Friday, July 01, 2016

Review: "The Skull Throne" by Peter V. Brett

The would-be Deliverers are missing, and chaos descends on Peter V. Brett’s world of Thesa in “The Skull Throne” ($7.99, Del Rey).
Following their battle at the end of “The Daylight War,” Arlen Bales and Ahmann Jardir have withdrawn from the world, leaving power struggles in their wake.

In Krasia, the Skull Throne is vacant, and Jardir’s wife, the Damajah Inevera, tries to hold things together. But the Deliverer’s two eldest sons both make moves to try to stake their claim to the throne in his absence.

Meanwhile in the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn have been summoned to Angiers with Count Thamos. The kingdom is in the midst of an attempt to form an alliance with Miln to defend against the Krasians, but the proceedings are strained at best.

Events get more heated when Rojer arrives with his Krasian brides and renews an old rivalry with fellow jongleur Jasin Goldentone, favored at the Angierian court. Thamos, unable to abide Duke Rhinebeck’s attitude, also sparks a new rivalry between the brothers that could lead to a disastrous escalation of Sharak Sun, the Daylight War.

Thankfully, Brett wasn’t able to find another character to retell the story of the rise of Jardir or Arlen one more time from another viewpoint. I’m joking, of course, but only a little. The events of “The Skull Throne” are all set firmly in the present of the world of Thesa, and the book has an urgency that some of its predecessors, perhaps, lacked in places.

The final scene of the third book, “The Daylight War,” left me stunned and moving on to “The Skull Throne” immediately. The action and tension ramps consistently upward from the first page to the last in this book, with events coming rapid-fire toward the end and keeping the pages turning.

It’s also interesting to me that, in many ways, the corelings take a back seat to human threats in this book. Much of the debate and conflict in “The Skull Throne” mirrors the political climate of our real world. Religious and political hardlines are taken with little middle ground, often seemingly ignoring the even greater threat that should concern everyone. It seems that no one on Thesa wants to work together for any reason. Sound familiar?

Without spoiling anything, suffice it to say that Brett’s world looks very different at the end of the book than at the beginning, and we’re set up for what should be one hell of a ride in the finale.

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