The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone Series #1)

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"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, the 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 folktales and nightmares. Meanwhile
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"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, the 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 folktales and nightmares. Meanwhile traveling the same road, a scholarly young priest begins an education in the nature of evil, having found it 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, a young man made suddenly into a knight, and 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 a new epic. 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.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In this resonant tale, the beginning of a major fantasy series, a once-powerful kingdom falls into terrible peril. In Greg Keyes's rustic epic, valorous woodsmen, bookish priests, and a trio of heart-snaring sisters drift into view with the grace and ease of long-missed friends.
Publishers Weekly
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. (Jan. 1) Forecast: With a six-city author tour, plus blurbs from Katherine Kurtz, Terry Brooks, Charles de Lint, Elizabeth Haydon and Melanie Rawn, this could well be Keyes's breakout book, garnering the kinds of sales associated with George R.R. Martin. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The stories of Anne Dare, an impetuous, rebellious teenage princess; Aspar White, a rough but softhearted king's forester; Stephen Darige, a proud young priest and scholar; Neil MeqVren, the chaste and loyal queen's guard; Cazio Pachiomadio da Chiovattio, a cocky, smooth-talking teenaged fencer; and their compatriots and enemies circle around each other and finally interconnect. When the dreaded Briar King, the stuff of nightmare legend, wakes, he brings death and destruction on an unimaginable scale to the fantasy world of Everon. Readers drawn to sagas so sweeping that they only get started in the first five hundred pages will love Keyes's fully realized world, with its varieties of peoples, customs, and languages, so different yet so familiar that they seem as if they must exist. Teens will love the court intrigues, the breathless pace of the fights, the quiet interludes between lovers, and the suspense that builds ominously as clue after clue to the coming evil is uncovered. Most of all, however, readers will love Keyes's characters: Stephen's funny interior monologues and his uncovering of his courage; Aspar's slow realization that he is loved; Anne's leaps into love, into trouble, and into webs of ancient power; Neil's self-flagellation for his perceived imperfections; Cazio's brashness and his surprise when his swordsmanship suddenly matters instead of being a game. Libraries serving fantasy readers will want to buy this first book in the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series and watch for the three planned sequels. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult).2003, Del Rey, 560p,
— Rebecca Barnhouse
Library Journal
As war threatens the kingdom of Crotheny, a series of dark and strange events presages the coming of a prophesied age of terror and evil. In the forest, the ancient Briar King stirs, while a queen and her daughters seek to preserve their heritage. Drawing on Celtic lore and the legend of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the author of "The Age of Unreason" series begins a new epic fantasy featuring a unique world and familiar themes. Keyes's talent for world crafting and storytelling makes this series opener a strong addition to fantasy collections. Recommended. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A high-level, high-fantasy novel from the author of "The Age of Unreason" series (Ballantine). Complex story lines and multifaceted characters are introduced deftly, detailing the multiple intrigues afoot across the world of Everon, whose populace may have descended from figures in our history, particularly the lost colony of Roanoke. (An influential area is called Virgenya, and a revered ancestor from antiquity is Virgenya Dare.) Strange and deadly events plaguing the kingdom of Crotheny seem to be inaugurating a time of terror long predicted in prophecy. As Crotheny faces war with its great enemy Hanzish, a murderous conspiracy involving the prime minister and a band of rogue monks moves to prevent the land from ever having a true-born queen of Dare descent. Human sacrifices are performed, a horrifying monster drives forest dwellers from their homes, and the powerful, mysterious Briar King begins to stir. The closing action finds spunky survivor Princess Anne on the run from assassins and sorcery, accompanied by her loyal servant Austra and by Cazio, a master swordsman who is infatuated with the princess. Meanwhile, a large cast of well-drawn supporting characters is left facing challenges that equal or surpass Anne's. Drawing intriguingly on multiple cultural and religious traditions, Keyes employs his considerable storytelling skills to great effect here, creating an epic cliff-hanger that will leave most readers eager for the next installment.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In the fantasy kingdom of Crotheny, set in a world that's just too complicated and overpoliticized to describe-though it does appear to exist in some vaguely post-apocalyptic setting, what with much of the land being referred to as "Virgenya"-trouble is brewing at the start of a simply smashing new four-part series from Keyes (the Age of Unreason tetralogy: The Shadows of God, 2001, etc.). Deep in the past, humans freed themselves from a race of enslaving monsters, but in the process they unleashed powerful dark forces that only now look to be returning to the light of day. The weakling ruler of Crotheny hears of threats against his queen and daughter, a royal forest ranger raised by a race of witch-like beings called the Sefry, comes across evidence that the dread Briar King has risen from his slumber; an intellectual discovers horrible secrets in newly translated ancient scrolls; and the king's wild daughter puts herself in more danger than she can imagine. It takes a long time for all of the story's divergent plot threads even to be able to see each other across the vast acres of Keyes's prose, but once they start to bind together, about halfway through, the tale shifts from run-of-the-mill fantasy to a headlong plunge into danger and despair. The dialogue, of course, can tend toward the overblown and ridiculous, and it might have been nice of Keyes to include just a few more characters not of gentle birth. But 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 tohook readers by the wagonful. Author tour
From the Publisher
“A wonderful tale . . . It crackles with suspense and excitement from start to finish.”

