Category Archives: Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence: Red Sister (Review)

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence
Mark Lawrence was born in Champagne-Urbanan, Illinois, to British parents but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. He says he never had any ambition to be a writer so was very surprised when a half-hearted attempt to find an agent turned into a global publishing deal overnight. His first trilogy, THE BROKEN EMPIRE, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy. Following The Broken Empire comes the bestselling RED QUEEN’S WAR trilogy. The BOOK OF THE ANCESTOR trilogy, in an entirely new setting, commences with RED SISTER in 2017. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.

Author Website

Release date: April 6th 2017

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“I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin”
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.
But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Review:

I’m not sure if i should be immensely grateful to Mark Lawrence or curse him soundly? This has been book 7 for 2017 for me, and i’m not sure i want to be in a position of thinking I’ve just read what is highly likely to be the best book i will read this year. But that’s the case, any other author is going to have to smack the ball way way out of the park to top this read.

I admit i’m a fan of Mark Lawrence’s writing, and I’ve given him high praise before, but even with my love of the wonderfully sarcastic Jalan and the brutally efficient Snorri, i could very quickly see them eclipsed by the characters of this new series. Who would have imagined that the antics of a bunch of young girls training to be warrior Nuns would be so well imagined? The world building in this book is phenomenal, Marks style as always is so subtle, the world emerges around you as you read, there is no conscious information drop, you see it and it develops through the eyes of the characters, with different view points and perceptions. The magic in the book is subtle and wonderful, a little bit shown then a bit more, each piece branching and dovetailing neatly into the next to weave a complex set of abilities and society of magic amidst a failing world. There are ever progressing tantalizing glimpses of where these people came from, making the book borderline Sci-Fi (careful there mark…. i don’t like Sci-Fi 😉  ) I feel this series has so much more to come, so many layers to the story and the characters that no matter the genre you read it can and will totally capture your attention and take you on an amazing journey.

I find myself wanting the use the phrase character growth, yet it seems redundant, we are following the early years of training and growing up of these girls, so there has to be character growth. yet it is carried out in a very real fashion, all the little interplay’s of friendship, politics, fun and pain are there, all the little interplay’s that children have but in a more brutal word with a harder set of rules and training, an uncompromising life for an uncompromising world.

This book and its lead character Nona will literally explode into your life from the first page, demanding your attention, needing love and protection and your time and devotion, and giving you none of those in return, but instead delighting you with her growth and achievements, her prowess and her misdemeanors. Mark Lawrence seems have managed to make a book that emotionally is the equivalent of raising your own warrior child.

Book 2 cannot come soon enough.

Literally

(Parm)

Series

Broken Empire
1. Prince of Thorns (2011)
2. King of Thorns (2012)
2.5. Sleeping Beauty (2014)
3. Emperor of Thorns (2013)
Mark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
The Complete Broken Empire Trilogy (omnibus) (2014)
The Secret (2015)
Road Brothers (2015)
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Red Queen’s War
1. Prince of Fools (2014)
2. The Liar’s Key (2015)
3. The Wheel of Osheim (2016)
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Red Sister
1. Red Sister (2017)
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Collections
Road Brothers Stories (2017)
Novellas
During the Dance (2014)
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Mark Lawrence: The Wheel of Osheim (Review)

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence's picture

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled.His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments.

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The Wheel of Osheim  (2016)
(The third book in the Red Queen’s War series)
BUY SIGNED LTD EDITION

All the horrors of hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued.

For Jalan Kendeth, getting back out alive and with Loki’s Key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jal’s fortune back in the living world. Jal plans to return to the three Ws that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering.

Fate, however, has other larger plans….

The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster, and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jal and Snorri face many dangers – from the corpse hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue – but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim will exert its power. In the end it’s win or die.

