Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Vertigo

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I could not find a previous review of this book to tack mine onto though I'm sure there should be one?

I absolutely stormed through Prince of Thorns. Whatever else I may say about this book it is certainly a major page turner; full of action with very little chance to catch your breath in between.

It is set in a distant future some thousand years after a catastrophic nuclear (presumably) war where human society has not managed yet to get past a medieval existence. However this is one of the areas of world building that I did find some fault with. Not everything has been lost from the past and indeed they still have the writings of ‘ancients’ ranging from Plato to Nietzsche but these writings are now laboriously hand copied complete with illuminations. The problem that I have is that they do have some ancient originals so the concept of printing cannot have been alien to them and the technology needed to construct a press is certainly available. My problem is that, given the knowledge of the idea of a press and the technology capable of building one, they would have done so by the time of this book and I felt similarly about a number of other technologies in the book.

The supernatural aspects also did not sit well with me; the idea that so many people dying simultaneously in the ‘Day of a Thousand Suns’ (nice name!) had ‘broken’ the door to the other world was a little too much for me. But then I’m not a great one for the supernatural so that’s probably just me. Another criticism that is probably just me, is that that I found the callous brutality just a bit too much; it went (again for me) over the edge of gritty and into unpleasant and Jorg’s constant desire to see people’s heads rolling across the ground became rather irritating. However, as the story progressed, this brutality was much less emphasised and I found it easier to get on with.

Another serious criticism I had was the age of Jorg; I think Lawrence would have done better to have made him closer to sixteen to be more plausible. I know we have child soldiers aged around thirteen in the modern world today but I don’t think that makes a good parallel. First Jorg comes from a privileged upbringing and is well educated as opposed to modern child soldiers coming from a desperate upbringing where they have been conditioned to brutality, and, second, these child soldiers fight with guns which can make anyone deadly, Jorg, on the other hand, is a thirteen-year-old child fighting with a full sized adult sword (stolen from his father); I simply don’t believe any thirteen year old could wield such a sword for more than a minute or two and certainly not effectively against other similarly armed adults. The strength is simply not yet there at that age and this was simply not realistic for me. Incidentally I was constantly bugged by how he got that sword, which information was withheld much, much longer than was necessary for the story.

As mentioned earlier this is a story that rattles along at a phenomenal pace though one that is sometimes possibly a little too fast for its own good. There were a few points where a little more explanation or detail would have left me a little less confused. But at the same time that pace was what kept me turning the pages despite my other grumbles and that, ultimately, ensured I did enjoy the read and will be going on to the second book in the series.
 

thaddeus6th

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I rather liked the setting (a post, post-apocalyptic world, if you like, where things are getting put back together). Also, the brutality didn't bother me, but of course those things are matters of opinion (also, in Sean McGlynn's By Sword and Fire he relates that medieval pastimes included stuff very nasty indeed [I was going to give an example but those of a sensitive nature might've thought that excessive]).

The age is something I largely neglected in my review, but I think that's a valid point. The Black Prince, Alexander the Great and others provide examples of very youthful leaders, but it was perhaps pushing it a little.

I really liked King of Thorns, so it'll be interesting to see what you make of it.

Review I did of Prince of Thorns last year is up here: http://thaddeusthesixth.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/review-prince-of-thorns-by-mark-lawrence.html
 

Vertigo

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Good review thaddeus, and I'd go along with most of it. I did make the point that me finding the brutality excessive was very much a personal view, but I would like to stress the difference violence, which I don't mind when appropriate, and callous brutality which is more to do with the attitude to that violence. And here the attitude of 'war is beautiful' when surveying a village square swimming in blood and dead bodies was, for me, distasteful. But, as I say, later in the book I didn't find it was rubbed in my face so much, so I lived with it.

I should have made mention of the setting, though, as I did like that even if I did find some inconsistencies in it.
 

Dinosaur

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Personally I found the brutally, if anything, underplayed.

But the simple fact the books went to such a low level was a refreshing change from the normal standard of ignoring bad stuff that happens to peasants sort of fantasy.
 

Vertigo

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You have missed my point; as I said above I'm not against violence, brutal or otherwise, when appropriate and realistic, what I found distasteful was the open enjoyment in it expressed by the main protagonists especially at the beginning of the story. I accept there will always be people like that but I find it unpleasant in anyone and particularly in the hero of a story, especially when written in the first person. It very nearly stopped me reading and would have done if it wasn't toned as the story progressed.
 

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