The town-square ran red. Blood in the gutters, blood on the flagstones, blood in the fountain. The corpses posed as corpses do. Some comical, reaching for the sky with missing fingers, some peaceful, coiled about their wounds. Flies rose above the wounded as they struggled. This way and that, some blind, some sly, all betrayed by their buzzing entourage.
I love dark fantasy. I mean, I may be a bit biased since I am currently writing an adult dark fantasy series, but dark fantasy is basically running through my veins! If you ask me my favorite genre, I will tell you off for making me choose.. but then I will say fantasy. Especially dark fantasy.
Mark Lawrence has certainly written a dark fantasy in Prince of Thorns. However, I may have wanted it to be EVEN darker. I know.. I’m fucked up. But if you are giving me a dark fantasy, go all out. Don’t skirt the issue, JUST DO IT! The darker the better!
In saying that, it isn’t a light magical read by any means! Our protagonist is Jorg Ancrath, who ran away when he was 11 because of a traumatic past & is currently leading a group of marauders that pillage, attack, cause trouble & kill. He is now 14 & a nasty little fucker! This kid has issues. Major issues. He is a violent sociopath that rapes women, loves killing people & many readers will find him absolutely unlikable. Corey & I were discussing this, how regardless of this.. Lawrence has still managed to make us FEEL for Jorg. We kind of love that psychopath! Somehow, someway. It really is a testament to what a fantastic writer Mark Lawrence is!
I swallowed darkness, and darkness swallowed me.
I would be remiss if I did not speak about the treatment of women in this book. Because let’s be real, that is one of the first things I notice as a longtime female sff feminist reader. It’s awful how women are depicted in this book. Truly awful. However, this is where the difference lies within for me when reading something like this. Mark Lawrence has written a despicable main character. As readers, we are viewing the story through his eyes. We are inside his head. His character voice is a misogynistic, selfish, disgusting bastard. To portray that, Lawrence HAS to write these degrading, violent things. We have to experience just how awful Jorg can be. Unfortunately, many times women were at the hands of that. Don’t get character voice confused with author voice. Lawrence isn’t using women in the wrong light, as characters. He is properly showing a damaged, horrific, brutal young man. This is oftentimes uncomfortable, yet somewhat necessary in a story like Prince of Thorns. The character is treating women this way. The author is not.
This is an intriguing first novel in The Broken Empire trilogy! I already have a feeling that King of Thorns will be even better. Lawrence has laid down the foundation of this world in book one & you can sense that it will just continue to expand. The setting is really cool, one which you may not realize upon first glance; the writing is quite beautiful; the story enthralling. There is a dark humorous undertone, not unlike an Abercrombie or Lynch novel. This book will certainly not be for everyone. There is so much rage & violence, which will be uncomfortable for some. The quote I began with is from the first page. THE FIRST PAGE. That pretty much sets you up as to what to expect while reading this. It is a relatively short book that packs quite the punch!
I fucking loved it & am anxious to dive back into Mark Lawrence’s writing!
PS. If Makin dies, I will riot!