Book Review: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence - The Fantasy Review

Book Review: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

The Fantasy Review’s review of Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, the first book in The Broken Empire trilogy.

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence is a very popular grimdark book, gaining fast popularity during the early Joe Abercrombie craze days. Since its release, Lawrence has gone on to write several other fantasy trilogies, moving away from the grimdark subgenre, and a science fiction trilogy too. 

Despite its popularity, Prince of Thorns receives a mixed response from readers, with some thinking the book too dark, and others absolutely adoring it. This review of Prince of Thorns is spoiler-free.

Review of Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

We follow Jorg Ancrath, a bitter, cruel, and arrogant runaway prince who seeks revenge for the murder of his mother and brother, and his own kidnap and torture. This tragic event is what drives the narrative, being Jorg’s one and only motivation: vengeance. 

Jorg is despicable, unlikable, and maybe the most revolting main character of a fantasy book. Despite this, I could not help hoping he would survive whatever mess he was in. He does have a way of getting out of scrapes in plot-convenient ways, which did bother me initially, but it soon became clear there was a larger power at play and my concerns were turned into intrigue. 

As Prince of Thorns is written in the first-person perspective, we only see other people and the world through his narcissistic, sociopathic point of view. This does mean that we see less of the surrounding characters that we might want to, but there is a lot about them you can glean from descriptions of their physical reactions during conversations, or their dialogue. 

Likewise, we see enough of the world to understand the very basics, plenty to be working with to enjoy the story, but as Jorg doesn’t care about sweeping landscapes, we don’t hear about them. When we are somewhere that emotionally affects him, we do get some fantastic descriptions however, so this is a purposeful technique from Lawrence, rather than a lack of skill.

In fact, the lack of descriptions of the world shroud it in a dark fog, creating a morbid atmosphere that serves to enhance the story. Lawrence’s writing style is punchy and addictive, creating a short book that tells a longer story than you would expect. Not one word is wasted, with the end of every sentence pulling the story forwards.

If you are looking for a dark fantasy book set in an unforgiving world, with characters that would make Cersi Lannister’s skin crawl, you should definitely pick up Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.

Mark Lawrence was kind enough to do an interview with The Fantasy Review a while ago, so you can check that out here if interested.

Related to our Review of Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Owner and Editor of The Fantasy Review. Loves all fantasy and science fiction books, graphic novels, TV and Films. Having completed a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative writing, they would like to go on to do a PhD. Favourite authors are Trudi Canavan, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.

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