With The Charnel Prince
, author Greg Keyes keeps up the pace set by The Briar King
with a second taut entry in his series--the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. The Briar King has awoken and mythical beasts roam the land. Crotheny's king and his daughters are dead by betrayal. His bereaved wife Murielle keeps tenuous hold on the throne and the hope that her headstrong daughter, Anne Dare, has escaped the assassins' blades. The queen sends her most trusted and lethal knight, Sir Neil MeqVren, on a quest to discover her daughter's fate. He will find Anne has narrowly escaped the massacre at Saint Cer and lives on the run in the company of her maid, Austra, and the duel-prone swordsman Cazio. Meanwhile, woodsman Aspar White is sent on a mission to slay the Briar King. All will fight for their lives in the wake of dark forces emerging from shadow to force a dangerously forgotten prophecy into the world.
Keyes is among authors like George R.R. Martin whose work is reinvigorating the often tired genre of high fantasy with rich, dark, and mature storytelling. His characters are vibrant and range far beyond Dungeons & Dragons cliché. He places these starkly drawn men and women into a world built upon a squirming foundation of myth, legend, prophecy, and folklore, which, to their own peril, they are only beginning to understand. --Jeremy Pugh
From Publishers Weekly
The age of Everon is ending in the elegiac second installment of bestseller Keyes's fresh and imaginative high fantasy saga that began with 2003's The Briar King
. Told in a inventive prose often as disturbing as it is beautiful, Keyes's sprawling multiple-viewpoint narrative explores a weird landscape fraught with "ancient evils and fresh curses." Black briars spurt up "like slow fountains" wherever the Briar King walks in the King's Forest. As the Briar King turns villagers into unholy monsters, creatures such as greffyns and manticores once deemed the stuff of myth attack anyone who dares challenge him. In a land on the brink of civil war, assassins have claimed most of Queen Muriel's family except for her gifted youngest daughter, Anne Dare, who escaped death with her servant Austra, and is now struggling to return home to fulfill a prophecy. Other well-drawn characters include Sir Neil MeqVren, the queen's protector, and Leovigild "Leoff" Ackenzal, a talented composer. Those who haven't read The Briar King
may have problems at first following the plot, but Keyes's lyricism, pacing and deft handling of eternally important topics—the dance between church and state, man and woman, life and death—make this a thought-provoking entertainment.
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