I’m going to warn you right from the beginning of my review, there's an innocent dog torture scene in this book and I’ll admit that part was quite tough to read. However, this doesn’t mean that the scene itself isn’t important to the overarching story, there’s a reason behind this scene. It’s really well written and in my opinion, the most emotional and powerful part of the book. The plot actually started going downhill right after this particular scene for me.
Picture: Chibi King Jorg by peastri
The storytelling method in King of Thorns is told in an unconventional way, there’s two timeline like the previous book, ‘Wedding Day (Present)’ which informs the reader of a day in Jorg’s 18 years old life and ‘4 Years Ago (Past)’ which continue the story straight after the end of the previous book. However, there’s two more timeline to follow, one of Katherine’s diary that Jorg found and another, a hidden timeline that appears in both present and past frame. The narrative juggles continuously between these four frames that it requires only maximum focus to read or believe me, you’ll have a hard time understanding what’s going on.
Although I find this narrative a unique experience, personally I find it also quite tiring to juggle continuously between four timeline in a single book. Katherine’s diary aside, all the other three are told in Jorg’s voice which made it tedious to read. Plus, the huge amount of amnesia, illusions and dream sequence in the book made the story even harder to digest. However, my main gripes with book lies not in its unconventional narrative but in the same problems I found with the first book except that it only grew worse for me here.
Jorg, whether you love or hate him is an insanely fascinating character to read. In fact, Jorg sociopathic behavior is the major factor that drove me to finish this book or the trilogy itself. I’m intrigued to find out what he’s going to do next and I love how his character develops. Unlike the first book, there is more color to him now rather than only his endless thirst for vengeance and “I don’t give a fuck” attitudes, I love reading his growth and complex personality, which at the same time brought me to one of my main problems with the book, no other compelling characters.
Picture: Red Jorg (Interior Artwork from Broken Empire Omnibus edition by Jason Chan)
There’s just not enough development for all the other characters in the book, not even those who’s been there since the first book. I can’t give my empathy to all the side character’s fate and from what I’ve read until now, seems like this peeves of mine will continue until the last book. Another part that I dislike is again, its world-building.
I’m more or less okay with the fact that the world being in the same world with us already but seriously, it’s the end of the second book and there’s still no proper explanation to why the world became this way other than some really vague explanation. The book would definitely grab my attention more if there’s more information to why the world became this way but my biggest con of the book is in how things always worked perfectly for Jorg despite how impossible the situation looked like.
Jorg saved himself all the time by conjuring these special superpowers and tools without any limitation, explanation and they’re always there for him at the right moment and the right place conveniently. I won’t bother you with the details but I’ll let you know that these superpowers and tools that he used is uber powerful and there’s no repercussion from using them. As of now I still have no idea if these ‘Gary Stu’ characteristic of him will be redeemed later on but like the first book, Jorg escaped all his problems way too EASY with his miraculous circumstances and if it does get redeemed, I won’t change my rating for this book as this is how I feel about this one. I can’t have the explanation to these miraculous superpower outbursts withhold until the last book. I kept on saying “Not again…..” every time he got out of these trouble with ease (which is every time, literally), Kira could write Jorg’s name in Death Note and with his maximum level of luck, Kira would probably misspelled his name or something.
I won’t assume to know Mark’s decision behind this plot device and whether it’s his intention to make Jorg immensely lucky or not, whatever his intention was, there’s nothing wrong with it objectively and I know Jorg will survive the ordeals, otherwise, you know… the story will end already and there won’t be a book 3 but still, I always prefer the story I read to have the main characters to actually struggle to win rather than have everything handed to him on a silver platter.
In terms of prose, Mark’s prose is beautiful, philosophical and crafted meticulously as usual but at the same time it could be quite tedious to read when there’s way too much unnecessary explanation. Sometimes, it felt like reading a philosophical essay during Jorg’s endless inner monologue. However, there’s no denying the fact that there are a lot of high quality philosophical prose such as:
“There is no sound more annoying than the chatter of a child, and none more sad than the silence they leave when they are gone.”
There’s still tons of this high quality prose in the book, I’ll let you find out for yourself.
King of Thorns for me was slightly weaker compared to Prince of Thorns and it may be one of the most overrated books I ever read. Some elements work better, some are worse. It’s definitely not an easy book to read, Mark’s prose combined with the unconventional storytelling and plot will require only the highest of your attention to read. This book is all about Jorg Jorg Jorg Jorg Jorg, if you love and became a fanboy/girl of him since book 1, the high chance is that you’ll love the hell out of this book. In fact, the majority of readers and my friends love this book so this is definitely an unpopular opinion. Sadly, my affection for Jorg isn’t enough to make me overlook the other problems I experienced with it. I do however will continue with this trilogy and hopefully enjoy the last book.