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Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 3) Format Kindle

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Longueur : 449 pages Word Wise: Activé Composition améliorée: Activé
Langue : Anglais

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I failed my brother. I hung in the thorns and let him die and the world has been wrong since that night. I failed him, and though I’ve let many brothers die since, that first pain has not diminished. The best part of me still hangs there, on those thorns. Life can tear away what’s vital to a man, hook it from him, one scrap at a time, leaving him empty–handed and beggared by the years. Every man has his thorns, not of him, but in him, deep as bones. The scars of the briar mark me, a calligraphy of violence, a message blood–writ, requiring a lifetime to translate.

The Gilden Guard always arrive on my birthday. They came for me when I turned sixteen, they came to my father and to my uncle the day I reached twelve. I rode with the brothers at that time and we saw the guard troop headed for Ancrath along the Great West Road. When I turned eight I saw them first–hand, clattering through the gates of the Tall Castle on their white stallions. Will and I had watched in awe.

Today I watched them with Miana at my side. Queen Miana. They came clattering through a different set of gates into a different castle, but the effect was much the same, a golden tide. I wondered if the Haunt would hold them all.

“Captain Harran!” I called down. “Good of you to come. Will you have an ale?” I waved toward the trestle tables set out before him. I’d had our thrones brought onto the balcony so we could watch the arrival.

Harran swung himself from the saddle, dazzling in his fire–gilt steel. Behind him guardsmen continued to pour into the courtyard. Hundreds of them. Seven troops of fifty to be exact. One troop for each of my lands. When they had come four years before, I warranted just a single troop, but Harran had been leading it then as now.

“My thanks, King Jorg,” he called up. “But we must ride before noon. The roads to Vyene are worse than expected. We will be hard pushed to reach the Gate by Congression.”

“Surely you won’t rush a king from his birthday celebrations just for Congression?” I sipped my ale and held the goblet aloft. “I claim my twentieth year today, you know.”

Harran made an apologetic shrug and turned to review his troops. More than two hundred were already crowded in. I would be impressed if he managed to file the whole contingent of three hun¬dred and fifty into the Haunt. Even after extension during the recon¬struction, the front courtyard wasn’t what one would call capacious.

I leaned toward Miana and placed a hand on her fat belly. “He’s worried if I don’t go there might be another hung vote.”

She smiled at that. The last vote that was even close to a decision had been at the second Congression—the thirty–third wasn’t likely to be any nearer to setting an emperor on the throne than the previous thirty.

Makin came through the gates at the rear of the guard column with a dozen or so of my knights, having escorted Harran through the Highlands. A purely symbolic escort since none in their right mind, and few even in their wrong mind, would get in the way of a Gilden Guard troop, let alone seven massed together.

“So, Miana, you can see why I have to leave you, even if my son is about to fight his way out into the world.” I felt him kick under my hand. Miana shifted in her throne. “I can’t really say no to seven troops.”

“One of those troops is for Lord Kennick, you know,” she said.

“Who?” I asked it only to tease her.

“Sometimes I think you regret turning Makin into my lord of Kennick.” She gave me that quick scowl of hers.

“I think he regrets it too. He can’t have spent more than a month there in the last two years. He’s had the good furniture from the Baron’s Hall moved to his rooms here.”

We fell silent, watching the guard marshal their numbers within the tight confines of the courtyard. Their discipline put all other troops to shame. Even Grandfather’s Horse Coast cavalry looked a rabble next to the Gilden Guard. I had once marvelled at the quality of Orrin of Arrow’s travel guard, but these men stood a class apart. Not one of the hundreds didn’t gleam in the sun, the gilt on their armour showing no sign of dirt or wear. The last emperor had deep pockets and his personal guard continued to dip into them close on two centuries after his death.

“I should go down.” I made to get up, but didn’t. I liked the com¬fort. Three weeks’ hard riding held little appeal.

“You should.” Miana chewed on a pepper. Her tastes had veered from one extreme to another in past months. Of late she’d returned to the scalding flavours of her homeland on the Horse Coast. It made her kisses quite an adventure. “I should give you your present first though.”

