Posts Tagged ‘Emperor of Thorns’

So here we are, after one year of reviews and Reading the lists of the top books of the years have started appearing all around and, since my first post was the top five books of 2013 (all of them amazing, read them right now), with the top five books of 2014 I celebrate a year on Thelordbaelish’s blog, again, thank you for taking the time to read my posts and thank you for the follows, the likes and the favorites.

Well, Time to get down to business! This year has been filled with wonderful books and deciding which ones were the best books of the year hasn’t been easy. Several times I have been tempted to make a top 8 instead of a top 5, but these lists’ aim is to choose a few books among many, so sacrifices must be made!

So, with a Spanish beer on my hand, a hat in my head to I can take it off to honor the writers in this list and my mouth stuffed with Christmas pastries (you have to try the Spanish ones [of course you would say that (shut up)])I present you 2014’s Top Five Books for Thelordbaelish blog!

5) The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuinn

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This position has been the toughest to decide, but, after much thought, I think The Left Hand of Darkness deserves to be named one of the greatest books I have read this year.

Ursula K. LeGuinn brings us the story of First Contact completely reversed. A human diplomat named Ai is sent by an intergalactic alliance to convince the inhabitants of the frozen planet Gethen to join after they have been deemed prepared to do so. What Ai can’t suspect is that this action will destroy the fragile political balance between Gethen’s most powerful nations, endangering both himself and every potential ally he may find.

The Left Hand of Darkness is an impressive, dark and well written political thriller which takes place in an unknown world, filled with wonders and with cultures so well created and developed that you will feel as if you were reading history rather than science fiction. As the story advances, we witness how these cultures change and become more radical in a wonderful cause-effect scenario, always answering to the stimuli provided by Ai’s presence, which creates a dynamic world subjected to constant change. By the end the reader will have witnessed several allusions to our own 20th century political situation: from the rise and fall of a radical, race-centered movement similar to Nazism to the political development of a nation similar to Stalin’s Russia.

I also enjoyed Ai’s figure, a man bent into doing the right thing even when he knows that it may have tragic consequences for himself and those who defend him, but I admit that I personally would have preferred for him to have a bigger internal conflict. Though it is true that he spends the novel trying to decide who can be trusted, it may have been interesting to see a darker side of his personality, or at least to see some preoccupation about his own well-being beyond the need to complete his mission.

If you enjoy political science fiction, vivid, beautiful and ever-changing worlds and well-written books, then The Left Hand of Darkness is the book for you.

4) The Postmortal by Drew Magary

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I feel that the idea Immortality and what it may entail for the human race is a subject which can produce really interesting debates just as long as it is not discussed in YouTube (seriously, when I am feeling adventurous I read YouTube comments and by the end I always feel that 90% of them are written by crack addict monkeys having a particularly bad day). How would it affect us? Would we be able to function as a productive society or would we sink into utter chaos? Drew Magary offers his own thoughts on this debate and the image he creates is not a pretty one.

The story takes place over 73 years, in which we witness the utter self-destruction of the human race from the point of view of John Farrell, a divorce lawyer whose life is changed forever from the moment he decides to become immortal. John Farrell will try to survive and find meaning to his life in a society without morals, ambition, decorum and, finally, without resources.

Let me tell you now, The Postmortal may be a tragic and depressing story, but it is also a deeply satisfying one due to its great quality and the amazing character work, which makes John Farrell vividly human, a character in whom the reader can see himself and with whom we feel connected.

The Postmortal is, at its core, a tale about humanity, and an intensely fatalistic one, at that. But it also shows us really beautiful moments which give us hope and provide some lights in the great ocean of darkness which is The Postmortal’s society.

