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Nightgate Inn

A blog about fantasy and science-fiction books, new and old, popular and obscure. Stay a while and listen...

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The Books of Skyrim
Nate Ellis, Matt Daniels, William Shen, Alan Nanes, Shane Liesegang, Jon Paul Duvall, Brian Chapin
Emperor of Thorns  - Mark  Lawrence 4 / 5

As always, I will avoid going into describing the synopsis of the book, you can read that up there ^. Instead, I will go straight into my review. Since this is the 3rd book of a trilogy, I will assume that whoever reads this has already read the previous 2 books. Quick summary?: If you liked the first 2 books, then you know that you need to read the last one!! There are of course some changes compared to the previous two as both Lawrence and his main character grow and mature but it is definitely a very good finale of an amazing trilogy and well worth reading!

In my e-book version, the book had 392 pages. It contained 54 chapter (+prologue) which were rather short (ranging from 5 to 20 pages long) and easy to read, usually ending in some short of tiny cliff-hanger that made this book a page-turner. There was no map included but that seems reasonable considering the actual localization of the whole series. Lawrence also decided to include a “the story so far” chapter at the beginning to help readers’ memories with important events and an “afterthought” chapter at the end with some comments on the series. I found both of those extremely interesting and useful and I wish more authors did the same.

Characterization is starting to become one of Lawrence’s strong points. The main character of the book, Jorg, continues to grow and mature and this is depicted clearly both on Jorg’s thoughts and his actions. Contrary to his actions as a child and later as teen, Jorg now thinks more, considers actions and effects and acts more effectively. There’s more control and more sense of direction That is not to say that he is becoming blunt; on the opposite Jorg is sharper, more decisive and definitely more resourceful than ever before.
There are many secondary characters as well, some of whom we already know from previous book and some new, that feature quite prominently from start to finish. However, none of them ever take the central stage from Jorg, not even Chella who has her own chapters now and then. This is clearly a Jorg-centric book but considering the plot I find this totally justifiable and expected.

Plot & pacing:
It’s always hard to talk about the plot when reviewing the ending of a trilogy without any spoilers so I will refrain as usual to go into much detail about it. As in previous books, there are two main time points: the current time and one five years ago. Initially there’s no urgency but not before long the pace picks up and there’s a lot of tension in every chapter. Suffice to say that a lot of unexpected things happen as is wont mostly due to Jorg’s totally unpredictable character. One could say that there are plot twists if there was a standard plot to be expected, but this book manages to surprise the reader often, sometimes with happenings and events in the present and sometimes with fascinating revelations in the “past”-chapters.
One minor complain I have is with the ending that it felt a little less than what I was hoping for. To avoid spoilers, I will just say that I was expecting an ending with much grander scope and encompassing effects that would ripple in the future. Also, in my opinion the ending was a bit short and felt rather rushed.

Lawrence is a very competent writer and it shows easily! Before you raise an eyebrow let me explain. He is not Gene Wolfe or Mervyn Peake or like some nobel-level writer. What I mean is that his writing does exactly what it’s supposed to do in the best of ways; to tell a genre-fiction fantasy story that is easy to follow and makes the reader eager to read. I like how Lawrence’s descriptions are never too long or too short, how his dialogues flow smoothly, are easy to understand and always feel realistic (and if you’ve been following my reviews, then you know I’m very particular about written dialogue!).
In my review of the second book (click here if you want to read it), I had a minor complain about some quite graphical scenes which were a bit jolting to me. I’m happy to admit that even though there are strong scenes in this book as well, they didn’t feel as nasty as I was worried about.

In conclusion, this is a worthy finale of an amazing trilogy. A very interesting and intense book with all the characteristics that made the first 2 books so interesting but without being one of the same and tweaked in a new light with a much higher page-turning factor! As a trilogy, this is surely an amazing one and I highly recommend it to fans of gritty fantasy!

4 / 5