Normally, I write a review immediately after finishing a book but for a number of reasons, I took a little time to ponder the last in the Broken Empire trilogy by Mark Lawrence. There’s a lot to say about Emperor of Thorns and a lot to spoil, and I don’t want to do that. It is a book which both fulfils the hugely appealing story whilst considering some fairly hefty concepts, offering an ending that was, probably, one of the most satisfying conclusions I’ve had the pleasure to read.
The trilogy itself is a brilliant work of fiction. Starting with the petrol bomb of Prince of Thorns, splashing it’s violence and vengeance over everything and igniting the passion and hatred that only youth can conjure before hitting the middle ground of the second in the series. Here, we are confronted with the confounding issues that the young have as they grow a little older and a little wiser, battling the idea of who they think they are with the potential of the man they might become. In the final novel, we see our young protagonist changed, dealing with fatherhood and his own paternal shadow; realising and owning the things, the thorns, that have made him.
In Emperor of Thorns we are treated once more with the circling of memory and present, of how Jorg arrived and what he will do. It’s just as bloody and marvellous and all the mystery is laid bare of this bizzare, brutal yet magical realm. There are some great touches (my favourite, the legend of the custodian) and a few interesting cameos from the likes of Dr. Taproot and a certain Red Queen.
Mr Lawrence’s writing is, for me, superb. There are some sentences that deserve close consideration of their own, they have such a power and poetry. But, it is also the journey from bandit prince to the throne of the Empire, from psychotic youth to self-reflexive man, from medieval fantasy to a broken possible future that makes the series so addictive and readable. I’m not ashamed to say that this series is now amongst my favourite fantasy reads; it’s that good in my opinion.
Published by Harper Voyager