Authors: Mark Lawrence
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Epic, #General
King of Thorns
Ace Books by Mark Lawrence
PRINCE OF THORNS
KING OF THORNS
King of Thorns
BOOK TWO OF
THE BROKEN EMPIRE
M A R K L A W R E N C E
ACE BOOKS, NEW YORK
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2012 by Bobalinga, Ltd.
Map by Andrew Ashton.
Cover design by Annette Fiore DeFex.
Cover illustration by Jason Chan.
Cover hand lettering by Iskra Johnson.
Text design by Laura K. Corless.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
: August 2012
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Lawrence, Mark, 1966–
King of thorns / Mark Lawrence.—1st ed.
p. cm.—(Broken empire; bk. 2)
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Dedicated to my son, Rhodri
I need to thank my reader, Helen Mazarakis, for reading
King of Thorns
one chunk at a time as I wrote it, and telling me what she thought.
Many thanks go to Ginjer Buchanan at Ace for taking a chance on me, and to both her and Kat Sherbo for all their labour in making The Broken Empire series a success.
My editor at HarperCollins Voyager, Jane Johnson, deserves huge thanks for all her splendid efforts to date. Thanks also to Amy McCulloch and Laura Mell, who have worked various wonders on my behalf.
And finally, my agent Ian Drury must be thanked for getting me the gig in the first place and for continuing to sell my books across the world. Gaia Banks and Virginia Ascione, working with Ian at Sheil Land Associates Ltd., also need thanking for their efforts in getting Jorg’s story into so many translations.
Table of Contents
I found these pages scattered, teased across the rocks by a fitful wind. Some were too charred to show their words, others fell apart in my hands. I chased them though, as if it were my story they told and not hers.
Katherine’s story, Aunt Katherine, sister to my stepmother, Katherine who I have wanted every moment of the past four years, Katherine who picks strange paths through my dreams. A few dozen ragged pages, weighing nothing in my hand, snowflakes skittering across them, too cold to stick.
I sat upon the smoke-wreathed ruins of my castle, careless of the heaped and stinking dead. The mountains, rising on all sides, made us tiny, made toys of the Haunt and the siege engines strewn about it, their purpose spent. And with eyes stinging from the fires, with the wind’s chill in me deep as bones, I read through her memories.
October 3rd, Year 98 Interregnum
Ancrath. The Tall Castle. Fountain Room.
The fountain room is as ugly as every other room in this ugly castle. There’s no fountain, just a font that dribbles rather than sprays. My sister’s ladies-in-waiting clutter the place, sewing, always sewing, and tutting at me for writing, as if quill ink is a stain that can’t ever be washed off.
My head aches and wormroot won’t calm it. I found a sliver of pottery in the wound even though Friar Glen said he cleaned it. Dreadful little man. Mother gave me that vase when I came away with Sareth. My thoughts jump and my head aches and this quill keeps trembling.
The ladies sew with their quick clever stitches, line stitch, cross-line, layer-cross. Sharp little needles, dull little minds. I hate them with their tutting and their busy fingers and the lazy Ancrath slurring of their words.
I’ve looked back to see what I wrote yesterday. I don’t remember writing it but it tells how Jorg Ancrath tried to kill me after murdering Hanna, throttling her. I suppose that if he really had wanted to kill me he could have done a better job of it having broken Mother’s vase over my skull. He’s good at killing, if nothing else. Sareth told me that what he said in court, about all those people in Gelleth, burned to dust…it’s all true. Merl Gellethar’s castle is gone. I met him when I was a child. Such a sly red-faced man. Looked as if he’d be happy to eat me up. I’m not sorry about him. But all those people. They can’t all have been bad.