Blurb: The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.
Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honor and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.
But Arlen Bales, the Warded Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honor refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a savior, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.
In the south, Inevera, Jardir’s first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing one another and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for glory enough to make a claim on the throne.
In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late.
Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton—rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.
All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them. Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared. . . .
Review: At first, I wasn’t even going to write a review on this because I was so conflicted I just didn’t know where to even begin or how I really felt about it. After thinking on it and having it drive me crazy I decided that I apparently needed to just get it out.
From a general standpoint, the concept and basic story is still pretty interesting and is really the only reason why I decided to read this one after the first three frustrated me so much. They are actually pretty good, but there are also so very many specifics that make me want to toss this across the room and that just out and out piss me off. There isn’t a rating for “This is good, but it also totally sucks.”
For the first time, we didn’t spend over half the book focused on stuff that has already happened and that we apparently have to suffer through from yet another character’s viewpoint, so that was a plus. Sadly, Mr. Brett still managed to find ways to bloat this with so much that was rather unnecessary filler. This could have easily been cut down by about 1/3 at least. I have no problem with lengthy books. In fact, those are typically some of my favorites, but only when every bit is important to the overall story. That isn’t the case here.
Once you wade through all the stuffing, you then have to deal with seeing characters that have been pretty great in the series suddenly get a personality transplant into something rather ridiculous. We saw it between book one and book two with Leesha. With this one, it was Rojer. He had his moments of self pity in previous books, but he seemed to get over those and get a backbone. In this, he kind of becomes pathetic and only interested in getting yet another wife (don’t even want to get into the cultural overload in this series or how pathetic or horrible every single woman is portrayed). He isn’t the only one. By the time this book was finished, I don’t think that there really was a single character that was left even remotely likable, with maybe the exception of Arlen and that is only because he hardly has a second of page time, yet another annoyance.
Not only does the author do a pretty thorough job of destroying the personalities and likability of the majority of his characters in this book, he decides that it is a good idea to go on a giant killing spree and knock off a few pretty major characters as well as a whole slew of other secondary, but still prominent characters.
Between the personality changes and so many characters dying and the fact that not a single character is now left in this story that isn’t a self-serving, greedy, hateful creature, by the time I reached the end of this book I was ready to root for the demons to wipe out the human race because they were all too stupid to live. While I would like to know how this all ends, I don’t think there is enough left to like after this book to suffer through all the garbage that I just can’t stand enough to read any more books in this series.