Monday, January 8, 2018

Review: Emperor of Thorns

Title: Emperor of Thorns
Author: Mark Lawrence
Pages: 576
ISBN: 9780007503988
Series: The Broken Empire #3
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased

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Lawrence brings the Broken Empire series to its devastating conclusion The path to the throne is broken - only the broken can walk it The world is cracked and time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne no matter who stands against me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending. This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don't look to me to save you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don't follow me. Follow me, and I will break your heart.

“The path to the throne is broken – only the broken can walk it.”

Emperor of Thorns, the finale in the Broken Empire series, brings Jorg Ancrath’s journey to an end. And what a brutal, harrowing journey it has been. Jorg is the most loathsome, psychopathic anti-hero I’ve come across. Broken and scarred in so many ways, he is not a particularly likeable protagonist, but over the course of the series I’ve grown fond of him and his band of road brothers as they slowly managed to achieve the unthinkable despite all the odds being stacked against them.

“So much of the world is about surfaces, the eye deceived, with the truth in the unknown and unknowable depths beneath.” (page 256)

“... the darkest voice was ever mine.” (page 424)

Jorg is very aware of the fact that he isn’t a good man, the horrific things that have been done to him echo and reverberate throughout his life and shaped him into the dark, ruthless person he was forced to become. There are some truly harrowing events from his past that come to light in this final instalment and you can’t help but to empathise with his plight. Yet, despite his armor of scars, you also get glimpses of small pieces of his humanity hidden deep down below the surface. There is a real sense of growth to Jorg as a character, the impulsive boy is gone and a wiser, more experienced man has emerged to once again shape the world with his unwavering will.

Jorg comes up against his greatest foe yet, the mysterious Dead King who holds power over the dead. Their paths converge as Jorg stands within grasp of fulfilling his ambition to become Emperor. Jorg might not be the hero the world wants, but it turns out he might be just the hero they need. Saving the world could finally offer the redemption he has so desperately sought...

The ending is satisfying and offers up some unexpected twists. My only complaint is that the final confrontation felt rushed. I would have loved to see a more prolonged battle between the two foes; it took so long to set the stage for the conflict yet it was over far too quickly.

Emperor of Thorns is a worthy conclusion to Jorg’s story. It took me just over six years to finally finish his tale and throughout that time he has stuck in my mind. If that’s not the hallmark of a great character then I don’t know what is. I’m sad to finally have to let him go.

The Verdict:
Emperor of Thorns brings Jorg Ancrath’s tale to a stunning end. The Broken Empire trilogy is dark and brutal, but I think this certainly counts as the most harrowing book in the series. A story that started out as a simple tale of revenge has expanded into something far greater. If you are looking for an anti-hero unlike any other then this is definitely the read for you. I can’t believe I waited so long to finish the series. Well worth reading!

The Rating: 7/10 (Very good)

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