The book’s blurb… from Goodreads
The path to the throne is broken – only the broken may walk it.
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.
What I liked…
As with other reviews I have re-read Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns preceding what I shall heretofore dub Emperor, so this review is about the whole trilogy. First up, what I liked most about this book was the way the author took a good – nay a great – character, set him to his task and, when it was all over and the flames had died down, there was a good solid resolution. This is a trilogy and was never going to be more than three books. Proper story-telling, and it was a joy to read. I think I read somewhere that Mr Lawrence based the central POV, Jorg Ancrath, on Anthony Burgess’s Alex, from A Clockwork Orange, and it showed in every extreme. It is all the more enjoyable because of the deft way in which the author makes you care for such a creature, which I guess is a given in redemption stories. There is always a crumb of hope, no matter how many times the author says there isn’t. The first-person POV was the kicker, and what really dragged you in. A lot of the success of these books owe their existence to the central character’s ability to keep you enthralled.
I really liked the setting too. Distantly enough post-apocalypse for it not to have the grubby history weighing it down, and recognisable enough for you to adequately picture everything described. Jorg’s rampage across a devastated Europe and Africa would not be so interesting if it were set in, uh, Mythrilshire. You get my point… And the rationale behind magic and necromancy was more evidence of deftness at work. I appreciate it when a book makes logical sense. I’m sensitive that way!
What I didn’t like…
It was sometimes a bit confusing. Perhaps it was little ol’ me with my little ol’ brain, but sometimes I found myself having to go back and check stuff, and every-so-often there’s a big chunk of text that just wafts on past, unheeded. These instances are rare, and I am not confident that they aren’t all the product of reading too much too late into the night. But these books’ll do that to ya. Some of the characters need some girth to them (it that be the correct term…which it isn’t), and I’m thinking of Miana, Chella and Makin, for some reason. This is probably all explained by the POV, but I prefer things just so, sometimes.
The problem with reviewing in general – more especially as I’ve only just begun to do this – is that I rarely finish a book that isn’t good, which lends itself to a lack of bad reviews. A statistical bias toward the good book. I know that I’m going to have to put a bad review on here some day, if only for balance. Thankfully, Mark Lawrence has saved me the bother of finding flaws today, at least ones that should stop you reading this very accomplished trilogy.
I gave it 5/5 on Goodreads, can’t see why it can’t be my first 5/5 here!