The path to the throne is broken – only the broken may walk it.
To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.
The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.
This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.
Follow me, and I will break your heart.
I would give this five stars, if not for the ending.
I just finished the book, and I might come to think of the ending differently, but for now it really irks me.
And it isn’t because Jorg dies. It has more to do with the Dead King. All through the book, (and I realised a few hundred pages ago that he’s William), we get the sense that he’s really pissed with Jorg. For letting the thorns hold him back. And yet, when they meet up wherever it is after Jorg’s death, there is no hint of that hostility. It could be explained by the previous scenes of Jorg burning with Justice and breaking out of the thorns, but I still don’t like it.
And I find it weird that by the application of the same will/magic/altered reality that is about to somehow destroy everything, Jorg and William are able to “turn back the wheel”. Because the whole issue stems from the fact that using too much of this will-magic is thinning the divide between mind and matter.
These gripes aside, I really did enjoy the book. Jorg’s travels to Iberico and Afrique were the best parts of the “x years ago” chapters. The bit with the Vicioso bandits was just awesome. And of course, Mark Lawrence’s writing and Jorg’s voice remain entertaining as ever.
As with King of Thorns, I liked the “present” timeline a little less. It is essentially one long ride to Vyenne – though there are moments when Jorg’s brazenness and lethality really shines through, the height of which came at the Congress of the kings.
And this time around we have some chapters from Chella’s viewpoint. Which felt really strange after spending the last two books in Jorg’s head. I liked them, though the dreadfulness of the Dead King was too much tell and little show. Yes, he scares the pants off of hardened necromancers, but I just didn’t feel it.
As for the other characters, they continue to be hugely overshadowed by Jorg. But with over three books’ worth of character building behind them, they finally feel like real people. I still wish we had seen more of the world though. Something more than vague hints by the ghosts of those long dead.
The series has continually improved though – I gave Prince four stars grudgingly, King deserved it’s four stars, and I wish I could’ve rated this five.
So if you have read the first two, you owe yourself to get to the “finis” line. And if you haven’t, get on it!
My Rating : 4/5