Thursday, June 07, 2012

“King Of Thorns” by Mark Lawrence (Ace Books / Voyager) - The MLA* Review

Lawrence-KingOfThornsUKThe sequel to one of 2011’s most-talked-about fantasy novels

I thoroughly enjoyed Prince of Thorns, and I would certainly hold it up as one of the best debut novels I’ve read in the last five years – not only was the story gripping, but Lawrence’s prose were some of the best I’ve read (this is a huge factor for me, when deciding on how much I love a book). So, I’ve been impatiently awaiting its sequel. Which I have now read! As a preview for the full, proper review, I thought I’d offer a brief MLA review, first. Because they’re fun. And slightly silly.

* MLA = “Mark Lawrence Approach” – Mark suggested something unorthodox for my review of John Scalzi’s Redshirts, and because the resultant review was quite popular, and because many of you asked for more reviews like it, here we go with King of Thorns

After the incredible success of Prince of Thorns, which garnered a staggering number of positive (and also frothingly negative) reviews, the alert anticipation of the SF/F blogosphere can best be captured thus:


My own anticipation, being the calm and quiet person I am, could also be characterised as wistful hope and longing…


Anyway, let’s get on to the book. At first, I experienced a few re-entry issues with King Of Thorns, which takes on a rather different structure to Prince… Therefore, I experienced some wariness and sceptism about this second novel – a bit like this:


I really like this picture…

Despite this, what I was reading certainly shared the inventiveness and darkness of the first novel, only with a more expansive and complex story and approach. All of which are good things. Very good things. Things that make me feel like the guy on the right:


Yes, I really like this picture, too…

Now, there was one bit, pages 178-181, which was disturbing and distressing. I went through four stages of emotion while I read the scene, and can best be expressed thus: First, there was surprised concern, as I guessed what was about to happen…


… followed by more horrified shock and dismay as my fears were realised…


… which quickly morphed into anger at a specific character…


(Doesn’t he look like the demon, canine-cousin of an Ewok? Dark Side Ewok, perhaps?)

The novel is a great, dark and epic fantasy novel. It’s inventive, original, expansive and gripping (certainly the final 100 pages were amazing), but it is also not without a couple of flaws. I think fans of the first book will certainly like this, and I think people who haven’t read Prince of Thorns should definitely pick it up and give it a try.

Longer, proper review to come tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Great review and I love the visuals too.
    Oh and I agree but you'll have to wait until the August issue of RT magazine to see mine. :)