“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.”
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.”
Award-winning author of Forests of the Heart and The Onion Girl

Monroe News-Star (LA)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345440662
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/21/2003
  • Series: Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone Series , #1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 8.84 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Greg Keyes was born in Meridian, Mississippi, to a large, diverse, storytelling family. He received degrees in anthropology from Mississippi State and the University of Georgia before becoming a full-time writer. He is the author of the Age of Unreason tetrology and The Charnel Prince (Book II in The Kingdoms of Blood and Stone) as well as The Waterborn, The Blackgod, and the Star Wars New Jedi Order novels—Edge of Victory I: Conquest and Edge of Victory II: Rebirth. He lives in Savannah, Georgia.
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Read an Excerpt

The Briar King

By Greg Keyes

Del Rey

Copyright © 2004 Greg Keyes
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-345-44070-6

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."

"Grim take the king!" the boy shouted. "It's not his forest!"

"Well, you'll have to take that up with him. He thinks it is, you know, and he's the king."

"I mean to. Right after I take it up with you. This goes all the way back to Eslen before h'am done. But it starts here with you, murtherer."

Aspar sighed. He could hear it in the young man's voice, see it in the set of his shoulders. No use talking anymore. He stood quickly, stepped inside the sword point, and slammed his beer mug against the side of the boy's head. The kiln-fired clay cracked and the fellow screamed, dropping his weapon and clutching his split ear. Aspar calmly yanked out his long dirk, grabbed the boy by the collar, hauled him up easily with one large, callused hand, and pushed him down roughly onto the bench across the table from where he had been sitting.

The boy stared defiantly at him through a mask of pain and blood. The hand holding the side of his head was shiny and dark in the dim light.

"You all see!" the boy croaked. "Witness, all! He'll murther me like he slootered mine fam'ly."

"Boy, just calm down," Aspar snapped. He picked up the sword and set it next to him on his bench, with the table between it and the boy. He kept his own dirk out.

"Armann, bring me another beer."

"Y'just busted one of my mugs!" the hostler shouted, his nearly round face beet-red.

"Bring it or I'll bust something else."

Some of the charmen laughed at that, and then most of the rest of them joined in. The chatter started up again.

Aspar watched the boy while he waited for the beer. The lad's fingers were trembling, and he couldn't look up. His courage seemed to be leaking out of him with his blood.

That was often the case, Aspar found. Bleed a man a little, and he grew less heroic.

"What happened to your family, boy?"

"As eft you don't know."

"You want another cuff? Grim eat you, but I'll beat you till you come out with it. I don't take to threats, and I don't take to being called a killer unless I did the killing. And in the end I don't care what did 'r didn't happen to a bunch of squatters-except that if something ill happened in the forest, that's my job, to know about it, y'see? Because if I don't care about you, I care about the forest, and about the king's justice. So spell me it!"

