I can not say how much praise I have heard about this book, and how many times I’ve picked up the sample and not finished it. Finally, and with determination, I set out to at least finish the sample. This time I finished the sample and the entire book, and I’m glad I did. The beginning is a bit violent (rape, murder, etc. etc.) but the rest of the book didn’t feel as extreme. Prince Jorg is definitely an anti-hero, but I still cheered for him. I enjoyed this book enough to pick up the second. I am going to give this book 4 stars.
Here’s a breakdown…
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As a child, Prince Jorg was with his mother and brother when they are ambushed. Prince Jorg was thrown into a briar patch (hence the ‘Prince of Thorns’ title) which bleed him almost dry. Helplessly he watched his mom and brother die. After his father did not get the proper punishment from the king responsible for their deaths (Count Renar), Jorg takes it upon himself to hunt the man down and kill him himself. Jorg travels around making mischief with his ‘brothers’ (a rough band of outlaws) – this little detour in his purpose was caused by a curse put on him by Corion (a man in Renars service). He returns home to his father who is remarried, gives him an impossible challenge, and when Jorg completes the challenge, his father attempts to stab him. When Jorg recovers he leaves and is able to kill Corion and Renar and take over that kingdom. Oh yeah, all by his 15th birthday.
Plot Score: 4/5
Jorg- (son and heir of King Olidan of the House of Ancrath) Jorg’s philosophy seems to be that he can win because he will sacrifice anything (family, friends, etc.) to win (“I’d lived a life striking blows that cut two ways”). He has the brothers around him, but he plays them like pawns, even the ones he likes the most. Which isn’t saying much, because he doesn’t allow himself to get close to anyone. In the end we find a lot of his personality was driven by a curse put on him by Corion, but it’s hard to tell who he really is…
The Nuban- The most memorable brother (at least to me), Jorg rescues him from being tortured on the day he leaves his fathers kingdom. He is quiet, wise and black (yeah!), but dies (boo!) – of course he is sacrificed by Jorg in a battle. Prince Jorg once said “[The Nuban] never argued for the sake of being right. I liked that in him.”
Makin- Captain Makin Bortha of the Ancrath Imperial Guard, sent to find Jorg when he leaves, and ends up roaming the countryside with him.
The Brothers- I can’t keep all these guys straight, one is worse (by the way of trade) than the next. They are randomly killed in Jorg’s misadventures. Some survive, and after Corion’s curse is lifted, Jorg does promise them knighthood.
Characters Score: 4/5
So, the mystery of this world, is that it’s our world. There is mention of Socrates and other philosophers. The Nuban is a black man, as a boy Jorg’s tutor is Asian (and has knowledge of pain points, etc.) But, it seems to be a post apocalyptic world. An event called ‘Day of a Thousand Suns’ (a nuclear war) has wiped out ‘The Builders’ (us) and now there is a broken land with several kings and no emperor (I assume this is rectified in the third book called ‘Emperor of Thorns’).
At one point Jorg comes into contact with a computer with artificial intelligence, who is asking him for his name and password, which is so out of sorts in this medieval setting. Prince Jorg’s response is “My name is Honorous Jorg Ancarth, my password is divine right. Now open the fecking door.” LOL.
World Building Score: 5/5
I enjoyed this writing, it was easy to read and it moves along quickly. I’m glad it was from Prince Jorg’s perspective (otherwise we wouldn’t know of what drives him). The flashbacks were handled well, as they are scattered throughout the book, and add to the story line and aren’t a distraction from the present.
Style Score : 4/5
Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)
Jorg’s Words of Wisdom:
“War is a thing of beauty, as I’ve said before, and those who say otherwise are losing.”
“Churchmen, eh? Love one minute, forgiveness the next, and then it’s eternity on fire.”
“In the end it’s about staying power. They should put that on headstones, “Got tired.””
Life Lessons Score: 1/5
-I’m curious to know what was Jorg’s personality vs. Corion’s influence. I assume we will learn more in the next book
-Will Jorg have a relationship with his aunt by marriage – Katherine? He doesn’t seem the type…
Total Score and Recommendation
18/25- If you like a good anti-hero, then you should enjoy this.