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[Reading Group] February 2014: Prince of Thorns Discussion

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Philip Overby, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Ankari, this is a very interesting point. I do think in today's society there is more of a protectiveness over youth that didn't exist back then. Fourteen year olds fought in wars and got married. It was pretty common. I guess sometimes my own pre-conceived notions of fourteen year olds I've met or when what I was like back then factored into my reading of the story at first. However, as I went on, I had to keep reminding myself this was a guy who matured very quickly due to the deaths of his mother and brother and spent several years on the road "growing up" as well. It's kind of strange that he seems more like a kid at court than he did on the road. I guess that reflects his own discomfort with court life.
     
  2. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    He wasn't forced to grow up fast, everyone is an adult by this age. You have to rid yourself of the word "teenager" when reading this series. Jorge is old enough to marry. Not because he was forced to grow up fast, but because all males become men at fourteen. (And females become women at twelve.)

    He isn't a kid at court so much inexperienced. He left the castle at the age of ten, lived the life of a brigand, and returned to a hostile environment. The court scene isn't to show Jorge as still a child, it's to show Jorge as still trying to earn the respect and love of his father. I can see any man, of any age, respond the same to a father like Jorg's.
     
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yes, this.

    How old was Temujin when he took over leadership of his tribe? 10 or 11? The tribe members abandoned him, but by 14 he had killed his half-brother and increased his standing among the tribes. Captured in raids at 15 or so (near as I can tell), married by 16 and then leading a raid to rescue his wife.

    It's not that Jorg had to grow up fast. It's that people grew up fast in that environment. They lived shorter lives, acquired the rights and responsibilities of adults sooner, had kids sooner, and so on.
     
  4. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I do think however that Jorg may have maintained some of the pampered youth of a prince if he had not gone out on the road at an early age. He was 10 when he decided to head out, right? I don't know, he seemed awfully mature even in some of the flashbacks. I do think him growing up on the road influenced his attitude towards human interaction than if he would have done so at court. If he's used to being around thugs and murderers, I think him being fourteen maybe isn't really that relevant. However, he appears just like a kid when he keeps trying to talk and his father ignores him. It reminds me of the old, "Be quiet, son. Adults are talking" kind of deal.

    Also, non-spoiler, I hope, but this isn't really a traditional medieval setting is it? Maybe more will come to light in the third block? I'm starting to get signs and I'm pretty sure I know what's up now.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah, that's right. The pieces started falling into place during this block. I think you're on the right track.
     
  6. SM-Dreamer

    SM-Dreamer Troubadour

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    1. Do you find yourself getting more in the story now or have you started to lose interest?
    The story is finally getting into the heart of things, so it's keeping me more interested, which isn't to say I wasn't in the first place, if that makes any sense at all.

    2. What do you think about the supporting cast? (Rike, Makin, the Nuban, etc.)
    I like the Nuban, liked him from the start. Rike is a source of humor (either his actions or Jorg's commentary). Makin is... ok. I think I like the old man whose name I cannot remember... can't say Jorg right? No teeth? Anyways, I also like the tutor and felt for him trying to help Jorg.

    3. Do you see some semblance of "humanity" (for lack of a better word) creeping into Jorg's character?
    I saw some humanity in him in the nightmare scene, in his interaction with Katherine and his father, and in his engagements with Sageous.

    4. What do you think about Jorg's interactions with his father?I think he came up against his match, and we're seeing where he got it from. I enjoyed the scene as a whole, especially the tree and how he killed whatshisname (I read the block a week or so ago; my memory for details is shoddy)

    5. Do you feel like you know where the story is going or do you have no idea?I think I get where everything's going, and I'm definitely able to fill in the blanks so things make more sense now.

    6. Are you finding this novel to be as grim as people made it out to be or do you find it to actually be light in places? (I'm finding more humor, although black humor, it's still humor).
    I don't see how it's grim at all, to be honest. I get that it's not, y'know, light-hearted and all, but I don't get a sense of grim out of it. I like the humor in Jorg's commentary.

