Charnel Prince (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone Series #2) [NOOK Book]

Overview

When the legendary Briar King awoke from his slumber, a season of darkness and horror fell upon the Kingdom of Crotheny. Now countless breeds of unspeakable monsters roam the countryside. An epidemic of madness has transformed peaceful villagers from the wildlands into savage, flesh-eating fiends. In Eslen, King William has been murdered, Queen Muriele is stalked by treachery on every side, and their last surviving daughter, Anne, has fled the ...
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Charnel Prince (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone Series #2)

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Overview

When the legendary Briar King awoke from his slumber, a season of darkness and horror fell upon the Kingdom of Crotheny. Now countless breeds of unspeakable monsters roam the countryside. An epidemic of madness has transformed peaceful villagers from the wildlands into savage, flesh-eating fiends. In Eslen, King William has been murdered, Queen Muriele is stalked by treachery on every side, and their last surviving daughter, Anne, has fled the assassins bent on destroying her family.

Close on the heels of the runaway princess, young knight Neil MeqVren, the queen’s one trusted ally, is sworn to rescue Anne from her murderous pursuers. Anne herself undertakes a perilous journey toward the sanctuary of her distant paramour’s arms, but along the way lie the sinister agents and hidden snares of a sprawling conspiracy that few might hope to evade.

At the same time, spies in the service of Praifec Hespero, the powerful Churchman, embark upon a mission to destroy the Briar King in the heart of his domain. And the power-hungry Church, spurred on by the mystical events, has launched an inquisition whose repercussions threaten even the queen. As the noose of intrigue tightens across the land, personal fates and a kingdom’s destiny alike will be decided in a conflict between virtue and malevolence, might and magic.

Here then is Book II of The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone: intoxicating and harrowing, passionate and grand–it is Greg Keyes’s most ambitiously imagined and vividly rendered work of epic fantasy.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
The Charnel Prince (the sequel to The Briar King) is the second volume of Greg Keyes's epic Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone saga. As storied and richly imagined as J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, Keyes's Everon is a realm shadowed by an unspeakable darkness -- a realm where a mythical god has awakened and a plague of madness is spreading throughout the land.

The Briar King, a legendary forest deity, has inexplicably awakened and is taking back his land. Mythical monstrosities roam the King's Forest and entire villages located within the forest have gone completely insane. Meanwhile in Crotheny, with the king and most of his family recently assassinated, Queen Murielle rules an empire on the brink of open revolt. With enemies everywhere and a corrupt church plotting her downfall, Murielle's only hope is to somehow find her only remaining daughter, Anne Dare, a young woman named in prophecies as being able to save the world from the evil onslaught -- if only she can survive.

Keyes's Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone saga is easily one of the most promising -- and satisfying -- fantasy series to come along in years. Adeptly blending folklore, mythology, and religious intrigue, the author has created a complex world so fully realized that readers can't help but become immersed in its culture and history. Comparable to George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire sequence, Keyes's novels are far from the typical epic fantasy sagas based on cliché-laden characters and tired plotlines. Intelligent, compelling, and incredibly fast paced for such an immense story, this is the good stuff. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
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. (Aug. 17) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The Briar King has awakened after a lengthy sleep to reclaim his land. Queen Murielle rules in Crotheny despite the opposition of an ambitious church. Ancient evils stalk the forests, threatening all who travel. When the queen's heir, Anne Dare, disappears, Murielle's trusted champion sets out on a journey to find her. Keyes's sequel to The Briar King features a world of magic and fantastic creatures, prophecies, and bold warriors. Strong world building and superior storytelling make this epic a good choice for fantasy collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345478412
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/17/2004
  • Series: Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone , #2
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 80,099
  • File size: 512 KB

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 Waterborn, The Blackgod, the Age of Unreason tetralogy, and the Star Wars New Jedi Order novels Edge of Victory I: Conquest, Edge of Victory II: Rebirth, and The Final Prophecy. He lives in Savannah, Georgia.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

chapter one

The Night

Neil MeqVren rode with his queen down a dark street in the city of the dead. The tattoo of their horse’s hooves was drowned by hail shattering on lead cobbles. The wind was a dragon heaving its misty coils and lashing its wet tail. Ghosts began to stir, and beneath Neil’s burnished breastplate, beneath his chilled skin and cage of bone, worry clenched.

