Prince of Thorns - a tale of revenge
At 9 years old Jorg experiences a terrible trauma that shapes the rest of his life. As his mother and brother are killed, he is helplessly caught within the thorns of a nearby briar patch unable to help in any way. After the incident, his father (the king) is unwilling to risk war with Count Renar, who is the person behind the murders, and he basically agrees to put the matter aside in exchange for some economic concessions. Jorg can't accept this outcome and this series of events ultimately shapes him into a monster bent on revenge against both Count Renar and his own father. Jorg's mind becomes a very dark place and this book is experienced from inside that mind.
Jorg becomes the leader of a band of thugs at the age of 13 and this puts him on the path to a life full of vile deeds. Frequently Jorg envisions ruthlessly killing those he interacts with. Sometimes those thoughts are converted to action and sometimes they are not, but those thoughts are a constant throughout the book. Jorg frequently kills men 3 times his size, usually through an improbable series of events, and it is eventually uncovered that there are more powerful individuals behind the scenes who manipulate key people as pieces in a giant game of thrones. Jorg himself is one of those individuals and when he discovers that he is being manipulated he adds his puppet-master to his list of revenge targets.
Now I love a good revenge tale more than most and I'm willing to let questionable behavior slide in the name of revenge on those "who deserve it" but this book never got me there. Jorg is too young, has no redeeming qualities at all, and the improbable events are just too unbelievable. There is also nothing truly unique about the fantasy world although the book does get interesting at times. This isn't a terrible book but it didn't grab me well enough for me to continue with the series. I definitely prefer the Prince of Fools series which is based within the same fantasy world.
For audiobook fans, James Clamp does a decent job on the narration and his performance keeps the story moving along. It is a bummer that the story just never wound up where I wanted it to be.