    Maybe it's because I came to the book with the understanding that this is a different time/place and was able to suspend my understanding of '14' and carry it to what would fit in Jorg's world, but I was never shocked by how mature he was or the things that he was capable. He's a man. Sure, he still has some growing to do (mentally and physically) but he's an adult in his world. Pampered as a child, raised at court, but he suffered trauma, reacted to it, and survived living on the road; each made him who and what he is, and surprisingly, while I don't like what he does, I understand it (and even respect his strategy).
     
  7. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Actually, up to this point, readers assume Jorg is pampered. There is nothing in this book that suggests as much.

    This interests me. Does everyone think he is pampered because he's a prince? Just the usage of the word has directed your mind down one path?

    If so, I'm appreciating Mark Lawrence's subtle manipulations of his readers. There is a lesson to ponder.
     
  8. SM-Dreamer

    SM-Dreamer Troubadour

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    I admit that prince denotes a sense of luxury, but other things throughout the text led me to that sense.

    On page 71, Jorg refers to his mother as having taken him and his brother to a noble's estate, rather than let them witness the executions; other references mention her in silk, and his brother as soft. On page 85, on the precipice of following the prisoners: "I remembered a time when I lived in the lie. I lived in a world of soft things, mutable truths, gentle touches, laughter for its own sake." continues on 86 "I saw my child's life yellow on the tree [...] How much the dens and forts in which William and I had played with such fierce belief, how foolish our toys without the intensity of an innocent imagination to animate their existence."

    When he describes his mother and brother, it's with positive adjectives ("sweet William" "little William" "her perfect painted face") and I get the sense that he was loved as a child, by her at least (obviously not so much by the father, at least not overtly).

    He had run of the castle as a child ("Every prince knows the kitchens better than any other quarter of his castle. Where else can so much adventure be found? Where else is the truth spoken so plain? William and I learned a hundred times more in the kitches of the Tall Castle than from our books on Latin and strategy. We'd steal ink-handed from Lundist's study and sprint through long corridors, leaping down the stairs too many at a time, to reach the refuge of the kitchens." 124), ate in the kitchens, and the servants (at least there) seem to have positive memories of him(or at least expect something out of their little prince).

    So my impression is that he had play and fun as a child, plus the tutoring for days on end, was loved by his mother, had a companion of his brother... Yes, I see him as pampered (likely more so than a child not of royalty/nobility in such a setting).
     
  9. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I'll have to think on that.

    On one hand, these are memories from his eighth or ninth year. The further back you reach into your life, the more innocent life was. Even if you lived a life peppered with unkindness. This is a fact of innocence.

    I'll give you that he had better accommodations and clothing, but I don't see those as pampering, only fitting for their status.

    I don't see these lines as "pampered", so much as I see him as unburdened from his later responsibilities. At the age of ten, such responsibilities start to creep up on him. He is not expected to play. His tutor is putting him through studies of war, geography, and history in an obvious preparation for eventual rulership.

    As to the lines mentioning the love of his mother and brother, I can't see those as pampered sentiments. It's a natural extension of a healthy parent-child relationship.
     
  10. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I tend to lean toward SM-Dreamer's thoughts as well. Maybe not pampered, but definitely privileged. I felt like him going from his court life to on the road had to be pretty drastic in some way. I mean, I think when the Count's men killed his mother and brother it was when they stopped their carriage or something.
     
  11. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    At this point I was still somewhat interested. I wouldn't say I was engrossed but I did like the references that showed this world to be a future of our reality.

    I think these characters should've been developed more, or at least one of them. The Nuban is a potentially interesting character that we know little about, other than his limited interactions with Jorg. Since Jorg is supposed to be so intelligent, there could've been more insight on the supporting cast.

    Mmmm....not really. Someone mentioned Katherine before but we don't see much of her & neither does Jorg. In fact, I found their interactions relatively meaningless other than a sexual attraction. It seems to me that the relationship established in book one will come into play in book two. To me, that's its only purpose.

