Book Review: Road Brothers – Tales From The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence

Road Brothers : Tales from the Broken Empire

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Author info:

Disclaimer: I have received a review copy from the author.This is an indie book by Mark Lawrence, a collection of short stories set in The Broken Empire world, each one featuring one of Jorg’s infamous band of Road Brothers. If you haven’t read The Broken Empire, I must say the stories and the footnotes contain spoilers for all three books, so this book is best suited for those who have read and enjoyed The Broken Empire trilogy.

I must admit I’m not quite over The Broken Empire hangover yet, even though Red Queen’s War books are awesome and set in the same world, I missed Jorg and his brothers a great deal. These stories give a great insight to the characters’ backgrounds, let them shine on their own without Jorg’s majestic presence and show you how they ended up there. I would categorize these stories not as just grimdark fantasy but also as literary fiction. The way they depict the human condition and how the choices people make shape their whole life remind me of the rather grim short stories from the grand masters of literary fiction I’ve read in my younger days.

Two of the stories are about Jorg, the rest feature Jorg’s band of brothers. Red Kent didn’t have a huge presence in the trilogy but his story is pretty powerful and as a lover of rustic settings, I found it a delight to read. Brother Sim was one of my favorites from The Broken Empire, his piece is superb and full of almost lyrical dark suspense. The leucrota Gorgoth has a killer show. Father Gomst story has the best cameos and ‘a-ha!’ moments.

We even get to see a cameo of Snorri’s father (for those who haven’t read Prince of Fools, Snorri is one of the main characters there) in the Nuban story. Nuban was one of my favorite brothers and his story is a true masterpiece, showing the tribal culture and spirit in poetic beauty. The book made me want to re-read The Broken Empire so badly, but alas, I have a lot of other grimdark books to read and review. But then again I might cave in and just do it. Then I will re-read The Road Brother tales, too, for these stories are the kind that warrant multiple re-reads.

Amazon link: Road Brothers – Tales From The Broken Empire

Book Review: Emperor Of Thorns By Mark Lawrence

This is the third and last book in The Broken Empire trilogy.
Review for Prince of Thorns (Book #1)
Review for King of Thorns (Book #2)

Emperor of Thorns

Originally posted on Grimdark Alliance:

If you have read the Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns, this book will break your heart and fascinate you. Darker, heart-wrenching secrets from Jorg’s past are revealed and you get to face Jorg’s demons. I thought I faced them in King of Thorns, but I was wrong.

The Broken Empire as a whole is revolutionary. You will not find any of the typical fantasy tropes, or if you find them you will hardly recognize them, since Mark Lawrence is quite the cliche-breaker. Where he doesn’t break the cliches, he bends them into such angles they no longer qualify as cliches. If someone told me that someone wrote medieval fantasy set in the future times, included advanced technology in it and broke every single trope out there, I would raise an eyebrow and say “How can that even work?” But yet it works and so wonderfully at that.

Read the rest of it here:

Book Review: King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

My guest post on The Grimdark Review. Review for the first book is here.

Short Story Review: Sleeping Beauty by Mark Lawrence

A grand example of Mark Lawrence’s fantastic prose, this story is great as a standalone but you will really enjoy it after reading Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns, the first two books of The Broken Empire series.

It is so much more than the point of view of a sociopath antihero, it marries the grimdark with science fiction and does it with such skill with words it’s almost lyrical -poetic darkness at its finest.

I purchased it for 99 cents on Amazon, a small price for such a fun read.

Book Review: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Series: The Broken Empire
Author info:

This is not your typical fantasy book. This is something completely different and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. If you like grimdark, Mark Lawrence is your man. If you read my reviews you will know that I don’t easily give out 5 solidus ratings. This is one of the very few books in the fantasy genre which gets the full marks from me. (No wonder it got reviews from big shot famous authors on Goodreads!)

The prose is simple, there is no fancy vocabulary or elaborate descriptions yet it’s very powerful storytelling -incredibly powerful and realistic. The book (as the rest of the books in the series) is written from the point of view of Jorg Ancrath, who is not a hero, not even an antihero, but a pure villain. Jorg is a cruel, heartless, vicious boy who spent 4 years of his childhood with highwaymen pillaging, raping and mass murdering. This book is a fresh breath in the fantasy genre. (Ok it sounds kind of weird to write this sentence after mentioning the pillaging, raping, mass murdering evil guy, but there is so much more than this… Trust me, you will understand if you read the book!)

Oh there are fantasy elements such as dark sorcerers, necromancers and mutant monsters, but it’s still extremely realistic.

If you are tired of the cliche heroic good guys, here is your chance to see the world from the eyes of a villain. It’s no easy feat to write from the POV of the bad guy -I’m a writer myself so I know- and Mark Lawrence has done a brilliant job of it. The story takes us into the world and the depths of the mind of a world class sociopath. Jorg’s philosophical muses and world view are reflected really well.

The book is action packed, but it still has some philosophy, which I value in fantasy literature. There are also some rather unexpected ‘surprises’ which were deftly weaved into the story, I am not saying more for the sake of keeping this review spoiler free but it deserves the bonus points for the excellent originality. Character development is well done, even though there isn’t much dialog with some of the supporting characters, Jorg’s thoughts and memories about them gave me a very clear picture.

Kudos to Mark Lawrence for creating something original, not using the traditional fantasy tropes and giving us the POV of the bad guy.

Verdict: Buy it now. Now!

Rating: 5/5 Roman Solidus.