I read this as part of a group read for Fantasy Fanatics
. I have to say I'm a bit on the fence about this. I've been looking forward to reading this book for a while, so maybe I'd built up my expectations too much... Prince of Thorns
follows the story of Jorg, the runaway Prince of Ancrath. When he was 9 he watched as his mother and younger brother were murdered, and watched as the man responsible got away with it. At 10 he ranaway from the Castle, and fell in with a band of savage thugs. By 15, he plans to be King...
As you may have guessed, Jorg is not your average teenager. He's smart, calculating and brutal. He hates doing what others expect of him and he's determined to get his revenge against anyone who has wronged him. But treachery awaits him in his future as he tries to get his revenge and reclaim his place, but will he let that stop him?
Okay, so I'm going to start with the things that bothered me most and end with the positives:
So like I said, I was quite on the fence for the majority of this book. One of my main problems was Jorg. In the book he is 14 (apart from a few flashbacks explaining some of his backstory). He's also so brutal and savage that he puts Joffrey to shame. I can forgive that in a 14 year old though given the context. It's not unbelievable. But the fact that he controls this group of like 30 thugs who are all massively older than him is. I just don't get it. I just can't picture them following this little boy around and doing exactly as he says and accepting him as their leader, even if he is intelligent and brutal.
I also had some issues with the world. At first it just seemed like your average medieval fantasy world. But as the book progressed it became increasingly obvious that it was some kind of post-apocalyptic earth, thanks to references to Plato and Plutarch etc. I don't mind the post-apocalyptic part, I like post-apocalyptic literature etc., but it was just the idea that earth suffered this huge event (suggested to be a nuclear war or holocaust due to the references to weapons of mass destruction and the "Day of a Thousand Suns") and has now reverted back to this perfect imitation of a medieval society complete with the mannerisms, heirarchical structure, language etc. It was just a bit unbelievable. And on top of that, magic gets added in. To me, it just seems as if Lawrence was trying to put in too many different things and to me it was just a bit jarring and didn't quite work. If it was just medieval fantasy that would've be fine. Maybe I just wasn't expecting it... I also felt the world wasn't explained or described fully, that there was something lacking.
I also felt that at times the story was a bit too winding. I never felt myself really getting invested in Jorg or his desires, although this could be for other reasons, and sometimes I lost track of what Jorg was doing or why. The story just didn't seem to have clear momentum or path to me.
Having said all that, I did actually kinda enjoy the story, and it does have potential. I can kinda forgive the whole 14-year-old-in-charge-of-escaped-convicts thing and when I do move past it the story is enjoyable. I like revenge stories. And I think the rest of the series has potential. It's also quite dark and gritty which I enjoy and having said that I didn't like the mix of our technology and the medieval society I am interested to see how Lawrence continues to mix the two from here on.
Overall, it was a decent enough book and I will read the next one in the series to see where it goes next and see what happens to Jorg next. But I did have a lot of issues with Jorg and his narration, and the world building but hopefully the series will grow stronger and these issues will fade away. Hopefully.