King of Thorns

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Uncategorized
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If you have read my first post, you may remember I mentioned my distrust for long running series due to some too recent experiences of total disappointments. So from the moment I decided the time had come to continue reading about the adventures of Jorg Ancrath until the moment I turned the last page I was suffering, ready to be disappointed. Now that have put down the book and have given myself some time to think about it, I must say I didn’t like it, I loved it.
KOT

Strong points: The writing style, the setting of the novel, the characters

Weak points: some events feel forced or improvised on the spot by the autor

King of Thorns tells us the already well known story of a broken empire, a heartbroken hero who suffers when he sees the conditions in which the people live, a prophesy, a decision to make the empire whole again and a selfish villain who reigns over one of the states whose ambition won’t let him step down from the throne. There is one difference, however, between King of Thorns and the rest of these stories: We live it from the point of view of the evil king who stands in the hero’s way.

Mark Lawrence brings us an amazing story that contributes with something fresh an original to the already very developed fantasy genre. The author manages to surprise us time and again with a novel full of unexpected twists and with one of the darkest settings you will manage to find nowadays. Some of said twists make for delightful surprises that shall keep you reading until the moment you finish it; during the last seventy pages of the book it is virtually impossible to put it down, as Mark Lawrence manages to entrap the reader by masterfully building a climax which shall capture your attention completely. The final twists of the story will literary leave you gasping for air.

The narrative choice of the author has been carefully studied and designed to give small rations of information to the reader, Mark Lawrence doesn’t fall in the irritating error of many writers who give you all the information you need to know from the very beginning, instead he unravels the story step by step with the precision and timing of a real genius, knowing just which answers give to the reader and in which moments so they are left avid for more. He has chosen to use three timelines to tell this story: The present during the final battle between Jorg and the Prince of Arrow; four year before just three months after the ending of the third book and a third timeline which starts before the ending of Prince of Thorns and is narrated from Katherine´s Point of view in the format of a diary. Each of the three timelines is full with details that unravel the mysteries of the other two.

The characters are one of the strong points of this novel. When we read about them we get the feeling that we are getting to know real human beings, with their imperfections and their qualities. King of Thorns brings us a set of characters much richer than the first book of the saga, that we really get to know and fall in love with as the story advances. Jorg continues being an antihero as dark as they get: cruel, selfish and with a total disregard for the life of others; still he is subjected to an evolution way bigger than that which he experienced on the first book, showing us a rich character full of internal conflicts and with an interesting duality which will be appreciated by the reader. The secondary characters are full of surprises: Katherine and Coddin, both of them much more developed in this second book, are responsible for some of the most touching moments in King of Thorns; Sageous makes for one of the best fantasy villains I have had the pleasure of reading about; though it’s true that he is missing some depth, and the newly introduced characters such as Egan, Orrin, sir Robert or Miala bring new inputs to an already rich story, and will rise in the reader’s esteem as high as the old ones

Sadly, there is also a downside to the narrative in this novel. Some events feel forced and fortuitous, without real need or just not well introduced in the story. Also, some of the solutions Jorg gives to his problems seen improvised on the spot by the author, such as the end of the battle of the Marsh, which is won by a detail that has never been hinted or talked about before or the moment in which Jorg magically produces a false letter that he is supposed to have written months before but which existence we don’t know until the moment that it needs to be used
There are also two characters who are reintroduced in King of Thorns that were hinted death during a Prince of Thorns. Their return seemed to answer more to a necessity of the author to carry on some of the scenes he may have planned than to the real need of the story. We don’t even get to learn how they survived the events of the first book and, in the case of one of them, why would he want to return to Jorg’s side.

Robin Hobb defined this book as “A two-in-the-morning page turner”, well, allow me to add: “Even if next morning you need to wake up at 6”. King of Thorns makes for an intense and interesting reading that shall delight readers who enjoy a good fantasy story. This book has been a real treat from beginning to end keeping me awake until two of the morning for five days I have been reading it and allowing me to enjoy each of the events that built the road to the final and impeccable climax. Mr Lawrence, I take my metaphorical hat off for the second time.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

Ps: since vacations are at an end, from now on new reviews will take a little longer to be uploaded, but you can be sure they will keep coming this way.

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