Review: Emperor of Thorns

You want to know how to end a series? THIS is how you end a series!

At fifteen, Jorg Ancrath was a prince, at eighteen he was a king, now King Jorg Ancrath is twenty and ruler of seven nations. With his ultimate goal – revenge against his father – still incomplete, Jorg seeks the impossible: the throne of the Broken Empire.

The throne can only be obtained through vote, not force. And no one has secured the throne in living memory. Armed with the lost technologies of the world, Jorg plans to change that, by any means necessary. But a new enemy has arisen to threaten his plans, and the empire itself. A necromancer more feared even than the Prince of Thorns: The Dead King.

I feel like I’ve been a bit unfair to this series as a whole. While I do prefer stories with a little less bleakness and a touch less murder and mayhem, I also want to make it clear that this is still a pretty awesome series. It’s got it’s dark bits, of course – in fact it’s unapologetically gory and painful – but it’s also a fantastic piece of fantasy literature, and a very excellent edition to any grimdark lover’s collection. I immensely enjoyed Jorg’s journey (from a safe distance) and the writing, particularly the character of the Broken Empire itself, was absolutely spellbinding. And I’m so glad I got to finish off this series this week, because Emperor of Thorns was one incredible finale to an already very incredible series.

What I Liked
  • Jorg Ancrath – The Prince of Thorns absolutely steals this show. Seriously, there is no one quite like Jorg. He’s cruel, cunning, and yet somehow likeable. He won’t mince words (despite having quite the way with them), especially if the sword will get the job done quicker. He’s not about being liked, he’s about getting shit done, regardless of the cost to himself or anyone else. He’s, well, terrible – but in a very fun way. It’s hard not to be drawn in to his charismatic charm, and his belief he can do the impossible. Incredibly tortured, with enough rage to take on an army, Jorg is the main reason I enjoy this series.
  • The Rest of the Characters – The characters who aren’t Jorg were overall pretty solid, though not quite up to his standard. I would say the Brother’s are the weakest of the bunch, as some of them really blend into each other as the standard looting and pillaging raiders they started out as, but not to the point where it became unbearable. The two I loved most in this book were Chella, the necromancer, who had some very interesting POV chapters and I wish we had more of them, and Miana, who I wish had been given even more weight in the series because there is not enough of this tiny queen.
  • The Story – Mark Lawrence is an absolute mastermind when it comes to building tension, and then bringing everything together in a way you would never have imagined, but that also makes perfect sense. The ending to this book is by far the most incredible conclusion I could have imagined for this series. I can’t really say too much without giving things away, but even though I guessed part of the ending before it was revealed, the rest of it was still amazing to read as it unraveled. Satisfying and unexpected; which pretty much describes this trilogy as a whole!
  • The Worldbuilding – If I had any complaint about the worldbuilding of the Broken Empire series, it would be that there’s not enough of it. The way that Mark Lawrence gives the setting it’s own, brutal personality is awesome enough, but I really enjoyed how this book in particular manages to explore the implications of the setting – the ghosts of the past and their lost technologies – without having it entirely overpower the story. There’s just enough here to give some nice spice to everything, and it went from a minor detail (which I was afraid would end up cliché) to some really fascinating worldbuilding. I would love to see more stories set in this world, particularly after the conclusion of this book.
What I Didn’t 
  • The Loose Ends – The only character I didn’t really love by the end was Katherine, and that wasn’t really due to the character herself – which is an odd thing to say, but bear with me. Despite all the weight and importance she was given in previous books, especially considering Jorg’s obsession with her up until this point, I was expecting more from her appearance this book. She’s not bland or boring, but I felt like there was some lost potential here after the build up from the last book.

Emperor of Thorns is a whirlwind end to a fast-paced series that grabbed hold of me from the start and refused to let go. Some readers might find it a bit dark, but for those who enjoy their main characters to be just a touch delightfully unhinged, I guarantee that you have never met a protagonist quite like Jorg Ancarth.

Title: Emperor of Thorns
Author: Mark Lawrence
Publisher: Ace Books
Date Published: August 1, 2013
Series: The Broken Empire #3
Warnings: Graphic violence, death, and sex. Minors beware.

Thanks for reading everyone!

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