Title: Prince of Fools
Author: Mark Lawrence
Publication Date: 3rd June 2014
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Red Queen is ancient but the kings of the Broken Empire dread her as they dread no other.
Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line to the throne. While his grandmother shapes the destiny of millions, Prince Jalan pursues his many debauched players. Until he gets entangled with Snorri ver Snagason, a huge Norse axeman, and dragged against his will to the icy north.
In a journey across half the Broken Empire, Jalan flees minions of the Dead King, agrees to duel an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath, and meets the ice witch, Skilfar, all the time seeking a way to part company with Snorri before the Norseman’s quest leads them to face his deadly enemies in the black fort on the edge of the Bitter Ice.
Experience does not lend Jalan wisdom; but here and there he unearths a corner of the truth. He discovers that they are all pieces on a board: pieces that may be being played in the long, secret war the Red Queen has waged throughout her reign, against the powers that stand behind thrones and nations, and for higher stakes than land or gold.
I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book! I liked Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns trilogy, but it has nothing on this! Jorg Ancrath was one of the most evil, loathsome, horrific characters I have read about, and not likeable in any way, shape or form. Jalan Kendeth, on the other hand, while still a terrible person, is much more relatable. This quote encapsulates his character pretty perfectly:
So here’s the thing: bravery may be observed when a person tramples one fear whilst in secret flight from a greater terror. And those whose greatest terror is being thought a coward are always brave. I, on the other hand, am a coward. But with a little luck, a dashing smile, and the ability to lie from the hip, I’ve done a surprisingly good job of seeming a hero and fooling most of the people most of the time.
He’s fantastic. And unlike Jorg, who rapes and pillages, Jalan seduces and gets into debt. Overall, a much pleasanter person to read about! Jalan becomes magically linked to Snorri ver Snagason, and is obligated to follow him on his journey to the North to find his wife and child.
Snorri is also a pretty cool character – he reminds me of Logen Ninefingers from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. He’s terrifying, yet deep down there is a caring heart.
There are certain similarities to Prince of Thorns, as this tale is set in the same world, and there is some crossover with Jorg! Jalan agrees to duel the young prince, not realising that this particular teenage prince is in fact six foot and hangs out with hardened criminals. And so he runs away….
I loved that Jalan spent most of his time running, or thinking about running – in a world this absolutely terrible, I would be running too! He is funny and sarcastic, and I can’t wait to see what Lawrence has his characters do in The Liar’s Key– I’m just going to wait a little while, so that the wait for the third isn’t so huge!
Much less violent than his previous trilogy, but with the same flawed characters Lawrence is known for, Prince of Fools is a fantastic counterpart to Prince of Thorns.
How do you feel about flawed characters?