Emperor of Thorns

Mark Lawrence
Emperor of Thorns Cover

Emperor of Thorns


Emperor of Thorns is unique in the trilogy because it is the first time where we jump out of Jorg's head and into the third person as Chella the necromancer's story comes into play. She has been dogging Jorg this entire time, and now, returned to living flesh, she serves the will of the Dead King who is out to break the broken empire -- unless Jorg can stop him. Jorg is no hero. He might regret the ghosts that haunt him, but even Jorg isn't going to let the Dead King spread his plague of corruption. Meanwhile, the Builders' secrets are slowly being revealed... though there is no one left to understand them.

Jorg always seems to be going somewhere in these books, and I always find myself at a loss as to the reason for the journey. I have a vague idea that the journey relates to his next ascension and a definitive enemy, and he conveniently walks paths that lead him to new powers and knowledge that help in his end game.

This ambiguity could be considered a flaw in Lawrence's story telling. Or maybe it's just me not paying close enough attention as I listen to James Clamp's incredible narration. But I am here for Jorg and these journeys give me ample opportunity to spend time with him, inside his mind.

To assume Jorg has no conscience is wrong. He has one. He just doesn't allow time wasted on the decision making process because of it. His number one priority is survival–ironic since he has little fear of death. But with the coming of his son in this book, his ruthlessness takes on new meaning.

I always fear that Lawrence will cop out and soften Jorg by seeking his redemption. He hasn't failed me yet. Jorg's son does soften him, in that special way newborns have on new fathers, but it simply gives Jorg a new edge; a new purpose to add to the calculations he makes when determining his next move.

And I do so enjoy those calculations. There's an element of the recent Sherlock Holmes films at play, where Jorg has an inkling of what his opponent might do. But his calculations aren't about artful point and counterpoint. It's about Jorg's unpredictability, in spite of those calculations. Especially against opponents who can see the future or mathemagically plot their course. Some might have issue with how easily Jorg can pull his ass out of the fire each time because of this. I enjoy the creativity behind it and how Jorg's decisions and actions are always new, keen, and interesting.

I have found, of late, that authors seem to write trilogies because it's the trendy thing to do. Lots of extraneous words and scenes are added to stretch the story into three books. But, as I have said in previous reviews, Lawrence's words are precise and never wasted. This is a trilogy because it needs to be a trilogy. And though I get a bit lost with the journeys Jorg takes, I never get the feeling that Lawrence writes them without purpose. He knows exactly where the story needs to go and chooses the most pithy path to get there.