I raised a brow at that and tapped her belly. “He’s cooked and ready? ”

Miana flicked my hand away and waved to a servant in the shad¬ows of the hall. At times she still looked like the child who’d arrived to find the Haunt all but encircled, all but doomed. At a month shy of fifteen the most petite of serving girls still dwarfed her, but at least pregnancy had added some curves, filled her chest out, put some colour in her cheeks.

Hamlar came out with something under a silk cloth, long and thin, but not long enough for a sword. He offered it to me with a slight bow. He’d served my uncle for twenty years but had never shown me a sour glance since I put an end to his old employment. I twitched the cloth away.

“A stick? My dear, you shouldn’t have.” I pursed my lips at it. A nice enough stick it had to be said. I didn’t recognize the wood. Hamlar set the stick on the table between the thrones and departed. “It’s a rod,” Miana said. “Lignum Vitae, hard, and heavy enough to sink in water.”

“A stick that could drown me . . .”

She waved again and Hamlar returned with a large tome from my library held before him, opened to a page marked with an ivory spacer.

“It says there that the Lord of Orlanth won the hereditary right to bear his rod of office at the Congressional.” She set a finger to the appropriate passage.

I picked the rod up with renewed interest. It felt like an iron bar in my hand. As King of the Highlands, Arrow, Belpan, Conaught, Normardy, and Orlanth, not to mention overlord of Kennick, it seemed that I now held royal charter to carry a wooden stick where all others must walk unarmed. And thanks to my pixie–faced, rosy–cheeked little queen, my stick would be an iron–wood rod that could brain a man in a pot–helm.

“Thank you,” I said. I’ve never been one for affection or senti¬ment, but I liked to think we understood each other well enough for her to know when something pleased me.

I gave the rod an experimental swish and found myself sufficient inspiration to leave my throne. “I’ll look in on Coddin on the way down.”

Coddin’s nurses had anticipated me. The door to his chambers stood open, the window shutters wide, musk sticks lit. Even so, the stench of his wound hung in the air. Soon it would be two years since the

arrow struck him and still the wound festered and gaped beneath the physician’s dressings. “Jorg.” He waved to me from his bed, made up by the window and raised so he too could see the guard arrive.

“Coddin.” The old sense of unfocused guilt folded around me.

“Did you say goodbye to her?”

“Miana? Of course. Well . . .”

“She’s going to have your child, Jorg. Alone. Whilst you’re off riding.”

“She’ll hardly be alone. She has no end of maids and ladies¬in–waiting. Damned if I know their names or recognize half of them. Seems to be a new one every day.”

“You played your part in this, Jorg. She will know you’re absent when the time comes and it will be harder on her. You should at least make a proper goodbye.”

Only Coddin could lecture me so.

“I said . . . thank you.” I twirled my new stick into view. “A present.”

“When you’re done here go back up. Say the right things.”

I gave the nod that means “perhaps.” It seemed to be enough for him.

“I never tire of watching those boys at horse,” he said, glancing once more at the gleaming ranks below.

“Practice makes perfect. They’d do better to practise war though. Being able to back a horse into a tight corner makes a pretty show but—”

“So enjoy the show!” He shook his head, tried to hide a grimace, then looked at me. “What can I do for you, my king?”

“As always,” I said. “Advice.”

“You hardly need it. I’ve never even seen Vyene, not even been close. I haven’t got anything that will help you in the Holy City. Sharp wits and all that book learning should serve you well enough. You survived the last Congression, didn’t you?”

I let that memory tug a bleak smile from me. “I’ve got some mea¬sure of cleverness perhaps, old man, but what I need from you is wisdom. I know you’ve had my library brought through this chamber one book at a time. The men bring you tales and rumour from all corners. Where do my interests lie in Vyene? Where shall I drop my seven votes?”

I stepped closer, across the bare stones. Coddin was ever the sol¬dier: no rugs or rushes for him even as an invalid.

“You don’t want to hear my wisdom, Jorg. If that’s what it is.” Coddin turned to the window again, the sun catching his age, and catching the lines that pain had etched into him.

“I had hoped you’d changed your mind,” I said. There are hard paths and there are the hardest paths.

The stench of his wound came stronger now I stood close. Cor¬ruption is nibbling at our heels from the hour we’re born. The stink of rot just reminds us where our feet are leading us, whichever direc¬tion they point in.

“Vote with your father. Be at peace with him.”

