Short Fiction Friday: Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty by Mark Lawrence, Broken Empire #2.5

This 10,000 word story covers a period between the end of the 'early thread' in Emperor of Thorns and the start of the 'now' thread in King of Thorns.

It's really a bit of fun, prompted by a challenge from a reader to warp the tale of Sleeping Beauty around that of young Jorg Ancrath. I may have thrown another fairy tale or two into the mix...

Mark Lawrence is one of my current favorite writers of fantasy, I devoured his Broken Empire series and his latest book Prince of Fools in matter of moments, they are just awesome to read. Since the next book in the Red Queens War is due somewhere next year I was looking if Mark had written any short stories in his Broken Empire series and lucky me I stumbled upon two. Sleeping Beauty which is set between King and Emperor and Select Mode which is set between Prince and King. So what better way to indulge myself once again in a Broken Empire story!

Sleeping Beauty isn't a direct continuation from King of Thorns that bridges the gap to Emperor of Thorns but it is to be seen as a standalone adventure story featuring Jorg and his brothers. In Sleeping Beaury Jorg departed from the city of Vyene in the midst of winter and plodding through endlessly through snow they have to seek shelter, having it first found in an house, which turned out quite differently then both Jorg and Hakon had expected; they encounter some other occupants. Only later to find new refuge in a cave in Hakon's reasoning "‘Nothing beats a cave for shelter.’ Hakon pushed me on." IF ONLY! The house was a bad place to be but the cave is even worse... Both Jorg and Hakon find themselves bound, trapped and no where to go, they can only submit to the Builders. (oops) 

Yes, Sleeping Beauty, has Builder tech. If you read my reviews of Prince, King and Emperor of Thorns it musn´t have escaped you attention that I can quite ramble on and on about the world that Mark Lawrence has created within the world of the Broken Empire. The influences range from the classic sword fighting and magic casting fantasy ones to near future science fiction. The Builders are an race that has "moved on" (if I may quote Stephen King and his Dark Tower series, which for me closely resembled the world of Broken Empire), but they have left their technology behind and this is something that Jorg and Harkon find out the hard way, in the original series Prince, King and Emperor Mark Lawrence already revealed some of what the Builders are and I was amazed to say the least. Now he has, in my opinion, dedicated a complete short story to how these Builder worked and still work. and it was a treat to find out, exactly what I was waiting for! 

One great thing about this short story is that Mark Lawrence kept true to Jorg's character. In each book he grew up, he was introduced as a downright bastard in the first book but gradually did come to understand that when you work everyone against the grain it just doesn't work, so in the second book he was more reserved and acted more mature but still had his "habits". In the third book it all took an emotional dive in the end which was to say very beautiful to see in the backdrop of all the violence that came before this and to see the actually motivation of Jorg, it even watered my eyes a bit. If you look at Jorg in SLeeping Beauty it is just as you would have wanted him to see in the transition from book two to three. I many parts he already grows in the emotional side of it all with Katherine and his caring for his brothers, but he still keeps this attitude of arrogance that you would wish to strangle him! just how Jorg should be, perfect.

Sleeping Beauty is a terrific addition to the Broken Empire series, I was expecting a different story, but being handed the Builders on a silver platter! YES! I couldn't have wished for more. Mark Lawrence really gave me what I wanted exploring more and more of the Builder technology and even showing a bit of what they can do, which keeps in check with the grimdark setting. Compulsory reading.  


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