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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