In the present, Crotheny, the greatest nation of the world is under threat by countries in the north. Hansa and Saltmark are stirring trouble and war is just around the corner. In the south, tales of unearthly creatures roam the King's Forest. People have died and fled their homes. The King's Holter, Aspar White is to find the source of the trouble. Is it because the Briar King...the harbinger of death has awoken?
The Dares are conflicted on both sides of the borders but also from within. King William the Second is a good man but by no means a good King. He has a wife who knows about his many mistress'. A daughter who isn't happy with her marriage, another who is about to get married and the youngest who is rebellious. William also has a son, Charles, but he is simple, 'touched by the Saints' and because so, William decides to name his daughters heirs to the throne. The Church does not not like this at all, not one bit.
The Briar King by Greg Keyes is nothing short of an amazing read. It is the first of four in the series called 'The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone'. There was so much familiarity when I was reading this book. Almost all the characters felt like someone from Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy). Keyes has a wonderful way of writing characters who keep growing and developing. The chapters were separated by the different characters and the locations they were in, which reminded me of A Game of Thrones. It is similar on another level in that each chapter teases you with a little bit of information and then switches locations. Some have said that this got annoying in A Game of Thrones, but because the world in which Keyes writes is smaller, we don't have a lot of different story arcs at one time.
While The Briar King is similar to those great books, when you have included the plot, this book is distinctly Keyes. Each chapter is a page turner and each one eggs you along like a kitten chasing after a rolling ball.
The plot is very deceptive. It starts off like a very typical fantasy storyline and as you read and the chapters begin to crumble, the story becomes more intricate and like a vortex sucks you in.
The first book of the year has been an absolute joy. I have finished The Charnel Prince, the second of the series and was equally captivating. I look forward to the rest of the series.
"The Briar King has a deep plot and full of characters that keep giving." - Sleeping With Books