As a reader and reviewer of fantasy novels, I spend a lot of my time talking about the tropes of the genre. More often than not, I’m criticising one or another as I feel they are overused. An orphaned child becoming the Chosen one. A prophetic coming-of-age tale is but another common example.
The series I am featuring today should be recognised for not following the footsteps of others by relying on common fantasy themes that now define the genre – The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.
From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father’s castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.
Mark Lawrence’s debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, and sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.
To suggest that Jorg Ancrath is an anti-hero is a major understatement. He is a See You Next Tuesday kind of guy.
Kids, if you don’t know what this means, you are too young for this series and my review. Come back in ten years… and for god’s sake don’t Google it either.
The series is definitely for those of a more mature mindset. I read these at the age of 18 and the content didn’t particularly bother me. It’s bloody, violent and hints at sexual violence. It’s a series that you will either really get on with, or these things will make you run for the hills.
I, however, really enjoyed reading this series with a **less-than-perfect** main character.
There are a lot of fantasy books with main characters that have great intentions but screw up somewhere down the line. Whilst there are a good number of altruistic people out there, realistically most people aren’t. We have moments of selfishness. We want things we shouldn’t, or we behave inappropriately. We are only human after all.
Jorg’s character takes this to an EXTREME level; I am not condoning his actions for a second. That being said, I found it refreshing to read the anti-hero’s side from a human, intimate perspective. Many demonise these characters and define them only for their crimes… not who they are. Jorg had a troubled childhood. This is not offered as an excuse, but more an explanation. As a reader, you cannot help but pity the young boy for his position and root for him to redeem himself.
If you were in his position, would you not seek redemption in much the same way?