2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone) (Paperback)
Well, I bought this book when I was told it was gritty, epic fantasy similar to A Song of Ice and Fire and the like.
I would have to agree with this mostly, though I wouldn't say that it is on as large a scale or quite as engrossing - however, you can't give 1/2 stars on here, and I feel it deserves more than four. Call it 4 1/2 out of 5!
It is written from the point of view of various different characters - by this, I mean that in each chapter you see from the eyes of a character, some of whom are in opposion to each other, in a style similar to Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin. This really helps to give the reader the whole picture and successfully avoids the "perfect heroes" of fantasy. It also keeps up the suspense - the book moves at a fast pace the whole way through and I simply had to read on!
It is mediaeval fantasy, with knights and court and politics, but with a supernatural element thrown in that no one really believes in at first. I love this mixture, and I think that it is at the right level. I also enjoy the quality of the writing, as Keyes really paints a picture in the reader's mind of what he is describing. I do not have the book with me at the moment so cannot write the exact quote, but a scene comes to mind when a city is being described: the houses are cascading down the hill like a waterfall, partly contained by walls until the wave finally crashes against the final wall at the base of the hill. (Obviously the book version is much better than mine!) This just made me see exactly how the city looked in my mind.
Finally, it is realistic. Some things that seem predictable just don't happen, you think something has happened because it is what nornally happens in fantasy and then it hasn't, characters do die - hardly any miraculous escapes!
The only thing I would mention is something that didn't exactly spoil my enjoyment of the book...but I did notice it. It's the - unavoidable - repetition in plots that are so common in the genre. There were just some aspects of the book that seemed too familiar - although the book was unpredictable, it began with predictable ideas.
Don't let this put you off though - this is a great start, amazingly written, and I've just ordered the next two books, which shows how much I enjoyed it!