Book Review: Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Emperor of Thorns (Broken Empire Trilogy #3) by Mark Lawrence

Publisher: Ace

Publication Date: August 6, 2013 (first published January 1, 2013)

Edition: Hardcover, 434 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Grimdark

Rating: 4.5/5

I know no words to describe how blown away I was with the conclusion of, what is now, one of my favorite trilogies of all time.

You, Mark Lawrence, are a(n) [insert the highest praising adjective you know] writer.


To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.

The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.

This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.

Follow me, and I will break your heart.

I’m not really sure how to write a review for this. Normally when I do these, they will mainly focus on what I had the strongest opinion of – whether it was a like or dislike – and then I add a dash of the other parts so you can get a bigger, more complete picture of what the whole book was about. The problem with Emperor of Thorns is that when I finished it, I had SO MANY (GOOD) FEELINGS!!! I have no idea where to start, or how to express the magnitude of what this book and whole series offers. I am very tempted to just go on a spoilerfic rant and talk about everything I want to, but then this post would probably end up being longer than anyone would want to read. Alas, I will do my best to control my enthusiasm.

Emperor of Thorns picks up right where King of Thorns off, and like in King, our chapters are split up into to three different view-points; the present, five years earlier, and Chella’s Story. During the present, we see Jorg traveling to Vyene to meet up with the other Hundred to vote upon who will be emperor. During this little trip, Jorg must deal several incidents, such as Miana expecting their first child, The Dead King, the Pope, and running into other members of the Hundred along the way. Five years earlier follows the path from his uncle’s kingdom in Wennith, to a place called the Iberia, then to Hamada (to deal with that mathmagician), and then finally back to the Haunt. Chella’s story starts with her face down in the mud after her last meeting Jorg and goes on to eventually catch up with Jorg in the present.

Emperor essentially has the same formula as King. We have some earlier period that helps to develop Jorg and world, and then slowly over times it build and explains the plot that is currently going on in the present. Then we have the side POV which comes in with an alternative perspective of the events. It seems pretty simple when I write it out like that, and at its base, I guess it is. But that simplicity as the foundation of which these books are built, and how Mark is able to carry it out – magnificent. Part of what makes him a great writer.

Let me just get my one complaint out of the way – the starts of these novels. They always just feel slow to me and I am unsure of where it is the story is taking us. Again, this unsureness is due to multiple POV’s from different timelines. However I didn’t nearly have as much an issue with it this time as I did in King. Having five-year earlier pick up literally in the same spot that the earlier timeline left off in King helped greatly. More importantly, because I had this same unsure feeling before, and it was quickly resolved, I was not afraid at all of getting lost and trusted Mark completely to start dropping the pieces and bring things together. I only wish it didn’t take so long pick up the pace.

Now on to the praise; everything else in the book! Seriously.

I was quiet excited to see Chella chapters. Since we first met her back in book 1, I have been very interested in her character. After the last book, I was particularly interested in why she and this Dead Kind were so focused on Jorg. With her chapters, we do learn who Chella is, more about the necromancers and other things of the like, and best of all – the Dead King.

Like the Gog quest in King, our (roundabout) journey back to the Haunt serves to develop Jorg’s character even more (believe it or not, but it’s possible), expand more of the world and explores its history, and lay down even more for our plot. Not only does this journey help to explain who Jorg has now become and why he is acting the way he acts in the present, but it also goes back to events in Wedding Day! Because this fills the gap that Jorg leaves out from later in Kingwe finally learn the answers to some big questions you probably had during his fight with the Prince of Arrow, and if you really pay attention you may notice some little ‘easter eggs’. This lead to bunch of ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ moments, and “I remember that!’ or ‘it makes sense why he did that!’. I was tempted many times to go back and re-read parts from King and Prince with this new knowledge to reevaluate certain moments. This really adds a new level to the series.

Then then ending… oh man, talk about adding new depth – to the plot, to the characters, world, story; to the whole damn trilogy! I was so completely and utterly satisfied with it. Personally, I did not see it coming. I actually had no idea whatsoever how Mark was going to end it. What he came up though, to finish off the book and wrap the trilogy as whole… did not expect it all. The absolute best part about this ending is NOT how satisfying it is, but the questions it raises at the end.

I’m not talking question like LOST or The Three, where you will be scratching you head thinking wtf just happened… this doesn’t make sense. No, it raises questions by making you reevaluate and reflect. I found myself thinking who is Jorg, why was it Jorg, what was it about Jorg that made him so special…. Looking back at him – from the young psychopathic 8-year-old in Prince, all the up to this clever King we meet in Emperor – my opinion of Jorg completely changed.

My word count on the bottom is getting pretty high so I’ll just point some other things out quick I liked; there is a scene with Jorg early on that (depending on your feeling toward Jorg) I’m sure is going to cause mixed feelings among readers. The knowledge of who the Builder’s are (there is a funny scene with this), what is and what happened to the world. What the deal with the Dead King is, and seeing who Miana and Katherine have become… list could really go on. Many more things happen during the book (too many to even point out in this review, and for fear of spoilers), but the highlight was the ending.

Bottom line – this is one of my favorite trilogies that I have ever read. Without a doubt, I will be re-reading these books again in the near future. Once you finish them, you will understand why.

(And Rike is still my favorite character beside Jorg… and I want a short story of the history of him… and one of Brother Sim too)

4.5/5 Rating

Broken Empire Trilogy gets a FAVORITE/5


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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

  1. lynnsbooks says:

    It’s a great trilogy – I loved it. And, I just love the scope and forward thinking.
    Lynn 😀


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