Prince Jorg has just turned 14. For the last three years he has been leading a group of ruffians around the countryside thieving, murdering, and raping. He's really not a good guy (or kid), at all. He is a prince who, at the age nine, watched his little brother and mother murdered in front of him at the orders of a neighboring ruler. Jorg left his princely life and his father, the king, when his father chose a political partnership rather than revenge against the man who killed his wife and child.
Prince Jorg now sees life as a game. He really has no problem killing whoever and taking whatever he wants. The author does not present this immorality in a vague way. He does not just tell us the character is immoral and leave it to our imagination. We get to see Jorg do these evil acts throughout the entire book. This isn't a story about Jorg turning from his immoral ways or finding redemption. He might see things a little differently by the end of this book, but he never apologizes or regrets any of his past actions. But I found it hard not to like Jorg. He is clever and complex. The entire book is from his viewpoint; it was fun being inside his head, and seeing how he sees the world.
In the first chapter he promises he will be king by the age 15. He decides it is time to head back to his father's castle, and he brings his ragtag team with him. Throughout the book we get to know some of these men. His “brothers” are all sinful in their own way. Little snippets of how Jorg sees these men are at the beginning of some of the chapters. My favorite - “Most men have at least one redeeming feature. Finding one for Brother Rike requires a stretch. Is “big” a redeeming feature?” Once back home, he finds a cold welcome by his father and a new obstacle in his father's mysterious adviser.
I really enjoyed Lawrence's world building. At first I thought the setting was a typical medieval type fantasy world, but was completely and happily wrong. Won't spoil it for other readers. But I will say, this type of setting has been used before, but the author used it subtly enough not to be distracting and actually made me very intrigued and wanting to learn more.
This is the first book of a trilogy. Looking forward to reading what Lawrence has in store for Jorg next.