"I just-I-they're dead!" And suddenly he burst out crying. As tears ran through the blood on his face and trailed down his chin, Aspar realized that even fifteen had been an overestimate. The lad was probably no more than thirteen, just big for his age.

"Sceat on this," Aspar grumbled.

"Aspar White!" He looked up to see Winna Rufoote, the hostler's daughter. She was less than half his age, just nineteen, pretty with her oval face, green eyes, and flaxen hair. Strong willed. Trouble looking for lodging. Aspar avoided her when he could.


"Don't 'Winna' me. You burst this poor boy's brains all over-and one of our mugs-and now you're just going to sit here and drink beer while he bleeds on everything?"


"I won't hear a word of it. Not from you, s'posed to be the king's man. First you'll help me get this boy to a room so I can clean him up. Then you'll put your mark on one o' them royal notes or else pay good copper for our mug. After that, y'can have another beer, and not before."

"If this weren't the only hostel in town-"

"But it is, isn't it? And if you want to stay welcome here-"

"You know you can't turn me out."

"No. Turn out the king's man? Sure I can't. But you might start finding your beer tasting like piss, if you understand me."

"It already tastes like piss," Aspar grumbled.

She put her hands on her hips and glared at him. He suddenly felt a little weak in the knees. In twenty-five years as a holter, he had faced bears, lions, more outlaws than he could even count. But he had never learned how to handle a pretty woman.

"He did come in here to kill me, the little sceat," Aspar reminded her sheepishly.

"An' how is that such a strange thing? I've been tempted myself." She pulled out a rag and handed it to the boy. "What's your name?" she asked.

"Uscaor," he mumbled. "Uscaor Fraletson."

"Your ear's just a bit cut, Uscaor. It'll be okay."

Aspar blew out a long breath and stood back up. "Come on, boy. Let's get you cleaned up, hey? So you'll look nice when you come to murther me in my bed."

But as the boy swayed to his feet, Aspar caught the scent of death again and noticed, for the first time, the boy's right hand. It was bruised purple and black, and the sight of it sent a tingle up his spine.

"What happened there, boy?" Aspar asked.

"I don't know," Uscaor said softly. "I don't remember."

"Come on, Uscaor," Winna said. "Let's find you a bed."

Aspar watched him go, frowning. The boy had meant to kill him, all right, though he hadn't come very close. But that hand-maybe that was the thing his nose was trying to tell him about all along.

Uneasily, he waited for another beer.

"He's asleep," Winna told Aspar some time later, after she'd been alone with the boy for a while. "I don't think he's eaten or slept for two or three days. And that hand-it's so swollen and hot. Not like any sort of wound I've seen before."

"Yah," Aspar said. "Me either. Maybe I ought to cut it off of 'im and take it for the apothecary in Eslen to have a look at."

"You can't fool me, Asp," Winna said. "You're rougher than an elm at the skin, but in your heart there's softer stuff."

"Don't convince yourself of that, Winn. Did he spell why he wants me dead?"

"Same as he told you. He thinks you killed his family."

"Why would he think that?"

"Hey, Winna!" someone yelled, from across the room. "Leave off the king's bear and come wet me!" He banged an empty mug on the table.

"Do as you usually do, Banf-wet yourself. You know where the tap is. I'll know what to charge you by how much you throw up later."

That got a burst of jeers at the fellow's expense as Winna sat down across from Aspar.

"He and his family put up a camp down near Taff Creek," she continued, "a few leagues from where it meets the Warlock-"

"Right. Squatters, as I reckoned."

"So they squatted in the royal forest. Lots do that. Does that mean they deserve to die?"

"I didn't kill them for that. Raver's teeth! I didn't kill them at all."

"Uscaor says he saw the king's colors on the men who did it."

"No. I don't know what he saw, but he never saw that. None of my woodsmen are within thirty leagues of here."

"You sure?"

"Damned sure."

"Then who killed them?"

"I was not. There's plenty of room in the King's Forest for all manner of outlaws. But I suppose I'll be finding out." He took another drink of his beer. "By the Taff, you say? That's about two days. I'll be leaving at first light, so tell Paet to have my horses ready." He finished the beer in a single long swallow and rose from the table. "See you."

