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Book Review

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Prince of Fools


Author: Mark Lawrence
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 753156 1
Publication Date: 23 April 2015

Prince Jalan Kendeth is not evil, but he is a feckless liar, cheat, coward and general narcissistic in nature. He fails to take notice of the Red Queen's warning about a great threat from the north and rather than allowing Snorri ver Snagason to leave a freeman, as was the queen's wish, he kidnaps him in the hope that the massive Norseman can win him some money in the cities fighting pits. Inevitably his plans go awry and Jalan finds himself magically shackled to Snorri as the two travels north into the jaws of danger...

Prince of Fools is the second series, written by Mark Lawrence, placed in his own fantasy future world, which is set in Europe, but one significantly changed. His previous series The Broken Empire series was well received.

There has been a real change of pace with the new trilogy; the original was intricately plotted, with good character development. Whereas the original trilogy could be viewed as a straight faced drama, the new one has, very much gone for wry humour, Jalan is certainly not Jorg.

It works because Jalan, for all of his faults and there are many, is actually quite engaging, more of a Tyrion than a Stannis. Having a central character which demonstrates no actual evil intent coupled with a self-depreciating view of his own character – he became an accidental hero when he inadvertently ran into a battle, when in fact he was running away from someone else. There is ultimately something likable about him.

His relationship with the substantially straight faced bull of a man, Snorri, allows Lawrence much time for developing an odd couple type humour. The two discover that there is nothing like an unhappy accident, that they are little more than pawns in the Red Queen's ongoing and hidden war. Soon the book takes them on an adventure north towards danger and provides the reader with a good mix of buffoonery and action.

I really liked this book, not because it's fantasy, as anyone who reads my reviews will realise it is not my preferred genre. Nope, I liked the book because it was a skillfully written romp. Lawrence brings back the real meaning of adventure.


Charles Packer

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