He did not mind the wind or frozen rain. His homeland was Skern, where the frost and the sea and the clouds were all the same, where ice and pain were the simplest facts of life. The dead did not bother him either.

It was the living he feared, the knives and darts the dark and weather hid from his merely human eyes. It would take so little to kill his queen—the prick of a tiny needle, a hole the size of a little finger in her heart, a sling-flung stone to her temple. How could he protect her? How could he keep safe the only thing he had left?

He glanced at her; she was obscured in a wool weather-cloak, her face shadowed deep in the cowl. A similar cloak covered his own lord’s plate and helm. They might appear to be any two pilgrims, come to see their ancestors—or so he hoped. If those who wanted the queen dead were grains of sand, there would be strand enough to beach a war galley.

They crossed stone bridges over black water canals that caught bits of the fire from their lantern and stirred them into gauzy yellow webs. The houses of the dead huddled between the waterways, peaked roofs shedding the storm, keeping their quiet inhabitants dry if not warm. A few lights moved elsewhere between the lanes—the queen, it seemed, was not the only one undeterred by the weather, determined to seek the company of the dead this night. The dead could be spoken to on any night, of course, but on the last night of Otavmen—Saint Temnosnaht—the dead might speak back.

Up the hill in Eslen-of-the-Quick, they were feasting, and until the storm came, the streets had been filled with dancers in skeleton costume and somber Sverrun priests chanting the forty hymns of Temnos. Skull-masked petitioners went from house to house, begging soulcakes, and bonfires burned in public squares, the largest in the great assembly ground known as the Candle Grove. Now the feasts had gone inside homes and taverns, and the procession that would have wound its way to the Eslen-of-Shadows had shrunk from a river to a brooh in the fierce face of winter’s arrival. The little lamps carved of turnips and apples were all dark, and there would be little in the way of festival here tonight.

Neil kept his hand on the pommel of Crow, and his eyes were restless. He did not watch the moving light of the lanterns, but the darkness that stretched between. If something came for her, it would likely come from there.

The houses grew larger and taller as they passed the third and fourth canals, and then they came to the final circle, walled in granite and iron spears, where the statues of Saint Dun and Saint Under watched over palaces of marble and alabaster. Here, a lantern approached them.

“Keep your cowl drawn, milady,” Neil told the queen.

“It is only one of the scathomen, who guard the tombs,” she answered.

“That may or may not be,” Neil replied.

He trotted Hurricane up a few paces. “Who’s there?” he called.

The lantern lifted, and in its light, an angular, middle-aged face appeared from the shadows of a weather-cloak. Neil’s breath sat a little easier in his lungs, for he knew this man—Sir Len, indeed, one of the scathomen who dedicated their lives to the dead.

Of course, the appearance of a man and what was inside him were two different things, as Neil had learned from bitter experience. So he remained wary.

“I must ask you the same question,” the old knight replied to Neil’s question.

Neil rode nearer. “It is the queen,” he told the man.

“I must see her face,” Sir Len said. “Tonight of all nights, everything must be proper.”

“All shall be proper,” the queen’s voice came as she lifted her lantern and drew back the deep hood of her cloak.

Her face appeared, beautiful and hard as the ice falling from the sky.

“I know you, lady,” Sir Len said. “You may pass. But . . .” His words seemed to go off with the wind.

“Do not question Her Majesty,” Neil cautioned stiffly.

The old knight’s eyes speared at Neil. “I knew your queen when she wore toddling clothes,” he said, “when you were never born nor even thought of.”

“Sir Neil is my knight,” the queen said. “He is my protector.”

“Auy. Then away from here he should take you. You should not come to this place, lady, when the dead speak. No good shall come of it. I have watched here long enough to know that.”

The queen regarded Sir Len for a long moment. “Your advice is well-intended,” she said, “but I will disregard it. Please question me no more.”

Sir Len bowed to his knee. “I shall not, my queen.”

“I am queen no longer,” she said softly. “My husband is dead. There is no queen in Eslen.”

“As you live, lady, there is a queen,” the old knight replied. “In truth, if not in law.”

She nodded her head slightly, and they passed into the houses of the royal dead without another word.

They moved under the wrought-iron pastato of a large house of red marble, where they tethered the horses, and with the turn of an iron key left the freezing rain outside. Within the doors they found a small foyer with an altar and a hall that led into the depths of the building. Someone had lit the hall tapers already, though shadows still clung like cobwebs in the corners.

