Tuesday 28 June 2022

Title of Thorns!

It seems that Prince of Thorns may have sparked a naming trend!


Below is a “Chronology of Thorns”.

Here are the books I could find listed on Goodreads with "Of Thorns" in the title and with over 500 ratings, plus a couple of fun ones with just under that limit. There are Christianity focused “Crown of Thorns” books scattered through the decades, but I’ve listed all those with 500+ ratings.


Let me know if I’ve missed anything. But to me it looks strongly like Prince of Thorns put the “Of Thorns” … idea? Meme? Earworm? Not sure what you’d call it. But it looks to have put “Of Thorns” on the title table. Since Prince of Thorns came out, we've not had a year pass without a successful "Of Thorns" book being published. In the two centuries before it came out, we had two.


Chronology of Thorns! (500+ ratings)


The Hedge of Thorns                           – 1819 **

Cradle of Thorns                                  – 1997

Beyond the Valley of Thorns               – 2005



Prince of Thorns                                  – 2011

Queen of Thorns                                  – 2012 **

King of Thorns                                    – 2012

Emperor of Thorns                              – 2013

Princess of Thorns                              – 2014

Duke of Thorns                                   – 2014

A Court of Thorns and Roses              – 2015

A Gown of Thorns                              – 2015

Tower of Thorns                                 – 2015

Lover of Thorns and Holy Gods          – 2016

City of Thorns                                     – 2016

Jack of Thorns                                     – 2016

Garden of Thorns                                – 2017

A Harvest of Thorns                            – 2017

A Vow of Thorns                                – 2017

Queen of Thorns                                – 2018

Shadow of Thorns                             – 2018

Consort of Thorns                             – 2018

Heart of Thorns                                  – 2018

A Treason of Thorns                          – 2019

Sorcery of Thorns                              – 2019

Of Thorns and Beauty                        – 2020

A Crown of Thorns and Lies              – 2020

Crown of Thorns                               – 2021

City of Thorns                                     – 2021

Heart of Thorns                                   – 2021

Violet Made of Thorns                        – 2022

Chain of Thorns                                  – 2023

Prince of Thorns                                 – 2023 **

Prince of Thorns & Nightmares         – 2023 **


** fewer than 500 ratings

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Saturday 25 June 2022

Random mortality-adjacent thoughts.

I basically had my first sick-day in a decade yesterday. Wobble kept me company in bed, staking his claim to my corpse.

This bout of man-flu (which has now proven to be covid) was not the cause of this post, it's cause-adjacent.

Today, since my wife now has the same virus and my fever has broken, I went down to deliver moving boxes to my mother-in-law, who in her late 80s is moving into an old-people's home next week.

Because I was still contagious, I didn't go in to help. And leaving when I did was why while I was walking up the hill on the way back, I was in time to be passed by a motorcyclist going stupid-mph and weaving.

That young (probably) man (probably) will (probably) be OK, but it prompted one of the thoughts that visit me periodically.

In 1990, or there abouts, I was doing a Ph.D at Imperial College in London. A friendly guy introduced himself to me. Juan was also doing a Ph.D in my group. He was basically the anti-Mark: friendly, chatty, warm, easy in his skin, given to sharing his secrets ... which I guess made them not secrets at all. 

That winter, Juan went to visit friends and family in Mexico. The next thing we knew, he was dead. Killed in a car crash. There are only two conversations I remember out of the many chats I must have had with Juan. One of those two concerned how enthusiastic he was about the idea of having children. In a group of young men focused on their research he was the outlier. He wanted six.

Juan was the first non-old person I'd known to die. We weren't friends, we were friendly. Since then I've had a handful of old school-mates and acquaintances die, and one good friend. And I carry them around - Juan drops in now and then. I don't know the circumstances of his death - maybe he was an innocent passenger rear-ended by a truck, maybe he was driving, pushing the envelope. Doesn't matter. The motorcyclist shot past me and I thought of Juan.

People die and the ripples they left are carried forwards by the people who knew them - some small fragment of them propagating into the future until it's extinguished. And in the end they'll be just names in some indelible register of births and deaths, the occasional census, the archives of a school. 

At some point after that some descendant who, has reached that point in life when they realise they've lived their whole life looking forward for answers and meaning, will incorrectly think that those answers might lie behind them instead. They'll look up records, build a family tree, copy the names. An immortality in name only.

A blog is a place to dump random thoughts. They can't all be about selling you guys books. 

There's no particular point to this post. It's just passing thoughts condensing through the keyboard. As I progress through life I'm carrying my dead with me. That's all. Some lived long lives. Some lived fulfilling lives. Some were short.

To conclude. Be careful out there. And if you can't be careful then at least make sure you're getting a good exchange rate between risk and thrill.

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Sunday 19 June 2022

10th anniversary Prince of Thorns - it's here!

Want a Broken Binding signed and numbered 10th anniversary edition of Prince of Thorns? 

                    You can't! There were 1000 (+52 lettered), and they've all gone.

Do not despair! At the time of posting there are 85 of 750 (+52 lettered) copies of the Grim Oak Press signed and numbered 10th anniversary edition of Prince of Thorns left. They won't last long - so hurry. The Grim Oak Press edition is seriously delux, and will add gravitas to any fantasy shelf!

Get yours here: https://grimoakpress.com/collections/limited-editions/products/prince-of-thorns-limited-edition

5 top reasons to buy:

#1 Leatherbound.

#2 Full colour internal art by the Broken Empire cover artist Jason Chan.

#3 New cover by Jason Chan (alternate version on the signing page)

#4 Signed by me and by Jason.


#5 Printed in the USA, so cheap postage for Americans.

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Saturday 18 June 2022

I don't care how good a writer you are...

There's a viral tweet that says (I precis) that the person doesn't rate a book on how well written it is - they rate it based on things like:

- whether it made them cry

- whether they read it in a short time

- whether they became obsessed with a character

All of those are perfectly good things to give a book 5* for. And if the tweet weren't viral, I wouldn't be writing a blog post about the small disconnect here. But the fact that it has 80,000 likes makes me want to question why.

It's as if people are celebrating the idea that writing doesn't matter and that "good writing" is some form of intellectual elitism that doesn't have anything to do with them. They're death metal fans and they don't care about opera.

But that is, of course, nonsense. It's akin to saying "I don't care how good a brain surgeon you are, as long as you get this tumour out." "I don't care how good a mechanic you are, as long as you fix my car." Sure, the end is the thing that's important to you ... but the end is generally strongly correlated with the means.

Your car is unlikely to get fixed by a terrible mechanic. And it may well stay fixed longer if the mechanic is excellent rather than merely competent.

You might claim not to care how well written a book is ... but all that other stuff you want is unlikely to happen if a book is badly written. You will not obsess about a character if that character is presented to you by someone who can't write.

Yes, writers come in different flavours. Some have excellent prose, some have excellent powers of description, some shine at dialogue, the main strength of others is in wonderful storytelling. But, all of the writers who have written books that made you cry, storm through in days, and remember them for years ... all of them are good writers.

You could take the powers of the best damn storyteller to have ever lived, put them in the mind of a random member of the public who hasn't written anything more involved than a shopping list since leaving school, and say "go". The resulting mess would (99.999% likely) not have any of the items on the wish-list up top.

You do care how well a book is written. You're just listing different measures of it.

When someone says writer XXX has bad prose, or writer YYY has pacing issues, they mean compared to other successful writers.

Bottom line, a book working its magic on the reader is a well-written book.

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