"Wait. Don't you want to talk to the boy some more?"

"What for? He doesn't know what happened. He probably didn't even see anybody. I'll bet the part about the king's colors is a lie."

"How do you reckon that?"

"Maunt my words, Winn. Squatters live in terror of the king's justice. They all reckon they're going to be hanged or beheaded or hunted down, and they think I'm a two-headed uttin. I don't discourage stories like that. I spread 'em, in fact. Somebody killed this boy's kin, and he didn't see who. He reckoned it was me. The rest he made up when he started feeling foolish."

"But someone killed them," she said.

"Yah. That much of his story I believe." He sighed and stood. "Night, Winn."

"You aren't going by yourself?"

"All of my men are too far away. I have to go while the trail is still warm."

"Wait for some of your men. Send word to Dongal."

"No time. Why so nervous, Winn? I know what I'm doing."

She nodded. "Just a feeling. That something's different this time. People coming up out of the forest have been ... different."

"I know the forest better than anyone. It's the same as it's always been."

She nodded reluctantly.

"Well, as I said, good night."

Her hand caught his. "Be careful, you," she murmured, and gave it a little squeeze.

"Certain," he said, hoping he turned quickly enough that she couldn't see him blush.

Aspar rose at first cockcrow, when the light out his window was still mostly starborn. By the time he'd splashed water from a crockery basin in his face and shaved the gray stubble sprouting there, cinched on his elkskin breeches and padded cotton gambeson, the east was primrose.

He considered his boiled-leather cuirass; that was going to be hot today.

He put it on anyway. Better hot than dead.

He strapped on his bone-handled dirk and settled his throwing ax into its loop on the same belt. He took his bow from its oilskin case, checked the wood and extra strings, counted his arrows. Then he recased the bow, slipped on his high boots, and went downstairs.

"First light, eh?" Winna said, as he passed through the common room.

"Getting old," Aspar grumbled.

"Well, have some breakfast as you're not too early for it."

"That reminds me. I need to buy-"

"I've packed you a week's worth of food. Paetur is loading it up for you."

"Oh. Thanks."


She brought him a trencher of black bread with garlic sausage and fried apples. He ate every bit of it. When he was finished, Winna wasn't in sight, but he could hear her knocking about in the kitchen. For an instant, he remembered having a woman knocking about his own kitchen, in his own house.

A long time ago, and the pain was still there. Winna was young enough to be his daughter. He left quietly, so as not to attract her attention, feeling faintly cowardly. Once outside he made straight for the stables.

Paetur, Winna's younger brother, was busy with Angel and Ogre. Paet was tall, blond, and gangly. He was-what?-thirteen?

"Morning, sir," Paet said, when he saw Aspar.

"I'm not a knight, boy."

"Yah, but you're the closest we have hereabouts, except old Sir Symen."

"A knight's a knight. Sir Symen is one; I'm not." He nodded at his mounts. "They ready to go?"

"Ogre says yah, Angel says ney. I think you ought to leave Angel with me." He patted the roan on the neck.

"She said that, did she?" Aspar grunted. "Could be she's tired from the running you gave her yesterday?"

"I never-"

"Lie to me and I'll whip you good, and your father will thank me for it."

Paet reddened and studied his shoes. "Well ... she needed a stretch."

"Next time ask, you hear? And for pity's sake, don't try to ride Ogre."

The barred bay chose that moment to snort, as if in agreement. Paet laughed.

"What's so funny?"

"Tom tried, yesterday. To ride Ogre."

"When do they bury him?"

"He lost two front teeth, is all."

"Lucky. The boy's lucky."

"Yes, Master White."

Aspar patted Ogre's muzzle. "Looks like you packed them well. You want to arrange my quiver and bow?"

"Could I?" The boy's eyes sparkled eagerly.

"I reckon." He handed the weapon over.

"Is it true you've killed six uttins with this?"

"There's no such thing as uttins, boy. Nor greffyns, nor alvs, nor basil-nix, nor tax-counters with hearts."

"That's what I told my friths. But Rink says his uncle saw an uttin himself-"

"Got drunk and saw his own reflection, more likely."