Review

Mark Lawrence has already sealed his place as one of my annual “Must read” books, this series contains two of my fav characters in fantasy from the last few years. Snorri is the epitome of the coiled violence of the Norseman and Prince Jalan Kendreth, has always oozed sarcastic cowardice, this set of characters traits is still highly prevalent even in The Wheel of Osheim, even with the character growth.

When an author gets his characters so spot on its not always needed to have the characters change and growth, but the plot warranted something, the depth of action, places they go and the death they see means that something must change. This is where the real power of this book is, Mark Lawrence manages to keep all the power and impact of this series, and yet ends it with subtle changes to Jalan, changes that have powerful impacts on the plot. There are many subtle changes where his experiences have shaped him and Snorri has worn off on him, Jalan could almost be called heroic… if he didn’t have one foot on the sprinters starter blocks at all times prepared to run. Mark Lawrence always manages to imbue his writing with an air of witty dry humour that has the reader chuckling away, with a “oh that Jalan… he is a wag”… he is the Flashman of the fantasy world, always landing on his feet no matter the horrors what appear in his path, with the comparative story of Snorri that is so heroically melancholy this really is an amazingly blended plot.

This series is right up there in the pantheon of my fav fantasy reads… and Wheel of Osheim completes it in true style, a must read.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Series

Broken Empire
1. Prince of Thorns (2011)
2. King of Thorns (2012)
2.5. Sleeping Beauty (2014)
3. Emperor of Thorns (2013)
Mark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
The Complete Broken Empire Trilogy (omnibus) (2014)
The Secret (2015)
Road Brothers (2015)


Red Queen’s War
1. Prince of Fools (2014)
2. The Liar’s Key (2015)
3. The Wheel of Osheim (2016)

 

Red Sister
1. Red Sister (2017)

 

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Filed under Fantasy, Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence: Liars Key (Review)

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say ‘this isn’t rocket science … oh wait, it actually is’.

Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.

The Prince of Thorns is his first published novel. It is the beginning of a projected trilogy following the fortunes of Honorous Jorg Ancrath.

Author Website

The Liar’s Key

(2015)
(The second book in the Red Queen’s War series)
A novel by Mark Lawrence

Liars key

 

From the critically-acclaimed author of PRINCE OF FOOLS comes the second volume of the brilliant new epic fantasy series, THE RED QUEEN’S WAR. ‘If you like dark you will love Mark Lawrence. And when the light breaks through and it all makes sense, the contrast is gorgeous’ ROBIN HOBB The Red Queen has set her players on the board…Winter is keeping Prince Jalan Kendeth far from the longed-for luxuries of his southern palace. And although the North may be home to his companion, the warrior Snorri ver Snagason, he is just as eager to leave. For the Viking is ready to challenge all of Hell to bring his wife and children back into the living world. He has Loki’s key – now all he needs is to find the door. As all wait for the ice to unlock its jaws, the Dead King plots to claim what was so nearly his – the key into the world – so that the dead can rise and rule.

Review:

For those who have not read it, the Broken Empire series is an excellent fantasy series, one that take the reader right to the edge, page after page…. and yet i have found myself enjoying the Red Queens War much more, i cant quite pin down why, it may be the more general appeal of the series. I feel it spans a broader age spectrum? It may be the utter Britishness of the of the humour on the book? either way the characters rapidly win you over in this book, and then drag you along on a wild ride.

This is no fantasy that sets out to to give you a muscle bound hero or the slightly flawed hero, this series gives you an out and out unabashed coward, in the form of Prince Jalan, a character who while a coward has many redeeming characteristics. He is funny, heroic when there is absolutely no way out of it, and ultimately a friend to his direct opposite Snorri (well as long as the friendship doesn’t put him in danger), Snorri, a Viking, Huge muscle bound, deadly, and with courage enough for all, is the perfect foil for all that nervous cowardliness.

