Audiobook Review: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

c66d0-princeofthornsPrince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Series: The Broken Empire #1

Publisher: Voyager (August 2011)

Narrator: James Clamp

Author Infomark—

Wendy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars ~ Lawrence delivers knife-edge wit, crisp descriptions, swift action and reaction. There are no wasted words as he paints his dark pictures,with each and every moment evoking a raw intensity of action and emotion.

I am remiss. I have had Prince of Thorns sitting on my nightstand for too long with full intention to read it, though I have admired Mark Lawrence for a long time. His wit and his commitment to giving of himself to his fans, all things writery, and more, speaks of a man worthy of lots of attention. So forgive me, Mark, for taking so damn long to fall in love with your series. Please accept this five star review, which I have written after only about a hundred pages, as my humble apology.

I have a soft spot for broken people. For the assholes, jerks and bastards that others shun. I am not naïve enough to wholly trust them, and I am mostly not I arrogant enough to believe I am the one who can “fix” them. But I appreciate their honesty about who they are and how they see the world.

With this in mind, it was no surprise to me that Prince Jorg became an instant favourite. Jorg is driven by, among many other things, a seething rage and a lust for revenge against the enemy that brutally killed his mother and little brother while Jorg watched, trapped by fear and thorns. This is called Prince of Thorns for a reason, and Lawrence neither wastes nor overuses the literal and figurative barbs that have shaped Jorg’s life.

But I’m going to save the gushing soliloquy on why I love Jorg, for a future Character Appreciation Post. Stay tuned!

It’s not just Jorg that sold me. Lawrence’s skill as a writer is mind blowing. A sure sign that I’m smitten with a book is when I am listening to the audiobook (wonderfully narrated by James Clamp, who shall be added to my list of favourite narrators), and find myself running back to the book itself to dogear pages and underline all the delicious text, and then spam Goodreads with all my favourite quotes.

Writing through Jorg’s eyes, Lawrence delivers knife-edge wit, crisp descriptions, swift action and reaction. There are no wasted words as he paints his dark pictures, with each and every moment evoking a raw intensity of action and emotion.

At its heart, Jorg’s journey is a simple one that we’ve read before: the (self-)exiled prince returning to claim his birthright from a father who refuses to acknowledge him until he proves himself worthy. But Lawrence gives this a dark twist, starting with a dark and twisted character. Jorg is not a purely evil creature and perhaps there are other factors at play beyond his control, but Jorg never makes excuses for his decisions and their consequences. And while he recognizes the immorality and/or impropriety of his choices, they are always based in the ruthless practicality of achieving his goals, no matter the sacrifice required (I may have to have words with you, Mr. Lawrence, for one sacrifice in particular. *shakes an angry fist at you*)

There is unrest in the land and Jorg’s father tasks him with taking down one of his enemies. This is not as straight forward a process as one might think it should be. The story gets a little muddy when it delves deeper into the dark magic infesting the lands, but it all leads Jorg into some very intriguing plot twists and spoilery discoveries about the world Jorg lives in. I won’t divulge those elements here, but I will say that I am now very intrigued by the history behind the broken kingdoms and am on a definite need to know more basis.

Some might complain that this book is too dark and too hopeless. There are no good guys or heroes, only deeper shades of wrong with our lead being just as depraved as the rest. It’s a gritty and realistic world, even with the magical elements. Personally speaking, I love the way Lawrence teeters on the edge of true darkness and am curious to see how far he’s willing to go.

13 Comments on “Audiobook Review: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence”

    • Thanks! I do enjoy darker stories, but not everyone does, understandably. I do try to make that clear where a story may not work for people who prefer a more positive experience.


  1. You liked this one even more than I thought you would! I think if you liked book 1 this much you will enjoy the rest of the series as it still has all that you said was good and more. Get cracking on books 2 and 3!


    • Used up my last two Audible credits on King and Emperor 😉 I need to get the full scope so I can finish the Jorg appreciation post sitting in drafts 😉


  2. I will have to check it Clamp. I’m always in bed of narrators I can click with.

    Asshole characters can be hit or miss with me. I like the ones in Chuck Wendig’s books and the girl in Blood Oranges, sometimes tho they can just tick me off. I might have to use a credit for this one!


    • They definitely have to click. I thought Mark did well, and letting you into Jorg’s head through first person was part of that. But he doesn’t waste time letting Jorg dwell too much. I like that too. I’m eager to see where the trilogy takes him.


  3. Oo, I really like broken characters too…. I’ve been nervous about this one since I’m not sure if it is the kind of dark that I can handle or not, but I hear that the book makes it clear early on how it is going to go? Also, how did you like the narration? Audiobooks are how I’m tackling older series these days!


    • James Clamp is definitely a new favourite narrator.

      You’re in Jorg’s head and get to see him for what he is and what he is capable of right from the start.


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