“A wonderful tale . . . It crackles with suspense and excitement from start to finish.”—Terry Brooks
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.
Praise for The Briar King
“Starts off with a bang, spinning a snare of terse imagery and compelling characters that grips tightly and never lets up. . . . A graceful, artful tale from a master storyteller.”—Elizabeth Haydon, bestselling author of Prophecy: Child of Earth
“The characters in The Briar King absolutely brim with life. . . . Keyes hooked me from the first page,and I’ll now be eagerly anticipating sitting down with each future volume of the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series.”—Charles de Lint, award-winning author of Forests of the Heartand The Onion Girl
“A thrill ride to the end, with plenty of treachery, revelation, and even a few bombshell surprises.”—Monroe News-Star (LA)
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.
I am a voracious reader of fantasy and am extraordinarily excited to find an author this good, that I haven't read before. His lyrical prose combines traditional fantasy elements in an utterly unique and intriguing world. His characters are compelling and the story has me riveted. I can't wait to see how the series will unfold, and fortunately I don't have to as the rest of this series is already written! I plan on binge reading this weekend. Highly recommended!