Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence Review (No-Spoilers)

 

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Today’s book is Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence This is the third and final novel in his wildly popular The Broken Empire series.This books follows Jorg’s quest of world domination to it’s end point. It’s hard to talk about final novels without spoilers so I’m mainly just going to sum up my whole thoughts on the series in general, as well as my feelings of Lawrence as an author

Firstly, this book is great, it builds on the previous two and is a very satisfying end to the story. The requisite payoff is there, and Lawrence delivers. All of the threads are tied up, and leave you wanting more, which is what the end of a series should do.

However, when I think about The Broken Empire as a whole I’m conflicted. Lawrence is an amazing writer, his prose has that lyrical, poetic quality that is sometimes lacking in fantasy novels. Ye the subject of the writing is often hard to stomach, the subject matter dark and disturbing. For that reason, I find it difficult to recommend this series. His next series, The Red Queen’s War on the other hand I can recommend without any hesitation.

I think this is where the series really shines, in the friction it creates. Jorg is a compelling character, someone that is is almost impossible to root for on the surface, he’s mean, and does terrible things. He is a broken person however, and it is not hard to see why he is the way that he is. Jorg is a victim, yet he creates more victims. He does good, but also bad. I found myself wanting him to succeed but also to fail. Would the world be better without him in it? Probably not, but not much better.

A huge theme in the series is about redemption, and whether or not it can be found. Many of the character look for it, Jorg most of all. I can’t speak much to what happens due to spoilers but what Lawrence does with that theme really makes the series for me. Darkness pours off of the page, getting worse and worse with each chapter, with each new book. Yet the novels don’t feel hopeless, or dreary and a large part of that is due to how Lawerence uses Jorg.

Overall, I would say that if you are a fantasy fan, one who doesn’t mind reading about mature themes. violence, and horror, then you should read these books. (Though you probably already have if you check those boxes). Otherwise, I have to leave it up to your discretion. The Broken Empire series has subject matter than can be divisive, and disturbing to some. Yet if you can see past the grime, then you will find a truly remarkable series underneath.

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Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett Review (No Spoilers)

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Today’s book is Monstrous Regiment By Terry Pratchett. This novel follows the adventure of Polly Perks, a young woman who joins the army to search for her brother. Like many Pratchett novels, this book uses ridiculous situations and just general hilarity to discuss serious issues such as gender equality, religion and nationalism.
The characters are really the star of the story, and the reader quickly falls in love with them. Plunged into an impossible situation, they have to figure their way out, as only they can. This book also introduces Sgt Jackrum, who quickly became one of my favourite Discworld characters. There are also some appearances from well known characters, though they play only a small part.
It’s difficult to talk too much about the characters and plot of the novel without getting into spoiler territory so I won’t linger. I’ll just say that the character grow delightfully and the plot is fast paced and very interesting, full of twists and turns.
What really sticks out to me when I think about this book is the way that Pratchett mercilessly attacks certain topics, as I mentioned previously. Gender differences, the insanity of nationalism and warmongering, as well as religions fervour and fundamentalism. All these topics are attacked by Pratchett, so much so that you can feel the anger below the pages, disguised by comedy. The fundamental question that is asked in the book is this; is it possible for a whole nation to be insane and what would that look like? Despite being over fifteen years old, the novel feels timely, as many of these issues are at the very prevalent today.
Despite the heavy undertones and subject matter, the novel is still a very enjoyable read. Pratchett doesn’t come off preachy, as it would be easy. Perhaps parts of the book are a bit repetitive but that is fine, it only drives home the message further. Overall, I loved this book. The characters were great, the plot was engaging and the conclusion satisfying. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, and Terry Pratchett in general.

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