I make no qualms about saying that Mark Lawrence is one of my favorite authors. He's an A+ guy, writes A+ books, and is very available and open for communication with his fans and readers. I've written negative reviews for authors I really like, and feel no reason to sugarcoat anything. With this book, I have no need to do that, regardless.
[b:Emperor of Thorns|15804760|Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #3)|Mark Lawrence|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1352546106s/15804760.jpg|21528629] is the final installment in Mark's Broken Empire
trilogy. I've loved this series since the first page of Prince of Thorns, and it will go down as easily one of my favorite trilogies. The combination of Mark's brilliant prose, the refreshing change of an absolutely ruthless, badass anti-hero as the 'protagonist', and the intense hybrid of new world/old world for the setting of the story kept me always wanting more of it.
This book follows Jorg through his quest to become Emperor, and ultimately to save the empire from the Dead King and his invading necromantic forces. The story is told via a combination of current happenings, dream sequences, flashbacks to Jorg's journeys around the time of [b:King of Thorns|12891107|King of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #2)|Mark Lawrence|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1322539112s/12891107.jpg|17382436], and through the eyes of Chella, who is a minion of the Dead King. While I'm not usually a fan of flashbacks as a storytelling model, it simply works
in Emperor of Thorns. It lays foundation for the events happening in the current. It explores much more of the lore of the Builders, explores more of the technology of the 2000s, explains more of the battle of the Builders amongst themselves to save and/or destroy the world.
As always, Jorg is an unbridled badass, who kills with abandon and defeats anyone and anything in his way. Oddly enough, it never feels cheap
to me, never feels like he's invincible, even though you know he'll pull through. It never feels like the story is just to brag about his deeds, but rather to explain the story via his deeds. Both his actions and his dialogue are shocking, take-no-prisoners style, and ruthless. And it's awesome
. There's really no other way I can put it. Jorg is one of my favorite characters of any book ever - he's smart, snarky, and wise. He makes no apologies for anything he does, anyone he has to betray or destroy to meet his goal, and it's a great departure from the often tedious moral dilemmas that most books focus on, the focus on 'gray' characters, on making everyone come full circle. Jorg is what he is - he knows he is what he is, and he lives his life accordingly. Does he sometimes struggle with guilt, denial, self-loathing? Absolutely. Does he feel bad for things he's done, for his lack of empathy towards others, for the betrayals? Yes, he does. But in the end, he has hard-set goals and he does not deviate from them due to his moral dilemmas; he simply gets shit done and apologizes for nothing.
The ending was rewarding, as expected Jorg essentially got/took what he wanted. However, he did end up sacrificing himself in the process, ended up atoning for some of his actions, making right where he had wronged. He didn't deviate from character, didn't run away from what he was, he simply righted what he felt were his ultimate wrongs. I felt, as Mark's afterword stated, that this series could have (and should have, dammit) gone on into future books. It left me wanting more of Jorg and his antics, left me wanting more of this world, this history, this lore, the characters within. More about the death of Jorg's father, more about Gorgoth's involvement, more about what was left for Chella or Katherine, more about Emperor William. But I understand the desire to not drag things on, to end when the gettin's good, to walk away on top. To me, this was an absolute high point, a magical novel fit for the ending of a magical series.
A moment on Mark's writing: I find Mark to be perhaps my favorite fantasy writer in terms of prose. He's up there with Abercrombie and Kay for me, a master, a wordsmith of the highest calibre. I love his style - almost choppy, short sentences, few commas, heavy on the focal points. The words flow regardless of this setup, the dialogue natural and impactful, the book absolutely chock full of quotable sayings and metaphors. There's something magical about his writing, something that drags me into his books, that makes his badass characters seem that much more badass, and his weak characters seem that much more weak. Simply put, one of the best, and I cannot get enough of his writing.
In the end, [b:Emperor of Thorns|15804760|Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #3)|Mark Lawrence|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1352546106s/15804760.jpg|21528629] was all I hoped it would be. A fitting finish, a strong novel in and of itself, and a brilliant read.