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.