical-negro.html
 

ratsy

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I was offended by parts of the book. I think Mark Lawrence wanted his character to be brutal and despicable. So what better way to show how brutal i suppose. I by no means condone those actions in any form but it is a just a story. Again, I dont think in any way we should glorify Rape. Too be fair we shouldnt glorify murder either. And i find the best authors uaualy dont need to glorify the bad stuff.

Side note...possible spoiler. Jorg was in some ways enchanted for years controlling some actions...how many? we arent told
 

Perpetual Man

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That was what I thought too ratsy. And of course when it comes to redemption, what better way to start than with a character who seems unredeemable.

If we were reading a book where a good character was possessed and turned bad, would he be as condemnable?

And the whole thing is not without a admittedly limited precedent. In the original Thomas Covenant books, Covenant was a truly unlikeable character, even to the point of committing an on page rape. This from something that is considered a classic of the genre.

Of course Covenant changed over the course of the books eventually becoming a little more likeable and came to feel genuine remorse for his actions.

That might be the case for Jorg.

Hopefully.
 

Connavar

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I thought a bit point about Glotka was that he was redeemable? My impression was that he was the only character who ended the story with concern for the welfare of others?

As for GRRM - oh, he's heavy with it, but I don't think we ever get a Ser Gregor POV to justify him. :)

My personal point is that I've seen Prince of Thorns come up as a generally well-regarded recent fantasy novel, but I think I've had my fill of unchallenged rapeyness for the moment.



Interesting comments about the Magical Negro - have a thread already on that:
http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/537696-the-magical-negro.html
Unchallenged rapeyness? Thats overstatement by the haters of the book. Like dismissing First Law because Glokta tortures,abuses that gorgoues merchant women. I say try for yourself. You seem to like this genre.

I have read second book recently and Jorg is redeemed and much easier to forgive his old evil acts than master torturer,killer Glotka was in 3 books. That guy never changed, he just got a happer ending, started caring for one person while still being the same evil guy.

Heh about the magical negro i thought that thread of yours when i read him.
 

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Heh - so many things to address :)

My observations here stem from over a year of feedback with the comments here being a tiny fraction of that.

One of the first things to note is my discovery that people like to use any book that has a high profile in order to bang a gong about whatever issues are most prominent on their mental landscape. People like to bang that gong without interruption (who likes to have a rant interrupted?) - despite being totally available and doing dozens of interviews, nobody with any of these complaints has _ever_ asked me about them, even when side by side with me on a comment list etc. The fact is that unfailingly people with an issue they want to talk about and who pick at my work to reinforce it, just want to say their piece. It’s their own points they want to make. They don't want the inconvenience of my opinion!

Today, although I’m _still_ not actually being asked, I feel the fact it’s in a thread with my name on it gives me license to butt in.


1/ Who ever said that there is no ethnic diversity in the Europe Jorg inhabits? That’s somebody else’s invention, not mine.


2/ Why on earth is the population of a repopulated Europe a thousand years in the future after a slate wiping nuclear war supposed to reflect what’s there now? Ethnic cleaning? A nuke cleanses the ******* top soil! It doesn’t care what colour the skin it burns off is!


3/ There is a mentality that expects (nay demands) that each book is a tightly wrapped social commentary, a distorting mirror of our society crafted with the sole point of making socio-political points, usually to educate the unwashed masses through parable in the business of how society should be. Thus every fantasy story about bugs or robots or whatever is really an agenda either supporting or making war on the pundit’s world view.

I do not subscribe to this mentality. I don’t play those games. Any deeper themes I have are about what happens within the confines of one person’s skull – existential stuff – the enduring stuff of classic literary fiction – not the transitory business of social structure which holds far less interest for me. The game of deconstructing every single story for its social message is one that bores me. We might hope that literature as a whole gives good messages about equality and diversity. It’s not the task of _every_ _single_ book to make that its raison d’etre within the slim confines of its covers.


4/ Just as the requirement that each book contain a hero is an unsophisticated one, so too (to a lesser degree) is the requirement that every book be a redemption story. It’s similarly simplistic to believe that the failure of a character to come to a sticky end is a ringing endorsement of each bad thing they’ve done. These aren’t books for children – they’re not morality tales – not guides for good living. It’s crazy to place those demands upon them.

“for whom you are expected to cheer”

What?

How many times have I seen “Am I expected to like this guy?” As if that is exactly what you’re expected to do, no question about it. I return to the fact that this isn’t a children’s book. Just because it’s fantasy doesn’t mean we cease all adult thinking does it? Let me spell it out – although I really shouldn’t have to:

I wrote about a person. I didn’t write about a hero or an anti-hero or any label-wearing figure off the gaming shelf. Jorg is presented to you. He either interests you or he doesn’t. You read on, or you don’t. I expect the reader to form their own opinion. I don’t expect the reader to like, dislike, cheer, not cheer ... that will depend on them ... and the ‘reader’ is a diverse group.


