by Mark Lawrence
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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.
Why, hello, anti-hero! I’m going to tell it right away : I loved the guy. That sick little Evil. Sue me.
▒ Sick little evil… Hmm… Tell me more ▒
“There is no evil, Makin,’ I said. ‘There’s the love of things, power, comfort, sex, and there’s what men are willing to do to satisfy those lusts.”
♠ There’s no need telling that Jorg is infuriating, sarcastic, selfish, smart-ass, ruthless, nope. Of course all these words could define him but the only thing you need to know is that you’re going to have to brace yourself because we have a real villain as a hero here. And damn, I loved that. Since the murder of his mother and brother, Jorg’s decided to run away from the castle where he’d been raised – yes, because he’s a prince, duh – and started to … well … is kill people with a bunch of mercenaries good enough of a description? Yeah? He kills without an afterthought, he rapes, respects NOTHING (and I mean it. Literally nothing.) and can sacrifice everyone of his fellows, his so-called Brothers, who follow him everywhere and all share a spark of devil.
“You know how to break the cycle of hatred?” I asked.
“Love,” said Gomst, all quiet-like.
“The way to break the cycle is to kill every single one of the bastards that fucked you over”, I said.”
➸ Yeah, this is a really violent journey you’re about to start. *whisper* Now, I laughed a lot, you know. Are you scared of me? I am scared of me.
“That silence almost beat me. It’s the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears. The spirits of the dead have nothing on it. The dead one tried to show me hell, but it was a pale imitation of the horror I can paint on the darkness in a quiet moment.”
No but seriously. SERIOUSLY. I’m a tad worried because I never could bring myself to hate him, even though each and every one of his actions, what am I saying, of his thoughts yelled HATE ME!! JUST DO IT ALREADY!
But you know what?
♠ If I take an unflinching look at what I feel about him and if I compare with what made me loathe characters that a lot of people loved, I know how I could manage to accept him : That’s because he’s plain evil and AT NO POINT during the book, someone is telling us that he is good. NEVER. I can accept, even LOVE to follow a fucking twisted bastard if I’m not feeling urged to drool over him, like other male leads we meet in a lot of romance for example. There’s no point in seeking redemption out for Jorg, there’s none. That makes this journey in his sick head all kind of fascinating.
“It’s what I am, and if you want excuses, come and take them.”
▒ Did I appreciate the writing? Of course I did. ▒
♠ There’s no brilliant way to explain it, no similes everywhere, but a flow that made me eat the book way faster than I thought I would. Now, I don’t know if that’s because I loved being in Jorg’s head so much, but his inner monologues pleased me to no end and I was never bored. I trade any of my YA female leads for Jorg’s monologues on any day. Indeed the irreverent tone of his humor drew me in and it seemed that I never could get enough of it. Even if the guy is always on the verge of stabbing someone. No one is perfect right?
▒ Oh, and I guess I’m supposed to talk about the plot? Let’s do this. ▒
♠ Saying that I was captivated wouldn’t do justice to the book – no. Because from the first line to the last, I stayed wide-eyed and eager to learn more. One piece of advice : keep your heart still, because the path Jorg takes is ruthless. Violent. We’re spared nothing, so before starting this book, keep in mind that you’re going to be sick sometimes, shocked, uncomfortable – in a word, you’ll have to grit your teeth several times. You’ve been warned.
“Cowards make the best torturers. Cowards understand fear and they can use it. Heroes on the other hand, they make terrible torturers. They don’t see what motivates a normal man. They misunderstand everything. They can’t think of anything worse than besmirching your honour. A coward on the other hand ; he’ll tie you to a chair and light a slow fire under you. I’m not a hero or a coward, but I work with what I’ve got.”
๑ To conclude, what made this book stand out from the rest in my opinion is the fact that the dark personality of Jorg leads to a complete and oh so amazing uncertainty. Yes, because you’re all kind of unpredictable when your conscience never bothers you. We might oppose that there’s too much luck in it, and that would be true, there’s no denying it. Plus the word-building is a little messy at times (apparently, a medieval setting in an odd Europe after a near apocalypse, so in the future. No?). What can I say? I don’t care.
I fucking loved this book. That’s all.