The last time I read a book outside of the post-apocalyptic genre was over a year ago when I re-read the seven Harry Potter books, and the time before that was a year or two earlier, and that was also a Harry Potter break. There are just so many good PA books out there that I feel like I’m wasting time by straying into other genres, but at the same time, I do feel the need for some variety every so often. That’s why I was so excited to come across a review of Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence that mentioned that it’s as much a scifi story as it is fantasy.
The official book blurb goes like this:
When he was nine, he watched his mother and brother killed before him. By the time he was thirteen, he was the leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king…
It’s time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what’s rightfully his. Since the day he was hung on the thorns of a briar patch and forced to watch Count Renar’s men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent his rage. Life and death are no more than a game to him-and he has nothing left to lose.
But treachery awaits him in his father’s castle. Treachery and dark magic. No matter how fierce, can the will of one young man conquer enemies with power beyond his imagining?
That sounds pretty much like straight fantasy, and for the majority of readers, that will be enough because even forgetting any PA elements, the book is fantastic. It’s a classic young man kicks major ass on his way to power story that reminded me a lot The Name of the Wind, or The Book of the New Sun. Like their main characters, Jorg is the kind of character that you hate to love. He’s charming, super-confident, witty, and wise well beyond his years, but he’s also a murderer, rapist and thief, pillaging the countryside in his lust for revenge. But it’s so easy to look past that, and revel in his victories and root for his success, because his quest for revenge is just, and at least some of his victims actually deserve what they get.
But beyond an already great story, the book is gold for fans of far-future post-apocalyptic settings. The Kingdom of Ancrath covers a large chunk of what we would call France. Its people often reference The Builders, and their works that still remain standing. As a prince, Jorg studies the philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Russel, and his knowledge of “ancient” languages plays a large role in a stepping stone on his climb to power.
I really really liked this book, and I’m definitely going to read it again just a few months from now to get ready for the relase of its sequel, King of Thorns, in August.
My official rating is 8 Megatons.
And if you’ll excuse me for geeking out a bit, here’s the map of the Broken Empire compared to Europe today. There’s quite a difference, but I guess a Day of a Thousand Suns will do that to a world…