Posts Tagged ‘Prince of Thorns’

2014 is coming to an end and, as cheesy as it is, I thought I’d post a little about the best books I’ve read this year. It’s taken a fair amount of beard scratching and some serious moustache twiddling but I feel a general top five is probably the fairest way to go as I’ve read some really, truly brilliant novels since I started this blog.

Though my reading has trailed off this month, due in no small part to my son celebrating his first birthday and subsequently forgoing any kind of routine day time naps, my last read Europe in Autumn is an excellent novel. Subtle, engaging and with an intricacy and depth that is quite astounding at times, Dave Hutchinson is definitely a name to look out for in my opinion.

Along with a lot of other blogs, awards and readers, I also have to admit that The Martian by Andy Weir is an unbelievably awesome book. There’s humour, humanity and hardship all packed into a novel that somehow makes potato maths interesting, nay, intriguing. This book had me gripped from the first to the last page and it was such a great read with such a fulfilling end that it’s hard not to recommend it to everyone, everywhere.

My top fantasy reads this year resulted in a dead draw between Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country and Mark Lawrence’s trilogy beginning with The Prince of Thorns. Both authors are clearly some of the best writers in this new golden age of fantasy that we are all lucky enough to be enjoying. Red Country is, in my humble opinion, Abercrombie’s best to date. A rollicking Western-esque tale of revenge full of grit and characterised by a protagonist full of piss and vinegar. Mark Lawrence, a man of supernatural abilities and talent, has produced a trilogy so gripping it’s a must read if you like fantasy. His world building is fantastic, his characters are brilliant and the final revelations are just awesome. I think this work is one of the best new fantasy trilogies out there and I’m not ashamed to say it was an absolute pleasure to read.

Finally, in my top five I am going to mention Fiend by Peter Stenson. I read this during a zombie novel binge and though it isn’t your typical horror fare, it’s for that reason that the book is so excellent. Drug addled protagonists, insane zombie-esque shenanigans and a skin crawling, brain itching ability to convey addiction. Stenson’s book is crazy but it’s a real (excuse the pun) shot in the arm for the zombie genre.

I’ve also read a lot of fantastic short stories this year. It’s not something I’ve done much of in the past but I’m really glad I’ve discovered the medium. Two names that really stick out are Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Genevieve Valentine. Both produced stories that had a touch of the sublime about them but which also stuck in my mind long after I read them. I will also say that, for me, the best anthology of stories in 2014 was Two Hundred and Twenty One Stories From Baker Street. Every single piece of work was a fitting tribute to the Sherlock and Watson cannon and it was just great fun to see how each author reproduced those characters in such wildly different settings.

Starting this blog earlier this year has also been great for me. Not only have I had a place to collate my thoughts on all the books I read I’ve also got to interview a few very interesting authors and editors. I’m hoping to continue in the same spirit in which I began in 2015. Maybe I’ll get a chance to watch all the films I missed out on this year. Maybe I’ll finally get to watch The Walking Dead season 4 (no spoilers please!). But, definitely, I’ll keep on reading, reviewing and blogging about some new stuff, some old stuff and some e-stuff.

Have a great New Year and thanks for reading 🙂

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The holiday reading continues, this time with another author I’ve been shamelessly waiting to complete a trilogy before starting. Much has clearly been written about Mark Lawrence’s work and, now, having torn through Prince of Thorns in just two nights, I can see why.

Firstly, let me just say that Mark Lawrence is a fantastic writer but he is clearly some kind of super human for the fact that he can manage four kids, a job that obviously requires some pretty huge brain power, a number of interesting hobbies as well as writing top notch novels. The awe and envy I feel are untold.

On to the novel, however. Prince of Thorns is brilliant in my opinion, plain and simple. The writing is so consumable it takes an effort of will to put the book down. The story is gripping and the way the backstory is woven in amongst the action, bringing reason to the carnage but not excuses, is skilfully done. Following Jorg Ancrath, born a Prince but now a leader of a rag-tag band of thieves and mercenaries, we are introduced to a world at once medieval yet strangely not. Jorg and his band of brothers are on a murderous, meandering path when we first meet them but as the story unfolds, the boy-warrior with an evil temper rediscovers his direction and sets to his work with a relentless determination.

There’s much talk of the game, as though life and death where a chess board. It is an apt metaphor. Jorg is all about the long game and not worried about making sacrifices, even though they are the lives of his road brothers. His is a war of vengeance; one of attrition for he has already lost all that matters to him. It is the thing that has shaped him into this Prince of Thorns.

Whilst the action is brutal at times, Jorg is a hugely engaging character. There’s a lot to empathise with and much to fear. But, though Jorg is the main point of view in the book, it is the brilliant cast of supporting actors and the subtle yet wonderful setting that really made the whole novel for me, enticing me sit up most of the night and read and read. Lawrence is a masterful story teller and, clearly, a fantastically creative mind. Now, I’m off to read the next instalment. It’s that good.

My copy
Published by Harper Voyager