Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Fools CoverRunning concurrently with the Broken Empire Trilogy that Lawrence ended last year, Prince of Fools follows Prince Jalan Kendeth from Roma to the frozen North. His grandmother is the Red Queen, who we see just a bit of in the previous trilogy. At the queen’s side is the Silent Sister, one of the magical hidden hands behind each of the major world powers. After escaping one of her death spells, Jalan finds himself magically linked with a Norseman named Snorri. More inclined to be in bed with a pliable courtesan than helping someone resolve his family issues, all Jalan cares about finding a way to break the spell. So off they go into the grimy world of Mark Lawrence’s imagination.

I can’t really talk much about Prince of Fools without comparing it to Lawrence’s previous work. The weight of the Broken Empire Trilogy is too looming to try to do otherwise. In that series Jorg Ancrath is a reprehensible little shit who wears the reader down with his unrepentant lack of empathy. But, the reader is inside his head. We’re there for all of his torments and tormenting. Come to the new series and now we’re in the head of Jalan, also unrepentant, but in a rakish way. He cringes at the idea of killing someone. He’s conflict adverse. Unfortunately, he’s also even more outwardly self interested than Jorg, often happy to let someone else suffer if it saves him from pain. This makes him a passive force, one perfectly happy to curl up in a brothel with a bottle of booze and let the world pass him by. < Read More >