Good medicines often taste foul, but some pills are too bitter to swallow. I paused to take the anger from my voice. “It’s been nearly more than I can do not to march my armies into Ancrath and lay waste. If it’s a struggle to keep from open war . . . how can there be peace?”

“You two are alike. Your father perhaps a touch colder, more stern and with less ambition, but you fell from the same tree and similar evils forged you.”

Only Coddin could tell me I was my father’s son and live. Only a man who had already died in my employ and lay rotting in my service still, out of duty, only such a man could speak that truth.

“I don’t need him,” I said.

“Didn’t this ghost of yours, this Builder, tell you two Ancraths together would end the power of the hidden hands? Think, Jorg! Sageous set your uncle against you. Sageous wanted you and your brother in the ground. And failing that he drove a wedge between father and son. And what would end the power of men like Sageous, of the Silent Sister, Skilfar, and all their ilk? Peace! An emperor on the throne. A single voice of command. Two Ancraths! You think your father has been idle all this time, the years that grew you, and the years before? He may not have your arching ambition, but he is not without his own measure. King Olidan has influence in many courts. I won’t say he has friends, but he commands loyalty, respect, and fear in equal measures. Olidan knows secrets.”

“I know secrets.” Many I did not wish to know.

“The Hundred will not follow the son whilst the father stands before them.”

“Then I should destroy him.”

“Your father took that path—it made you stronger.”

“He faltered at the last.” I looked at my hand, remembering how I had lifted it from my chest, dripping crimson. My blood, father’s knife. “He faltered. I will not.”

If it had been the dream–witch who drove a wedge between us then he had done his job well. It wasn’t in me to forgive my father. I doubted it was in him to accept such forgiveness.

“The hidden hands might think two Ancraths will end their power. Me, I think one is enough. It was enough for Corion. Enough for Sageous. I will be enough for all of them if they seek to stop me. In any event, you know in what high esteem I hold prophecy.”

Coddin sighed. “Harran is waiting for you. You have my advice. Carry it with you. It won’t slow you down.”

The captains of my armies, nobles from the Highlands, a dozen lords on petitioning visits from various corners of the seven kingdoms, and scores of hangers–on all waited for me in the entrance hall before the keep doors. The time when I could just slip away had . . . just slipped away. I acknowledged the throng with a raised hand.

“My lords, warriors of my house, I’m off to Congression. Be assured I will carry your interests there along with my own and pre¬sent them with my usual blend of tact and diplomacy.”

That raised a chuckle. I’d bled a lot of men dry to take my little corner of empire so I felt I should play out the game for my court, as long as it cost me nothing. And besides, their interests lay with mine, so I hardly lied.

I singled Captain Marten out amongst the crowd, tall and weath¬ered, nothing of the farmer left in him. I gave no rank higher than cap¬tain but the man had led five thousand soldiers and more in my name.

“Keep her safe, Marten. Keep them both safe.” I put a hand to his shoulder. Nothing else needed to be said.

I came into the courtyard flanked by two knights of my table, Sir Kent and Sir Riccard. The spring breeze couldn’t carry the aroma of horse sweat away fast enough, and the herd of more than three hun¬dred appeared to be doing their best to leave the place knee–deep in manure. I find that massed cavalry are always best viewed from a certain distance.

Makin eased his horse through the ranks to reach us. “Many happy returns, King Jorg!”

“We’ll see,” I said. It all felt a little too comfortable. Happy fam¬ilies with my tiny queen above. Birthday greetings and a golden escort down below. Too much soft living and peace can choke a man sure as any rope.

Makin raised an eyebrow but said nothing, his smile still in place.

“Your advisors are ready to ride, sire.” Kent had taken to calling me sire and seemed happier that way.

“You should be taking wise heads not men–at–arms,” Makin said.

“And who might you be bringing, Lord Makin?” I had decided to let him select the single advisor his vote entitled him to bring to Con¬gression.

He pointed across the yard to a scrawny old man, pinch–faced, a red cloak lifting around him as the wind swirled. “Osser Gant. Chamberlain to the late Baron of Kennick. When I’m asked what my vote will cost, Osser’s the man who will know what is and what isn’t of worth to Kennick.”

I had to smile at that. He might pretend it wasn’t so, but part of old Makin wanted to play out his new role as one of the Hundred in grand style. Whether he would model his rule on my father’s or that of the Prince of Arrow remained unclear.

