Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

(9.8/10) An unpredictable, ruthless and poetic literary masterwork.

Book of the Year 2013 (see all)

'Emperor of Thorns' is the third and final part of 'The Broken Empire' series, so my advice is to read the previous two books, 'Prince of Thorns' and 'King of Thorns', first. I find that when a new book in a series arrives I normally do not make the effort to re-read the preceding books first but this time, contrary to my usual ways, I did. And if I think a story is still great upon the second or third time of reading then it becomes one of my favourites.

So to spoil the story would be terrible but please forgive me if I let slip a few details.

The first book had a really feverish, personal feel to it. It was fast-paced, aggressive and exciting. The first person perspective of Jorg gave a clear view to his character - that of a brilliant, charming, extremely violent, utterly ruthless, romantic egomaniac. I’ve read a lot of fantasy but also historical and non-fictive as well and I’ve come across no other person who is like Jorg yet still surprisingly realistic. In the well-trodden path of the fantasy novel that’s a novelty.

After the first book Jorg left such a strong image behind that I was honestly surprised by the way Lawrence dared to change him. As Jorg grew older his character changed, he seemed to find some sort of a balance with his sociopathic tendencies, but luckily only a little bit. 'King of Thorns' gave a multithreaded view, using the 'now' and 'past'. The 'past' parts of the story actually give a sort of background information about the world this story happens in. They fill in quite a lot of the questions that have begun to rise, where in Prince there was simply no time to sit down and talk stories. King takes its time to give these little glimpses of the way the trilogy is set up.

The final part of the Trilogy, 'Emperor of Thorns' begins fast and seems to set the pace for the rest of the story. But as in his whole trilogy Lawrence is not to be anticipated. The pace seems to flow with the pages. Again Lawrence uses the 'past' and 'now' to fill in more layers of information, to build up the world the story takes place in. Which gives a more relaxed feel to the story and slowly gives more credence to the magic system.

Jorg’s character again evolves in this story, how I will not tell but I had not anticipated it.

Not being able to anticipate Lawrence is one of the greatest thing about this story. Every turn, every traditional or logical crossroads of choices is rather ignored or sliced in two as Jorg ruthlessly makes his way through life.

Emperor might be the slower, more balanced of the three stories. But I read it twice in a short time, with a lot of excitement and if you yourself love heroic ‘dark’ ‘gritty’ fantasy than I honestly say that you should drop whatever your holding and pre-order Emperor of Thorns.

Simply said, The Broken Empire is a brilliantly written series. Every sentence is just a pure joy to read and carefully crafted. Numerous words like wordsmith and modern fantasy poet spring to mind but you should just find it out for yourself. A perfect ending to a brilliant trilogy and an unpredictable, ruthless and poetic literary masterwork of a great mind.

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Our interview with Mark Lawrence

Interview by Timy Takacs and James TivendaleWhat is your favorite fantasy creature and why?I’m far from sure I have a favourite fantasy creature. I’m not really a creature kind of guy. I’ll say lizardma [...]

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Emperor of Thorns reader reviews

from Australia

I loved this book, and loved the conclusion to the series. I can't remember the last time I have been so moved by a book, a movie, or anything else - but the end of this really got to me.

from Canada

Meh. Could have been so much more. Such an interesting take on the world, on history and on technology... underexploited if you ask me. So little of that complex and interesting world explained. Pity.

8.6/10 from 3 reviews

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All reviews for Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire series

Prince of Thorns

Broken Empire: Book 1 written by Mark Lawrence

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 [...]

Published: 2011

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

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King of Thorns

Broken Empire: Book 2 written by Mark Lawrence

To reach greatness you must step on bodies, and many brothers lie trodden in my wake. I’ve walked from pawn to player and I’ll win this game of ours, though the [...]

Published: 2012

Our rating: 9.7 | positive reader reviews

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Emperor of Thorns

Broken Empire: Book 3 written by Mark Lawrence

The path to the throne is broken – only the broken can walk it. The world is cracked and time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days. These are the day [...]

Published: 2013

Our rating: 9.8 | positive reader reviews

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More Mark Lawrence reviews

Red Sister

by Mark Lawrence

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. [...]

Series: Book of the Ancestor #1
Published: 2017

Score: 98

Our rating: 9.5 | 3 positive reader reviews

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Grey Sister

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In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of S [...]

Series: Book of the Ancestor #2
Published: 2018

Score: 95

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Bound

by Mark Lawrence

This is a 16,000 word short story, primarily featuring Nona, Ara, Kettle, Regol. It should be read between Grey Sister and Holy Sister. [...]

Series: Book of the Ancestor #2.5
Published: 2018

Score: 80

Our rating: 8.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Holy Sister

by Mark Lawrence

Nona Grey’s story reaches its shattering conclusion in the third instalment of Book of the Ancestor.THEY CAME AGAINST HER AS A CHILD. NOW THEY FACE THE WOMAN. [...]

Series: Book of the Ancestor #3
Published: 2019

Score: 96

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One Word Kill

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In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.Nick [...]

Series: Impossible Times #1
Published: 2019

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Limited Wish

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One choice. Two possible timelines. And a world hanging in the balance.It’s the summer of 1986 and reluctant prodigy Nick Hayes is a student at Cambridge Unive [...]

Series: Impossible Times #2
Published: 2019

Score: 83

Our rating: 8.3 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Dispel Illusion

by Mark Lawrence

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to [...]

Series: Impossible Times #3
Published: 2019

Score: 89

Our rating: 9.1 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Prince of Fools

by Mark Lawrence

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other. Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line t [...]

Series: Red Queen\'s War #1
Published: 2014

Score: 94

Our rating: 9.4 | 0 positive reader reviews

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The Liar's Key

by Mark Lawrence

The Red Queen has set her players on the board… Winter is keeping Prince Jalan Kendeth far from the luxuries of his southern palace. And although the North may be ho [...]

Series: Red Queen\'s War #2
Published: 2015

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

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The Wheel of Osheim

by Mark Lawrence

All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth getting back out alive and with [...]

Series: Red Queen\'s War #3
Published: 2016

Score: 100

Our rating: 9.9 | 1 positive reader reviews

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The Girl and the Stars

by Mark Lawrence

Only when it's darkest can you see the stars.East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrownOn the vastness of t [...]

Series: The Book of the Ice #1
Published: 2020

Score: 95

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