E-Book, 318 Pages
By: Brian Staveley
“… we are all dying, all the time. Being born is stepping from the cliff’s edge. The only question is what to do while falling.”
Skullsworn is a prequel to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Trilogy. I only read book 1 of that series, gave it three stars and wasn’t very excited to continue the series. But I heard that this book is a prequel, it works as a standalone and that it is a great book and I can say that I agree with all these points.
I think the writing is the best thing about the book because the prose is very polished and kind of lyrical and it is not easy to find this in adult fantasy books. I did not even think of the writing in “The Empeor’s Blade” that way, so it may be that the author improved or just that this book is more interesting for me.
The book follows Pyrre Lakatur, a priestess -to-be after passing the last trial of the God of Death. This trial involves killing 7 people in 14 days according to one of the songs of those priests. The challenging part is the last part which involves killing the one who makes your mind and body sing with love!! I know I am a fan of this formula, there is something magical about people with a list of seven people to kill which is not a new idea and I have read it in books like Best Served Cold and Seven Blades in Black.
So once again, the writing is charming and I think the enjoyment of the story highly depends on it and you can actually tell from the first couple of chapters if it is your cup of tea or not and I knew I was gonna love it from very early on the book!
The characters are also very well written, I think I prefer the single POV to the multiple POV used in The Emperor’s Blade. Pyrre was an interesting character and I also couldn’t help but fall in love with both Ela and Kossal. Ela is just naughty and lewd but very intelligent and endearing character, Kossal is like the opposite with him being grumpy all the time and wanting to kill anything that seems strong because it sounds like they’re challenging his God!
The world-building is not extensive although it gives a very good idea about what the main series entails. There were huge birds, there were Gods, mythology and lots of crocodiles and I think for a prequel that was more than enough because it shouldn’t be overwhelming for the reader.
The plot is great, my small criticism is that the book focused mainly on the last death and it tried to discuss a few things while doing it, like what is love and what is death and what are Gods even! That’s all great but the first 6 deaths pales in comparison to the last one simply because the focus was on the last one. I have heard a lot of praise for the ending and I mostly agree, and I am saying mostly because although I was able to predict it, part of me was a bit salty at the end but I still think it is a very satisfying ending!
“Love is not some eternal state, but a delight in the paradise of the imperfect. The holding of a thing is inextricable from the letting go, and to love, you must learn both.”
Summary: I think it is an excellent book with a great writing and realistic characters. The book is not as short as it seems (almost 450 Pages, the 318 pages in Tor copies may be very compacted) and it is a full length novel. The plot was very intriguing and I think I preferred the choices here compared to the first book in the trilogy. I think the books needs focus to read and enjoy but I don’t think I can do that for 900 pages (the length of the finale in the trilogy) so I think I am gonna drop the series but I am gonna keep an eye on the author’s work for sure!