“There’s not much of Kennick that ain’t marsh, and what the Ken Marshes need is timber. Stilts, so your muddy peasants’ houses don’t sink overnight. And you get that from me now. So don’t let your man forget it.”

Makin coughed as if some of that marsh had got into his chest. “So who exactly are you taking as advisors?”

It hadn’t been a difficult choice. Coddin’s final trip came when they carried him down from the mountain after the battle for the Haunt. He wouldn’t travel again. I had grey heads aplenty at court, but none whose contents I valued. “You’re looking at two of them.” I nodded to Sirs Kent and Riccard. “Rike and Grumlow are waiting outside, Keppen and Gorgoth with them.”

“Christ, Jorg! You can’t bring Rike! This is the emperor’s court we’re talking about! And Gorgoth? He doesn’t even like you.”

I drew my sword, a smooth glittering motion, and hundreds of golden helms turned to follow its arc. I held the blade high, turning it this way and that to catch the sun. “I’ve been to Congression before, Makin. I know what games they play there. This year we’re going to play a new game. Mine. And I’m bringing the right pieces.”




Several hundred horsemen throw up a lot of dust. We left the Mat¬teracks in a shroud of our own making, the Gilden Guard stretched out across half a mile of winding mountain path. Their gleam didn’t survive long and we made a grey troop as we came to the plains.

Makin and I rode together along the convolutions of the track on which we once met the Prince of Arrow, headed for my gates. Makin looked older now, a little iron in the black, worry lines across his brow. On the road Makin had always seemed happy. Since we came to wealth and fortune and castles he had taken to worry.

“Will you miss her?” he asked. For an hour just the clip and clop of hooves on stony ground, and then from nowhere, “Will you miss her?”

“I don’t know.” I’d grown fond of my little queen. When she wanted to she could excite me, as most women could: my eye is not hard to please. But I didn’t burn for her, didn’t need to have her, to keep her in my sight. More than fondness, I liked her, respected her quick mind and ruthless undercurrents. But I didn’t love her, not the irrational foolish love that can overwhelm a man, wash him away and strand him on unknown shores.

“You don’t know?” he asked.

“We’ll find out, won’t we?” I said.

Revue de presse

“A hard-edged tale of survival and conquest in a brutal medieval world well told and very compelling, it is different than anything I have ever read.”—Terry Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of the Shannara series

“Mark Lawrence is the best thing to happen to fantasy in recent years.”—Peter V. Brett, international bestselling author

"One of fantasy’s most talented authors.”—Fantasy Faction

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2733 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 449 pages
  • Editeur : Harper Voyager (1 août 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00BAJ5B40
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5 3 commentaires client
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Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Ce dernier volume continue dans la lancée des 2 premiers, avec de l'action, du rythme et ce ton cynique si particulier.

Jorg a 20 ans et désire désormais devenir empereur, rien que cela ! Il est maintenant père et ressent un besoin viscéral de protéger son enfant. On s'en doute, ses méthodes de protection vont se révéler plutôt... expéditives ! Les ennemis potentiels n'ont qu'à bien se tenir. Un seul adversaire risque d'être à sa hauteur, pourtant - un être d'une noirceur pire que celle que Jorg : the Dead King.

La fin est surprenante et fort bien pensée. On supporterait naturellement une suite ou deux, mais l'auteur en a décidé autrement et c'est son droit. Reste une trilogie atypique, furieuse et brillamment écrite, qu'on n'est pas près d'oublier.
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si (comme moi) vous avez aimé les 2 premiers tomes vous ne serez pas déçus par cette conclusion. La fin est bien dans le style direct et percutant de Jorg, tout en étant cohérente avec le reste, et relativement surprenante...
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Je n'ai pas lu ce livre (je ne lis pas l'anglais . )
En revanche mon ami l'a trouvé très bien et à lu les 3 tomes d'une traite ! une belle decouverte selon lui .
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0xaebc578c) étoiles sur 5 539 commentaires
51 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9d91c30c) étoiles sur 5 One of the best books of the year - and ever! 6 août 2013
Par Peter - Publié sur
Format: Relié
There's a certain type of magic that some authors possess which sucks me deep down into their novels and makes me never want to leave the pages. I become so utterly invested in the characters and story that I almost can't bear reaching the end, particularly when it comes to final book of a series. It makes my heart ache - but in an entirely good way. Mark Lawrence is definitely one of those writers, and with Emperor of Thorns he has cemented himself as one of the best, and one of my favourite, authors period. Emperor of Thorns, and the Broken Empire Trilogy that it concludes, is superb!

