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An Excerpt from King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Giveaway)

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Monday, July 16, 2012

An Excerpt from King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Giveaway)

The following short passage is extracted from deep within King of Thorns and I hope gives something of the book’s flavour.
Mark Lawrence

I took myself to the courtyard where my levies, subjects, and bannermen waited, crowded rank upon rank before the gatehouse. Knights from Morrow to the left of the portcullis, armour gleaming, swords in hand. To the right more knights, plate- armoured, the noblest sons of Hodd Town, my capital down in the valleys to the north. No doubt they had come to win the king’s favour and honour for their houses. Young men in the main, soft with gold and more used to lance and tourney than blood and ruin. I saw Sir Elmar of Golden among them, his armour radiant as his name implied. A warrior, that one, despite his finery.

They had some strength among them. Crowded on the gallery and stairs, crossbow men from the Westfast under Lord Scoolar, hard-eyed and wind-burned. Packed before the splintering gate, men of the Hauntside, tough fighters from the hills, in leather and iron, axes honed, round wooden shields layered in goat- hide. Behind these, warriors from Far Range, their iron helms patterned with silver and tin, each man armed with hammer and hatchet. And to the rear, ranked before the keep wall, Cennat shield dancers, their warboards taller than a man.

I walked among them, Makin at my shoulder, amid the stink and heave of bodies, the tension a taste in the air at once both sour and sweet. I hadn’t words for them, no kingly gestures, no speech to shout above the screams from beyond the wall and the crash of the ram. When you fight alongside Brothers you bind them with word and deed. When you fight among subjects you are a figure, a form, an idea. Men will die for many things, lives hoarded with care can be spent for the strangest of reasons. What bound us here, we men of the Highlands, was defiance. All men will dig their heels in if pushed enough. All men will reach the point that they say “no” for no reason other than opposition, for no reason other than the word fits their mouth, and tastes as good as it sounds. And in the Highlands, among our mountains, the heights breed men who will give no single inch without defiance.

I walked between the men of the Highlands, the old and young, some bearded, others clean-cheeked, some pale, some red, the trembling and the steady, and came to stand before the portcullis, iron-bound timbers splintered, the rush of the ram beyond, the savage cries of the hundred wrestling it toward me. My fingers found my knife hilt and I pulled it clear. Laid against my unburned cheek the metal felt like ice. The portcullis shuddered and groaned before the ram. Men of Arrow screamed and died as missiles rained upon them. The knife blade cut skin soft as a kiss. I took the blood on scarlet fingers and wiped it over the gate timbers. I turned my back on the gate, crouched before my men, and smeared a line of blood across the flagstones. As I returned to the keep I set my hand to a score of warriors, the eager ones, the ones in who I saw an echo of the same hunger that made me want that gate open every bit as much as those men on the ram.

“King’s blood!” Sir Elmar of Golden raised his axe, the crimson smear of my fingers left across his shining helm.

“King’s blood!” A hairy Hauntside warrior pressed the heel of his hand to the red imprint I set across his brow.

“King’s blood!” A Cennat dancer twirled the huge shield where my handprint sat scarlet across the white moon of his house.

“King’s blood!”

The roar pulsed back and forth, following us within the keep. A king is a sigil, not a man but an idea. I thought they had the idea now.

Extract from King of Thorns. Copyright Mark Lawrence, 2012. Reproduced with permission of the author and HarperCollins Publishers.



The giveaway is open worldwide. Two winners will receive one signed paperback edition of Prince of Thorns. You must be 18 years of age or older to participate. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway rules are subject to change.

How to participate:
  • To enter the giveaway, e-mail me at, with the subject THORNS and declare intention to participate.
    • You must include a valid mailing address in the e-mail. Failure to do so will result in disqualification.
    • One entry per person, or face disqualification.
    • Entries accepted until 11:59pm ET on August 12, 2012
    • Winners will be chosen by random sorting entries, and then using a random number generator.
    • There will be 2 winners who will receive 1 book each.
    Although not required, it sure would be nice if you:
    Good luck!

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    At July 16, 2012 at 11:27 AM , Anonymous Brad Beaulieu said...

    Now *that* is a powerful excerpt. Well chosen, Mark, and exceptionally written.

    At July 16, 2012 at 12:00 PM , Anonymous Mariano M said...

    'bravo', 'astounding','superlative'. Good Job Mark!

    At July 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM , Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

    Thanks Mariano, cheque in the post!

    At July 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM , Anonymous Hélène said...

    You did again, Mark! This is epic and I'm reminded why epic is my prefered literary genre. And prince or king, it seems Jorg gets a unique voice and, wow, such a presence! Thanks!

    At July 16, 2012 at 12:41 PM , Blogger Justin said...

    Until book three when Jorg becomes the Layabout of Thorns!

    At July 16, 2012 at 12:48 PM , Blogger Hélène said...

    Now, don't go and spoil my epic!

    At July 16, 2012 at 6:05 PM , Anonymous redhead said...

    stunning! can not wait to read this!!

    and even Jorg eventually becomes a layabout, he's deserved some downtime, don't you thinkg?

    At July 16, 2012 at 11:53 PM , Blogger Mieneke van der Salm said...

    Wow, I now I really can't wait to read King of Thorns! That's a stunning passage, Mark.

    At July 22, 2012 at 3:41 AM , Blogger Antonakis said...

    I'm going to skip both the giveaway contest and reading the excerpt! Why you might ask? Because I'm reading Prince of Thorns at the moment and it's an awesome book and I don't want to read any accidental spoilers (well... there's that title of the 2nd book...).
    Still, I don't get why everyone keeps saying that Jorg is unlikable. I'm approximately at the middle of the 1st book and Jorg's actions feel very understandable to me. He might be cruel and very detached from everything we usually consider nice in our everyday lives but I feel that's a neccessity so as to keep his sanity in check. To me, Jorg feels like a survivor, hardening his psyche in the forge of real life in order to protect himself from his past and present.


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