In this, his second novel of the Broken Empire series, Mark Lawrence has freed himself from earthly bounds and sores as a writer, showing the rest of us the way forward: check feathers are attached, leap, flap wings, fly!
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Mark’s style is unique in that he is stingy with words of description, dropping a hint here and there, the odd spark to ignite a reader’s imagination so they do all the work for him: the world building, character creating. Rather, he prefers to entertain by delving deep into the mind of his protagonist, studying him from different angles, but always keeping something back, a little treat for later, and we get the feeling that its building up to a crsecendo…and it does.
His character, Jorg, though not very well understood in book 1, in this book, grows on us as we learn a bit more about what makes him who he is. This novel was published in 2013 and I see a steady improvement from Prince of Thorns, as would be expected, since Jorg is now a king, and in this novel, Mark has used the experience gained from his first book. Prince of Throns is the kind of book you read and say, “It was alright, but I’ll leave future books to read at another time.” Not so, now I’ve read the King. Now Mark has done it: I want more, and I’m not willing to wait as long as before.
No spoilers so far and this is how I will keep it so as not to ruin it for you. The last few pages of this book took me to places I have not travelled since Gemmell’s Troy, or Hobb’s Liveship Traders. A reader is always bound by the tools in a writer’s box: this time round, Mark’s writing toolbox was decidely fuller, much to my delight.
Mark’s world, as seen through the eyes of Jorg, is a dark and brooding place. Jorg, the ultimate anti-hero, has qualities that grow on us, a thirst for power and conquest we can relate to, for, who among us has not, at some point in their lives, wished for something so badly that they were willing to sacrifice a bit of themselves to achieve it. Difference with Jorg is that in his endless quest to conquer the world—a true tyrant—he leaves a trail of bodies:mother, brothers, friends, lovers. And we love him for it, in our own twisted way. Mark lets us into his darkest secrets, his black box of sins, and as each sin escapes from the box, we read on, questing for the next horror, our shock momentary, our enjoyment and thirst heightened.
As Mark says, the Gemmell has landed for The Liar’s Key, and I’m sure you are all as eager as I am to get to that book.