Jorg is one of the most unique characters I've read and watching the way he has developed and changed over the course of this trilogy has been perhaps the best thing about the series. He breaks all of the rules of a conventional protagonist and you will never be able to predict what he will do next. In Emperor of Thorns I found myself thinking I knew his character after two books but Mark Lawrence continually found ways to defy my expectations. There is a scene in this book involving one of Jorg's companions in the badlands that made my mouth fall stupidly open, whilst I floundered about in shock and reminded myself that I shouldn't have grown complacent with how I thought Jorg should and would act. He is a ruthless, vicious and compelling character that bears some of the qualities that would make some people identify him as a villain. This is far from a bad thing, however. It is refreshing to question the choices of the main character of a novel and to sometimes contemplate whether you should actually be rooting for him or not. It sounds like it shouldn't be possible, but I easily became connected to Jorg and by the end of the book it felt like I'd been on his journey with him, a journey which I never wanted to end. He is the very definition of an anti-hero and Lawrence has taken this concept to a whole new level, to heights I think other authors will struggle to reach.

Much like Jorg, Lawrence's story takes numerous twists and turns and leaving you unsure of what is to come. Obviously, judging by the title and how the previous titles have related to the story, Emperor of Thorns is going to chronicle Jorg's steps towards becoming Emperor (or failing to), yet there is far more at play here. It's the road towards the crown of Empire that is the most exciting. Lawrence treads between two timelines in the novel and it is a credit to his writing that I was just as ensnared by what was happening in the past as well as the current timeline. I loved the way the two storylines connected, and loved even more that Jorg had so much exciting backstory to give. I found myself reaching the end of the past timeline, frustrated that I had to swap back to the present timeline, yet only to be sucked back into what was happening there and to face the same prospect when it came time for the next switch. I also enjoyed the addition of one other characters point of view, but to reveal any more about them or to give any more details about the story would ruin it. Just know it was every bit as exciting and gripping as Prince and King of Thorns.

Lawrence's writing is immaculate. It doesn't seem like a word on the page is wasted and reading him is almost like being caught in a river's current. Sometimes you will be guided with ease, and others you will be swept through at a breakneck pace - but it just keeps flowing and you will never want it to stop, particularly when the story comes towards its conclusion.

And that ending. Wow. I didn't see that coming. Wrenching, thrilling and perfect. The most fitting end Lawrence could have given to his amazing series.

What I am trying to say is: this series needs to be read. If you like fantasy, especially of a darker kind, you need to read the Broken Empire Trilogy. Now. The front of Emperor of Thorns bears a quote saying that Mark Lawrence is "on par with George R.R. Martin," and while Martin is respected as one of the height of fantasy these days and an author I love, Emperor of Thorns is all the proof I needed to believe Lawrence has ascended many steps higher. And I don't think I will be alone in thinking this. Much like Jorg found himself latched in hook briar, Emperor of Thorns will dig under your skin and stay with you, even after you've torn free from its clutches. This is fantasy at its finest.
33 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9d91c414) étoiles sur 5 An incredible end to an incredible journey 6 août 2013
Par Nadine - Publié sur
Format: Relié
There is a quote from Ender's Game that has always stuck with me: "I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves."

Perhaps this is what scares people about Mark Lawrence's main character. By making Jorg the protagonist instead of an abstract villain, we are forced to understand him. The first person narrative draws us into his head. The more we learn about his past and the events that shaped him, the more we find ourselves understanding his actions (reprehensible though they may be).

I challenge anyone to walk with Jorg through his journey and not understand him, love him. I shared the journey with Jorg on the road to Empire. I shared his journey of growth from boy to man, from child to father. At the end of the road, I found myself shaking with emotion. I am sad that the journey is ended. I am so very glad that I took the trip.

An incredible end to an incredible journey (literally, emotionally and spiritually).

