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- Published on Monday, 11 June 2012 10:53 am
- Written by Seregil of Rhiminee
Karen Azinger's The Skeleton King was published in May 2012.
Karen Azinger is the author of The Silk & Steel Saga and The Assassin's Tear. Her debut book, The Steel Queen (the first book of The Silk & Steel Saga), was published in 2011.
Click here to visit Karen Azinger's official website.
Here's a description of The Skeleton King:
Destinies collide in the far north. Kath and her companions chase a trail of death across the steppes. The endless grassland seems benign, but they soon fall prey to an ambush of tricks and traps. Swords alone will not avail them, for the north is guarded by the foulest magic. The companions must rally, each of them tested in a crucible of choice.
War drums thunder across the steppes. The Mordant ascends the Ebony Throne, loosing his hordes against the Octagon. The steppes become a bloody battlefield, with victory and loss on all sides. One age is ended but another begins. Born of blood and deceit, the new age threatens to be full of Darkness unless a few dare to make a difference.
Here's the review:
A REVIEW OF KAREN AZINGER'S THE SKELETON KING
Karen Azinger's The Silk & Steel Saga is one of the most entertaining fantasy series I've read and it's one of the best new fantasy series, because it's an interesting and well written series, which is full of surprises. I have to confess that this series has reminded me why I read epic fantasy and why I like it so much, because I had almost forgotten how rewarding it is to read good and entertaining epic fantasy.
The Skeleton King wonderfully and satisfyingly continues the story, which started in The Steel Queen and then continued in The Flame Priest. It's a perfect sequel to the previous books and it won't disappoint fans of The Silk & Steel Saga.
Before I write anything else, here's a bit of information about what happened in the previous book (The Flame Priest):
Liandra faced the threat of the Red Horns. Kath and her companions went to Deep Green and asked help from the Children of the Green. Kath met her father in Castlegard and was treated almost like a prisoner. She escaped from Castlegard so that she could do what she has to do. Kath and her companions traveled to Cragnoth Keep. Samson and Justin tried to find a way to get rid of the religion of the Flame God. Samson made a big sacrifice. Duncan's secret was revealed to Kath and her companions. Steffan created an army and wanted to set it free. The Priestess got new responsibilities from the Dark Lord. The Mordant sowed mistrust and hate across the realm and made him way toward the north.
And here's a bit information about The Skeleton King:
War threatens the kingdoms of Erdhe. The Mordant continues to do evil in the monk's (Bryce) body and the monk's soul suffers. He enters into his domain and faces the Trials of Return, which will make him the ruler of the Dark Citadel and give him the right to sit on the Ebony Throne. The Knight Marshal and the king go to investigate what happened at Cragnoth Keep. The king still refuses to believe her daughter. The king starts to prepare for the forthcoming battles and war. Kath and her companions continue their journey beyond the Dragon Spine Mountains and face problems on the steppes...
That's all I'll write about the plot of The Skeleton King, because I don't want to reveal the whole plot in this review (it would be unfair to write spoilers).
Unlike the previous books, this time the events take place in the northern part of Erdhe. I think it's great that the author has chosen to write about Kath (and her companions), the Knights of the Octagon and the Mordant. In the previous books the events took place all over the Erdhe, but in this book the author concentrates on writing about what happens in the northern part of Erdhe and in the Dark Citadel. In my opinion this is a good thing, because it gives the author a chance to develop the characters and advance the plot.
Karen Author has develop a lot as an author, which is good. I noticed this development in the previous book, but now it's easier to see how much she has developed, because she has written a highly entertaining fantasy book about the battle between good and evil.
Now that I've read The Steel Queen, The Flame Priest and The Skeleton King, it's easy for me to notice how small and insignificant things come to mean a lot as the story goes on (the author has created a good and interesting story arc). When I began to read The Skeleton King, I instantly liked the new plot twists and I enjoyed reading about the characters and their new adventures, because Karen Azinger has a talent for surprising her readers. I like this kind of storytelling, because it shows that the author loves fantasy and wants her readers to fully immerse themselves in the story (the author clearly wants to entertain her readers). I'm sure that when you read this book, you'll notice that Karen Azinger has written it with passion and she has a talent for writing complex stories.
