Mark Lawrence has always had hype on his side, and now I know why. He writes like no one else, and I mean that quite literally. His brand of storytelling is like no other. His writing is so unique that I think I could very easily identify a piece by him, even if it was penned under another name.
Prince of Fools chronicles the adventures of an overly carefree prince and his development into a more mature character, all in a setting that greatly resembles that of Medieval Europe, much like Paul Kearney's Monarchies of God.
Jalan is a typical 10th-in-line-to-the-throne prince, who lives a life of excesses, safe in the knowledge that he will never be called upon to shoulder the burden of rulership. Inadvertently, he is thrust into the epicentre of a storm that threatens to pull his entire world apart, used as a pawn in a deadly game of death, destructive, otherworldly magic.... and finds out that life is not all about food, drink and women.
The development of Prince Jal is an interesting one, made all the better with the expert handling of the character by the author. His relationship with the Norseman Snorri is equally intriguing.
The writing, while direct and quite straightforward, features many moments of hilarious, ironic, sarcastic and altogether literal creativity. It makes for a fine balance between seriousness and humour, as bouts of deadly seriousness are often punctured by moments of back breaking humour and sarcasm.
The traits of characters is quite brilliant. It's not easy to write antiheroes. I've read quite a number of books about antiheroes, and I can say that Mark Lawrence ranks among the very best in the subgenre of Fantasy with antiheroes.
It's a finely developed world. While it's obviously a chip off Medieval Europe with slight modifications, I'm very much comfortable with it.
The storyline is great. No POVs, direct and precise, just about enough magic, more than one antagonist, and lots of action. I expect more twists in book two, The Liar's Key.