Mark Lawrence surpasses himself. I think this was potentially a very difficult book to deliver because, on top of being the last installment of a trilogy and consequently with a story to resolve, it had to dovetail convincingly with the Broken Empire’s events.
Moreover, the story itself was also intricate with its many long games and conflicting interests at play, with its intriguing characters pitted against obscure and mundane forces…needless to say, after the delectable Prince of Fools and the outstanding The Liar's Key my expectations were high indeed.
Lawrence pulled it off and he did it with style, confirming himself an excellent storyteller with a remarkable knack for endings, who does a great job of handling solid plots and fleshed-out characters while providing lots of introspection, witty humour and stories both thrilling and chilling.
There are funny moments, but the tones of this book are especially serious and grim, well-suited to the inner growth of its narrator and the mood of the plot which ratchets up in complexity.
Jalan has become decidedly more somber (not more sober, mind, and I couldn’t help but laugh at his latest…quip) and though his development is very appropriate and realistic I welcomed it with mixed feelings. The whole cast of secondary characters is similarly tended and I was personally very involved with Snorri’s storyline.
The narrative also builds heavily on its prior worldbuilding, layers and events, and plays off the audience's awareness, bringing the story to a brilliant climax which is both conclusive and coherent with the interlocking threads of Emperor of Thorns.
The book is masterfully executed – there are remarkable dialogues and gripping descriptions, flowing prose and great action. The story unfolds with a speculative quality on occasion and there are purposeful shifts in the timeline; it wasn’t an easy going, with the elaborate reveals and all, but the experience is totally rewarding.
Immersive, I guess, is the word.
While the Broken Empire trilogy is a great but controversial read, I would wholeheartedly recommend Jalan and Snorri’s tale to everyone with a taste for dark fantasy, intriguing world-building, politics, character development, great entertainment and a soft spot for witty bantering. This said, a returning reader is also able to appreciate the little in-jokes, the connections between the trilogies, and the deft hand of the author who keeps them all in balance.
I’m eagerly looking forward to his next creation, [b:Red Sister|25895524|Red Sister (The Red Sister Trilogy #1)|Mark Lawrence|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/book/50x75-a91bf249278a81aabab721ef782c4a74.png|45777900].‘A story will lead a man through dark places. Stories have direction. A good story commands a man’s thoughts along a path, allowing no opportunity to stray, no space for anything but the tale as it unfolds before you.’