Prince of Thorns is the first book in The Broken Empire trilogy written by Mark Lawrence. It was first published on August 1st, 2011 by Voyager.

Synopsis Edit

Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.

From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father’s castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

Notable Quotes Edit

*The town-square ran red. Blood in the gutters, blood on the flagstones, blood in the fountain. The corpses posed as corpses do. Some comical, reaching for the sky with missing fingers, some peaceful, coiled about their wounds. Flies rose above the wounded as they struggled. This way and that, some blind, some sly, all betrayed by their buzzing entourage.

*That red face just made me want to kill him even more. I didn’t, though. You got responsibilities when you’re a leader. You got a responsibility not to kill too many of your men. Or who’re you going to lead?

*The thorns taught me the game. They let me understand what all those grim and serious men who’ve fought the Hundred War have yet to learn. You can only win the game when you understand that it is a game. Let a man play chess, and tell him that every pawn is his friend. Let him think both bishops holy. Let him remember happy days in the shadows of his castles. Let him love his queen. Watch him lose them all. 

*It is purity of spirit that will keep corruption from the flesh.

*Hate will keep you alive where love fails.

*“Tell me, tutor,” I said. “Is revenge a science, or an art?”

*Now I thought of Father, and it felt good to know I could still feel fear.


War is a thing of beauty, as I’ve said before, and those who say otherwise are losing.

*A hundred fragments of empire grinding away at each other in a never-ending cycle of little wars, feuds, skirmishes, kingdoms waxing, waning, waxing again, lifetimes spent in conflict and nothing changing. Mine to change, to end, to win.

*“Think about it, Makin. I made Roddat here fight like a madman because I told him if they think you’re not going to give up, they’ll break. Now I’ve got fifty enemies who’re out there telling everyone who’ll listen, ‘That Prince of Ancrath, he’s not going to break.’ It’s a simple sum. If they think we won’t break, they give up.” All true. It wasn’t the reason, but it was all true.

*“Boys of ten are better occupied with Euclid and Plato. When we visit war, Sun Tzu will be our guide. Strategy and tactics, these are of the mind, these are the tools of prince and king.”

*“We are defined by our enemies. This holds true for men, and by extension, their countries,”

*Cowards make the best torturers. Cowards understand fear and they can use it. Heroes on the other hand, they make terrible torturers. They don’t see what motivates a normal man. They misunderstand everything. They can’t think of anything worse than besmirching your honour. A coward on the other hand; he’ll tie you to a chair and light a slow fire under you. I’m not a hero or a coward, but I work with what I’ve got.”

*“The way to break the cycle is to kill every single one of the bastards that fucked you over,” I said. “Every last one of them. Kill them all. Kill their mothers, kill their brothers, kill their children, kill their dog.”

*One nail will bring back memories of childhood. Another will make him rage, or sob, or laugh. In the end it seems we’re just toys, easy to break and hard to mend.

*“Terror and entertainment are weapons of statehood, Jorg.” Lundist kept his tone neutral, his face inscrutable save for a tightness in the lips suggesting that the words carried a bad taste. “Execution combines both elements.”

*When we make a mistake, we can’t buy our way out of it. Not with horses, not with gold.

*“It’s not a game, Sir Makin. You teach these boys to play by the rules, and they’re going to lose. It’s not a game.”

*Anything that you cannot sacrifice pins you. Makes you predictable, makes you weak.

*“I’ll see if I can dream a witch tonight, yours or mine, I don’t care. And if I do, this time I’m not running anywhere. I’m going to turn around and gut the bitch.”

*Wait when waiting is called for. That’s what Lundist used to tell me. But never hesitate.

*“There are turning points, Robart. Forks in the path we follow through our lives. Times that we look back to and say, ‘If only.’ This is one of those times. It’s not often we get them pointed out to us. At this point you’ll either decide to hate me, or to serve me. Consider the choice carefully.” 

*“The thorns . . . the thorns held me, Mother.”

*She looked at me, eyes silver with the moon. She smiled and I thought for a moment she would forgive me. Then she screamed. She didn’t scream the screams she’d made when the Count’s men raped her. I could have stood that. Maybe. She screamed the screams she made when they killed William. Ugly, hoarse, animal screams, torn from her perfect painted face.

*You need to understand what game is being played out here. Who exactly the pieces are and who the players are.

*When in doubt, let your hate lead you. Normally I’d reject that advice. It makes a man predictable. But there, in that miserable hall of bones, I was past caring. Hate was all I had to keep me warm. 

*The necromancer had lifted the veil. Just like the Nuban said, she had lifted the veil between the worlds and the dead were coming through.

*I took a bite, as big as I could manage. Raw flesh is chewy, but the necromancer’s heart had some give in it, like a game bird hung until it’s ready to drop off the hook. The bitter gall of the blood scoured my throat. I swallowed my mouthful and it slid down, slow and sour.

*They say fear lends a man wings. None of the brothers flew up the Stair, but the way they scrambled over the slickness of that rocky throat would teach a lizard plenty about climbing.

*“Memories are dangerous things. You turn them over and over, until you know every touch and corner, but still you’ll find an edge to cut.

*“Each day the memories weigh a little heavier. Each day they drag you down that bit further. You wind them around you, a single thread at a time, and you weave your own shroud, you build a cocoon, and in it madness grows.”

*“Jorg, you said ‘enough to poison the world,’” Makin said. “The world is already poisoned, Sir Makin,” I said.

*“One life, or ten thousand, I can’t see the difference. It’s a currency I don’t understand.”

*I wondered how many of Father’s soldiers would have died here if he had sent his armies to avenge my mother. Perhaps it was better this way. Better that I come calling. More personal. She was my mother after all. Father’s soldiers had their own mothers to be worrying about.

*“It has to be one of the Hundred. Nations won’t follow monsters like me. They’ll follow a lineage, divine right, the spawn of kings. So we who have taken our power from the places where others fear to reach . . . we play the game of thrones with pieces like Count Renar, pieces like your father. Pieces like you, perhaps.”

*“Whatever my father is, he isn’t inept,” I said. “I should have died.”

*“I may be running out of options, but running out isn’t an option. Not for me.”

*I threw everything I had against him. All my pride, my anger, an ocean of it, the rage, the hurt. I reached back across the years. I counted my dead. I reached into the briar and touched the bloodless child who hung there. I took it all, and made a hammer of it.

*The wild hoof hit me square in the back. I would probably have flown ten yards if I hadn’t crashed straight into Corion. As it was, we flew about five yards together.

*I think maybe we die every day. Maybe we’re born new each dawn, a little changed, a little further on our own road. When enough days stand between you and the person you were, you’re strangers. Maybe that’s what growing up is. Maybe I have grown up.

*If you lose you have lost. And What have you lost? You have lost the Game!