Once upon a time there was a Prince of a Thousand Promises. He was told to be brave, he was told to be ruthless, he was told to be immoral, he was told to be the greatest. Truly he did not look like much to me the first time, so I walked past him and left him after the first chapter or so. Or at least I tried. I failed to see that I already had little, invisible hooks in me, reeling me in back on board, binding me to his story stronger than I could ever imagine.
Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence is not for the faint-hearted. Its darkness wraps you in like a moonless night, its grim world chills your heart and sneaks out your darkest memories you hoped you had buried deep enough a long time ago, sets them free and makes you face them once again.
But it also shows you that you may find the lightning beautiful if you dare to look in the storm and you may just hear your heart singing if you care to listen in the silent darkness. It reminds you that the strongest heroes never grow in peaceful flowerbeds of sunlit meadows, but in soils of merciless trials, constant battles and grave sufferings. As do we all. And maybe this is why we brave a grim tale and are more the grateful when we do find beauty in dire places, solutions for hopeless situations, and love in heartless characters. But whatever this mesmerising and dangerous spell is, Mr Lawrence seems to be casting on us with disturbingly little effort, he does it mind-blowingly and with his first book series, as I see it, he has just revealed himself as the new Prince of Grimdark.Art by Kim Kincaid