Two thousand years ago, the Born Queen defeated the Skasloi lords, freeing humans from the bitter yoke of slavery. But now monstrous creatures roam the land--and destinies become inextricably entangled in a drama of power and seduction. The king's woodsman, a rebellious girl, a young priest, a roguish adventurer, and a young man made suddenly into a knight--all face malevolent forces that shake the foundations of the kingdom, even as the Briar King, legendary harbinger of death, awakens from his slumber. At the heart of this many-layered tale is Anne Dare, youngest daughter of the royal family . . . upon whom the fate of her world may depend.
The author of the bestselling Age of Unreason tetralogy (The Waterborn, etc.) inaugurates the Kingdoms of Throne and Bone quartet with this epic high fantasy. The inhabitants of this splendid and dauntingly complex parallel world, Everon, are mostly descended from folk magically transported from our world. This is not quite the land of Faerie, although the Briar King resembles the old Celtic horned god Cernunnos, while Keyes brings his expertise as a fencing teacher to the swordplay, here called dessrata. The Empire of Crotheny faces war with its arch-rival, the Hanzish, and magical intrigues aimed at preventing the land from having a born queen (as opposed to a king's consort). By book's end, Princess Anne, the daughter of the Crotheny king, is fleeing for her life with Austra, her maid, and Cazio, a young Vitellian nobleman, having earlier experienced the pains of discipline in a convent and the horrors of having her family butchered. With aplomb, the author employs one of the most classic fantasy plots: the heir(ess) with a destiny and a necessarily huge cast of supporters. Keyes mixes cultures, religions, institutions and languages with rare skill. The main theme may emerge with formidable slowness, but patient readers will find the rewards enormously worthwhile.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . A Pleasant Surprise
Posted June 23, 2010 by Leila , MidwestI generally download free ebooks due to boredom. I frequently don't feel like going to the library or gambling by putting money down for a book that isn't a "sure thing." My expectations for free ebooks aren't that high. Let me say now, this is not your average popcorn fiction. Greg Keyes pays special attention to detail, he's an excellent linguist (a skill clearly put to the test when I find myself understanding even his made up languages), and he is great at dramatic tension and mystery. After finishing the free ebook, I bought all four paper editions in the series. Recommended. It's mythology and medieval kingdoms and the supernatural. Go for it.
2 . Excellent Entertainment
Posted October 25, 2009 by Carol , LouisvilleI thought since I got this as a FREE book it would be horrible. However,not only was it enthralling it now has me hooked! I have purchased the second book and can't wait to start reading!!! Greg Keyes is a wonderful story teller and causes the reader to be so involved you won't want the tale to end.
March 29, 2004
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Excerpt from The Briar King by Greg Keyes
Chapter One The Holter Aspar White smelled murder. Its scent was like a handful of autumn leaves, crisped by the first frost and crushed in the palm. Dirty Jesp, the Sefry woman who had raised him, told him once that his peculiar sense came from having been born of a dying mother below the gallows where the Raver took his sacrifices. But Jesp made her living as a liar, and the why didn’t matter anyway. All Aspar cared about was that his nose was usually right. Someone was about to kill someone else, or try. Aspar had just walked into the Sow’s Teat after a week of hard going in the Walham Foothills. His muscles burned with fatigue, his mouth was grittier than sand, and for days he had been dreaming of the cool, dark, honeyed sweetness of stout. He’d had just one sip, one moment of it dancing on his tongue, one kiss of foam on his lips, when the scent came and ruined the taste. With a sigh, he set the grainy earthenware mug on the pitted oak of his table and looked around the dark, crowded interior of the tavern, one hand straying to the planished bone grip of his dirk, wondering where death was coming from and where it was going. He saw only the usual crowd—charcoal burners mostly, their faces smudged black by their trade, joking and laughing as they drank away the taste of soot on their tongues. Nearer the door, which had been propped open to let in the evening air, Loh—the miller’s boy, in his clean, lace-trimmed shirt—gestured grandly with his mug, and his friends hooted as he drained the whole thing in one long draught. Four Hornladh merchants in checkered doublets and red hose stood near the hearth, where a spitted boar dripped sizzling into the coals, and around them gathered a clump of youths, faces eager and ruddy in the firelight, begging stories about the wide world beyond their tiny village of Colbaely. Nothing that even looked like a brawl about to start. Aspar picked up his mug again. Maybe the beer was a little off, today. But then he saw where murder was coming from. It came in through the open door, along with the first tentative trilling of whippoorwills and a faint, damp promise of rain. He was just a boy, maybe fifteen. Not from Colbaely, Aspar knew for sure, and probably not even from the Greffy of Holtmarh. The newcomer swept a desperate, hurried gaze around the room, squinting, trying to adjust his eyes to the light, clearly searching for someone. Then he saw Aspar, alone at his table, and lurched toward him. The young fellow was clad in brain-tanned elkskin breeches and a shirt of homespun that had seen better days. His brown hair was matted, caked with mud, and full of leaves. Aspar saw the apple in his throat bobble convulsively as he pulled a rather large sword from a sheath on his back and quickened his pace. Aspar took another pull on his beer and sighed. It tasted worse than the last. In the sudden silence, the boy’s buskins swish-swished on the slate-tiled floor. “You’re the holter,” the boy said in a thick Almannish accent. “The kongsman.” “I’m the king’s forester,” Aspar agreed. “It’s easily known, for I wear his colors. I’ll be Aspar White. And you’d be? . . .” “H’am the man is going to slooter you,” the boy said. Aspar lifted his head just slightly, so he was looking at the lad with one eye. He held the sword clumsily. “Why?” he asked. “You know why.” “No. If I knew why, I never would have asked.” “You know saint-buggering well—tho ya theen manns slootered meen kon—” “Speak the king’s tongue, boy.&a