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As a big fan of Mark Lawrence I’d already bought two copies of this in hardback, so I was hoping it would pass muster! The original Broken Empire trilogy formed my favourite fantasy novels over the past couple of years, so obviously I was hoping for something of as high a standard. I’m happy to report Prince of Fools promises a second trilogy equally as strong.
The two main characters comprise a “cowardly rogue” Flashman type, coupled to a “larger-than-life” Viking warrior. The author manages to avoid creating the clichés these characters suggest they could become. Although there are plenty of amusing situations the novel is by no means the comedy I’d been hearing it might be – it’s still dark, though maybe a shade or two lighter than the “Thorns” trilogy. As in that series, it is pleasing to pick-up on the echoes of “the builders’ world”, plus it’s fun to get reacquainted with some familiar dramatis personae, albeit from a different angle. The plot rattles along at a fine gallop, coming to a satisfying ending, though by no means a conclusion. The prose is full of the trademark Lawrence aphorisms his past novels were crammed with. Narrator Sean Ohlendorf does a fine job BTW; it's not his fault if it's slightly jarring to hear characters from the first trilogy speaking with different voices this time around (Watch Me.....).
Should you read (hear) the previous trilogy first? I say yes, you’ll definitely enjoy this vastly more if you do and anyway, at this stage I still consider that trilogy unsurpassed. But, roll on volume two, it’s still all to play for and I would never bet against a beserker Viking....
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
A great follow-up to the broken empire trilogy
Story – 4.5/5
I enjoyed the entire novel, which got better as it moved through the plot. The last 2 hours were superb, and reminded me a little of the film “The 13th Warrior” with the Viking element and the quest to banish evil lurking and getting stronger somewhere.
The story lost the depth provided by the different time frames that ML’s other trilogy had, but it did give the story a lot more focus, so I would say it puts them even. Jalan wasn’t as interesting as Jorg was, but being cowardly and self centered is never a great protagonist choice in a story. Once again though, it was evened out by Snorri the viking, who is the complete opposite in character and much more likeable. The conversations between these two characters and the prose that Mark Lawrence uses are quite witty and clever at times, and had me laughing out loud here and there. Each of the characters develop in their own way, and Jalan becomes much more likeable as the story progresses.
As well as the ending, one of my favourite aspects of the entire book has to be the overlap with the “Prince of Thorns” storyline. This helped to join the dots up in the world, and gain more perspective for how large and wide it is. It was also a very amusing crossover that I hope is done more with future stories in this world.
Performance – 4.5/5
Sean Ohlendorf was excellent – not too dissimilar to Joe Jameson actually. There were no changes in character voices to be concerned about, as apart from one or two small cameos, none of the characters were the same. His voice suited the age and maturity level of the main character perfectly.
All voice acting was distinct, and there was never any confusion between characters. Actions were performed where possible, rather than read out of the book (like sighs and coughs etc), making the story flow more naturally. Sean Ohlendorf was able to sweep us along with the atmosphere, speeding up reading to raise more excitement during the action scenes. All in all, a first rate narrator who I will look out for.
Overall – 4.5/5
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
my first Lawrence novel, I read and listened to this story ans loved both forms.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What aspect of Sean Ohlendorf’s performance might you have changed?
The story and writing are great but Sean Ohlendorf's performance doesn't quite capture the main characters personality. The narration sounds (to me at least) a bit flat. I might have a bias opinion of the books narration though having listened to it originally with Tim Reynolds who does an amazing job. I suggest playing samples from each narrator and making your own choice but I would definitely suggest Tim Reynolds version.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful