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Emperor of Thorns

Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, Broken Empire #3

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.

In only a few months I have managed to catch up with Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire series, from the go in Prince of Thorns I have been utterly impressed with all that was put down in these stories. Where there are some readers that steer away from the dark and gritty setting that haunts these stories, for me it's something new and when you think about the complexity behind just Jorg's character its fully justified. King of Thorns saw a further development from the young Jorg to a more adolescent one, further building up his great character and yes I am going to say how it ended because you will read it in the catching up in the event, he shot the guy in the face, but hey that's Jorg, play it dirty. Ok that on the side. The first two books in series were brilliant so Emperor of Thorns had a lot to live up to. And it did. The Broken Empire is a series that you just aren't allowed to miss out on, get these books, I know you will enjoy them.

Just like we have gotten used in the earlier two books with multiple story threads, Emperor of Thorns also introduces you to these. This time the present storyline focuses on Jorg in his twenties and the past takes place five years earlier. And to top this all of, there is even a third one introduced by Chella and we all know who that is. In the present storyline, now that Jorg has his own conquered lands he travels to the Congression a meeting with all the leaders of the lands to elect one Emperor that rules all the lands. This is an events that takes place every four years but so far no one has been chosen. Darker and even more dangerous days are in Jorg's future as assassins are hiding to take out not him but those dear to him. By this he decides to take his wife and unborn child along on his journey, as well as his trusted brothers. The story in the past focuses on the 15 year old Jorg undertaking another epic journey of discovery and it's again by this storyline set in the past that you learn a lot of the dynamics of the world of The Broken Empire. In King of Thorns, Jorg met one of the Builders, Fexler Brews, and Jorg has set his mind on discovering and finding out what it all is. 

I was really pleased with how Mark Lawrence again put down both Jorg in his earlier years and in his older years. Even though they are the same characters, when you switch from timeframe the older Jorg feels grown up and seems that the things that he has experienced have shaped him in many ways. Becoming even in some points, yes I am going to say it, compassionate. One of the things that I wouldn't have guessed Jorg could posses, but all this emotion is explained in a perfect way, not just a sudden switch but seeing Jorg reasoning with himself and recounting several horrendous past events. In comparison the younger Jorg is still one that shows on one hand a bit a naivety and is reckless in his doings once he sets his mind on a goal. By all that I have come to learn so far from Jorg, how he acts, how unpredictable he is, his younger versions and grown up versions of himself really make him one of the best characters that I have read about so far. 

But this time around Jorg isn't the only character that makes up the storyline. There is a third one which follows Chella, one that we have gotten to know in the previous books. If you have read the earlier books you all know what she has done and what she is. Her storyline focuses on the rise of the Dead King. She leads his army to, yes, the Congression, the same place that Jorg is heading towards. Showing the story for her sight gave a lot more depth to the existing story and complete made the view a total 360 degrees. What is even better besides the fact that this plays part in the current storyline of the older Jorg, is the fact that it links even in the past storyline and makes clear several events that took place, its these revelation that really took the story of The Broken Empire just another few steps further than I could have hoped for. 

One thing that still stand by me is the world that Mark Lawrence has created with his Broken Empire series. From the encounters with some of the unusual stuff that you normally don't encounter in Epic Fantasy I knew that I would be in for a treat and all along the way, by introducing the Builders and using a newly created European envisioned world, Mark Lawrence kept my attention along the way. Dropping references towards our current society, poets, scientists and other really kept me fired up along the way, always eager to find out whether I could pinpoint when this story was taking place. But even now I am not quite at ease, because if this is a destroyed version of our world, where is the rest of the technology? But then again with all the sword fighting and other typical fantasy elements it should be in the past but then a lot of other things just seem out of place. I can debate hours about this subject. But I have to give it Mark Lawrence, he has created a most interesting universe that I hope, even though Emperor of Thorns concludes the series, will be explored by different characters. His Broken Empire feels like the world that Stephen King created in The Dark Tower. Its just amazing and for me sheer brilliance. 

As for the story of Emperor of Thorns I already explained above the general outline of how the story is build up and the big lines that are followed. I think saying more about this epic conclusion would totally spoil your surprise at finding out how everything went down. All I can say is that you are in for a big big surprise. The ending of the book will come to a lot of fans of the series as perhaps a shock, I experienced it in more than positive way. It was totally unexpected but when you look from start to finish the ending is just beautiful and hauntingly so, come to think of it, I think the book couldn't have been concluded any better. This is what Jorg wanted and how he finally has found his redemption. Again. Beautiful. 
With Emperor of Thorns, Mark Lawrence has written an mighty fine and more than satisfying ending to the Broken Empire series. The whole ride has been one amazing journey, following Jorg in his earlier years as proclaimed prince, gaining confidence and taking over kingdoms to become King and eventually Emperor. The first book really had a dark and gritty feeling and yes that does hold true for the second and third books as well, but the story becomes to lie much more the emotional side of Jorg's past. It haunts him and has changed him in many ways, his childhood with his father wasn't easy and undoubtedly if he would have been placed in a easier environment we would have seen a different. If he would have been happier? I don't know, but I must say that Jorg's anger, hatred and seeking revenge is more than justified, with all that he has gone through. I am also happy to say that the Broken Empire will deserve a top spot on my shelves. This is one of the best fantasy series that I have read so far. Please make sure you don't miss out on this experience.

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