If you enjoy dystopian societies, fatalistic futures or original apocalyptic stories, then The Postmortals is the book for you. A book which does not only entertain, but also gives the reader something to think about

 

3) Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

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You know a book is good when you read it on January and in December you still considering it one of the best books of the year. It can also be due to a bad reading year, but since that is not the case, we are going to agree that Emperor of Thorns is an amazing book filled with unforgettable characters and spectacular moments. Of course it is not only the story, but also the writer, Mark Lawrence has managed to be on this list for two years in a row (Prince of Thorns, the first installment to the trilogy, was one of my favorite books for 2013), and he has done it through his intelligent, sometimes witty, dialogue, his beautiful world and his great writing style

Emperor of Thorns offers closure to the Broken Empire trilogy and to Jorg’s story, and it does it masterfully, staying loyal to its main character without trying to make him more sympathetic or a better person. Jorg is still a complete bastard, a horrible human being who is one step away from being considered a psychopath (or maybe he is one by this point, not quite sure) and who sees almost everyone else as pieces to be played with to protect those he loves and to reach the throne.

The secondary characters are not much better, from his wife, a plotting young woman who could go toe-to-toe against Lady Macbeth in ruthlessness, to his men at arms. The book soon becomes a mix of complex, unpredictable characters that play to fulfill their own goals and ambitions.

The Broken Empire trilogy has been an amazing treat, a dark and thrilling tale which has given me hours of enjoyment, a vivid proof that the Eragon’s effect doesn’t always apply to book sagas with great first books.

I would recommend Emperor of Thorns, and the Broken Empire trilogy as a whole, to anyone who enjoys an original dark fantasy saga set in an enormous and dynamic world filled by possibilities and unpredictability.

2) The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

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As I said when I was reviewing this book, I love it whenever I find a strong female protagonist capable of staying away from overused clichés and who doesn’t need a man in her direst hours. Female characters and fiction have had a complicated relationship, and usually we find the so-called Trinity Syndrome, strong female protagonists who end up helplessly depending on the male hero in the final part of the story. Therefore, it was a great surprise when I read The Thousand Names and found that not only it has a strong female character, but she also keeps her strength throughout the novel.

The Thousand Names is a tale of survival set on a colonist-like period in a fantasy world. Trapped on the middle of a religious uprising, the imperial army stationed in a faraway colony tries to stay alive by any means necessary while the wait for the ships which will get them home. To their surprise, they are not to abandon the colony, but try to retake it following their new commander in chief, the mysterious and eccentric coronel Janus. By his side, Janus will have Captain D’Ivory, a man struggling with his own sense of self-worth, and private Winter, a girl posing as a man who would rather not being noticed.

The author manages to create a set of unpredictable, likeable characters and an entertaining and carefully-built world which offers a realistic reflection on our own colonial period. All of it while managing to develop one of the most enthralling stories I have read this year. The Thousand Names is a book I could read over and over again without getting tired of it, a book I recommend to anybody who enjoys a good fantasy story.

1) The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

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This year has been filled by marvelous books and unforgettable stories, but sadly only one can be considered the Top 1 book of the year. That honor belongs to Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear.

An amazing tale of adventure, worthy of classical heroes such as Conan or the Company of the Ring, The Wise Man’s Fear continues the story of Kvothe as he remembers the incredible adventures which led to his tragic and mysterious downfall.

Patrick Rothfuss has managed to create a breath-taking world which will entrap the reader because of its enormity and the detail by which it has been created. Once you put down the book, you feel as if you had just contemplated the work of a master craftman, who has managed to pour life into an inanimate object, transforming it in a spectacular work of fiction filled with humane characters and magical situations.

As I said while reviewing this book several months ago, The Wise Man’s Fear is an ambitious tale which will provide any reader with hours of enjoyment, whether they usually read fantasy or not. If you are looking for a book to start 2015 on a high note, look no further: This is it.

So, those are, in my opinion, the best five books I have read on 2014, but I do not want to finish my post without three honorary mentions to the runner-ups which didn’t make it: The Scorpio Races, Steelheart and One Second After.

Now all that is left is wishing you a Happy New Year and I shall see you on 2015

¡Hasta la próxima!

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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”.

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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

FINAL SCORE: 9/10

¡Hasta la próxima!