He lost everything in one night… his mother, brother, and father’s support. All that’s left was a memory of thorns that saved young prince of Ancrath from death, but forever robbed him of everything else. He’ll become a prince, then king, and finally the emperor of thorns. But at the end he’ll meet with his main nightmare, who follows in his wake and who has something to ask Jorg Ancrath, Lord of Thorns…
“A Dark time comes. My time. If it offends you. Stop Me.” — M. Lawrence, King of Thorns
The Broken Empire Trilogy (Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, Emperor of Thorns) by American-British author Mark Lawrence is a dark fantasy specimen in literature. We have all the components that characterize the fantasy epic in the spirit of George Martin: controversial protagonist, accompanying mercenaries, difficult adventures, dark scenes of post-apocalyptic Europe, a dangerous and obscure antagonist. We see all the events through his eyes, and nothing is as simple as it seems. Jorg Ancrath had an emotional trauma that left him deeply damaged. He survived too much to live right. He is ready for anything and will use all avaliable means to get the throne of the Broken Empire. But the longed-for throne cannot calm his wounded soul. His demons are waiting for him to call them by name.
“Dark times call for dark choices. Choose me.” — M. Lawrence, Emperor of Thorns
The main choice that determined the future of Jorg’s life is associated with thorns. Thorns saved him from a certain death when his mother and younger brother fell into a death trap. Thorns became the overwhelming burden he will carry through his life. Thorns chose him and determined his path. Thorns carry memories of the past. Jorg runs away from his memories and his home, coming to lead a band of vicious outlaws known as the Brotherhood. Then Jorg must choose between his father and Empire. His father Olidan, King of Ancrath, is the primary source of Jorg’s drive to unite the Broken Empire. But father and son will never unite again, because not only did Jorg lose everything he loved that ill-fated night, Olidan lost his wife and the beloved son he saw at the head of the Empire. His coldness and murderous treatment of his loveless son forever caused a chasm between them. A ruined empire is not easy to unite.
“In the end it seems we’re just toys, easy to break and hard to mend.” — M. Lawrence, Prince of Thorns
Throughout the novels, Jorg tries to unite the Broken Empire. On the way he meets his only love, but his dreams of happiness cannot come true. All the way, full of pain, blood and tears, Jorg never for a second forgets the thorns that gave him this life. And thorns will return at the very end…
The Dead King haunts Jorg’s footsteps. He is a dangerous being who surpasses and subjugates all other undead beings. He appears in the last third novel Emperor of Thorns, but the series’ whole story connects to him (and his true nature is a big spoiler). His origins remain shrouded in mystery, but his power and desire to bring about the rebirth of the Empire through its destruction are clear. He wanted Jorg to join him, enlisting Chella, a necromancer, to bring him to their side. The Dead King is not just an ordinary antagonist, but an important person in Jorg’s journey. He will ask him only one question.
Jorg will gain the ability to forgive… Forgive thorns, cruel father, traitors and antagonists, and find his long-awaited peace. Because sometime, it’s easier to love someone with flaws you can forgive in return for them forgiving yours…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianna Kaplun was born in Moscow. She is candidate of philological sciences specializing in the first Russian drama and theatre of XVIIth century. She’s also a film and TV critic by calling. You can find her essays on her Lumiere page and on her blog.