Friday, February 1, 2013
Book 2: The King of Thorns
Of course, after reading Prince of Thorns, I had to get the second book. The first book was thoroughly enjoyable in many ways, but I felt as though there were a lot of opportunities left on the table. Which the second book picks up. And then some. King of Thorns is my second favorite sequel of all time, putting the first book into much better perspective while providing the usual depravity and insanity told from two timelines with a deftness that suggest a very quick maturation of the writer. While the pacing continues to be brisk, there's a bit more restraint that and weight in the down moments to make it seem a bit slower (in a good way). Most surprisingly, there's a real pathos in the book that, again, is restrained enough that it's not bludgeoning, but also with enough commitment that it feels real. Ultimely, the protaganist, Jorg Ancrath, remains an irredeemable shit despite his tepid and thoroughly unsuccessful attempts to be anything else. In fact, his biggest problems seem to arise from any deviation from his monstrous self. Further, when Jorg is at his most ruthless that he seems to rise above himself, almost as some sort of "be yourself" message. It's not Jorg who provides the unexpected pathos though. It's the secondary (and oftentimes tertiary) characters that provide the window. Jorg is a bastard shitbag who really deserves a rather awful death. But, being a "gritty" fantasy book, bad guys rarely get what they deserve, so we get all the delicious delinquent and psycopahting behavior one can want (of course, you better like this sort of thing, or don't bother picking either book up). But the viewpoint, which is often skewed, that Jorg sees people is where the true heart lies. Every character that's a potential substitutre father figure is seen with uncharacteristically (did I really just type a word that long? This ain't German!) rose colored glasses. Goroth, Makin, his uncle, Codden, and others all get similar star treatment from Jorg. And, I found that Lawrence actually had Jorg age and mature in the four years that sets apart the last book from this one without too much wistful memories. And, holy moly, there's some great action and moments of real "WOW!" Lawrence is a very talented writer and I'm ecstatic to see what his finale will be.