Summary and book reviews of The Briar King by Greg Keyes

The Briar King

Book One of The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone

By Greg Keyes

The Briar King
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2003,
    560 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2004,
    608 pages.

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Book Summary

It has been two thousand years since the Born Queen defeated the last of the Skasloi lords. In doing so she freed the race of humans–once taken from their distant homes and forced to wear the bitter yoke of slavery. Thus begins the saga of the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, an epic tale of war and virtue, sorcery and betrayal...

The Briar King: Book One of The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone

In the kingdom of Crotheny, two young girls play in the tangled gardens of the sacred city of the dead. Fleeing an imaginary attacker, the girls–one of whom is the reckless young daughter of the king–discover the unknown crypt of the legendary, ancestral queen, Virgenya Dare.

In the wilds of the forest, while investigating the slaughter of an innocent family, king’s holter Aspar White weaves his way through a maze of ancient willows–and comes face-to-face with a monstrous beast found only in folk tales and nightmares. Meanwhile, traveling the same road, a scholarly young priest begins an education in the nature of evil, found festering just beneath the surface of the seemingly peaceful land.

The royal family itself comes under siege, facing betrayal that only sorcery could accomplish. Now–for three beautiful sisters, for a young man made suddenly into a knight, and for a woman in love with a roguish adventurer–a rising darkness appears, shattering what was once certain, familiar, and good. These destinies and more will be linked when malevolent forces walk the land. For Crotheny, the most powerful nation in the world, is shaken at its core. And the Briar King, harbinger of death, has awakened from his slumber.

Imbuing his tale with richness, pathos, action, and passion, Greg Keyes begins an amazing new epic that takes fantasy fiction to a new level. At the heart of the story, Keyes has placed a remarkable young woman, Anne Dare, the youngest daughter of a royal family . . . and the one person upon whom the fate of this world may depend.

The Born Queen

The sky cracked and lightning fell through its crooked seams. With it came a black sleet tasting of smoke, copper, and brimstone. With it came a howling like a gale from hell.

Carsek drew himself up, clutching his bloody bandages, hoping they would keep his guts in until he saw the end of this, one way or another.

"She must order the charge soon," he grunted, pushing himself to his feet with the butt of his spear.

A hand jerked at Carsek's ankle. "Get back down, you fool, if you want to live until the charge." Carsek spared a glance at his companion, a man in torn chain mail and no helm, blue eyes pleading through the dark mat of his wet hair.

"You crouch, Thaniel," Carsek muttered. "I've done enough crouching. Fourteen days we've been squatting in these pig holes, sleeping in our own shit and blood. Can't you hear? They're fighting up front, and I'll see it, I will." He peered through the driving rain, trying to make out what was...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Booklist - Paula Luedtke

.... Each day further wakens the Briar King, which prophecies say means that the bloody end of the world is at hand. Only a queen of the Dare lineage on Crotheny's throne when the Briar King comes can prevent it. William and two royal daughters are gone, leaving Murielle--the Dare queen--and youngest daughter Anne. The evil haunting the land targets Murielle. To be continued (pant, pant).

Publishers Weekly

The main theme may emerge with formidable slowness, but patient readers will find the rewards enormously worthwhile.... this could well be Keyes's breakout book, garnering the kinds of sales associated with George R.R. Martin.

Library Journal

The winner of Le Grand Prix d'Imaginaire introduces a new epic set 2000 years ago as humans are freed from slavery by the Born Queen.

Kirkus Reviews

... in a genre so overburdened with repetitive swords-and-sorcery hooey, Keyes takes all the genre's conventions and, while never overstepping their boundaries, breathes new life into them. Action-packed fantasy rife with humor and sensuality introduces an epic new series sure to hook readers by the wagonful.

Author Blurb Charles Delint. Award-winning author of Forests of the Heart and The Onion Girl
The characters in The Briar King absolutely brim with life. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this taken with a traditional fantasy novel, but Keyes hooked me from the first page.

Author Blurb Melanie Rawn. Bestselling author of the Dragon Prince and Exiles series
A gorgeous work of deep intrigues and exciting characters, and action to leave the reader breathless. The Briar King belongs in every fantasy collection.

Author Blurb Katherine Kurtz. New York Times bestselling author of the Deryni Chronicles
Lord, how the man can use the English language. [Greg Keyes] can really spin out images–and he’s given some really clever twists to old tried-and-true fantasy premises. . . . Definitely left me turning the pages late.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Haydon. Bestselling author of Prophecy Child of Earth
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.

Reader Reviews
dlHart

Even though Epic Fantasy is a genre often perceived as overdone, I'm sure that there are a lot of readers, like myself, eager to romp through more fields of thrills, chills, and imagination. The BRIAR KING does follow established concepts, but the ...   Read More

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