Saturday, October 5, 2013

Book Review - King of Thorns (JS)

King of Thorns (The Broken Empire Book2) by Mark Lawrence

Review by Jacqui Slaney

Having read book 1 a while ago, I decided that I needed a refresher before attempting to read the sequel as unusually for me I could not recall much about the characters. I had really enjoyed the first, so approached the reread with some enthusiasm.  I found though that something had changed, though I still enjoyed the book, I seemed to spot more flaws this time round, with some of the descriptions and writing style grating on me slightly. I therefore started Book 2 with some wariness.

This is the description:

The second book in the Broken Empire series, Lawrence takes his young anti-hero one-step closer to his grand ambition.

To reach greatness you must step on bodies, and many brothers lie trodden in my wake. I have walked from pawn to player and I will win this game of ours, though the cost of it may drown the world in blood…The land burns with the fires of a hundred battles as lords and petty kings fight for the Broken Empire. The long road to avenge the slaughter of his mother and brother has shown Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath the hidden hands behind this endless war. He saw the game and vowed to sweep the board. First, though he must gather his own pieces, learn the rules of play, and discover how to break them. A six-nation army, twenty thousand strong, marches toward Jorg's gates, led by a champion beloved of the people. Every decent man prays this shining hero will unite the empire and heal its wounds. Every omen says he will. Every good king knows to bend the knee in the face of overwhelming odds, if only to save their people and their lands. However, King Jorg is not a good king. Faced by an enemy many times his strength Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight. However, playing fair was never part of Jorg’s game plan

Now  there are two time lines in this second book, you have one that picks up not long after the first book and shows Jorg and his Brothers as they journey first to try to save Gog from his own magic’s and then further  across the country to help Jorg in his plans. The second time line is four years later than this where you have Jorg about to marry and defend his castle and lands from the Prince of Arrow’s army.

The chapters switch back and forth between these two different stories in a haphazard pattern, which is slightly annoying for the reader, as you find yourself caught up in one plot wanting to know what is happening next, when the chapter finishes and you are then in the other time line.   There are reviews that say this is confusing, I do not agree with that, as the chapters set in the past- clearly state ‘four years earlier’ at the top of the chapter, so not rocket science then to work out which is which!

There are also some very distinct opinions about this book, the majority of people do seem to think it is the best thing since sliced bread, but a few apparently think it is the worst thing ever, and others somewhere in between.

What do I think? Overall I liked it, after the reread, book 1 to me had a lot of flaws, Jorg was just too one sided, he was bad and that was the end of it, the supporting cast were not developed enough etc. In this novel, Jorg is more believable, he has dimensions to him, which makes him more interesting. You see how his father was with him when he was young and the reader sees how the friendship between him and Makin is understandable. Jorg is not good by any stretch of the imagination, but the reader still likes him and cheers him in his battle against the odds.

The story is dark and violent so probably not for the faint hearted as some of it is quite graphic especially one scene from Jorg’s childhood. I have no problem with the violence but found some of the use of the ‘Builders’ technology and knowledge grating, I am still not sure how the obviously ancient books survived to still share their secrets.

There are still some things I would have liked to see strengthened , especially the demise of one of the baddies from book 1, I wont mention any names as don’t want to spoil things for people! Overall though I think this is an improvement on the first, so hope for even better things from the next.

7 out of 10