Brian Staveley’s new standalone, Skullsworn, returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess attempting to join the ranks of the God of Death.
Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderershe is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.
The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. To complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”
Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love . . . and ending it on the edge of her sword.
About the Author
BRIAN STAVELEY is the author of the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne series, starting with The Emperor's Blades. He has taught literature, religion, history, and philosophy, all subjects that influence his writing, and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. He works as an editor for Antilever Press, and has published poetry and essays, both in print and on-line. He lives in Vermont with his wife and young son, and divides his time between running trails, splitting wood, writing, and baby-wrangling.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Can someone please explain to me WHY I haven't read anything by Brian Staveley before? Because clearly I've been delusional for not doing so. Skullsworn was absolutely amazing. I don't often find fantasy, or really anything in the realm of SFF, that manages to pull off the extensive world-building and large character cast while still maintaining a solid narrative voice. ESPECIALLY one where that voice has personality. By that, I mean that Staveley keeps the story engaging while building this intricate world. Now, I haven't read any of the other books in this world (though you can bet they're now all on my TBR list) but I had no problem falling into this masterpiece. I absolutely loved Pyrre. This is her story of becoming a priestess of Ananshael, the God of Death, and as she's completing her Trial, you can feel her struggles. Especially that of finding love and it's such a subtle but powerful theme through her entire story. Part of me knew the ending, somewhere deep down from all those little clues offered up among the turmoil of the rebellion, but it still took me by surprise. She's such a strong person who overcame a rough childhood and found her calling, and she's good. In that understated kind of way. Pyrre can kill a man and it doesn't seem like anything because to her, it really isn't. And that amazed me, the casualness of how she and the other characters treat moments that (in another book) would be drawn out and dramatized. I've heard rumors that she's in the other books of this world and perhaps I went about it all a bit backward reading her origin first but now I'm REALLY excited to check out the rest. But I could talk about Pyrre all day. She quickly became one of my favorite fantasy heroines to-date. Yet I can't ignore this world. Most of the book is focused in the city of Dômbang while Pyrre completes her Trial and I definitely was there. I felt the heat pressing against my skin, tasted ta and quey, floated down the waters of the delta and came face-to-face with the Three. I stood next to Pyrre as well as in her very shoes seeing through her eyes. Every little detail sprang to life and maybe that seems like a bit of an exaggeration but trust me, read Skullsworn and you'll see it's really not. And let's not forget the rest of the cast. While I can't speak as much on grumpy Kossal who I adored, Ela who was beauty and death in one, and Ruc with a history left mostly unspoken of and something I want more of, they added to every bit of Pyrre's adventure. This book was amazing, hands down. If you've already read Staveley's Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne books, I think you'll find this an excellent addition to the world. But if you're like me and haven't yet, don't let it get in your way of grabbing a copy of Skullsworn as soon as you can!
Pyrre Lakatur must kill seven people in fourteen days or she will die. Pyrre however, is not afraid of death- rather, she is troubled by the thought of failure. Killing seven people would be easy for Pyrre, who belongs to a religion known among the populace as Skullsworn. She is accomplished in the many ways a life can be offered to Ananshael, the God of Death. However, to become a priestess, she must adhere to certain requirements; one of which is to kill the individual she loves. Love is something Pyrre has never experienced, so in desperation she has chosen Dombâng, the city of her youth for her Trial. There she will attempt to rekindle the passion she shared with former lover, Ruc Lan Lac, who now presides as constable over the troubled city. Accompanying Pyrre as witnesses are vivacious and deadly Ela, a legendary priestess of her order, and Kossal, a gruff older priest. Her Trial hinges on the hope that Ruc will let her get close enough so they can fall in love. Then she can kill him. Skullsworn is set in the world of Brian Staveley's Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series. Although Pyrre had a part to play in that trilogy, this standalone novel takes place years before those events. I like that Pyrre tells her own narrative in first person. It allows the reader to fully appreciate her history, motivations, and inner workings. She is a distinctive protagonist who is definitely more comfortable with her blades than her emotions. I particularly enjoyed her interactions with Ela, whose lessons are a delightful combination of philosophy, humor, and combat. The city of Dombâng plays an integral role in the story. It still seethes under the martial law imposed upon it by the Annurian Empire centuries ago. Worship to its fierce gods is outlawed, but its people still believe in the forbidden sacrificial rituals, which leaves it ripe for rebellion. The deadly deltas and marshes that surround it are rife with a plethora of creatures that survive by preying on the weak. I really enjoyed the political intrigues and colorful, yet lethal locations that kept the action progressing in unexpected and exhilarating ways. Because of her devotion to her deity, Pyrre's heartfelt journey of self-discovery is unlike any that comes to mind. Skullsworn kept me mesmerized from start to finish. I love the story's epilogue; it took me by surprise and left a smile on my face. Brian Staveley is both a master of the English language and an accomplished storyteller which makes this book a pleasure to read. Unique, bold, and exciting, Skullsworn is not to be missed.