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Guest Blog – Mark Lawrence talks to Mark Lawrence about The Broken Empire

Mark Lawrence 2009 (aka OldMark) talks to Mark Lawrence 2012 (aka NewMark) about his journey so far and all things Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, and his (their?) Broken Empire series…

It’s a sad turn of affairs when a chap has to interview himself…

OldMark:        Thanks, NewMark, for taking a moment to let me interview you. 2009 salutes you.

NewMark:       No problem. There’s loads of spare time in the future.

OldMark:        Wow! Really?

NewMark:       No.

OldMark:        OK. OK. We’re on a clock here. I get it. Sheesh. So tell me, am I rich and famous up there in the future? What’s 2012 like? Tell me they’ve found a cure for male pattern baldness.

NewMark:       We have hover-cars and my dreadlocks are down past my arse. I’m flying to all those book awards you haven’t heard of yet in my solid gold helicopter. How about we talk about the fuckin’ book? Focus!

OldMark:         OK. Got it. No lottery predictions, no small talk. Right King of Thorns, what should people know about it?

NewMark:       Well here’s the thing, OldMark. With Prince of Thorns I said very little concerning what it was about. I thought I’d set it out there and let the reader make up their mind. And what a lot of different things they thought! You simply wouldn’t believe it. But I won’t spoil it for you.
Of course like many books Prince of Thorns is about a collection of many different things all at once. Obviously it’s about a particular unfolding plot with a beginning, middle and end. But it’s also about

(i) the issue of nature vs nurture – was Jorg the product of his experience or would he have been a monster however idyllic his childhood?
(ii)  the ambiguities in responsibility and purpose that arise from the protagonist’s age
(iii) the disparity between what Jorg tells the reader about his motives and responsibility and what the reader actually deduces
(iv) the changes wrought in us through experience as opposed to those wrought by simply growing.

And running through all of that it’s about anger, passion, internal conflict … all that great stuff that pulses through literature. I don’t claim to have done a good job of it, but I do claim to have tried with honesty and without reserve.

OldMark:       And there’s me thinking I just wrote a story! Wonderful what a year of navel gazing will do for you. Anyhow. What does our navel say about King of Thorns? It doesn’t sound like there’s much left for it to be about?

NewMark:      When my editor (Jane Johnson, you’ve not met her yet, but you’re going to like her) read it she said in her editor’s letter: …it is shaping up to be the most extraordinary work of fantasy I have ever read: because you take such risks… 

Well I wasn’t aware I was taking risks as I wrote it but they seem to have worked for the readers so far. Will that hold true for the wider world? It’s nearly time to find out.

OldMark:       Yeah… but what’s it about?

NewMark:      Well, I’m gonna leave it pretty much open again and see what people tell me it’s about. Pretty clearly though it’s a reversal of established paths. The ‘chosen one’, the ‘golden and virtuous hero who has been foretold’… that ain’t Jorg. Jorg’s the guy in that guy’s way, the one scheduled for demolition and to be a footnote in the history books. That’s pretty much the starting point.

The other main thing I wanted to note is that Prince of Thorns was written as a standalone. King of Thorns is written as book two of three. It won’t leave you on an annoying cliff-hanger – it will be a self-contained and hopefully satisfying story – but it does contain elements that are enriched by the reading of the trilogy’s final book. There are small components of King that might appear a bit standard – they are not. There are parts of King where a line of story might seem to end before its time or evade some detail the reader would have liked followed up – these things are picked up, elaborated on, and completed in the final book.

OldMark:        So basically two years have passed and I’m just as tight-lipped as ever?

NewMark:      Yup.

OldMark:       So what about this whole author thing? How’s that working out for me? Is it fun? Have we done anything cool?

NewMark:     Well. I guess it’s like anything. Stuff’s rarely as good as you think it’s going to be. Anticlimax is the norm. So that’s where you’re lucky, OldMark. You didn’t ever entertain a burning desire to be an author and you didn’t build up an imaginary landscape of how great it would be. The main difference in your life is that all that spare time you never had and used to fill with PC games and writing, you still don’t have and now fill with twitter and facebook. You don’t write nearly as much as you used to because you’re less bored and there’s always someone wanting a chat or an interview or you have to recheck your Amazon or Goodreads ratings…

OldMark:       Sounds like you need to unplug the internet! Better still leave the computer room entirely and dig the typewriter out of the attic.

NewMark:     We’ve got a laptop now, with wireless internet. There’s no escape.

OldMark:       Cool! I always wanted a laptop.

