Friday, May 15, 2015

Why This Book Has Been Sitting on My Sidebar for Months

If you look to your right, you will see Emperor of Thorns sitting on the sidebar of this blog under the label "Currently Reading." It's been there for a while. Why, you ask? (You didn't ask, but let's pretend you did.)


Currently Reading

Because not many other series have had as big an effect on me as The Broken Empire trilogy. And Emperor of Thorns is the last book. And once I finish reading it, it's over. And I don't really want it to be over because then it will be DONE. (And I'm pretty sure the main character will die in the last book, so there'll be no more reading about him after this, either.)

These are really, really great books. What hooked me first was the "voice" -- writing voice, character voice, whatever. It's unique and compelling and one of the best examples of what people like to call "voice" out there. Voice can be tricky to define. If you read this series, you will immediately understand what voice is.

The characters are also great, whether or not you like them. I wouldn't want to meet any of these people or hang out with them, but damn do they make great characters.

Also, it is post-apocalyptic fantasy, which is like my chocolate. I love dystopian fiction, post-apocalypse fiction, and fantasy, and this series is an unholy cocktail of those subgenres -- with a splash of pure science fiction. (The author actually used to be a rocket scientist.) Post-apocalypse/future-Earth fantasy isn't exactly thick on the ground, either, so it's not like I can go find a similar book after I'm finished with this trilogy. Also, the style is very much "sword and sorcery" -- so it really has the flavor of classic fantasy, despite the sci-fi elements. PA fantasy that reads like S&S -- this book just makes me happy in every fiber of my hopelessly geeky being.

Now, normally I'd recommend this far and wide -- but I won't. I don't recommend this to anyone who isn't prepared to have to read through a lot of disturbing violent and sexual content. 

(Actually, if you are a Game of Thrones fan, the main character Jorg Ancrath is best described as a mixture of Arya and Joffrey. If you can imagine.)

The main character is a warlord, rapist, mass murderer, and war criminal. And he accomplishes all those atrocities by the time he's 15. In a lot of ways, he's like a regressed child throwing a bloody temper tantrum throughout much of the first book. He's worst in the first book, but as for whether he stays that way...well, it's a bit like the original ending of A Clockwork Orange, where the psychopathically violent MC just sort of grows up, matures, and grows out of it. There's a lot more to it than that, obviously, but it's still a series where the main character is pretty damn evil.

So I don't necessarily recommend it, because villain protagonists are not for everyone. This series is premised on the idea that in order to defeat extreme evil, you need a "hero" who is at least as evil as the bad guy. My prediction is that he's going to sacrifice himself in the end. There is also a lot of Biblical imagery and metaphor in this trilogy. This series can't seem to decide whether its hero is Jesus or Satan.

Another reason I don't necessarily recommend it is that this book is also just depressing in its message. Nuclear warfare wiped out society as we know it...and even "recovered" society is brutally medieval and backwards. A warlord comes along over a thousand years later and rediscovers some nuclear weapons. And of course, what does he use them for? EVEN MORE nuclear warfare. Because, in the author's opinion, humanity just can't learn its fucking lesson when it comes to weapons of mass destruction.

Despite all that, it's one of my favorite series and I'm resisting finishing the final book because I don't want it to be over. Which is why it is still on my sidebar. However, the author is writing a new trilogy set in the same world, the first book of which I bought while it was on sale on NOOK. So now, I feel like I have to finish the original trilogy. 

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