My very spoiler filled thoughts on The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence
Also by this author: Prince of Thorns
Published by Penguin on 2013-08-06
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Mark Lawrence brings to a thrilling close his epic trilogy of a boy who would be king, a king who would desire an empire—and an empire on the edge of destruction... King Jorg Ancrath is twenty now—and king of seven nations. His goal—revenge against his father—has not yet been realized, and the demons that haunt him have only grown stronger. Yet no matter how tortured his path, he intends to take the next step in his upward climb. For there is only one power worth wielding...absolute power. Jorg would be emperor. It is a position not to be gained by the sword but rather by vote. And never in living memory has anyone secured a majority of the vote, leaving the Broken Empire long without a leader. Jorg has plans to change that—one way or the other. He’s uncovered even more of the lost technology of the land, and he won’t hesitate to use it. But he soon finds an adversary standing in his way, a necromancer unlike any he has ever faced—a figure hated and feared even more than himself: the Dead King. The boy who would rule all may have finally met his match...
This is not a spoiler free review, it is more my commentary on the end of Emperor of Thorns and The Broken Empire trilogy, so it is full of complete and total spoilers. Only read on if you have read it!
Jorg is such a fascinating character. Even from the first book, I can’t say I “liked” him, but I was so intrigued by him, and wanted to see him accomplish his goals. I wanted to see him catch a break. I found myself rooting for him in a way I would not have expected. King of Thorns began to explain him better, and Emperor of Thorns completed that as well as finally gave him resolution and peace. Let’s face it, if Jorg had lived, could you see a life of peace for him, a simple life filled with love of family? It’s a nice thought, but he was so broken. And I just don’t see an ending like that “working”.
I wanted to love everything about it, but I do have to admit, as much as I hate to, I was originally a little conflicted with the resolution over the necromancers. I have to confess to feeling like the bit with turning the wheel was just …. a little too convenient to end a trilogy. Almost cheated, that just turning a wheel was enough to do away with the dead army. But, the more I thought about it, maybe this is fitting. Good things in life often can come as easily as they can be taken away. Which is quite easily and sometimes as quick as the blink of an eye. And this world that Lawrence created, anything is possible, it just takes a strong belief and the will and perseverance to make it happen. It can be both a story of both hope and pain.
I have spent more time thinking over the end of this book than any other book I have read in recent (maybe longterm) memory. And while with some books, questions can be an indication of the book not giving the reader the answers, I don’t feel that way about this book. The Broken Empire may be on the surface a story about a troubled young man destined to become powerful. But it is deeper than that. I feel like this is a book that is better when you think about the questions. What made William take such an evil and bitter path, what made him and others so much more discontent with his death that put him on the course to become the Dead King? Asking questions is not necessarily bad. In the end, I still gave this book
At this point, I will also mention that something about Emperor of Thorns reminded me a bit of Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe. I found that comparison interesting because I did not feel that way about the first two. Perhaps it is because we get more the science fiction view of the world in this book than in the first two, which felt definitively more fantasy. (This is really very much a science fiction piece of work, readers just don’t see it in the beginning.) But I never had a distaste for Jorg like I did Severian. Even though Jorg did just as reprehensible things, I somehow managed to look beyond that. I think the humor, dark as it may be, that was interspersed with the story is a huge reason why Lawrence was able to turn Jorg into a character I wanted to read about. Having the humor can not only lighten some of the dark, but it also gives a good way to connect with the character. I can’t help myself. As many bad things that Jorg did, many of which are explained later in the series, even in the beginning before we knew the reasons why, I still enjoyed reading about Jorg.
The ending in general, I like. I think my complaints are more in the details of how they got to the ending. And the identity of the Dead Kings.. Of course, the selfish reader in me would love more Jorg stories, but I actually think Mark Lawrence made a good call ending it how he did. And I am confident that he will come up with new characters/worlds for us to explore that I really look forward to!.