NewMark:      Oh, and the economy really tanked. Your company laid off half its scientists before Christmas and the rest of us might be out on our ear before next Christmas.

OldMark:       Suckage. You’re not ever getting another job what with your caring responsibilities!

NewMark:      True. But it would give me time to write!

OldMark:       Or you could just exercise a little sodding self control and turn the internet off.

NewMark:     Yeah, yeah. Oh! That’s the other thing. Signed an options contract on the film and TV rights recently. Still an Everest to climb without oxygen before there’s any chance of an actual film, but hey, we’ve put our mountain boots on and got a ticket for base camp!

OldMark:      Oh shut up! If you’re just going to make stuff up this interview is over!

NewMark:     No, straight up! This guy from Hollywood- Hello? Hello? You still there? …

 

Prince of Thorns is out NOW!

King of Thorns will be available from the 16/08/2012 in the UK

http://princeofthorns.com/index.html

 

 

 

 

LIKE the Voyager Facebook page to unlock and read exclusive excerpts: https://www.facebook.com/#!/HarperVoyagerUK?sk=app_319631768109792

Voyager UK |

Guest Blog – King of Thorns – The Allure of Jorg

Today our guest blog is from Marc Aplin from Fantasy Faction. http://fantasy-faction.com/staff-members?uid=1

 Don’t forget to LIKE the Voyager Facebook page to unlock exclusive excerpts from King of Thorns: https://www.facebook.com/HarperVoyagerUK?ref=hl#!/HarperVoyagerUK/app_319631768109792

The Allure of Jorg Ancrath

When Prince of Thorns was released in 2011, and the character of Jorg Ancrath was exposed to the world, a wave tore through book review sites and genre blogs. This book, by a previously unknown author, Mark Lawrence, rejected many of the established tropes and pushed at boundaries that readers within the fantasy genre were not used to being tested.

That’s because there is no hero in Prince of Thorns, the protagonist does not seek redemption and in fact, if our protagonist achieves his objective, the whole world will fall under the command of an evil, evil young man. In fact, what made the first book so damned special was that you never knew what Jorg was going to do next, because he had absolutely no conscience, no moral compass. As a reader, you couldn’t rely on restraint, disgust or fear to hold him back.

So, I ask the question, readers, what on earth has propelled King of Thorns, the sequel to a book so dark and downright disturbing, to the top of fantasy readers’ most anticipated book lists? What is it about the character of Jorg and the setting of the Broken Empire that has propelled this debut author’s work, according to Amazon’s sales ranks, into the top 10 best selling fantasy books in the world? Before we begin I will offer you a bit of comfort and tell you that it’s probably not because you’re attracted to reading about death and despair (note: I did say probably!).

To begin with, being in the first person Prince of Thorns offers us a close relationship to our protagonist, Jorg. We therefore see the world through Jorg’s eyes and everything that we see includes, in some way, a thought, feeling or opinion from him. It is for this reason that we connect with Jorg because, essentially, when we pick up the book we become him. Writers such as Patrick Rothfuss and Douglas Hulick have said that writing in the first person for a great deal of time tends to leave an author stuck thinking in their characters’ voice. I find a very similar effect happening to me, as a reader. If I read a book in the first person, such as Prince of Thorns or Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind, I’ll find my own thoughts and even word choice resembling the voices of Jorg or Kvothe. Therefore, already, we can see a kind of bond between the reader and the protagonist being formed.

There is also the fact that Jorg has the unfair advantage of being able to tell us his story through biased opinion. Now, I should say that Jorg doesn’t take this opportunity very often. Unlike many protagonists he doesn’t ‘whine’ at the reader and tell them life is unfair. Rather, he sees life as a game and will often lighten up a terrible scene with a clever quip, such as: “Few things worth having can be got easily” or “Water! Water! It’s always water with the dying. Strange, it’s killing that gives me a thirst.” You quickly find yourself smiling or nodding along to Jorg’s way of thinking. The darkness is still there, but you accept it because he delivers it so elegantly, so amusingly and with such matter of factness.

The following revelation is often the most shocking to readers when they begin to reflect upon the book and, initially, may even deny it was the case until they think about it (so – think about it before denying it, reader!). As the book progresses and we begin to understand Jorg, we begin, dare I say it, to feel empathy towards him. Here is a prince that was set to one day be a king until his mother was torn away from him, raped and killed alongside his baby brother. Worst of all, he was forced to watch their deaths and expected to just forget about them. Can we blame him for not letting that experience go? Can we blame him for wanting some kind of revenge? Can we blame him for not wanting the people he sees as responsible for this atrocity sitting on the throne? (Note: perhaps skip the remainder of this paragraph if you’ve not read the first book). I don’t think Jorg will trust a family member ever again. After having found out that his uncle and father had an understanding about and involvement in his mother’s death – how could he?

