The Briar King by Greg Keyes
2003, Del Rey
Review Summary: The Briar King has a lot of interesting ideas in its favor, but the inconsistent presentation detracts from the story somewhat.
The Briar King has a lot of interesting ideas in its favor, but the inconsistent presentation detracts from the story somewhat.
Character-wise, there are some interesting facets to Keyes’ characters, but with the exception of the novice scholar-monk Stephen, they can be considered mostly stock characters – and even Stephen is introduced as something of a standard character type.
Plot-wise, Keyes is all over the map, and it is extremely difficult to determine where he is going with the story overall – and not in a good way. The novel starts out with a fascinating prologue describing a pre-history of the novel where humankind is fighting to free itself from slavery at the hands of the inhuman Skasloi. When the story picks up again, a thousand years later, the world and the unfolding plot is much less interesting, however, with almost random acts of violence being perpetrated for no apparent reason whatsoever.
Thematically, Keyes is also all over the map, but with better results. As mentioned above, the setup for the story is potentially fascinating, if brief. Other elements, specifically those revolving around the religious order and the magic and mythology tied up with the faith, are very unique in my experience, and I’m willing to continue reading the series if only to learn more about the author’s ideas on this.