“What shall I do, lady?” Neil asked.

“Keep guard,” she answered. “That is all.”

She knelt at the altar and lit the candles.

“Fathers and mothers of the house Dare,” she sang, “your adopted daughter is calling, humble before her elders. Honor me, I beg you, this night of all nights.”

Now she lit a small wand of incense, and an aroma like pine and liquidambar seemed to explode in Neil’s nostrils.

Somewhere in the house, something rustled, and a chime sounded.

Muriele rose and removed her weather-cloak. Beneath was a gown of boned black safnite. Her raven hair seemed to blend into it, making an orphan of her face, which appeared almost to float. Neil’s throat caught. The queen was beautiful beyond compare, and age had done little to diminish her beauty, but it was not that which twisted Neil’s heart—rather, it was that for just an instant she resembled someone else.

Neil turned his gaze away, searching the shadows.

The queen started up the corridor.

“If I may, Majesty,” he said quickly. “I would precede you.”

She hesitated. “You are my servant, and my husband’s kin will see you as such. You must walk behind me.”

“Lady, if there is ambush ahead—”

“I will chance it,” she replied.

The moved down a hall paneled in bas-reliefs depicting the deeds of the house Dare. The queen walked with measured step, head bowed, and her footsteps echoed clearly, despite the distant hammering of the storm on the slate roof.

They entered a great chamber with vaulted ceilings where a long table was prepared, thirty places set with crystal goblets. In each, wine as red as blood had been poured. The queen paced by the chairs, searching, until she found the one she sought, and then she sat, staring at the wine.

Outside the wind groaned.

Long moments passed, and then a bell sounded, and another. Twelve in all, and with the midnight stroke, the queen drank from the cup.

Neil felt something pass in the air, a chill, a humming.

Then the queen began to speak, in a voice deeper and huskier than usual. The hairs on Neil’s neck prickled at the sound of it.

“Muriele,” she said. “My queen.”

And then, as if answering herself, she spoke in her more usual tone. “Erren, my friend.”

“Your servant,” the deeper voice replied. “How fare you? Did I fail?”

“I live,” Muriele answered. “Your sacrifice was not in vain.”

“But your daughters are here, in this place of dust.”

Neil’s heartbeat quickened, and he realized he had moved. He was standing near one of the chairs, staring at the wine.

“All of them?”

“No. But Fastia is here, and sweet Elseny. They wear shrouds, Muriele. I failed them—and you.”

“We were betrayed,” Muriele replied. “You did all you could, gave all you could. I cannot blame you. But I must know about Anne.”

“Anne . . .” The voice sighed off. “We forget, Muriele. The dead forget. It is like a cloud, a mist that eats more of us each day. Anne . . .”

“My youngest daughter. Anne. I sent her to the coven of Saint Cer, and no word has come from there. I must know if the assassins found her there.”

“Your husband is dead,” the voice called Erren replied. “He does not sleep here, but calls from far away. His voice is faint, and sad. Lonely. He did love you.”

“William? Can you speak to him?”

“He is too distant. He cannot find his way here. The paths are dark, you know. The whole world is dark, and the wind is strong.”

“But Anne—you cannot hear her whisper?”

“I remember her now,” Erren crooned, in the queen’s voice. “Hair like strawberry. Always trouble. Your favorite.”

“Does she live, Erren? I must know.”

Silence then, and to his surprise Neil found the glass of wine in his hand. It was only distantly that he heard the reply.

“I believe she lives. It is cold here, Muriele.”

More was said, but Neil did not hear it, for he raised the cup before him and drank.

He set the cup on the table as he swallowed the bitter sip he’d taken. He stared into the remaining wine, which calmed and became a red mirror. He saw himself in it; his father’s strong jaw was there, but his blue eyes were black pits and his wheat hair ruddy, as if he examined a portrait painted in blood.

Then someone stood behind him, and a hand fell on his shoulder. “Do not turn,” a feminine voice whispered.

“Fastia?”

But now he saw her face instead of his mirrored in the wine. He smelled her lavender fragrance.

“I was called that, wasn’t I?” Fastia said. “And you were my love.”

He tried to face her then, but the hand tightened on his shoulder.

“Do not,” she said. “Do not look at me.”

His hand trembled the wineglass, but the image of her in it remained untroubled. She smiled faintly, but her eyes were lamps burning sadness.

