KING OF THORNS, by Mark Lawrence.

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
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blah - flags. So many flags.
There's a line in Dirty Dancing that's really important - no, no, not that line, lord knows what Jorg would do if they put his baby in the corner - from strict '60s Dad, and it's, "When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong." (Poor Mark, I'm sure he never expected a review to start with DD. :))

Anyway, faced with an exploding brain and a rack of books at the library, the one thing that came back to me from Prince of Thorns was how easy and quick it was to read, with terse sentences and absolutely nothing superfluous in it. So, I thought I'd catch up with Jorg, and see if the Chronners' who'd read it and said it got much deeper in the sequel were right. And they were.

What I loved about the book - and I write these as a reader - was the speed of the prose. I don't do purple, and Lawrence certainly doesn't. Which isn't to say there isn't a certain amount of poetry in Jorg's thoughts, there is, but he gets to the bones of the story, and he does it quickly. The close point of view, which I liked from Prince, continued into this one, carrying you through the story with Jorg, who's getting to be a little less of an odious companion as we go on. I also liked how the plot was foreshadowed - one of the frustrations I had with Prince of Thorns was that too often the plot was resolved by what seemed coincidence - whereas this time I was carried along by the plot and explanations and left satisfied.

Any criticisms? Well, a review should consider both sides, right? It is grim, close to unrelentingly dark - with humour, I should add, but it's often black humour - and parts of it are for reading between your hands. An early scene with the young Jorg and his dog almost had me putting it down, and I'm from quite a good horror vintage with a strong stomach. I mused on it, and decided it was the close pov combined with the scene that made it so difficult to read, and whilst horrific, it was very, very well done. But if you like your sparkly-unicorn fantasy, this probably isn't for you.

The rape storylines - they popped up again, but on a much more multi-layered fashion. We're left with questions within questions about the wider morals of society and those of Jorg, who is certainly not sitting in the same amoral territory of book one.

Female characters - this was the element that really did make me hesitate to pick up the second book, having found them so lacking in the first. This time, they're there, both in Katherine - who I still find flat, and failed to get close to, even with her own first person vignettes - and Jorg's twelve-year-old bride, who is refreshingly her own person. So, still to my mind, the weakest part of the book, but much improved on Prince of Thorns.

The time-flicking storyline. Mostly the time line worked okay for me, but there were a couple of times when I got a bit lost. I suspect a reread at some stage might fix that for me, but as a non-linear story, it takes a bit of work to keep up.

Overall, though, I enjoyed it, and I am very much looking forward to Emperor. Which I didn't expect to say. So, like 60's dad, I was wrong, and I'd recommend Lawrence to those who like their fantasy dark as it comes.
 

Grunkins

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I'm on the last 100 or so pages of King now, and it is some excellent reading. Prince was a very good book, a fresh take on fantasy, but King is kicking my ass all over the place, it's just about perfect.
 

Dozmonic

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Spoiler alert: Joffrey dies.

I did enjoy it more than Prince in a lot of ways. I am not a fan of first person stories, but I had settled into the Jorg sensibility by then. I think one of the difficulties of writing first person is hiding things from the reader, but it was well handled. Some bits I could see coming, others I just sat there and let myself be taken on the ride.

Still have Emperor to read, and then there's the first book in the new trilogy due out at some point!
 

Mark_Lawrence

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Spoiler alert: Joffrey dies.

I did enjoy it more than Prince in a lot of ways. I am not a fan of first person stories, but I had settled into the Jorg sensibility by then. I think one of the difficulties of writing first person is hiding things from the reader, but it was well handled. Some bits I could see coming, others I just sat there and let myself be taken on the ride.

Still have Emperor to read, and then there's the first book in the new trilogy due out at some point!
Due out on June 3rd! (Prince of Fools)
 

Pedro Del Mar

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I finished King last night. Have to say I'm very much enjoying Mr Lawrence's efficient prose. It's been a very long while since I've read two books in a series as quickly as Prince and King. Empire starts tonight.
I'm currently listening to Knife of Dreams on audiobook and being hugely frustrated by Jordan's ramblings on what the characters are considering what to eat for their lunch, or how to style their hair, or what to wear. The reason I'm listening to The Wheel of Time series on audiobook is simply down to the fact I knew if I tried to read the whole series again from the beginning I'd be tearing my hair out with frustration due to the slow development of the plot. Thankfully Mark Lawrence's writing doesn't suffer from such unnecessary padding.
Full marks from me.
Thank you Mark for a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience.
 
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