Karen Azinger has her own writing style, which differs nicely from other authors' writing styles. Her prose is descriptive and nuanced. I like the way she writes about her characters, the conversations and the happenings. The conversations between the Mordant and the captured soul of Bryce are very interesting, because the Mordant tries to make Bryce understand that he's a prisoner and there's no escape (I enjoyed reading about these conversations).
Each character is believable and has his/her own problems and feelings. Strong female characters are seldom seen in epic fantasy literature, but in this series the women are strong. Although they're stong, they can also be vulnerable and they have to make difficult decisions (Kath has lots of things to consider and she faces different kinds of problems). The Mordant is an interesting character, because he's viciously evil and the author explores several things from his point of view. The Mordant is without a doubt one of the most interesting and colorfully depicted villains I've read about. I also enjoyed reading about the Knight Marshal, the king and the Knights of the Octagon, because the author writes exceptionally well about them and their lives.
Karen Azinger writes engagingly about magic and magical things. I've always loved reading about magic, so this book offered me lots of enjoyment. It was thrilling to read about the characters' abilities etc and also about the unnatural abominations, which the Mordant has created. I enjoyed reading about Danya's Beastmaster magic, which is a rare form of magic, because there aren't many authors who write about this kind of magic. The twisted soul magic of the Mordant was also worth reading about, because soul magic is dark magic. I'll also mention that the focuses are interesting magical items (a focus gives its user an ability to use certain kind of magic) and it was fun to read about them.
The author has a way of writing vividly about the battles and fight scenes. For example, when you read about what happens on the vast steppes, you'll notice how fluently the author makes the surroundings come to life and how easily she describes what the characters feel when they fight against their enemies.
The worldbuilding is just as good as it was in the two previous books. The author has created a huge fantasy world and there are fascinating places in the northern part of Erdhe. It was nice to read about the steppes and the Dark Citadel, because Karen Azinger writes about them in a fascinating way. She gave her readers a chance to read about the Dark Citadel in a short story called The Assassin's Tear (this story can be found in the short story collection The Assassin's Tear), but now she reveals more things about the Citadel. I think that several readers will enjoy reading about the Dark Citadel and its dark wonders and horrors.
The author has a wonderful way of writing about duty, destiny, honour, friendship and treason, and all things related to them. She also writes fluently romantic things and love. For example, the scenes where Kath and Duncan are close to each other are perfect (it's also nice to read about Blaine's feelings toward Danya). The author can also write convincingly about brutal happening. For example, the scenes where the Mordant demonstrates his powers are simply fantastic, because the author writes fascinatingly about the Mordant's evil and sadistic nature. The sexual arousal of the Mordant during some of the scenes is handled exceptionally well, because he inhabits Bryce's body and can use the body in every possible way.
The Skeleton King is a traditional fantasy book, but it's also a delightfully modern fantasy book. I think that fans of The Silk & Steel Saga have noticed that the author combines fluently traditional fantasy storytelling, violence, brutality, romance and sexuality - this combination makes this book a modern fantasy book.
When I finished reading this book, the first words that came to my mind were: "Wow! What a book!". I liked the first two books very much, but I have to say that The Skeleton King is a damn good fantasy book and it's even better and more entertaining than the previous books. It seems that this series just keeps on getting better and better with each new book, because the author keeps the story flowing and takes time to develop the characters. I can hardly wait to read what happens in the fourth book, The Poison Priestess.
The Skeleton King is an exciting, fresh, brutal and addictive fantasy book, which offers lots of entertainment and surprises for fans of epic fantasy literature. If you like entertaining epic fantasy, I'm sure that you'll like this book.
This book is excellent and fantastic entertainment!