    They're both cut from the same cloth. They're sociopaths. Here's the thing though, sociopaths are chameleons of society. They act in ways that disguise their true thinking and actions. I think it would've been better to play on that idea, Jorg acting as a returning son would be expected to act in a certain way, all the while the thoughts he and the reader share show something entirely different. There are hints of this in the book but, in my opinion, it is underdeveloped.

    Yes. I feel like I have a good idea where this will end up, just not the events leading to the conclusion.

    Not at all. I don't think it's especially grim.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  12. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    So I suppose we're ready to discuss block 3 now (Chapters 25-37)? I'm actually on 32, so I'm a bit behind, but I'm sure I'll catch up tonight since I'm going to do some reading before going to bed.

    Some questions for discussion until then:

    1. Why do you feel that the king really sent Jorg away? Is it in hopes that he will die given an impossible task? Or is it to really prove himself?

    2. Do you feel like the introduction of Jane and the leucrota seemed out of left field? This definitely appears to be a low magic kind of world, but things are seeping in that don't seem normal. What are your thoughts about them?

    3. How did you feel when some characters died on the way to the Great Stair?

    4. What was the significance (to you) of Jorg eating the necromancer's heart?

    OK, that's all for now. Maybe some more questions come the morning.
     
  13. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    It seemed pretty obvious to me that he was signing a death sentence with the order. Jorg was convinced of this immediately, but he still sees it as opportunity.

    Yes, totally out of left field and my biggest complaint about the book. All of a sudden we get these monstrous creatures that were never mentioned before. The same is true with the necromancers. It's not like these beings are unknown to the surface world, especially considering their proximity to Jorg's target. To me, this felt rushed and contrived. As a reader, I felt I was being pushed speedily toward and ending when the story was ready yet.

    I didn't care much because I thought every supporting character was underdeveloped.

    Again this seemed contrived. Unless I missed something, we haven't seen or heard of this activity before, so why does he do this now? Even if it was mentioned, I'd still need a damned good reason for a character's leap into cannibalism. It didn't seem like a natural thing for Jorg to do.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  14. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I got the feeling we're getting some of the "old world" in these chapters. I took the leucrota to be some sort of mutated creatures, while the electronic panel ("the spirit") he attacks is the security system. I'm not entirely sure where this is going, but I'm going to go ahead and guess based on spoilerish stuff I've heard before about the book:

    Not sure when this is completely revealed, but this is our world only after a nuclear holocaust. So the monsters are people mutated by radiation and the magic came to life somehow from this? Still trying to completely figure it out.

    I liked the inclusion of these things, but I would have liked to have seen more evidence of them existing before they showed up late in the novel.
     
  15. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I am pretty into the story. I'm certainly not bored by it. The only detail I'm not really loving is that it's a future of our world. The names were confusing before, but now I'm kinda wishing it was just confusing names, not some sort of alternate future? It leaves me asking loads of questions.. like how nothing exists to be found, like machinery or buildings. Those make my stomach shrink up and my head hurt.

    I'm actually a little disappointed. I wished there was more to them. I'm all for large casts and lots of moving pieces, but literally, I can't tell a lot of the brothers apart. Who is Price? One of them has no teeth and keeps pronouncing "Jorg" as "Jorth", but other than that... I'm only able to recall certain ones. For instance, when the priest took Red Kent's confession... I can't remember how he got that name, but it was significant to the point being made. I skipped over and missed the joke.

    I actually don't, and I'm not sure I miss it. I loved when he pushed over the glass tree and I think it's great that he is calculating... I do'nt really need him to be human . Please, don't sleep with your aunt. I know you aren't blood relatives, but you're already depraved and she seems like a nice girl.

    I think the father is testing him and I think he pushes back enough to let him know he's not playing.

    I hope he doesn't go home, kill his father, throw his step-mother out a window, and take his aunt for his wife. I mean... that's probably what logically should happen, but I just hope it isn't what DOES.