The result is that you find yourself asking: does this young man who was forced, as a child, to watch his mother killed and raped deserve a shot at redemption? Is anyone ever so bad that we have to write them off forever? Would Jorg even accept redemption if it was offered to him? Perhaps we don’t think he does deserve it, but should his father and uncle be allowed to get away with their part in his mother’s and brother’s murders? If you don’t think they should, then you need to realise that, in the Broken Empire, if Jorg doesn’t do something no one else will. What I find myself asking when reading Prince of Thorns is: if I was in Jorg’s position and in Jorg’s world, how would I have grown up?

For me, the most chilling thing about Prince of Thorns was that I found it very, very difficult to hate Jorg. I didn’t like the things he did – but I could understand him and he won me over with his charm and charisma. Something about that shook me and I think that’s what makes the character of Jorg Ancrath so powerful.

Prince of Thorns is available now from all good book shops.

King of Thorns is published on Thursday 16th August 2012 (UK)

Voyager UK |

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

The second book in the Broken Empire series, Lawrence takes his young anti-hero one step closer to his grand ambition.

Like the facebook page to reveal chapters http://www.facebook.com/HarperVoyagerUK/app_319631768109792

To reach greatness you must step on bodies, and many brothers lie trodden in my wake. I’ve walked from pawn to player and I’ll win this game of ours, though the cost of it may drown the world in blood…

The land burns with the fires of a hundred battles as lords and petty kings fight for the Broken Empire. The long road to avenge the slaughter of his mother and brother has shown Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath the hidden hands behind this endless war. He saw the game and vowed to sweep the board. First though he must gather his own pieces, learn the rules of play, and discover how to break them.

A six nation army, twenty thousand strong, marches toward Jorg’s gates, led by a champion beloved of the people. Every decent man prays this shining hero will unite the empire and heal its wounds. Every omen says he will. Every good king knows to bend the knee in the face of overwhelming odds, if only to save their people and their lands. But King Jorg is not a good king.

Faced by an enemy many times his strength Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight. But playing fair was never part of Jorg’s game plan.

Out 16/08/2012 (UK)

Voyager Australia, Voyager UK, Voyager US |

David Gemmell Awards 2012

Four Voyager titles have been nominated in the David Gemmell Awards! Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence ( HarperUK & HarperAUS ) & Heir of Night by Helen Lowe ( HarperUS ) are up for the Morningstar Award ( Best debuts of 2011 ) & the covers for both Journey by Night by Aaron Briggs ( HarperAUS ) & Oracle’s Fire by Frank Victoria ( HarperAUS ) are up for the Ravenheart Award ( best cover art of 2011 ) Congratulations to all our authors & artists!

Vote for Prince of Thorns or The Heir of Night here: http://www.gemmellaward.com/page/the-morningstar-award

and vote for either Journey by Night or Oracle’s Fire here: http://www.gemmellaward.com/page/the-ravenheart-award

Voyager UK |

Vote now in the David Gemmell Awards!

For the last three years, the David Gemmell awards have ‘celebrated the history and cultural importance of Fantasy literature’ to ‘appreciate & reward excellence in the field.’ The polls are open for the 2012 David Gemmell awards and we hope you have been voting. If you haven’t though, THERE IS STILL TIME!

The Legend Award celebrates the book voted best release of the year. The winner is presented with a unique, scale model of Snaga (the legendary axe of Druss the Legend) from Raven Armoury. The blades of the axe are even laser-etched with the winner’s name & novel.

Voyager is proud to have four superb books on the longlist for the Legend award, including George RR Martin’s award-winning A Dance of Dragons, Raymond E. Feist’s epic A Kingdom Besieged, Blake Charlton’s enthralling Spellbound, and Sara Douglas’s haunting Devil’s Diadem.

The Morningstar Award is to celebrate the newcomers to the fantasy genre, whose first book published in English will fight it out amongst the other young bloods to be crowned the fans undisputed New Blood Fantasy Champion.

Mark Lawrence’s dark, relentless debut, Prince of Thorns, is deservedly in the running.

Congratulations to all our authors who have made it this far! Winners will be announced on 15th June 2012 at the awards ceremony at London’s Magic Circle.

Polls close on the 31st of March, so there’s still time to visit http://www.gemmellaward.com/ and show support for the authors you love!