Arlen and Jardir have disappeared after plummeting off a cliff during their battle. Nobody knows if they’re still alive or what happened to them after they fell but, even with the two potential Deliverers missing, life and the fight against the demons must continue. Leesha, secretly carrying Jardir’s child, tries to hold the ever-increasing population of the Hollow together, navigating the tricky waters of politics and her warring feelings as she courts Count Thamos. Rojer is training apprentices and learning to manage his two feisty Krasian wives, while shadows from his past threaten all he holds dear. Inevera is trying to hold onto her power in Jardir’s absence but her sons both vie for the throne and the united tribes are in danger of warring between themselves, leaving the Krasians weak against both demon and human foes.
‘The Skull Throne’ is the fourth fast-paced instalment in Peter V. Brett’s ‘Demon Cycle’, continuing the action right where book three, ‘The Daylight War’, ended, with Arlen and Jardir falling off a cliff. It was a real cliff-hanger (no pun intended) of an ending so I was eager to pick up the next instalment when it was released.
It would be unfair to say that I was disappointed with this book because the characters and story were both as compelling as ever but I was a little bit sad that I’ll have to wait a little longer to follow Arlen and Jardir’s journey, as they make only a few brief appearances in ‘The Skull Throne’. Instead, the other characters really get their chance to shine as they take centre stage and a few previously minor characters are developed into much bigger players. They are all brilliantly written so that jumping between viewpoints is easy to follow and it’s a real character-driven story that carries you along with all their ups and downs.
I also have to mention how wonderful it is to have a story with so many strong female characters. They definitely aren’t just token females in this series and, in a genre that’s still quite male dominated, though that’s definitely changing, it’s refreshing to have such an abundance of diverse female characters.
The plot is a twisty tale of political machinations, romantic adventures, cunning deceptions and a whole load of secrets and lies. Of course, the demons still roam the lands at night, so there are a fair few adrenaline-fuelled battles and plenty of action between human factions too that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
I love getting stuck into one of Peter V. Brett’s books because I know that I’ll be fully engrossed in a magical world filled with characters that are both totally alien and yet very human. Balancing fast-paced action with the ordinary tales of life for poor villagers and wealthy courtiers, ‘The Skull Throne’ was a pleasure to read and, long after I’ve finished it, I still find my thoughts returning to the events contained within its pages. Another satisfying book from Brett and I can’t wait to see how it all concludes in the next book.
(pub: Harper Voyager. 768 page hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-00742-568-6)