Read this book.
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9a7afa98) étoiles sur 5 What lies on the other side of utter darkness? 10 août 2013
Par scott - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
If you are a fan of fantasy, you must read "Emperor of Thorns" and the two books that precede it in this amazing trilogy. It is, quite simply, one of the best fantasy books of the last twenty years. It should make almost every fantasy fan's top 10 list. It is just that good.

Superlatives aside for a brief moment, in "Emperor of Thorns" Mark Lawrence concludes the tale of Jorg of Ancrath. The boy who lost his brother and mother--saw them assassinated before his eyes--two novels ago is now nearing the end of his quest to sit atop the throne of the Broken Empire. He is also nearing the end of his journey to understand himself, and his journey to understand the world that he lives in. The fallen world that has been inherited from the Builders: men who walked the Earth a thousand years before, achieved incredible feats, and then destroyed it all with fire and light, leaving nothing but scattered remnants of their technology and lives to puzzle their descendents.

All three of these quests are tightly interwoven, and take place across two timelines in the novel--the present where Jorg journeys to Vyene to claim the throne, and 5 years past, where he journeys the broken Earth to unravel what has happened, how the Builders broke the Earth, and how how to save it.

Throughout it is clear that Jorg is damned. Damned like no other "hero" in contemporary fantasy writing; for he is an anti-hero, a near villain, to his core. He is more damned than Elric, more damned than the Bloody Nine, and he gleefully walks the dark and bloody path to his goals. He burns to achieve his heart's desire, and slaughters any and all who stand in his with a psycopathic intensity of desire.

But although he may be almost entirely missing compassion or empathy, he is not unsympathetic. He was many wonderful wry observations about humanity, his companions, his wife and son, the relationship between father and son. He is a man who has almost completely abandoned what we consider to be most essentially human, but he understands the human condition deeply. He is filled with enormous hatred, but still desires to redeem the Broken Empire and save the living from the Dead King.

And it is Jorg's singular character, so beautifully crafted, so unlike any other in fantasy writing that makes this novel succeed so magnificently. It is a masterful balancing act walked by Mark Lawrence. As an author he treads so carefully that despite the many heinous acts Jorg perpetrates, despite the hundreds of dead he leaves in his wake, we still root for Jorg, still feel his pain so deeply, still want him to win and find some measure of redemption.

But beyond this, there are so many treasures to be found within Lawrence's novel. The setting, a subtle blend of magic and technology--somewhat reminiscent of Vance's Dying Earth--is a unique treasure, original, interesting, and captivating. Names and places are nods to both our world and to many of fantasy's recent greats. Every supporting character is unique and fully realized--you will find no caricatures, cliches, or unidimensional cutouts. The places, from Maroc to Vyene are varied and believable. And the world holds many new suprises for us in the form of robots, lichkin, and a thousand other wonders.

So make no mistake. "Emperor of Thorns" is a superlative piece of writing that succeeds in every way, overachieves its goals and represents a near embarrassment of fantasy riches. In fact, it goes beyond this: it wrestles with good and evil, redemption and damnation, hope and despair. And through it all, you will be shocked and horrified by the viciousness and malice of Jorg. But you will also root for him, for his young rough wisdom, for his carefully hidden core of compassion. And you will want this terrible violent man to succeed, because if Jorg can triumph over his many many flaws, than so can any of us, I think.

And that is why "Emperor of Thorns" is both the darkest and the best of fantasy writing. An absolute masterpiece.
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HASH(0x9ab69978) étoiles sur 5 Dark times call for dark choices - Jorg finds a fitting end 11 août 2013
Par Bob Milne - Publié sur
Format: Relié
`Dark times call for dark choices. Choose me.'

For all you Jorg haters out there, that one line, that simple declaration, sums up The Broken Empire better than anything I might be able to coax from my tired brain. Yes, for the second night in a row, a book has gotten its hooks into me and demanded I stay up far too late reading the final 200 pages. Fortunately, Emperor of Thorns delivered in almost every respect, defiantly answering my every conflicting emotion resulting from its predecessor, King of Thorns.