"But you did kill the Black Wargh and his bandits, didn't you? All ten of them."

"Yah," Aspar said curtly.

"I'm going to do something like that someday."


Excerpted from The Briar King by Greg Keyes Copyright © 2004 by Greg Keyes. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 72 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 73 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great start!

    This book got me hooked and I could barely put it down! I usually bring books to work, to read on my breaks. I didn't dare with this one; I'd be sneaking away all day to read! I just picked up the next in the series and it's just as good, so far.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2006

    Surprisingly Arresting

    I picked up the book while on a search for some good sci-fi or fantasy books. although I didnt know much about the author, I am happy I picked it up. The story is absolutely arresting. The complexity of the world Keyes created can match Tolkien's LOTR. I am waiting eagerly for the next book to come. If you want to read a good fantasy book, my recommendation, pick this one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2004

    A surprisingly good book

    I picked up The Briar King on a fluke at a local bookstore. And oh my was I surprised! The characters are well developed and it never ravels around so much that the reader gets confused. I was pleased with the descriptions and the plot line was at times unbearably good. Love, violence, trickery, loyalty. Its all here :-)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2012

    Great Wordsmithing!

    I thought that I could write--then I read The Briar King, by Greg Keyes. I am now more humble.

    From the beginning, Mr. Keyes creates a world that is similar to ours, but slightly different, maintaining plausibility the entire time. His use of English makes this book read like the most polished, well-written, and easy-to-follow epic poem ever penned. The foreign tongues that he creates to populate this world, most of them near enough to modern languages in our world to give us hints as to their meaning, makes the read that much more enjoyable (translations are provided in the text, to keep it from becoming frustrating).

    I can't wait to pick-up the next book in the series, The Charnal Prince!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer


    I enjoyed the characters and the history very much. I was apprehensive at first, thinking it was going to be too much like Game of Thrones, a classic fantasy, yet tedious and long, but was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the chapters flew by. The author's prose and characters are fluid and well thought out. I particularly enjoy Anne Dare, the cornerstone of the tale for being ornery. I will continue to read the rest of the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Briar King, The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series, Book 1

    This book has a lot more romance than I prefer, but I can see were fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley would say there is too little. However, the saga fantastically begins when the Born Queen gains victory over the demons, Skasloi, for the enslaved human race. Over 2,300 years later, the descendent of Virgenya Dare, will be thrown into discovering her destiny. Anne is a rebellious and spoilt young princess, who plays with the hearts of men. In the King's Forest, Aspar White, the king's holter will track down the deathly greffyn, and discover his old nemesis, Fend. Ultimately he will see the Briar King with his own eyes and no longer believe it to be another Sefry myth. Stephen Darige will discover the dark evil brewing within the church, in the Monastery d'Ef, as he undergoes the faneway. King William of Crotheny proves himself a fool when he takes every advice of his brother Robert. Naturally, Robert betrays and murders King William. Queen Muriele and her daughters are sent to Cal Azroth for their own protection. After one assassination attempt on the queen, Neil MeqVren his made her knightly body guard. But, Neil falls in love with the queen's married daughter, Fastia. The Abode of Graces will be the climatic end of the beginning for some, and the human race!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2002

    A brilliant and fresh traditional fantasy adventure

    In a world that is as detailed and complex as our own, the Briar King is awakening. He is a being more ancient than the humans that have claimed this world more than two thousand years ago, and more ancient than the empires and nations that these humans now rule. No one knows exactly what his coming means, only that the world will never be the same again. For most people, he is nothing but a myth, but his arrival has put into motion events that will throw a gruff holter, a rebellious princess, a prideful scholar, a virtuous knight and many other intriguing characters into one of the most fresh, lively adventures I've had the good fortune of reading. Greg Keyes weaves a stunning plot in this awesome new fantasy world he has created. With his beautiful ability of conjuring powerful images using minimal description, the story's pace never slows. This, combined with his vivid characters, his thrilling action, and his brilliantly well-crafted world, makes this book a swift, entertaining and fulfilling read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    Flamestar's Bio

    Name: Flamestar-- Gender: She-Cat--Looks: light orange tabby with black paws and bright blue eyes-- History: do not ask-- Personality: meet me-- Mate/Crush/Kits: none-- Anything Else: Just ask me I do not bite most of the time

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2014

    Loved the entire series

    Great world, character development, and awesome story. Would highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2011

    Good read.

