Title: Prince of Fools
Author: Mark Lawrence
Series: The Red Queen’s War, book 1
Publisher: Ace (June 3rd)
Source: Review copy from publisher
“The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire dread her like no other. For all her reign, she has fought the long war, contested in secret, against the powers that stand behind nations, for higher stakes than land or gold. Her greatest weapon is The Silent Sister—unseen by most and unspoken of by all.
The Red Queen’s grandson, Prince Jalan Kendeth—drinker, gambler, seducer of women—is one who can see The Silent Sister. Tenth in line for the throne and content with his role as a minor royal, he pretends that the hideous crone is not there. But war is coming. Witnesses claim an undead army is on the march, and the Red Queen has called on her family to defend the realm. Jal thinks it’s all a rumor—nothing that will affect him—but he is wrong.
After escaping a death trap set by the Silent Sister, Jal finds his fate magically intertwined with a fierce Norse warrior. As the two undertake a journey across the Empire to undo the spell, encountering grave dangers, willing women, and an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath along the way, Jalan gradually catches a glimmer of the truth: he and the Norseman are but pieces in a game, part of a series of moves in the long war—and the Red Queen controls the board.”
For the last couple of years I have heard great things about Lawrence’s books. I even have the first audiobook of the Broken Empire trilogy on my TBL and it’s my plan to listen to it this year (even more now, after finishing Prince of Fools). I’ve been trying not to request many books lately, but when I saw the Prince of Fools available for review I couldn’t resist and requested it. Lucky me, I was approved.
The blurb explains pretty well what Prince of Fools is about. Adding more to it will only give surprises away that the reader should discover by him/herself.
Jalan (Jal) Kendeth is the perfect example of an anti-hero. He’s cheat and a coward, not hero material at all. He’s a liar to others, always showing the façade of the perfect prince; but he has one good thing, he is honest with himself, he knows what he is and accepts it with alacrity.
Jal’s journey is one packed with uncertainties and revelations. His journey is not only one of adventures; it’s at the same time a personal journey of discovery, where Jal realizes to his own surprise that he is capable of many unexpected things.
Jal’s travelling companion, Snorri ver Snagason, is completely the opposite of Jal. Snorri is a very valiant man with strong ideals and enough honor for two.
Snorri’s journey is one of revenge, a journey where his courage and physical and emotional endurance is test day after day. I won’t tell you what he wants revenge from - that will be giving spoilers away - I will only say, my heart ached for him and I might have spilled a tear or two while learning his story.
The vivid world Lawrence gives us in this series has the feeling of an apocalyptic world. I’m not completely certain but I could guess is many hundreds of years after an event that ended the modern world. There are references to The Builders (mention of trains and other modern buildings) that to my guess refers to our modern society. The society in Prince of Fools has a Middle Ages feel to it, with champions and kingdoms at war in which magic and necromancy play important roles.
Prince of Fools is dark, gory and fun. It’s packed with action, horror and many gruesome details, all that it’s balanced with the perfect amount of humor. This great combination makes of the Prince of Fools an impossible to put down book.
Prince of Fools is one of the most quotable books I have ever read; I really don’t know how many quotes I highlighted in the book, but there were many. I have couple of favorites I would have liked to share with you, but sadly, because I read an ARC copy I can’t. You need to read it to see what I’m talking about.
The last thing left to say is that the Prince of Fools lives to Mr. Lawrence’s hype; now, I understand why so many people talk about Lawrence’s books.
Prince of Fools is a book I recommend to fantasy and epic fantasy fans.
I’m eagerly looking forward to second book in this series.
My Verdict: 4 ½ Paws
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