“I wish . . . ,” he began, but could not finish.

“Yes,” she said. “So do I. But it could not have been, you know. We were foolish.”

“And I let you die.”

“I don’t remember that. I remember you holding me in your arms. Cradled, like a child. I was happy. That is all I remember, and soon I will not even remember that. But it is enough. It is almost enough.” Fingers traced chills on the back of his neck. “I must know if you loved me,” she whispered.

“I have never loved anyone as I loved you,” Neil said. “I shall never love another.”

“You will,” she said softly. “You must. But do not forget me, for I will forget myself, in time.”

“I would never,” he said, vaguely aware that tears were coursing down his face. A drop fell into the wine, and the shade of Fastia gasped. “That is cold,” she said. “Your tears are cold, Sir Neil.”

“I am sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry for everything, milady. I cannot sleep—”

“Hush, love. Quiet, and let me tell you something while I still remember. It’s about Anne.”

“The queen is here, asking about Anne.”

“I know. She speaks to Erren. But there is this, Sir Neil, a thing I have been told. Anne is important. More important than my mother or my brother—or any other. She must not die, or all is lost.”

“All?”

“The age of Everon is ending,” she said. “Ancient evils and fresh curses speed it. My mother broke the law of death, did you know?”

“The law of death?”

“It is broken,” she affirmed.

“I don’t understand.”

“Nor do I, but it is whispered in the halls of bone. The world is now in motion, rushing toward its end. All who live stand at the edge of night, and if they pass, none shall follow them. No children, no generations to come. Someone is standing there, watching them pass, laughing. Man or woman I do not know, but there is little chance they can be stopped. There is only the smallest opportunity to set things right. But without Anne, even that possibility does not exist.”

“Without you, I do not care. I do not care if the world goes into oblivion.”

The hand came onto his shoulder and stroked across the back of his neck. “You must,” she said. “Think of the generations unborn and think of them as our children, the children we could never have. Think of them as the offspring of our love. Live for them as you would for me.”

“Fastia—” He turned then, unable to bear it any longer, but there was nothing there, and the touch on his shoulder was gone, leaving only a fading tingle.

The queen was still staring at her wine, whispering.

“I miss you, Erren,” she said. “You were my strong right hand, my sister, my friend. Enemies surround me. I don’t have the strength for it.”

“There is no end to your strength,” Erren replied. “You will do what must be done.”

“But what you showed me. The blood. How can I do that?”

“You will make seas of blood in the end,” Erren said. “But it is necessary. You must.”

“I cannot. They would never allow it.”

“When the time comes, they cannot stop you. Now hush, Muriele, and bid me peace, for I must go.”

“Do not. I need you, especially now.”

“Then I’ve failed you twice. I must go.”

And the queen, who these past months might have been forged of steel, put her head down and wept. Neil stood by, his heart savaged by Fastia’s touch, his mind burning with her words.

He wished for the simplicity of battle, where failure meant death rather than torment.

Outside, the sounds of the storm grew stronger as the dead returned to their sleep.


Sleep never came, but morning did. By the sun’s first light the storm was gone, and they began the ascent from Eslen-of-Shadows to Eslen-of-the-Quick. A clean, cold sea wind was blowing, and the bare branches of the oaks lining the path glistened in sheaths of ice.

The queen had been silent all night, but while they were still some distance from the city gates she turned to him.

“Sir Neil, I have a task for you.”

“Majesty, I am yours to command.”

She nodded. “You must find Anne. You must find the only daughter I have left.”

Neil gripped his reins tighter. “That is the one thing I cannot do, Majesty.”

“It is my command.”

“My duty is to Your Majesty. When the king knighted me, I was sworn to stay at your side, to protect you from all danger. I cannot do that if I am traveling afar.”

“The king is dead,” Muriele said, her voice growing a bit harsher. “I command you now. You will do this thing for me, Sir Neil.”

“Majesty, please do not ask this of me. If harm should befall you—”

“You are the only one I can trust,” Muriele interrupted. “Do you think I want to send you from my side? To send away the one person I know will never betray me? But that is why you must go. Those who killed my other daughters now seek Anne—I’m certain of it. She remains alive because I sent her away, and no one at the court knows where she is. If I trust any other than you with her location, I compromise that knowledge and open my daughter to even greater danger. If I tell only you, I know the secret is still safe.”

