King, Prince & Emperor of Thorns Series by Mark Lawrence

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Werthead, May 12, 2011.

  1. JustaStaffer

    JustaStaffer Registered User

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    It's very good. I read the ARC though and I understand there have been some fairly large changes in the final version. I'm going to have to read it and find out.

    In other news - Mark's book has been whetting my appetite for 8 months. Started it last night around 11:30 and read about 15% of it. Looking forward to having some thoughts this weekend.
     
  2. Bastard

    Bastard Jack Bauer

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    Na', all is cool Mark, just 3rdI stirring problems where there are none.

    Anyways, I hope my book arrives soon, quite eager to try it myself. Hopefully FedEx will hurry up... but it looks like it'll take a while before it gets here
     
  3. 3rdI

    3rdI Edema Ruh

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    You are cool. We appreciate the dialogue. Just want the damn book to get here so I can take part in the conversation man!!
     
  4. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    It's not your fault, Mark. Personally I think you should get involved, because at the very least it reflects well upon yourself. What matters, in my opinion, is how an author takes criticism, constructive or otherwise. I understand one of your editors raised this issue earlier today, funnily enough. Over the past few months, I've spoken to you over Twitter, and found you a perfectly agreeable person. That goes for interviews, discussions you've been involved with here and on Fantasy Faction, and so forth. I have no issue with you as a person, and that's partially why I felt bad when I wrote the review. I felt the same with one of Jim C. Hines' books and also Mark Charan Newton's. Heck, I even felt bad over not caring for Elizabeth Moon's Deed of Paksenarrion, because she was a fairly active and approachable member of SFFWorld at the time (or just before I got the books, anyway).

    As a staff member of SFFWorld, I don't want you to feel like members are stopping you from posting in topics about your own work. Your book has done incredibly well, and you should be proud of that, and you should also be able to feel as if you can interact with your fans and get feedback. After all, you are an author, and I assume that part of the reason you're here and on other sites is to gauge feedback to your book. On the other side of that, one reason members are here - and why this topic is here - is to discuss your book. It's not here to heap praise upon praise on your book, it's to allow people to discuss it. Most of that discussion has been very positive, but it also allows for the less positive - such as my review.

    For those who don't know, Mark did encourage me slightly to post my review. I mentioned on Twitter that I wasn't looking forward to doing so, and I'm sure Mark was aware that it wasn't going to be a glowing review.
     
  5. Mazarkis

    Mazarkis Registered User

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    I have known Mark online for some time, and I know that he can take criticism, and take it well, and very often do good things with it.

    Most authors who have reached the point of publication have been through a lot of criticism, and much worse criticism than I see here. This is a thread for discussing the book, good and bad, and in my opinion it's entirely fair to say negative things about it. But then I'm not a moderator so I'll stop acting like one :)

    I like the book very much. In my house we already have five copies--one on a kindle, one on a Nook, two hardcovers for reading, and one signed hardcover which nobody is allowed to touch. I gave it five stars on goodreads and on amazon.

    edit: ah, I see we are all agreed. Never mind!
     
  6. Bastard

    Bastard Jack Bauer

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    Holly ****, are you trying to save the book industry by yourself?
     
  7. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    And well done Mark for doing so.

    Not my intention to take things astray but I think I'd better explain 'the SFFWorld line', as it is, just in case people are not sure. There seems to be a little confusion here.

    It's quite simple really. We are all fans as well as staff members. We all have our own opinions, which can often be VERY different. Staff are first and foremost members as well as staff, and are perfectly entitled to make their opinions known in the Forums, same as any other member.

    What we don't do is that we don't write official reviews 'for promotion', though they are sometimes used for that and we like our egos stroked by doing so.

    However Rule #1 is honesty. If we don't like something, we will say so, in the same way as if we do. You can usually be sure that we will justify our reasons. We are very aware that different people may give different reviews, and on occasion we will run two reviews of the same book or even two reviews from different people together.

    Personally, I think it would be wrong if people changed their opinions just because they felt they should. Following the 'honesty rule', the negatives can sometimes be just as informative as the positives, even when you may disagree with what's said. However we do ask for civility and manners even if the review is negative.

    This, of course, applies to any author/book/thread, not just Mark's, though as it has appeared here, I thought I'd take the opportunity to explain to those not in the know. Hope that's been useful.

    Thanks all!

    Mark
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  8. Mazarkis

    Mazarkis Registered User

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    Heh, is that addressed to me?

    I wish I could save the book industry, but I just don't have the money for it.

