Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: The Charnel Prince by Greg Keyes

The kingdom of Crotheny has been thrown into chaos with the death of King William and other members of the royal family. The Briar King, a figure out of myth, has awoken from eons of slumber causing an epidemic of madness to sweep the countryside turning peaceful villagers into flesh eating monsters. Queen Muriele attempts to maintain order but is stalked by treachery on every side. She sends her protector Neil MeqVren to search for her last surviving daughter Ann. Ann meanwhile, along with Cazio, Astra and z’Acatto is searching for a way to return home and is only just beginning to understand the forces arrayed against her and the role she might play in the future. Meanwhile Aspar, Winn and Stephen have been given a magical artifact by the church and charged with slaying the Briar King. Aspar however has his doubts that the Briar King is truly evil, having had his life saved once before by the mythical figure.

The second book in the series largely follows the same cast of characters from the first book with one notable exception; the composer Leoff. Leoff had been appointed as court composer by King William but arrives when the situation has drastically changed. His character is certainly interesting and I liked the way music is used as a different power for influencing events. Keyes uses this well in setting up the finale of the book which might have gone down the ‘bring all the characters together for a massive confrontation’ route otherwise. The returning characters remain interesting, I especially liked the way Neil and Anne grew up throughout this book as these two seem to have most effected by the events of the first book. There are some intriguing hints that Aspar and Stephen may have been changed on a more physical level that will no doubt be explored in a subsequent book. I just hope Keyes doesn’t take the whole tired ‘organized religion’ is fundamentally evil route and goes with a more interesting concept when the role of the church in these events is revealed.

Overall the Charnel Prince is another strong offering from Keyes 8.25/10.