“There is adventure and intrigue, swordplay and dark sorcery aplenty.”—Realms of Fantasy
When the legendary Briar King awoke from his slumber, dark magics awoke with him and spread across the Kingdom of Crotheny. In Eslen, King William has been murdered, Queen Muriele is stalked by treachery from every side, and their last surviving daughter, Anne, has fled the assassins bent on destroying her family. The queen’s one trusted ally, young knight Neil MeqVren, is sworn to rescue the princess from her pursuers. As spies in the service of the powerful Churchman embark upon a mission to destroy the Briar King, a sinister conspiracy threatens to engulf the land. Personal fates will be decided, and a kingdom’s destiny will hinge upon the ultimate conflict between virtue and malevolence, might and magic.
“Keyes’s world is rich, detailed, and always believable; the twisty plot is delightful and frightening in turns.”—Locus
“Strong world building and superior storytelling.”—Library Journal
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.