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Skullsworn: A Novel in the World of The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) Hardcover – April 25, 2017
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“A lyrical, bloodsoaked, impossible quest that's sure to entertain.”―Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author
“Staveley has quickly become one of my favorite fantasy authors, and his latest doesn't disappoint. Skullsworn is a brilliant new chapter in a fabulous series." ―V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author
“A warm, funny, character-focused novel which is also darkly charming, bloody, and lethal. It was very, very hard to put down, and had an emotional punch to match its high adrenaline moments.” ―Sci Fi and Fantasy Reviews
“Entertaining and well-told.” ―Booklist
“Lush, evocative descriptions sharpen the setting, which recalls Southeast Asia. Visceral action scenes and memorable characters bring this tale to life.” ―Publishers Weekly
“A stunning prequel that actually lives up to the original trilogy's legacy […] Staveley has proven himself to be a master ofworld-building, character development, and sheer storytelling.” ―Beauty in Ruins
“Pleasantly grim and emotionally complex.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Full of surprises […} more inventive and grisly than I could have imagined.” ―Fantasy Faction, 9/10 stars
“A highly engrossing fantasy world […] amazing characters.?”―Fantasy Book Review
“Intricately plotted and masterfully told” –The Alliterates
“Perfectly bleak… brilliantly enjoyable” –Rapture in Books
“Do yourself a favor: read Skullsworn.You won’t regret it.” –GrimdarkMAGAZINE
“Highly recommended, especially for fans of female characters that like to kick ass and not follow the rules.” –The Speculative Herald
“A great read with tons of action and humor… I loved it.” –The Blogin’ Hobgoblin
“Staggeringly wonderful” –Bookish Things
“Excellent characters… great world-building…fabulous fight scenes… an excellent book” –SciFi Fan Letter
“An outstanding novel on every level.” –TheBibliosanctum
“A must for fantasy fans” –Books of All Kinds
“A fantastic standalone book with a very satisfying conclusion – well thought out and written incredibly well.” ―The Bookbag
“Intricately plotted and masterfully told.” ―The Alliterates
About the Author
BRIAN STAVELEY has taught literature, religion, history, and philosophy, all subjects that influence his writing, and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. He works as an editor for Antilever Press, and has published poetry and essays, both in print and on-line. He is the author of the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne (The Emperor's Blades, Providence of Fire, The Last Mortal Bond). He lives in Vermont with his wife and young son, and divides his time between running trails, splitting wood, writing, and baby-wrangling.
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Unfortunately, for most of the novel, what it is not, is exciting or engaging.
It IS well-written, and, as I say, intellectually engaging. It’s just sort of slow fir the first 3/4’s of the story. The first 3/4’s lacks...well...pyrotechnics, I - in both the plot and magical sense. The latter is often ok with me. I tend to enjoy the understatement of magic in my fantasy, but not it’s near-complete absence.
But those flaws aside (and to some extent endured, though I don’t want to overstate it), it really really is well-written. It just lacks - along with the pyrotechnics - any deep intrigue.
And, the good news is that the culminating 1/4 is terrific. A full and often profound realization of every idea and plot point leading up to it. Full of action that is interwoven with philosophy and feeling in a truly skilled and engaging manner.
I’m glad I read it. I eagerly look forward to more from Stavely, and if 3/4’s of this fourth book by him was a little slow, it was at least skillful and intellectually stimulating. Definitely worth the read, imperfect though it is.
And in case you're wondering, there's no need to read any of Staveley's other books first. Yes, Skullsworn is set in the same world as the 3-book "Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne" series, but only one of the characters overlaps and Skullsworn takes place before that series even happens, in another part of the world. So while you should definitely read the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne (it's also awesome), there's certainly no need to do so before enjoying Skullsworn.
ambitious. combining the coming-of-age plot with the master assassin-shenanigans plot is an atrocious idea for a book. for good measure, there is also a bizarrely original, ass-backwards, “falling”-in-love plot. and there is also a 14 day time clock and strict rules. the perfect book for the kind of person who gets bored watching a guy juggling only steak knives and torches, with no live animals or handcuffs. is the execution continuously flawless over 300 pages, or are there lapses? you get your money’s worth.
for consistent narrative fluidity and ingenious theology: chronicle of the unhewn throne. skullsworn for it’s fauna and high stakes punning. or: if the trilogy is the NBA championships, skullsworn is the slam dunk contest.
i read the books in publication order. reading skullsworn first would be fine too — you might lose and gain various small satisfactions. actually, here’s an idea: if you haven’t read any of the books yet, try 1. the emperor’s blades 2. the providence of fire 3. skullsworn 4. last mortal bond.