    I'd like to think I've helped a little bit in the Boston area, though, and also boosted Barnes and Noble a bit.

    [also I'm not the only person in my house]
     
  9. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    That's great, Mazarkis: some people would just buy one and share it around.

    (I'm hearing of this now being done a lot on readers in households.)

    But perhaps not that signed hardcover...

    So kudos for you: spreading the word!

    Mark
     
  10. Contrarius

    Contrarius You talkin' to me??

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    I just wanted to add my voice to the discussion.

    I started reading this last night. I'm up to chapter 11 now. So far, it seems very well written and attention-grabbing. I'm not sure I'd say that I'm "enjoying" it, but IMHO the level of craft is high. It'll be very interesting to see whether Jorg stays this insane throughout the entire book....

    Also -- I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I LOVE that cover!

    edited to add -- Oh, btw -- I'm actually READING this one. Y'all should be impressed. I hardly ever actually read these days -- I almost always listen on audio. Unfortunately, this isn't available in audio format. I wouldn't have bothered to buy the text version of this one, except for the threads about it here and on the Westeros board....
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  11. Twinner

    Twinner Registered User

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    Here's my policy... If an author has the stones to be here taking the good and the bad with some class and a sense of humor... I buy some of their books to give them a try.
    I just added this series to my list of things to do. This does not mean I'll like it, but it deserves a chance because I might love it. I'm in.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  12. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    All of this discussion is really pushing the book up my proverbial to-read pile.
     
  13. Spears&Buckler

    Spears&Buckler MJ Dusseault

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    Say one thing about Spears&Buckler. Say he's jazzed that Prince of Thorns will be in his mailbox when he gets home from work today.
     
  14. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    Seems like the controversy caused by my review isn't such a bad thing after all, then.
     
  15. Contrarius

    Contrarius You talkin' to me??

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    I do love some of the phrases in this book --

    "It's one of those swords they say can make the wind bleed."

    Mmm mmm gooood. :)
     
  16. Whiskeyjack

    Whiskeyjack sapper-in-chief

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    This post has convinced me that Loerwyn and Lawrence are one and the same person (note the similarities in the names)! Just kidding. :)

    Seriously, I'm about half-way through and must say that the book is very good... character-driven would describe the writing style quite nicely. Like Contrarius, I'm waiting to see how insane Jorg stays!
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  17. Contrarius

    Contrarius You talkin' to me??

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    I just got through reading the book, so I went back and checked out your review.

    I don't often get so blunt, but -- that has got to be about the single most assinine piece of lit-reviewing I've read in the last several years. Seriously.
     
  18. Contrarius

    Contrarius You talkin' to me??

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    Here's the long response to Loerwyn's critique of the book. I hope it explains my reaction a bit more --

    Loerwyn: Prince of Thorns is a tale about a kid named Jorg. When we first meet him, he's 14, six foot tall, toned and muscular, and an utter bastard.

    Me: My own brother was 6 feet tall before he hit 14, so I don't see a big problem here. As for the "utter bastard" part, that's one of the major points of the story...

    Loerwyn: He murders, lies, rapes, assaults, abuses, steals - He's pretty much the villain of most gritty fantasy books.

    Me: Yup. He's not a nice guy. So? Do you think everyone in A Clockwork Orange went to Sunday school every week?

    Loerwyn: Oh, he's also a prince who lives under a sort of self-exile after the murder of his mother and younger brother.

    Me: Yup. So?

    Loerwyn: Jorg is able to cut down experienced soldiers, fight in armour, survive being stabbed in the chest and all these other magical things.

    Me: In case you missed it, this is a work of FANTASY. He survives being stabbed because he has taken in some of a necromancer's powers. He is able to cut down experienced soldiers and fight in armor in part because he was raised as a king's son, and in part because he has been controlled by a wizard. Fantasy, remember??

    Loerwyn: The supporting characters are little different. We have a black man often called the Nuban, and we're frequently reminded that the black man is indeed black and that he has black skin and that Nubans are black. Because he's black, you see.

    Me: Well, uh, yeah. So? This is writing that depends heavily on imagery of one sort or another, and Jorg depends heavily on the Nuban as one of the anchors tying him to whatever decency he has left. Thus, it is natural for Jorg to dwell on the Nuban's various physical and internal qualities. And remember, the Nuban isn't the only character or character-type whose color is repeatedly remarked upon. For instance, remember why it's called the Castle Red ?