“If you believe her secure where she is, should you not leave her there?”

“I cannot be sure. Erren intimated that the danger is still great.”

“The danger to Your Majesty is great. Whoever employed the assassins that slew your husband and daughters meant to kill you, as well. They still do, surely.”

“Surely. I am not arguing with you, Sir Neil. But I have given my command. You will make ready for a long journey. You will leave tomorrow. Pick the men who will guard me in your absence—I trust your judgment more than my own in such matters. But for your own task you must travel alone, I fear.”

Neil bowed his head. “Yes, Majesty.”

The queen’s voice softened. “I am sorry, Sir Neil. I truly am. I know how badly your heart has been hurt. I know how keen your sense of duty is and how terribly it was wounded at Cal Azroth. But you must do this thing for me. Please.”

“Majesty, I would beg all day if I thought you would change your mind, but I see that you won’t.”

“You have good vision.”

Neil nodded. “I will do as you command, Majesty. I will be ready by morning.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 52 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(24)

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(7)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2013

    Lalaland

    ;I strage world eh? Strange books too huh... wierd :/ deserves one star! Well if there were less than one star then i would press it jk!!! Well i am really bored so...ya :). Goodnight to all of my viewers:)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    Poor ending.

    Compelling story line you can't wait to find time to read. Then the bizarre impossible hero acts roll through till the end that leaves you saying. What?! *#$* I just read 500+ for this.... >finding a new author. Bye

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  • Posted April 6, 2012

    highly recommend

    Did not want to put it down.

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  • Posted December 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Charnel Prince, the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series, Book 2

    In my opinion, "The Charnel Prince" was a million times better than "The Briar King"! There wasn't as much romance, and who is chasing who romantically. And, the stakes are much higher in this book! With the Briar King now awake, all kinds of dark monsters are roaming the land. Towns and villages of people are disappearing, and they are hording as undead, like zombies. Queen Muriele is forced to send her half-wit son, the heir, away into hiding, and becomes mutual friends with her dead husband's, the King, former mistress, Alis Berrye, when the undead Prince Robert claims the throne of the Kingdom of Crotheny! Muriele does commission Leovigild "Leoff" Ackenzal, a composer that reminds me of Stephen when he first set out from Virgenya, to compose a piece of music for the people of Crotheny. With the help of Mery Gramme, Lady Gramme's daughter, he is able to thwart the efforts of Praifec Hespero. His music is so emotionally moving that it is said to be shine crafting. Knight Neil MaqVren is tracking Princess Anne, at the request of Muriele, to bring her back home safely. Anne and Austra begin to grow apart when Austra truly falls in love with the fake attentions of Cazio, and the secrets of magic that Anne has been keeping from her. Anne is beginning to accept her destiny, and is trying to reach Eslin, alive. Someone has stolen the key to the secret room deep below the castle, to take possession of the Kept, and all his secrets and prescience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2007

    A chore to read... too many whiney characters...

    I started out becoming somewhat hooked with the Briar King, but by the first 25 pages of the Charnel Prince, I knew it was going to be a loooong read. I like the Holter and his girlfriend(for lack of a better term), and there are some good ideas here, but the language that Keys uses seems to trip over itself sometimes. I became very tired of the soap opera between Ann Adare and her friend -- really tired because it just never ends. If you can stomach the soap opera, the parts about the Holter are pretty good. I felt the book was too long, and should have been shaved down by about 150 pages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2006

    AWESOME.

    I usually dont write reviews. But after reading this book I felt ashamed I have not heard from it before. The books is extremely well written, the characters are unique and well developed. Conspiracy, gore, love, war, everything. Reading this book was like reading the Wheel of time (book 1 to 4) Jordan went crazy afer that. Or the Sword of Truth (1-5). I would put this book high on my best time favorites.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2006

    Great read!! Awesome sequel

    I love a good series and love great story telling. I love this author. You get totally engrossed in the story and grow to love all the characters. I can't wait for the Blood knight. Keep up the great writing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2006

    Awesome

    This book is complex, the charecters are colorful and have distinct pesonalities. Love it, love it, love it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2005

    Real fantasy has no reality

    While I must admit that the Briar King had Keye's at his most impressive story telling point, the Charnall prince does not fall far behind. In a world where fantasy is being pushed to be more and more realistic he stays true to what every fan of fantasy holds dear. The book more than anything is about discovering the truth behind why all the events in the first book happened the way they did. He explains it in riveting ways that do not involve six chapters of an oracle revealing the 'truth.' This book is perfect if you are a fan of fantasy. If you are not a fan of fantasy read it anyway, it is so clear and riveting that anyone could get engrossed in it. However to get the full effect of the Charnall Prince you must read the Briar King.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2004

    An impressive act of storytelling...

