“I’m a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever, let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play, or bravery.” -Jalan
I finished 2014 by reading and thoroughly enjoying The Broken Empire Trilogy so I thought it fitting to start 2015 with Mark Lawrence’s latest book Prince of Fools. After finishing it I can safely say that Prince of Fools is a fantastic piece of Fantasy and so far the best book by Mark Lawrence. I enjoyed his previous work but with PoF Mark really nails dark fantasy, great characters, and exciting adventure.
Prince of Fools(The Red Queen’s War) tells the story of Prince Jalan Kendeth, a lecherous, skirt chasing, boozing, immoral, coward. Jalan is the 10th grandson of the ferocious and powerful Red Queen of the March and with so many relatives ahead of him he spends his days debauching and running up debts. But his days of shiftlessness abruptly end when he inadvertently attracts the attention of the Silent Sister, a mysterious hidden woman rumored to be the power behind the Red Queen. Dark Magic, rumor of undead raids in the North, a ill fated opera, slave fighting pits, and Jalan somehow ends up magically bound to a ferocious Viking named Snorri Ver Snagason. Together they set out towards the frozen undead infested north to break the spell binding them and avenge Snorri’s people.
Lawrence nailed the characters in this book. Jalan is a cowardly, selfish, and immoral, but extremely sympathetic. He lives in a brutal violent world and the rationalization he gives for his actions all make sense. Why be a hero when hero’s get easily killed, a sword kills a hero just as fast as it does a farmer. Why put your life on the line when you can spend it drinking and whoring. His counterpart Snorri is a fanatical Viking, a fearless killing machine bound by honor. As a team Snorri and Jalan balance each other making their friendship and adventure a fantastic read.
What puts this book over the top of awesome for me was the fact that at it’s core Prince of Fools is a old school fantasy adventure, two men traveling on a quest, chased by necromancers, witches, bandits, through a brutal unforgiving world. It’s exactly the kind of story that got me into fantasy in the first place but put through the dirty lens of 21st century grimdark Lawrence style.
The Liars Key (Red Queens War #2) is scheduled for June 2nd of this year and I can’t wait. I would gamble the locket holding the only picture of my mother to get my hands on this book early.