5/ This ‘magical negro’ business seems to me a codifying of the simple truism that an outsider can offer new perspectives. And gosh yes, people from other cultures, people imported from different countries, people raised in very different circumstances can sometimes provide that perspective. The finger pointing over it seems wholly bizarre to me.
 

The Judge

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Ahem. I may have banged a gong or two in my time when it's been needed (and frankly in this world certain gongs need to be beaten about people's heads), but I don't go looking for books to allow me to do that. Yet if a book which has received a lot of praise causes me concern I don't see why I need apologise when I confirm what I feel about it when someone asks.

And since you appear to regret the lack of questioning on the subject...

If you aren't intent on preserving sympathy for Jorg, why doesn't he continue as the absolute monster he was before the book starts? Why don't you allow him to continue his raping on the page? He continues killing, and he talks and thinks a good deal of worse, but you don't allow further terrible atrocities to be seen -- what else is this but manipulation of the readership, because as soon as he commits a bloody rape actually there, where we can see the horror, readers will react to him differently?

You have him undertake a spurious confession and absolution, as if this is important that he be cleansed, why, if he is so clearly unrepentant? Why, if he knows he has been used, does he not immediately comprehend that those who destroyed his childhood have been similarly manipulated by others, so his whole craving for vengeance -- even if his own and not the result of the mind-bending -- is hollow?

I don't require anyone in the book to come to a sticky end. I don't require a redemption story. I don't even require a character to regret what he has done. But if an author creates a main character who justifies his crimes without any reflection on their enormity, and that author makes no apparent attempt within the confines of the book to show any countervailing attitude towards rape and torture and indiscriminate murder, then I don't find it surprising the author might find himself on the wrong end of criticism for his creation.
 

Mark_Lawrence

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And since you appear to regret the lack of questioning on the subject....
I don't regret it. I note it as an interesting symptom.

If you aren't intent on preserving sympathy for Jorg, why doesn't he continue as the absolute monster he was before the book starts? Why don't you allow him to continue his raping on the page? He continues killing, and he talks and thinks a good deal of worse, but you don't allow further terrible atrocities to be seen -- what else is this but manipulation of the readership, because as soon as he commits a bloody rape actually there, where we can see the horror, readers will react to him differently?
Your questions don't make sense to me. Why don't I have him do the same thing on page 2-400 as on page 1? I don't think that would be very interesting.

'you don't allow further terrible atrocities to be seen'

... have you read the book? You _don't_ see the terrible attrocities you're talking about and you _do_ see others that you seem to be denying.


You have him undertake a spurious confession and absolution, as if this is important that he be cleansed, why, if he is so clearly unrepentant?
I thought this was made entirely clear in the book. He actually spells it out in full. One of the few pieces of exposition. PR.

Why, if he knows he has been used, does he not immediately comprehend that those who destroyed his childhood have been similarly manipulated by others, so his whole craving for vengeance -- even if his own and not the result of the mind-bending -- is hollow?
Why does he not immediately 180 his emotions and do what you feel is the right thing and set aside what's ostensibly his defining purpose... he's not perfect?

The assumption that none of his uncle's actions were his own is yours in any case. And questioning why he doesn't then excuse his uncle seems at odds with the idea that I'm intent on preserving sympathy for him.

My question is why would you tell me I'm wrong (or lying?) about what I attempted to do? I tell you that the book challenges the reader to respond to a complex character and form their own opinion. I tell you the challenge is to mix together the issues of his guilt, crimes, youth, charisma - to consider how long a shadow crimes of youth cast down our years - to consider to what degree if any youth and background extenuate - to see what elements of the character resonate with readers - to examine our own reaction when the evil-doer is charming and how that contrasts with our feelings when a coarse and ugly villain does those same things - I say all that and people often appear to insist that whilst they end up hating/disliking/condemning Jorg ... _I_ am desperately trying to make them love him? Surely that would mean I've done a piss-poor job of it? :D Duh, if I wanted to make everyone love him why wouldn't I just make him an nice person who does nice things? I can't follow the logic of that line of thinking.


I don't require anyone in the book to come to a sticky end. I don't require a redemption story. I don't even require a character to regret what he has done. But if an author creates a main character who justifies his crimes without any reflection on their enormity, and that author makes no apparent attempt within the confines of the book to show any countervailing attitude towards rape and torture and indiscriminate murder, then I don't find it surprising the author might find himself on the wrong end of criticism for his creation.
Because without me telling everyone that murder is a bad thing ... the reader might be led astray? The reader might go 'gosh, well that's an eye opener. He didn't spell out that murder's a bad thing ... so it must be fine."

Well colour me surprised. I don't think my readers are idiots. I don't think they need me to instruct them on the very fundamentals of right and wrong.
 
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