    The author of the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone series is destined for immortality in the pantheon of fantasy literature. I realize that's a steep accusation to live up to, but Greg Keyes is one of the few mere mortals in this world who can do just that. His magical writing draws you into the story like no other author has yet achieved. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an unquenchable imagination and a love for literature. WARNING: You must be a person with a vibrant soul to appreciate the beauty of this tale. Only a book-burning libertine would not love this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2004

    I hate to say it but...

    This book falls into the same old, tired cliches a lot of fantasy books do these days. The first book, The Briar King was considerably better. Keyes is a pretty skilled writer which is why this is such a disappointment. The character's don't really stand out from one another, the tasks are pretty stock fantasy tasks, and the actual story itself is a bit too choppy for my liking. Oh, and let's not forget, there's an organized religion in the book that just happens to be a 'Church' in name and not only structure. And since Keyes falls into every other cliche of the genre, why not the biggest one of all? Which one is that? The one that says if there is a 'Church' in the book then it must be not only evil, but the main cause of all the problems in the book. And let's be honest here, Keyes makes no bones about modelling his 'Church' on a very specific one, Roman Catholic. What could be more overdone in fantasy than making anything that resembles the Church the cause of all evil, or at least the major player in it? I truly don't care, but it's just so incredibly annoying. I'd LOVE to see one modern day author write a book that either doesn't bother with a 'Church' being in it, or at the very least doesn't make the 'Church' the sole reason for all the world's woes. Or, dare I say it, one that actually makes the Church (in whatever way they create their vision of it, but please, be more original than Mr. Keyes has) a force for *gasp* good in the fantasy world of their respective book. Heck, I'd settle for an indifferent Church that is just there as a reference device. Now I know a good number of people will flame me for saying all of that but I truly don't care. Blah, blah, blah, 'the churches today are the cause of the world's woes, blah, blah, blah' that's such nonsense it doesn't even deserve a response. I read fantasy for what it's supposed to be. Total imagination, immersion, and escape. Not some author putting forth his personal political or anti-whatever-Church-he-dislikes agenda which it seems is Keyes' aim loosely shrouded in a story. All that said, I wasted my money on this book. Don't make the same mistake. It's certainly not worth the cost of the hardcover, and I wouldn't bother with paperback either when that comes out. Stick with George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series for REAL High-Fatnasy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2004

    Stunning sequel can't wait for the next book...sigh.

    If you enjoyed Briar King, you will love Charnel Prince as well. All of the characters you loved and hated from the first book return and are further developed as they confront the looming apocalypse. Several interesting new characters are introduced and unlike some other authors (cough cough Robert Jordan) he actually closes off several hanging plotlines from the first novel BEFORE beginning new threads that will carry into the third. All in all a top notch read and an excellent addition to this growing series.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic fantasy

    The Briar king has awakened from his long sleep and intends to reclaim the forests he regards as his own. It makes no difference to the old god that humans have cleared much of the woods and inhabit the cities where his forest once stood. Creatures from myth and legend walk the land, killing the humans that get in their way and a desperate people are fearful fear each day may be their last.................................. While magic is let loose on the land, assassins kill the king of Crotheny and his two daughters. Queen Muriele sent Princess Anne into hiding while her simpleton brother Charles rules in name only. The queen has many enemies who would like to topple her from the throne, including the Praifec and the church who wants to rule in place of the king. Neighboring kingdoms are preparing for war with Crotheny while Princess Anne eludes her enemies as she daringly makes her way back to her homeland to take her rightful place on the throne.................................... Readers who enjoyed THE BRIAR KING will love the sequel as the real enemies of the monarchy show their true colors. The action is fast paced and filled with damsels in distress, heroic knights and vile villains. The characters that fight on the sides of justice well endear themselves to the audience. THE CHARNEL PRINCE is epic fantasy in the traditions of Terry Brooks and Tolkien............................ Harriet Klausner

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    Posted January 23, 2010

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