Mark Lawrence has taken the successful formula of the first two books, tweaked it, twisted it, and triumphed over the most problematic - and predictable - portions. Once again we find ourselves on a journey, but it's rediscovered some of the novelty and macabre sense of wonder that made the first book so fun. As was the case with the first two books, we have two interwoven stories, but whereas I found the flashback portion of the second book a bit weak, here it's strong enough to carry a tale all on its own. As for my concerns about the artifacts of Builder technology playing such a crucial role in the climax of the first two books, I am very pleased to say that they've proven to be completely unfounded. In fact, what Lawrence does to bring that aspect of the tale to the forefront here is one of the novel's most pleasant surprises.

Another pleasant surprise is the continuing growth of Jorg. Yes, he's a right royal bastard, and about as far from a knight in shining armor as you can get, but he's human. We saw some growth in the second book as he matured and grew into his role as king, but here we see him grow into the role of expectant father as well. Of course, that brings about a whole slew of issues, given his dark relationship with his own father, but Lawrence develops it well, making it a key focus of the story, without overdoing it. In fact, there are some very nice parallels with the first book, including a surprise appearance of the very carriage that carried Jorg's mother and brother to their doom. Sadly, Miana feels a bit wasted here, given her developed in the last book, but I thought Katherine's role in things was very nicely played out, with more than a few surprises.

An even darker book than the first two, with the Dead King's armies sweeping across the land, Emperor of Thorns still manages to provide a little dark humor, and even some genuine emotion along the way. I could have done without the interludes of Chella's story, but that's a minor quibble on my part. As for the climax . . . well, there are really two endings to the tale, both of which are extraordinarily well played. Without getting into spoiler territory, the first is largely inevitable, but still a hell of a lot of fun to watch come to fruition, while the second is a complete and utter surprise, an entirely bold choice on Lawrence's part to provide a note of finality to things.

I said in my review of King of Thorns that it was a bigger book than the Prince of Thorns in every respect, and a tale that leaves even bigger expectations. Well, even if this is a somewhat smaller and more intimate tale, it more than manages to deliver on those expectations. An entirely satisfying conclusion to an original and exciting saga. Highly recommended.
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HASH(0x9d919bc4) étoiles sur 5 A decent but unsatisfying ending 14 octobre 2013
Par M. Carver - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I'll admit that the first book, Prince of Thorns, didn't wow me - but there were enough interesting plotlines and aspects of the setting that I wanted to see where it would go. The second book, King of Thorns, was excellent. Emperor of Thorns is somewhere between the two - decent, and with a definite ending (something that plagues many a fantasy writer) but one that is ultimately unsatisfying.

Like King of Thorns before it, the book is largely split between two plotlines, one "current" and one five years removed. Unfortunately, the storytelling device doesn't work nearly as well this time around - there's no big reveals served by not giving us the plots in chronological order. The characters are also much weaker this time around. Chella gets her own viewpoint chapters, but these don't make her character any more interesting, and only serve to try and hammer home "the Dead King is coming and he's a big bad guy!" in an unfortunate violation of "show don't tell." Makin, Miana, Katherine - the crew's all here, but none of them get the chance to do anything interesting beyond giving Jorg someone to talk to. Unlike King, where each character had the chance to shine and felt like they were impacting the plot, everyone here seems to exist merely as window dressing for Jorg's journey to Congression. It doesn't help that that plotline drags on - with only 60 pages left in the book, Jorg has just barely reached Congression. Everything prior in that plotline is merely driving along a long road while the Dead King menaces. The "five years earlier" plot is more interesting, but also doesn't shine as well as the plots in King of Thorns did.

I applaud the author for giving a definite ending, as endings seem to be something bedevils many a fantasy author (and I can't help but feel his comment about dragging the series out into multiple books is a shot at well-celebrated authors such as Martin or Jordan). Still, it felt too abrupt, and too centered on the main character. While the ending works for Jorg, it leaves far too many of the other plotlines and questions unanswered, and many of the ideas go nowhere. Why constantly refer to Makin's clove-spice addiction if there's no payoff? What happened to the sorcerers secretly running things behind the scenes? It doesn't help that the Dead King himself never feels all that menacing or important despite the characters insisting that he is, and he only seems to exist for the purposes of giving Jorg a good ending.

In the end, there's still some decent points here, but the start of the book drags and the ending is too abrupt. This isn't a series with tons of likeable and interesting characters like GRRM's work or Joe Abercrombie's - this is all about Jorg Ancrath. A good book and ending for Jorg, but if you cared about any of the other characters, you'll be disappointed.
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