    I just finished reading this whole series and loved it! Greg Keyes twisted a fabulously enthralling plot through-out all the books and made each character have a life of their own! Read it and you wont be disappointed, I promise that.

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  • Posted March 11, 2011

    Very Good not Great

    This is a very entertaining read! I was into the book within 30 pages and it was hard for me to put down. Unfortunately, later in the book I felt like the characters were not developing. This maybe due to the lack of time to really develop the numerous characters. The last 50 pages of the book were great and I will read the second book to see where the story goes. I have read reviews saying there was too much romance in the book... There is some but it is not overwhelming.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2011

    Great Series!

    Read it if you're a fan of Jordan, GRRM, Sanderson... i wouldn't say it's as great as some of the mentioned authors books, but it's a good series that I found when looking for books to hold me over while waiting for the next Wheel of Time and GRRM books... Cazio and Sir Neil are my favorites. :)... the good and bad guys aren't as clear cut and the series takes you on a nice little ride thru many twists and turns.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2011

    Excellent Book! A Must Read for Fantasy Lovers!

    Excellent book. Reading the Charnal Prince now. Very readable. A complete page-turner. For those of you who have read George R. R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire, Greg Keyes has captured and commanded where GRRM has lost and disappointed.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Love it

    I just finished this book and I love it. It can be a little disappointing jumping around from character to character, but only because each piece written begs for more, and you get. It teaches you patience. I already ordered the books two and three in the 'Kingdom of Thorn and Bone" series. Can't wait for more!

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    HATED it!

    OK, so I'll be honest, I didn't get past the first 50-70 pages. I thought it was all over the place, the characters were not engaging and it seemed like the author kept going for plot that is 'larger than life' but it just didn't hold my interest! I would not recommend this book.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2004

    Why did I wait!

    This book was recommended to me by our local bookstore before it was published. At the time I thought they were just pushing a future promotion. I stumbled across it again and WOW. Why did I wait. This book is the best I've read since Jordan's Eye of the World opener for the Wheel of Time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2004

    Really like it

    I have read many fantasy books. After awhile you find an almost boring pattern that associates itself with all these books. Whether it is about the characters or about the magic described or about the setings. Keye's book is is something new entirely.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2003



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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2003

    you have to read this!

    I've never read Keyes before but this book has made me a fan. The briar king has everything a good book needs: good plot, suspense, funny, twists and supprises, and i just love the dialogs and relationships between the characters, and there are quite a few characters in here; most of them are quite comical and enjoyable except a certain evil one that just won't die! But this promise a sequel in 04 that i'll definitely get my hands on. One teeny downside with this book is that it's kinda vague on the briar king himself. Hopefully more will be revealed in the sequel =)

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    strong epic fantasy

    Before the Age of Mankind, the god-like Stasloi ruled the world. They forced humanity to do their bidding until Genia Dare led the successful revolt that destroyed their former masters. It is now 2,223 years after the defeat of the Skosloc and King William Dare rules Croetheny. Because his son is simple minded, he has named his three daughters as his heirs. The kingdom is not aware of it but it is tottering on the edge of extinction. The holter of the King¿s forest sees strange creatures in the woods. People mysteriously murdered without a mark on them. Finally, the Briar King, one of the old Gods, is awakening from his long slumber and it will take everything humanity has not to be destroyed by him. There is a plot afoot to kill the king and queen and their three daughters so that the son will be declared the ruler controlled by the puppet master who put this devious plan in motion. This first novel in a four book series introduces the characters and sets the stage for what is to come. Good men die and heroes fall while men and women are tested for the upcoming battles and intrigues. This is epic fantasy on a grand scale, one that will appeal to fans of Terry Brooks and David Eddings. It will seem like a long wait to readers before the next installment is published in what looks like an electrifying quartet. Harriet Klausner

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