Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

An unpredictable, ruthless and poetic literary masterwork.
Emperor of Thorns book cover

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.

This Emperor of Thorns book review was written by

We interviewed Mark Lawrence on 2019-01-04

All reviews for Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire

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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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