Welcome back to the Broken Empire and our beloved anti-hero Jorg Ancrath. The world is grim as ever due in part of Jorg’s vengeance and the destruction of the world out characters inhabit. Jorg vowed to avenge his slaughtered family at the young age of nine. He began to fulfill that vow in Prince of Thorns but now at the age of eighteen, he must hold onto the power he has gained through torture and treachery. This will be a non-spoiler review, but I will be touching on certain events in Prince of Thorns.
King Jorg is a haunted man in more ways than one. Haunted by the ghost of a young boy and for the woman who now rides with his enemy. Jorg is constantly reflecting on the atrocities he committed and those committed against him when he was a child, the end result is a crippled soul stripped of all empathy and feelings except for one, rage. Even as his need for revenge continues to consume him, twenty thousand men march toward the gates of his castle. His enemy is far stronger than him and Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight. Jorg discovers in his castle ancient and long lost artifacts that could shift the tides of war not just for this battle, but for those to come.
Similar to Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns has several timelines revolving around the main POV character, Jorg. The first timeline takes place in present day, or should I say Jorg’s wedding day, as he is set to be married while the enemy is marching to the front of his doorstep. The second timeline shows Jorg four years ago, right after he took Renar castle and the story moves swiftly towards the present day as Jorg goes on a mission across the Broken Empire. Their is actually a third timeline, which Mark Lawrence handles brilliantly. During some time in Jorg’s past he comes across a mysterious box where he can store his most deadly secrets and memories. Jorg has no recollection of storing his memories in this box and over the course of the story, we slowly get to see these memories and they are all: shocking, horrifying, and sometimes brutal to read that we can see how Jorg turned into the monster he is today. We also get every so often, journal entries from Katherine Ap Scorron as she journey’s with the Prince of Arrow on his journey through the Broken Empire looking to unite the kingdoms. All of these threads merge at the finale of an epic conclusion that left me speechless!
Of course, throughout all of this war and chaos we still follow the adventures of the Brothers as they assist Jorg in his ultimate quest for vengeance. We also get to chime in with the necromancer Chella and the devious schemes she has up her sleeve. I should also mention the shear brutality Mark Lawrence has brought to the table in certain scenes of King of Thorns. There is a very graphic torture scene involving an animal in this book and it was very difficult to read, but it was done for a very specific reason as opposed to gore for the sake of it.
I would like to state unequivocally that King of Thorns is my favorite Mark Lawrence book I have ever read! For the record, I have read all of his books except for The Girl and the Stars and none of those novels can match the feeling of pure amazement and awe upon reading the final pages. The story was wrapped up, perfectly, beautifully, all topped off with a huge twist that shook me to my core! Mark Lawrence taught me in this book that vengeance and rage can be a very powerful driver, but the pain and anguish it hides, if not dealt with, can destroy a persons soul. This is the dilemma Jorg and how does he comes out of it? You will have to read for yourself!