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The Charnel Prince (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, Book 2) Mass Market Paperback – October 25, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345440714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345440716
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #939,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The pace was fast and the author spent very little time with fluff (I really like that).
Rick Jones
I absolutely devoured this series, and I highly recommend it for fantasy fans, mythology fans, and anyone who enjoys a well-written well crafted book.
Rosepurr
His characters read like real people, his politics are as engaging as his action, which is very, very engaging.
Nathan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on October 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
With The Briar King, Greg Keyes created a masterpiece of a first book, so much so that it would be almost impossible to keep it up at that level. He tries very hard, however, and almost succeeds. The Charnel Prince suffers a bit from "middle book syndrome," but not as much as some series I've seen. Keyes keeps the tension high, introducing some wonderful characters to take the place of those killed off in The Briar King. The book is marred only by a massive coincidence that, while it can be explained, still strains the suspension of disbelief a bit.

The biggest compliment I can give to Keyes is that I wish this series was done. Right now. I want to be able to read the rest of this and see how it comes out. Unlike The Briar King, Keyes ends this book on a bit of a cliffhanger. While Keyes doesn't break up the action with a vivid cliffhanger, one of the main characters is dealt a massive blow in a truly horrifying epilogue that shows just how evil one of the villains can be. What's even worse (or better, you could say) is that I had really grown to love this character, which made the ending even more of a shock. It left me with a pit in my stomach, which to me demonstrates just how good the characterization was.

Keyes continues his deftness at this characterization. Princess Anne is probably the best, as she grows up a lot in the span of six months or so. I guess running for your life will do that to you, but most of the haughtiness has left her by the time she reaches her final scene. She's done the work of washerwomen, been threatened with a marriage fostered in darkness, and realized that the love of her life isn't quite as pure as she had always believed.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Nathan on August 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
greg keyes has been touted as the Next George R.R. Martin in some circles, writing gritty epic fantasy with lots of well drawn characters.

Well, his stuff is gritty, and reasonably epic, and there are a number of characters, but thats where the similarities end. Martin is better by far. His characters read like real people, his politics are as engaging as his action, which is very, very engaging.

Keyes isn't up to that level yet. He has given new life to old cliches, but they are still cliches. Sir Neil the perfect knight. Cazio the cocky duelist. Anne the willful girl growing into a strong woman. Aspar the veteran ranger. There are a few new characters, most notably a composer who is one of the most interesting of the books characters, and whose final chapters are truly fantastic.

This is a short read, and it moves at a breakneck pace which keeps you entertained but allows for little serious character development. Cliffhangers are overused to the point where they begin to lose their intended effect.

His action scenes are excellent and exciting, though not exactly realistic.

Essentially, this book is fun. Its ridiculous to pretend its anything more than fun, popcorn epic fantasy. But it is fun, popcorn epic fantasy done well, and sometimes that is enough
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By B. Capossere TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Charnel Prince succeeds in what should be the immediate and least of goals for second books in series--it moves the plot along. The book is well-paced, moving quickly through various storylines and transitioning nicely from one point-of-view to another. The shifts occur smoothly and repeatedly act to increase suspense (some may tire of the tactic; it never really bothered me). The different stories are mostly well-balanced, each carrying its own weight in terms of plot and character. Though I'd say one is noticeably weaker than the others, it doesn't act as much of a drag on the book as a whole.

There is no "recap" of the Briar King, but Keyes does a nice job of refreshing the reader's memory without being too obvious and without slowing the book down with a lot of early exposition. The main characters all return, some showing signs of growth, others performing their roles somewhat perfunctorily. Queen Muriel is perhaps the best example of a character who exhibits subtle and continuing signs of natural growth. Some of the characters instead have their changes "announced" to us, either by internal monologue, narration, or the somewhat clumsy remarks of other characters. Keyes also introduces a brand new major character, a composer, who is one of the more interesting characters of the series and whose personal storyline is certainly one of the more unique ones I've seen in fantasy.

The boil of internal and external politics and the conflict between pagan and institutional religion, along with the typical individual grasp for power, makes for a stimulating ride. The more personal relationship issues aren't handled nearly as well, but since they remain mostly understory, they don't cause too much damage.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert MacGrogan on November 29, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Frankly, I don't understand why Greg Keyes doesn't get more attention. He's easily equal in talent to George R. R. Martin, and unlike certain fantasy writers, he doesn't keep tossing in new subplots until his books start to feel as directionless as soap operas. In fact, he's demonstrated that he actually knows how to wrap up a series in such a way that you feel that he actually knew were he was taking you all along.

The Charnal Prince, second in the poorly names series "Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone" is even better than its predecessor, the Briar King. It's got likable, memorable, and complex characters, a fascinating religious/magical system, and excellent pacing. I really didn't want to put it down. The palace intrigue stuff is nice and so are the grand chase passages as characters race to escape danger or rescue one another.

Keyes knows how to write strong, heroic characters (male and female) who have human limitations and who can actually grow and change. I particularly loved Loeff, the composer.

The only aspect of this series that has not exactly thrilled me are the fantastical creatures. Personally I'm not generally the biggest fan of monsters and such, and the Briar King, gryffyns, and so on simply seemed a bit too much like silly D & D stuff to me.

This complaint is minor--the fantastical creature do not occupy very many pages, for one thing--and this book is well worth your time if you're a fan of fantasy fiction that takes its readers seriously.
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