Posts Tagged ‘Broken Empire’

In Spain we have a saying: “at the third try you will succeed”. But if the first and the second try have already been huge successes, what do we say? When it comes to applying this saying to Mark Lawrence, author of the delightful Broken Empire trilogy I believe that it should be changed to “at the third try you shall get a result that will blow the readers’ minds”.


Strong points: The characters, the setting, the development of the story

Weak points: it contradicts some small details given in prince of thorns

Emperor of Thorns is the final chapter of the Broken Empire, a trilogy that tells us the story of Jorg Ancrath and his quest for power whatever it may cost. In this third installment Jorg, now a father-in-waiting, must attend Congression, a meeting between the rulers of the Broken Empire that occurs every four years and which objective it’s to try to designate a new emperor. While this happens other powers are preparing their hands for the final stage of the game: the power of the Dead King is growing and his armies are laying waste to the continent; the data ghosts created by the Builders war among themselves, divided before the question of what to do with humanity; The church of the White Christ sends its assassins to carry out their dark deeds, seeking revenge for bishop Murillo’s fate and the Mathmagicians seek the future in their numbers, their influence in Ibn Fayed’s court rising.

From the first book Mark Lawrence has been able to demonstrate time and again his amazing skill when it comes to creating and developing his characters, and Emperor of Thorns is not exception to the rule. From the newly introduced characters to those we already know and (may) love since Prince of Thorns, all of them are masterfully created, showing us a complex and deep behavior that will make the reader feel as if they were reading about real people, with their faults and their qualities. Their actions and their feelings don’t seem imposed by the author; instead it feels as if they really came from within the character. Jorg may not be as evil as he was in Prince of Thorns, but he stills being the charming murderous bastard I know and love and the changes of his conduct are the result of a careful evolution that has been taking place from the first pages of the first book until Emperor of Thorns. Some scenes, such as the one when he is trying to find his cousin among the Gildean Guard, are simply a treat to read, giving us a glimpse of how complex this character has become. Other secondary characters, such as Miana, Makin, Red Kent, Rike or Chella are further developed in this novel, making them surprising and difficult to predict, some of them, such as Rike, bring us really surprising moments that, only by themselves, would have made a book worth reading.

I felt in love with the setting and its subtlety from the first moment I started reading this series. Though it is never completely explained how this society came to be, the book is full with hints that allow the readers to come to the conclusion by themselves. Now, in Emperor of Thorns, this setting is expanded even further than King of Thorns, taking us to the poisoned land of Iberico, the deserts of Liba or the capital city of Vyene, all of them described in their unique ways, managing to create different cultures and architectural styles with such a completion that it will remind readers to Steven Erikson´s own creations. Mark Lawrence has created a complex and complete world and will leave the reader thirsting for more adventures in this amazing society that the author has managed to create.

Finally, the story has followed a constant and well-built development from the beginning of the series to its end; it is amazing how scenes that I didn’t give much importance in the first or second books become important for the plot in the third book, such as Justice’s torture in King of Thorns. The constant evolution of the general plot is fluid and makes sense; as with the characters, this time the events of the book don’t feel forced by the author in an attempt to create drama, which was my main complain about some small happenings in King of Thorns. The building of the climax and the ending twists are truly amazing, forcing the reader to stand on his or her guard, never knowing where the next surprise may come from.

Mark Lawrence continues with the style he already used in the second book of the series, using two timelines and a second person’s point of view to complete the information the reader gets about the story. The point of view of Jorg is divided between the present and five years in the past, picking this last timeline exactly where King of Thorns past’s timeline finished. The second point of view this time is Chella’s, from whose eyes we get to understand the court of the Dead King and its true nature.

I have to say, this book was perfect even if there were small details that contradicted some information given in Prince of Thorns. These details were mostly unimportant, such as the fact that in the first book it was hinted that Makin had helped Jorg to torture Bishop Murillo while in Emperor of Thorns when Jorg recalls the episode it is set before Makin joint the brotherhood.

Broken Empire has been a hell of a ride, I have enjoyed every minute spent reading this books. It saddened me to finish Emperor of Thorns, with so many enjoyable characters such as the Queen of Red who had only been named or appeared briefly and had left you wanting for more. Thankfully I have just learned Mark Lawrence is writing his fourth book: Prince of Fools, which is the first installment of a new trilogy, set in the same world as the Broken Empire series.

And yes, I take my metaphorical hat for the third time, Mr. Lawrence, and I am looking forward to do it again soon


¡Hasta la próxima!

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.

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.


¡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.