I have a natural aversion to stories written in the first person. It's not that there's anything wrong with that approach. I just prefer third-person novels. When I picked up Prince of Thorns, the story already had this strike against it. I have preferences. We all do.
I also have to admit that I got about 10 or 15% through this book and put it down. For some reason, the characters just didn't draw me in. Fortunately, I picked it back up again a few months later.
The story has a GRRM dark fantasy feel to it, and Mark Lawrence's portrayal of Jorg is strong. The main character is a great anti-hero and Lawrence really presents him as 3 dimensional. Or, if not 3-dimensional, he at least has an interesting backstory and motivation. Don't get me wrong. Jorg is definitely a sociopath or psychopath (I'm not a licensed therapist, so I'm not one to diagnose). But there's a bit more to it that allows us to understand him as a character. I found myself wondering if I wanted Jorg to succeed or fail. There were times where I wanted both.
The side characters leave a lot more to be desired. While they have personality, I could barely distinguish them or cared to. There was very little worldbuilding too. I didn't really understand the world, but I'm not sure it matters all that much.
At one point, I thought it was going to take a sci-fi twist. Lawrence seems to open a box that he doesn't appear to close in this book regarding that. I'm not exactly sure what to make of it. I can only assume it's going to play into the rest of the series.
There is a lot of violence in this story. And I'm not talking fun, action-adventure, comic mischief. I mean cold, merciless, brutal violence. So if you're sensitive to that kind of thing, turn elsewhere or steal yourself.
And the first-person preference I have? Had Lawrence written this story in third-person, I can't see it being better. It definitely needs to be in the first person; it demands it. The deep dive into Jorg's mindset is what carries a lot of this tale, even when what's happening in the scene isn't particularly interesting.
Looking for Dark Fantasy? Give it a try.