    I'm glad there's a deeper story. As fun as it was to open with the bandits and the journey, I'm glad we get to see Jorg be smart. He was rather one-dimensional for me for too long and without a larger story (with the dream witch and the Nuban and the magic elements), it was just a story about a kid with bad manners. A good one... but not enough to carry me through to the end. With the added elements of Castle Red and the magic... I'm mush more interested in seeing his next move. Before.. I just didn't want to see another village of shit-poor dirt farmers burn.
     
  16. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    1. Why do you feel that the king really sent Jorg away? Is it in hopes that he will die given an impossible task? Or is it to really prove himself?

    I do believe it was just a way of offing Jorg. Jorg even suspects that it was the queen's whispering in the king's ear that made him do it. Because either way the king gains something. If Jorg dies, great, a nuisance gone. If he succeeds, great, he just eliminated a threat.

    2. Do you feel like the introduction of Jane and the leucrota seemed out of left field? This definitely appears to be a low magic kind of world, but things are seeping in that don't seem normal. What are your thoughts about them?

    It was definitely sudden, I will say that, but I didn't find it jarring or anything like that. I mean, we did literally see ghosts in one of the early chapters, so a glowing girl and misshapen monsters isn't a huge leap. It is interesting how it's basically revealed at this point that this is actually set in the far future. I started to suspect something possibly like this when they started mentioning not only far distant past people like Socrates, but also relatively recent people like Nietzsche. When I first read that I was like "huh?" but now it all makes sense. And it's fairly clear that this is set in the very distant future what with an actual complex AI (something still beyond us today) as a relic.

    3. How did you feel when some characters died on the way to the Great Stair?

    The only character I really cared about was the Nuban, since I was getting rather attached to him. The others, like that one that fell into a pit whose name I can't remember, I didn't care about at all, but it's not as if the book expected you too. If you were meant to feel bad, the book would dwell on it a bit more than going "Ah well, these dudes be dead". Because of that I don't hold it against the book that I wasn't balling my eyes out at those deaths.

    4. What was the significance (to you) of Jorg eating the necromancer's heart?

    It didn't fully make sense to me. First of all, it was so sudden with no explanation, basically: Necromancer: "Yo what's u-" *dead* Jorg: "I guess I'd better eat this dude's heart." *nom*. If they had at least referenced this practise beforehand and given more of a reason it would have been okay, but at this point it does just seem contrived.
     
  17. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    That cracked me up. I wish that's what he actually said.
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    1. Why do you feel that the king really sent Jorg away? Is it in hopes that he will die given an impossible task? Or is it to really prove himself?

    I think he meant for Jorg to die and no longer be a thorn in his side. I don't think he had any expectation whatsoever that Jorg would succeed and prove himself.

    2. Do you feel like the introduction of Jane and the leucrota seemed out of left field? This definitely appears to be a low magic kind of world, but things are seeping in that don't seem normal. What are your thoughts about them?

    Not really. At least, it didn't feel that way to me while reading. I figured during the last block we were in some kind of post-apocalyptic world, and given some of the strangeness we'd seen before this didn't bother me. In fact, I thought these elements made the story a lot more interesting. I think we're dealing with remnants of advanced tech, AIs, and the aftermath of advanced warfare.

    3. How did you feel when some characters died on the way to the Great Stair?

    I, too, only really cared about the Nuban. That was too bad. But I wasn't hugely invested in him. The other deaths didn't bother me in the least.

    4. What was the significance (to you) of Jorg eating the necromancer's heart?

    I think something is going on with Jorg that compels him to do strange things. Things that he might not normally do, or that seem bizarre. I guess we'll see if that is borne out.
     
  19. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I think this is probably true. As I haven't finished the book, I'm not sure how this plays out yet, but I get the feeling Jorg isn't in complete control of what he does. I believe even Jane mentions this to him when they meet.
     
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    He's going to turn out to be a character in an advanced MMO played by a really weird guy.
     
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