• Prince of Fools

  • The Red Queen's War, Book 1
  • By: Mark Lawrence
  • Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • Length: 14 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (4,027 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Hailed as "epic fantasy on a George R. R. Martin scale, but on speed" (Fixed on Fantasy), the Broken Empire trilogy introduced a bold new world of dark fantasy with the story of Jorg Ancrath' s devastating rise to power. Now, Mark Lawrence returns to the Broken Empire with the tale of a less ambitious prince.

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire dread her like no other. For all her reign, she has fought the long war, contested in secret, against the powers that stand behind nations, for higher stakes than land or gold. Her greatest weapon is The Silent Sister - unseen by most and unspoken of by all.

The Red Queen's grandson, Prince Jalan Kendeth - drinker, gambler, seducer of women - is one who can see The Silent Sister. Tenth in line for the throne and content with his role as a minor royal, he pretends that the hideous crone is not there. But war is coming. Witnesses claim an undead army is on the march, and the Red Queen has called on her family to defend the realm. Jal thinks it' s all a rumor - nothing that will affect him - but he is wrong. After escaping a death trap set by the Silent Sister, Jal finds his fate magically intertwined with a fierce Norse warrior. As the two undertake a journey across the Empire to undo the spell, encountering grave dangers, willing women, and an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath along the way, Jalan gradually catches a glimmer of the truth: He and the Norseman are but pieces in a game, part of a series of moves in the long war - and the Red Queen controls the board.

©2014 Bobalinga, Ltd. (P)2014 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Prince of Fools

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A fantasy odd couple caught up in a bigger game

This book has many things to like about it and some not to like, which might very well be appropriate since the story revolves around the combination of opposites. There are two main characters in this one - Prince Jalan Kendeth, a womanizer and self proclaimed coward, and Snorri, a Viking warrior out for revenge against those who attacked his homeland. One strong and the other weak, they form an odd couple dynamic as fate thrusts them together and sends them out on a suicide mission.

As in the Broken Empire series, Mark Lawrence starts by presenting us with an anti-hero in Jalan. Jalan is infinitely more likeable than Jorg but I still never found myself getting behind the "coward that gets lucky and is considered a hero" storyline. Snorri on the other hand was a likeable character and carried the day for me. I wound up liking the book and looking forward to the next one simply because of Snorri and his overall quest for revenge.

Since this is the same world as Broken Empire there remains a bigger game being played here by powerful background figures and our two main characters are just pawns in that larger game. Jalan and Snorri are manipulated by a spell cast by the Silent Sister and find that in order to remove the spell they must carry out its purpose. The Silent Sister being one of those powerful beings manipulating the world from within the shadows with her true motivations unknown.

Despite the Broken Empire tie-ins it is not necessary to have read that series first as this stands alone nicely. This is not as dark as Broken Empire and the lead character is a more likable anti-hero so this series will likely appeal to more listeners.

Tim Gerard Reynolds is as good as they get when it comes to narrators and he is excellent as usual. This book is worth picking up simply for his performance.

57 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Ok Writing and wonderful Narrator, hate the story

I actually didn't like British voices as readers until I heard Tim Gerard Reynolds read the Riyria series. I picked this book because of Mr. Reynolds is that fantastic reader I love to hear.

My problem with this book is Mark Lawrence's writing about this character. I think he is a decent writer, I just hate this character. I find him disgusting and loathsome. Maybe that is what Mr. Lawrence is going for. Maybe he has just done too good a job at making me hate this lead character? I dislike this prince so much, I don't want to hear anything more about him.

In the Riyria series, which I feel is a worthy comparison, Michael J. Sullivan writes about characters I enjoy. They are "anti-heros" I feel I can get behind.

I likely won't finish this book. If you are one of the ones who liked this book far better than I, I judge you not. This is just not a book for me.

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

M. Lawrence does it again, but differently.

Any additional comments?

In the Prince of Thorn's (POT) series, readers (whether you liked the book or not) were fascinated by a protagonist that most people did not really feel ok about liking. The character drove that book and the same happens in this book, but with an exception. The characteristics of this protagonist drives this book, but the writer did not try to make him another POT, but rather created a totally different personality that made me laugh many times throughout the book. I actually liked this book better than the POT.

