“Prince of Thorns” by Mark Lawrence

Another library read, because I’m still a bit behind with my NetGalley reviews. (Sorry, guys. I’ll catch up on those as soon as I can.) I borrowed Prince of Thorns on a whim — it looked pretty melodramatic, but I was hoping the characters would be entertaining or humorous enough to offset that, and I figured I’d give it a go.

prince of thorns

Well.

Look, this isn’t a bad book. There’s plenty that’s engaging about it. The writing’s decent, with some nice turns of phrase and a few very evocative descriptions. If you’re into fantasy, you could probably do worse.

But…

You knew there was a but coming, didn’t you? There’s always a but when I start a review like this.

But Jog is FOURTEEN. He’s driven by an all-consuming desire for revenge about something that happened when he was NINE. He spends all his time being oh-so-evil and oh-so-philosophical, and all the time I’m thinking, “Dude, chill out, your voice probably hasn’t even broken yet.”

I’ve known enough fourteen-year-old boys not to be able to take him at all seriously as a protagonist, and so whether he was trying to achieve the impossible or wreak untold havoc on the world, my general attitude was, “Okay, kid. Just make sure you calm down afterwards.”

I also couldn’t figure out the setting. Is it a futuristic alternate world? Our world, having regressed to a more medieval way of life following a nuclear disaster? A completely separate fantasy world that just happens to have Nietzsche and Shakespeare and Plato and Plutarch so that our oh-so-wise 14-year-old protagonist can quote them? I never really figured out the answer to that question, and the puzzle of it bothered me, always distracting me from the story.

I actively disliked the treatment of female characters in the book. There were very few of them, and they tended to be sexualised, then demonised, then brutalised. Or sometimes in a different order. Point is, they weren’t treated well, and no doubt I’d have been more righteously angry about it if I’d felt an emotional connection to any of the characters at all.

It isn’t that it was thoroughly unenjoyable. At times, I did get interested. But I couldn’t take it seriously. Jorg (what kind of a name is Jorg, anyway? Is it meant to be pronounced George or with a hard ‘g’ at the end or with a German-style ‘j’ like Yorg?) needs to chill — to dial back the melodrama, take a long hard look at his life, and sort himself out.

Seriously. That kid needs therapy.

It’s probably somewhere between two stars and three. I’m going with two here, just because I don’t often give those out and it feels worthy of one. Heh.

Rating: **

Find ‘Prince of Thorns’ on Amazon (UK)

 

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