    Loerwyn: Jorg's Brothers (i.e. his band of merry men) are either food-obsessed, rape-obsessed, violence-obsessed or they're the fallen captain who joins in but still has a sense of honour.

    Me: Yup. More not-nice guys. So?

    Loerwyn: The women tend to act simply as sex machines, angry birds or... Oh, I think that's about it.

    Me: Yup. And just how many positive female characters do you think there were in A Clockwork Orange? This is not a kumbaya love fest, nor is it intended to be.

    Loerwyn: Aside from the almost Oedipal reverence Jorg has for mother dearest, there's not a single positive female character.

    Me: Whereintheheck do you get this Oedipal nonsense? How do you think YOU would remember your mother, if you saw her gang-raped and sliced open in front of your eyes where you were nine or ten?

    Loerwyn:pretty much every woman bar Jorg's mother and his mother-in-law gets beaten, sexed (Either consensually or raped) or... Uh, I think that's the range of interactions.

    Me: Once again -- yup. This is the story of an insane, or nearly insane, young guy with little or no positive experience of the world around him. It is the story of Prince Jorg, not Saint Jorg.

    Loerwyn: Oh, and a weird vault computer thingy also magically survives.

    Me: Why magically? It's a storage vault built deep into a mountain, specifically intended to survive just about anything. It does. That doesn't require magic, just very sophisticated technology and some luck.

    Loerwyn: Now, the plot. I honestly do not know why most things happened.

    Me: It appears to me that you'd have better understanding if you had paid more attention to the book.

    Loerwyn: Jorg is trying to kill his uncle, which clearly involves razing villages, raping women, killing his own men and killing others.

    Me: No, actually, he is NOT trying to kill his uncle for most of the book. This is the kind of comment that makes me think you weren't paying much attention when you were reading. During most of the book, Jorg is actually being manipulated by a wizard who specifically wants Jorg to NOT kill the uncle. The wizard wants Jorg to do exactly what he IS doing -- causing upheaval around the area, and gaining experience in murder and mayhem.

    Loerwyn: He then decides to go home to his dad (The King!) for some reason, but not before killing one of his brothers for the fun of it

    Me: See above. Wizard. Manipulation. Insanity.

    Loerwyn: and he encounters ghosties

    Me: Refer back to "fantasy". Sure enough, ghosts often appear in fantasy stories. Surprise surprise.

    Loerwyn: and some old priest bloke who recovers from near-death rather quickly.

    Me: Whoever said the priest was near death? He was left to die in a cage, sure -- but that's not at all the same thing as "near death".

    Loerwyn: Daddy tells him to bring him a county, Jorgy-poo runs off to do it

    Me: Why in the world would you ever think that idiotic words like "Daddy" and "Jorgy-poo" are appropriate here, in place of "King" and "Prince Jorg"?

    Jorg is not entirely rational, not by a long shot. That's an important part of the story, not an excuse for you to ridicule the author.

    Loerwyn: and so on and so forth. We go through tunnels with necromancers, a tourney outside a castle and a few other things here and there.

    Me: Once again -- refer back to "fantasy". Oddly enough, these sorts of things happen in fantasy stories.

    Loerwyn: The chapters of the plot are peppered by retrospective chapters that, without fail, take place four years ago, back when Jorg was about ten or eleven (I'll comment on that later). They almost invariably involve Jorg and the black Nuban of blackness, and how Jorg comes to respect him (I'll mention that later, too) and how we ended up where we are with this story. I thought they added some good information, but I feel like they could perhaps have been put at the start to give a chronologically smoother read.

    Me: You've got something against flashbacks? It's important to the tension and confusion of the story that we NOT find out about the wizard Corion until near the end of the book. Thus, in part, the flashbacks.

    Loerwyn: I honestly struggle to remember why Jorg went through the necromancer tunnels, up an elevator shaft (I think... Or was it a buried skyscraper?), why he killed the ladymancer, why he found the bombs, why he blew the mountain up, how he managed to escape in time and so forth.

    Me: I'm not surprised that you have trouble remembering. I honestly think you just weren't paying much attention as you read. Don't blame your confusion on the author.

    Loerwyn: I don't think many of these events were helped by Lawrence's often unclear writing, which caused me to reread things more often than I'd have liked.

    Me: "Unclear"?? Do you want to read adult literature, or do you want to read the Cat in the Hat? IMHO Lawrence's writing is often almost hallucinatory in quality, but I wouldn't ever call it murky.

    Loerwyn: How did this vault continue to function potentially thousands of years after the "apocalypse", and why did society revert itself to a society where women are only good for food and sex?

