[Review] Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Thursday, August 22, 2013 K.Z. Freeman 0 Comments

We can't be trapped by fear. Lives within such walls are just slower deaths.

Mother. Fucking. Yes!

At long last (I always wanted to write that) I got to read the final chapter of the best trilogy I've had the chance of reading since… since… well... hell... I want to say these tomes have gotten close to the greatness of something, but I'm at a loss to think of anything better than these three books. Damn you, Mark Lawrence.

He had spoken the whole truth. But words are only words and they seldom turn a person unless they want to be turned.

So, in the last book we pretty much left off with Jorg being all kinds of badass by singlehandedly destroying a vast army by the sheer badassery of his awesome self. Now he's slightly less badass, but has other tricks (old tricks, too) up his sleeve. We get more of Fexler Brews, the enigmatic builder-ghost, and that's all good, but also some more of Chella, who has become less of an evil witch and more a whiny bitch. But that's good too, since she's still pretty mean to a person you'll probably ‘hate’ for no apparent reason, other than he’s a weakling (Kai).

The old man worried too much. You'd have thought as a man's years ran out he'd worry less – but no.

The writing remains the same. Which is excellent, although this was the only book that I thought became slightly too one-dimensional when it comes to character dialogue. What I mean is that sometimes I got the impression everyone had something wise or profound to say, so the type of internal monologue Jorg has at times bled into someone else, and I think that irked me two or three times. 
Due to the "wiseness" of Jorg himself it's sometimes hard to believe he's so young. But god damn it, I still wanted more. Which is bullshit since there is no more...

“Get up, Jorg.” In the Haunt I have a page schooled in the art of discreet coughs and a gradual elevation of volume until his royal highness deigns to stir.

There are lots of surprises in store this time around, and most of all, there’s lots of cases of Jorg not being Jorg. That is to say he is less of a bastard and slightly more reasonable, although he still randomly kills people at times, and a bit less randomly at other times. Mostly because he can. Or wants to. Or can command others to do it. Or all of the three.

Time heals all wounds, but often it’s only by the application of the grave, and while we live some hurts live with us, burning, making us twist and turn to escape them. And as we twist, we turn into other men.

We finally get to find out what happened to Makin’s daughter and why he loves killing just a little bit, AND we get to learn of Coddin's fate (hooray). We get to see Brother Rike being Rikey, so basically the same mean, body-looting self. He doesn't get much dialogue save at the end, when it matters. 
In general, all of the brothers (that are left) are roughly the same, which is no less than a good thing. The added cast is interesting and mostly you won't wish for anyone's untimely death. The only person which seemed more of a plot-device than a character was Kai, but he doesn’t get that much screen time anyway.

We all carry the seeds of our destruction with us, we all drag our history behind us like rusted chain.

This book nearly killed me, in a way... I was walking down the road with the book in my hands (I didn't wait to get home to finish it) and almost walked into a river. Instead of closing it right there I did the sensible thing and continued reading, then actually laughed out loud at the ending.
I’ve read many books and I think this trilogy has one of the best finishes I have ever read. It’s immensely satisfying and appropriate, superbly written and puts a nice lid on top of an open valve which I will surely be opening again to have my face blow off by its awesome tale.

We’re fashioned by our sorrows – not by joy – they are the undercurrent, the refrain. Joy is fleeting.

How I wish that weren't so. But in a way, I think the joy of reading this book is one of those fleeting moments that does indeed fashion you for a time. You become Jorg, and all things considered, Jorg is pretty great. Sure he stabs people and fucks necromancers, but whatever, his heart is in the right place. Mostly. 
And if I were a particularly incredulous swine, I would probably abduct Mark and have him locked up in a cell where he would write tales in the Broken Empire just for me -- none of you would get to read any. But as luck would have it, I don’t need to do that, as more books are coming from what I hear. Watch out for Prince of Fools next year!

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