Review: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence tells the story of Jorg, a teenaged prince who has left home to run with rogues to take revenge for his mother’s death. Narrator Jorg is hardly the traditional fantasy prince, nor a traditional protagonist; he’s an evil little sadist, but somehow oddly compelling as a protagonist.

I found Prince of Thorns incredibly compelling, difficult to put down – I even took my Kindle to work more than once so I could read it at lunch time. Lawrence has created a strong narrative voice, dripping with Jorg’s personality. There’s some great characterisation too – of Jorg in particular, but his perception of each of the other characters is well established.

The story is unpredictable but flows naturally. Lawrence sows the seeds of the ending throughout the story, with just the right amount of subtlety. The journey to get there is a winding one, but there’s a clear link between what is established early in the story and the path it ultimately takes.

As far as female characters go – a topic I’ve had a lot to say on recently in my latest blog post and this Mythic Scribes thread – while their appearances are brief and there are no female characters who form part of Jorg’s crew on the road, those female characters there are show a variety of personalities and the way they are presented through Jorg’s eyes is good.

The only point at which Prince of Thorns disappointed me was a certain point near the end where luck aids Jorg; it has done so before but at this point it feels out of place, thanks to who his opponent is. Due to how close to the end it is it feels a bit too close to Deus Ex Machina – not quite there, and not without grounding, but still jarring enough to break immersion.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading Prince of Thorns. I rate it a solid 9/10.

10 thoughts on “Review: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

  1. Prince of Thorns was one of my favourite reads last year! The story was so compelling and I read in about a day and a half. Jorg was one of my favourite literary characters last year and I can’t wait for the final installment of the trilogy. I hope you enjoy King of Thorns as well! It’s a bit different from PoT, but still amazing.

    Great Review!

      1. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it once you finish it :). At least you won’t have to wait too long to read Emperor of Thorns when it comes out in August!

  2. When will people realize that not every story or setting requires an equal representation of all genders and ethnicities.

    I’m sick of fantasy authors’ hamfisted attempts at stuffing females into things like bands of mercenaries. It’s hardly ever believable and just reeks of trying to be PC.

    I applaud series like The Broken Empire and The Black Company for not trying to stick some cliche hard female into a band of savage male mercenaries, it’s just silly.

    Considering the path Jorg takes in book 1 it would have been incredibly forced to focus on more female characters. Now with his story arch in book 2 we saw great new characters like Miana, who seem natural.

    1. I like to see stories where there is a good representation of female characters, because women do make up half the people on earth but a surprisingly low number of major characters in fantasy. But I agree that putting women in traditionally male roles in a patriarchal society isn’t necessarily the answer. To quote my recent blog post linked above:

      “A female character can be strong while keeping within traditional womanly roles within a patriarchal society; breaking free of those roles also doesn’t necessarily make her a good character.”

      I like what Mark Lawrence has done with his female characters: he’s put them where they fit and given them influence appropriate to that which is nevertheless important to the story.

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