This book should not have taken me three months to read. I'm not really sure why it did.
I picked this book up after hearing a lot of buzz about its main character, Jorg. Jorg is not your traditional fantasy hero (in fact, anyone would be hard pressed to call him a 'hero'). He is unlikeable, violent and immoral, albeit weirdly charming. To be fair, this isn't exactly your traditional fantasy fare.
The reason I picked this up was because of Jorg. As a writer, I was interested to see how Mark Lawrence handled a character that does very very bad things (murder, rape, arson, etc.), but whom the reader needed to root for.
I wasn't disappointed.
And, weirdly, I ended up rooting for him, damn it. Despite everything or, perhaps, because of. Who knows?Prince of Thorns
is told from a first person perspective. As such, the reader is forced to confront the things Jorg does head on. Also, it kind of helps you understand a bit more why he does what he does. I got a bit annoyed on occasion because Jorg had the habit of hiding his plans or suspicions from the reader, which is annoying in a first person narrator, but suited his character. He trusts no one, so why would he trust the reader? It's refreshing to have an unreliable narrator at times, particularly when you realise that the book is Jorg writing down the events in retrospect (at least, I think so...).
And things get a lot more interesting when you realise that all is perhaps not what it seems, and that perhaps Jorg's path is not his own.
There was something else that was also very interesting about this book. It seems as though it was written set in a sort of medieval world, but then... Plutarch is mentioned, and some other writers, and then there are strange devices that seem like modern technology... and suddenly it hit that this was a dystopian future of our own world. Mind. Blown.
I liked the fact, also, that there was the potential for romance and it didn't happen. Perhaps it will happen in the future, but things are looking pretty impossible now. Would a person like Jorg be able to love someone, as a partner? We will see, I guess.
I also enjoyed the little character sketches of Jorg's road brothers. Interesting inclusion, I think, because then they seemed more human. Albeit still unpleasant.
My favourite character was perhaps the Nuban. I wish Jorg had cared enough to find out his real name. He deserves a name. Damn you and your sociopathic tendencies, Jorg. Even if there's a little bit of a squishy heart in there, because he does
have some measure of affection for the Nuban. AND DAMN YOU FOR BREAKING MY HEART, MARK LAWRENCE.
In places, the book felt a little disjointed, but I'm not sure if that's my fault for taking so long to read the damn thing or if it was a problem with the book. It jumps back and forth between past and present, but this wasn't disorientating in the slightest, so that wasn't the issue. I think a lot happens in this book - several different 'adventures', as it were - so perhaps that's the problem. Mark Lawrence - and Jorg - are quite concise and frugal with their words, so perhaps in the hands of a less concise author this book would have been two or three books. I'm glad it wasn't, though, because that would have been overkill.
Despite the fact that Jorg is wholly unlikeable (it's quite hard to like a character who unfeelingly commits rape and murder), I do find myself intrigued by him and his story. I definitely want to know where his story goes in books two and three and, damn it, I find myself wanting him to succeed.
A mark of success if ever there was one. Hats off to you, Mark Lawrence.