19 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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He Does it Again!

If you could sum up Prince of Fools in three words, what would they be?

Refreshing. An understatement.

What did you like best about this story?

Prince Jalan and the viking Snorri, unlikely companions, become entangled through sorcery. In their quest to rid themselves of one another, a remarkable thing happens. A friendship blossoms. Oh, and there's also a great fantasy plot to boot.

Not quite as "grim-dark" as "Prince of Thorns", "Prince of Fools" was still edgy and perhaps more humorous than its predecessor - at least that was my take. Both series are redirecting the genre into less explored regions. To say they are "refreshing" is an understatement.

Buy these audiobooks! The narrations are superb and even if they aren't your cup of tea, they will leave a lasting impression.

Which character – as performed by Tim Gerard Reynolds – was your favorite?

Jalan, of course. Though Snorri was quite fantastic as well.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed a lot. Our anti-hero is not as dark as the Prince of Thorns, though he still has his edges.

Any additional comments?

Wow! Awesome! Well done Mark Lawrence! You did it again!

Jalan. Jorg. Both stand firm in their own characters. One a coward the other callous. Both heroes? Or something else.

19 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very good book but,

Any additional comments?

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence is a very interesting and exciting read. Unfortunately, I read the Broken Empire trilogy before i read this book. The problem is that The broken Empire trilogy is in my opinion one of the best fantasy series I have ever read. This book is very good and is by all means worth reading. It contains Lawrence's usual deep and well thought out characters and his magnificent story telling abilities. The simple problem is it is very difficult to make another character as good as Jorg from the previous trilogy. I really like the new main character Jalin, but he just doesn't fascinate and horrify you at the same time like Jorg did. Despite this problem the overall story was interesting and enjoyable to read. The narrator in my opinion did a fairly good job with the story, although all the vikings seemed to sound the same to me. As a whole, i liked the story very much and fully intend to buy the next book, but don't be too disappointed if it isn't as good as Prince of Thorns. i give it 4 of 5 stars.

12 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not For Me: Dark and Depressing

After reading this book, I would say it is well written. And I'm happy that a book like this exists in the world. It has good world building, and is pretty funny. The main character is hilariously scared of everything, and tries to wiggle his way out of any sort of commitment. The secondary characters (especially the Queen) intrigued me, and I'd like to know more.

But the story itself is depressing. I just give fair warning, and I 100% acknowledge that it's just not my cup of tea. I'll give you an example

What I wanted: Blood Song
What I got: The Blade Itself

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Tried and tried

I really wanted to like this book. I tried to get through it, but I just couldn't make myself care for the characters. I was three quarters of the way through when, tiring of the constant blathering about what a coward the prince was (by his own admissions) and the fact that I still don't understand the plot - I gave up.

I would recommend this to anyone who does not have a strong inclination towards character development.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Vikings riding in a boat named IKEA? Really?

Author uses modern terms like "Stockholm Syndrome" and has character curse saying "Christ" and has a Nordic ship named IKEA. Not the most creative author but the performance was as good as the material could get... solid ok 😑

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

I don't understand the high marks (sic)

Any additional comments?

Ahhggg!! I am so conflicted. I wanted to like this story, but in the end just couldn’t quite hit the LIKE button. Tim Gerard Reynolds did an EXCELLENT job, as always, and had it not been for simply loving his reads I probably would have ended this book early. But I didn’t. I persisted to the end. And in the end, Mark Lawrence didn’t quite pull it off. The characters are shallow and you never really gain any affection (or disdain) for them. Mark “tries” to write Jal as a lovable coward with a wit, but Jal comes off precocious and tawdry. The ending was a disappointment and my biggest issue with the book was Mark’s use of magic -- I’ve never enjoyed an author that can only use magic as an escape hatch for whatever corner they’ve written themselves into and Mark’s use of magic is cheap and simple. And lastly, the name “Snorri” has got to be one of the worst character names… Ever.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

good but not 5 stars

good book, lower rating because there was too much swearing and too many sexual references.

5 people found this helpful

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