    Me: See, this is the sort of thing that makes me believe you weren't paying attention. In fact, the specific number of years is set down explicitly right in the book. They find the computer precisely 1111 years after it was left alone in the vault.

    As for reversion -- that's what can happen after any kind of apocalypse. Just take a look at Lord of the Flies, if you don't believe me.

    Loerwyn: Surely if humanity survived, which it clearly did, then many things like social attitudes would survive to some degree?

    Me: Hey, if that's the kind of society that YOU wish to imagine, then go write your own book based on that notion. Many other authors have disagreed with you, but if you like it that way more power to you.

    Loerwyn: Christianity survived in this world, and somehow so did written texts, but some characters speak Latin. *How* did they learn Latin in the first place? How did magic come to exist? How could they almost word-for-word reconstruct a medieval setting? Too many questions were left unanswered for me.

    Me: Hey -- this book is less than 400 pages long. Do you really expect Lawrence to cram in the entire detailed history of the world??

    Loerwyn: There were also inconsistencies with Jorg's age. He's almost fifteen at the start, and reaches that age soon enough. That would mean the Four Years Ago bits span from ages ten to eleven, which is fair enough, except for the fact that Jorg is almost exactly the same four years ago. The way he speaks, the way he acts? He's an arrogant arse even at ten. However, when one of Jorg's best friends said "A little over three years ago, you were ten", it's clearly wrong. Jorg would have been eleven going on twelve. That's a big error there, Mr Protector of Jorgy.

    Me: The guy's a soldier, not a scribe. Heck, I can't even remember exactly how many years ago I moved to this new place -- and that's only three or four years as well. You are setting your expectations waaaay too high here.

    Loerwyn: The way women were treated made last year's Farlander look like the pinnacle of female equality, and that even mentioned breasts every two pages!

    Me: Jeez Louise. This isn't I'm Okay You're Okay. This isn't Betty Friedan or Dr. Phil. This is a brutal story about a brutal world. (And before you start calling me a sexist pig, I'm a woman myself.) The author isn't saying it's "okay" to treat women badly -- he's just acknowledging that, in societies like this one, they DO get treated badly.

    Loerwyn: Whilst Jorg was oddly compelling, he was as believable as Nicolas Cage's attempts to act.

    Me: I actually found this one comment pretty funny. Nicolas Cage is a widely respected actor -- but NOT for any sense of realism. He isn't a realist. He creates drama and larger-than-life personae. And, in a way, that's what Jorg does as well. This is FANTASY -- and realism is not always the best friend of a fantasy tale.

    Loerwyn: I find it impossible to believe that an arrogant, puffed-up fourteen year old would be able to lead a band of men twice his age, twice his strength etc, and so forth. It made no sense to me.

    Me: Refer back to wizard, training as heir to a throne, insanity, and so on. I actually agree with you that it would be nice if he had at least one or two more years on him, but I don't think the lack of those one or two years ruins anything. Fantasy, remember?
     
  19. Ornery Wyvern

    Ornery Wyvern 50% Certain

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    I have to agree with a lot of Contrarius's points there, though not the confrontational tone. While Loerwyn's certainly entitled to her opinion, I feel a great many of her criticisms could be levelled at almost every fantasy I've ever read; and that I could make events from some of the most beloved fantasy novels sound faintly ludicrous by employing a number of her reviews tactics. And I to am surprised anyone could have missed the clearly spelled out wizardly chess players plot, its not oblique in the slightest.

    I will also point out that I was six foot three at 14, indeed I still am, and a great deal larger than the typical adult, as were most of the rest of my rugby team. It hardly seems surprising in a brutal world that bloodlines inclined to produce large powerful men might rise to rule.

    As for Jorg's dominance over older and stronger men this is explained in large part by his miraculous killing of Price - the Brothers former leader and Rike's older tougher brother. If I saw someone kill the biggest badass I knew with three pebbles I would be pretty darn wary! He also has Makin and the Nuban as sort of built in body guards, and I think we can safely presume they are very influential amongst the Brothers. I did not find it troubling by the end.

    I interpreted the Red keep as a nuclear storage facility being explained by someone who had no idea what it was. I believe there is at least one such facility actually built into a mountain as described - could swear I swa a documentary about it years ago.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011
  20. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    I haven't read the book, but it looks like it DID work for Contrarius, DIDN'T work for Loerwyn. I don't think either side needs to defend their position or prove anything beyond that.