About the book
When he was nine, he watched as his mother and brother were killed before him. At thirteen, he led a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king…
It’s time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what’s rightfully his. Since the day he hung pinned on the thorns of a briar patch and watched Count Renar’s men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent his rage. Life and death are no more than a game to him–and he has nothing left to lose. But treachery awaits him in his father’s castle. Treachery and dark magic. No matter how fierce his will, can one young man conquer enemies with power beyond his imagining?
384 pages (hardcover)
Published on April 2, 2011
This is a re-review. You can read more about Project Re-Review here. You can read my first review of Prince of Thorns here (the spacing got really messed up when I moved many of my reviews from blogspot to wordpress. Reading it will be… fun due to that. I will fix it eventually).
Prince of Thorns tells the story of young Jorg, the fourteen-year-old heir to the throne, who has lived a challenged and very adult life on the road with a roving band of miscreants. Lawrence has set his series in a sort of post apocalyptic world where our modern history is considered ancient. Society has gone back to the old ways where kings rule, empires have the ultimate power, and daughters aren’t as important as sons.
Society in Lawrence’s world is brutal and the life Jorg has lived is doubly so. In this sense, Prince of Thorns is as much a mental adventure as anything else, and it’s that aspect of the book which will probably hook readers and pull them through. The plot itself seems to take a backseat to the story of Jorg and everything he’s lived through in his fourteen years, and just how warped and hard that’s made him.
When I first read this book I had a hard time believing that Jorg was just fourteen years old. His thoughts and actions just didn’t seem like anything a fourteen year old would feel and do. However, my second time through Prince of Thorns I have realized that I was looking at it wrong. Jorg’s life has caused him to skip over his childhood and enter a depraved realm of adulthood that most people hope to never experience. In all reality, Lawrence does a great job at showing just how dark and purely adult Jorg’s life has been and he’s not afraid to use uncomfortable situations or graphic descriptions to do so. This really makes the story of Jorg more believable, and much more mentally engaging than it would have been if Lawrence had written it any other way.
When all of that is stripped away, the plot is actually rather mundane and fairly unimpressive. Jorg, the heir to the throne, is sent by his father to accomplish something that is fairly impossible and in doing this, he basically proves himself. There’s nothing new there. The story of Jorg, his life and his development really is what keeps this book alive. Jorg is a character that will keep readers going and absolutely engaged as he toes the line between genius and insanity. That’s not to say that the plot isn’t interesting or engaging, it just lacks a depth and captivating quality that the story of Jorg contains. In fact, I have to give the author some props for undertaking the telling of such a twisted, deep and dark character in his first novel and doing it so masterfully.
Jorg’s world is post-apocalyptic (for lack of a better description). Our modern day society is referred to as ancient and, without some occasional mentions of shared history and Latin based languages, you’d probably never know that Prince of Thorns takes place here, in a very different time. This could be good or bad. It’s interesting to see how Lawrence references history throughout the book and it will serve to make readers wonder exactly what happened to cause the earth to change so dramatically. Lawrence keeps the future Earth aspect of the book rather muted, so it’s pretty easy to ignore that this is Earth, just at a different time. This is good for readers who are fans of secondary worlds – it’s easy to forget that this is our Earth. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but wish for a bit more history or more references that would help me place Jorg somewhere I’d recognize on a globe and understand a little more what brought society from now to Jorg’s world.
Prince of Thorns is Lawrence’s debut work, but if you didn’t know that before you started you probably wouldn’t realize it. There are no major writing hiccups, and his lyrical flow and steady descriptions keep everything moving forward at a fast pace. In fact, it’s quite impressive how much Lawrence manages to pack into a fairly short novel. Despite the fact that the plot lacks a little depth, and the world seemed to need a bit more something, the story of Jorg is absolutely riveting. This is the kind of book that, love it or hate it, will stick in your mind for long after you finish it.