Liars Key isn’t as dark as Prince of Fools, we still face a race against the undead/ unborn. But we start to unravel and learn more about the past that has led our two protagonists to this point, which great wheels are in motion, how the great politics work, and we get to enjoy the growth of Jalan and his friendship with Snorri and the rest of their group. This time the group travel south, back to and through Vermillion. Jalan learns about the red Queen, the silent sister and more of his family, and more than anything he gets angry, he learns about his mothers death, and this ignites a desire for revenge, all this tempered with his individual style of self preservation.

The more books i read by Mark Lawrence the more hooked i become on his style. Another wonderful comparison has been the ability to read this series alongside Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea series. Both very different in style to their own other work, and from each other but both wonderfully compelling and absorbing. I cant decide who has the better series here…. but i think Mark is leading by pure dint of the dry humour of Jalan.

This is a series i very very highly recommend to readers of all books, don’t be tied by genre, this is exceptional writing, so pick up and oar and row the whale road with Snorri and Jalan, everything is set up for a fantastic book three.

(Parm)

Series

 

Broken Empire
1. Prince of Thorns (2011)
2. King of Thorns (2012)
3. Emperor of Thorns (2013)
Mark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Sleeping Beauty (2014)
The Complete Broken Empire Trilogy (omnibus) (2014)

 

Red Queen’s War
1. Prince of Fools (2014)
2. The Liar’s Key (2015)

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Filed under Fantasy, Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence: Prince of Fools (review)

Mark Lawrence

lawrence

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled.His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments.

Product Description

Fools

 

Buy from Amazon

From the critically acclaimed author of THE BROKEN EMPIRE series comes a brilliant new epic fantasy series, THE RED QUEEN’S WAR.

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear 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 debauched pleasures. Until he gets entangled with Snorri ver Snagason, a huge Norse axe man, 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 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.

Review

I consider myself to be a fortunate individual, I’m often sent books to read and review. I always hope to repay that trust of a review copy with something to say about the book. I’m not a critic however and will not review a book I didn’t like, which means not everything I’m sent gets added to the blog (just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean it will not be amazing to someone else, eg, many love Harry Potter, me…cant stand them). So when I actually ask (well beg) for a book I really hope it’s a book I’m going to love, because otherwise it feels like a total let down to those lovely PR ladies.

All that preamble though is just background and flannel to wrong foot you, having read the Broken Empire series I was 99.9999% sure that this book was going to be excellent and that I would love it. Well having just finished it today I’m now 100%. I described it on twitter with its limited characters as “Prince of Fools is excellent: humour, Vikings, fighting, magic, Vikings, fighting, more humour, lots more fighting. Love it” .

That small description is it in a nutshell, The book centers on Jalan Kendeth a Prince of the realm, and a total utter coward, the author has done a wonderful job of transporting Harry Flashman from Victorian England to his own fantasy world, having read many attempted and failed copies of the humorous flashy it was wonderful to see someone finally pull off a witty, sniveling coward, but one with hidden depths…..when he has to save his own skin.

Enter his enforced partner and total opposite, the Northman Snorri, a big blonde viking, as brave as Jal is cowardly, a man haunted by loss. The pair are forced on a journey, one for the survival of his family and the other for the saving of his own skin. Wrapped in magic the 2 head north into the ice-bound wilderness……

If you have read any of the Broken Empire books you will already know Mark Lawrence is an excellent writer, combining a precise style with a clever depth of invention and world building (did you read his author bio? he is a bit smart), if you have not read any …well why not, go buy them now and this new book because its got Vikings, axes, swords, fighting, zombies …well undead but close enough.

Overall a highly entertaining, thrilling journey, funny, dark and fulfilling, for me one of the best fantasy titles I have read in quite some time. I have laughed out loud and wiped a damp eye, this story has it all.

Very highly recommended

(Parm)

Broken Empire Web site Link

1. Prince of Thorns (2011)
2. King of Thorns (2012)
3. Emperor of Thorns (2013)
Mark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Prince of ThornsKing of ThornsEmperor of ThornsMark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle
Red Queen’s War
1. Prince of Fools (2014)
Prince of Fools

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mark Lawrence