In the grand tradition of George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan, Sunday Times best-selling author Peter V. Brett continues his critically acclaimed Demon Cycle with the next dramatic instalment: The Skull Throne.
The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty. Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honour 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 Painted Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honour refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a saviour 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 enough glory 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....
©2015 Peter V Brett (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Praise for The Demon Cycle:
"Peter V. Brett is one of my favourite new authors." (Patrick Rothfuss)
"I enjoyed The Painted Man immensely. There is much to admire in Peter Brett's writing, and his concept is brilliant. There's action and suspense all the way." (Terry Brooks)
"The Painted Man works not only as a great adventure novel but also as a reflection on the nature of heroism.' (Charlaine Harris)
"[Peter V. Brett is] at the top of his game. I give this my highest recommendation." (Tor.com) "[Brett] confirms his place among epic fantasy's pantheon of greats amid the likes of George R.R. Martin, Steven Erikson, and Robert Jordan." (Fantasy Book Critic)
"The most significant and cinematic fantasy epic since The Lord of the Rings. Inspired, compelling, and totally addictive!" (Director Paul W. S. Anderson)
Gave up half way through. The fleeting glimpses of interesting action and development were drowned out by annoying intrigue and squabbling.
"The stuffing in the middle?"
I listened to books 1-3 again before listening to this one. Am not sure what it is about this 4thbook that left me feeling almost a little bored, possibly the lack of time given to Arlen? Or maybe that the majority of this book is given over to introducing and giving the back story to yet more characters. Leesha seems to have more time devoted to her than any other character in this book, and I think I may be getting a tad bored with her character.
I found the different pronunciation of main characters names rather annoying in this version.
Either the author is building to an outstanding final instalment, or this was stuffing in the middle, which is my pet peeve when it comes to any book series.
That said, I did enjoy it, and I look forward to the final instalment.
This may well be the case of a book too far, however it was not helped by the change in narrator who pronounced a lot of names differently. Also, as mentioned by other reviewers, there were strange pauses throughout the narration. I am not sure if I will bother with the next one as not a lot seems to have happened in this and it was almost as if the author ran out of steam - or perhaps has split a longer book into two parts. It will be interesting to see if the next installment takes as long to be released as this one did..
"It was good"
Story – 4/5
I enjoyed this well enough, probably as much as the 3rd book, The Daylight War. I just can’t help but think that the story is really drawn out. I wouldn’t mind this quite so much if the characterisation was as good as the first book, but it isn’t. That’s not to say the backstory and character development is completely amiss, some of it is excellent still, it is just not to the overall standard I keep hoping Brett will return to.
I loved the action packed last 3 hours of this book, which made my impression of the overall story rise a huge amount. The epilogue was also very intriguing. If you have enjoyed it to this point, and loved book 3, you will enjoy this one equally.
Performance – 4/5
Another good performance from Colin Mace; who although a bit duller in parts than Peter Joyce was with the first 2 books, is quite similar; and almost as good. Audible were kind enough to swap the older versions of the audiobooks for the new ones with Mace’s narration, so I was able to re-listen and get used to his voice with the characters before approaching books 3 & 4. I would recommend doing the same thing if you struggle with any changes of pronunciation – but I barely noticed.
Overall – 4/5
"Honestly thought it was a different narrator"
Overall I like the Demon books. I usually listen/read much larger books (Peter F Hamilton/Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson) so having some shorter titles is nice.
One thing that struck me this time though is that some of the odd things I've notice in the narrator's pronunciation disappeared in book 4. For instance Coreling was pronounced Coh-Rel-Ing previously is now pronounced as the more intuitive Core-Ling. However, other strange things have popped up. A lot of the voices that were used for the characters sound different to me this time around, one of the main characters is now having his name said differently (Rojer was pronounced in a more nordic way, with the J as a Y sound (so it was Royer) but now switching to basically Roger) and pronunciation of some established words changed (Eveja went from eh-ve-ja to Ee-vee-ja), and some pronunciation of perfectly normal words is off (Incidious being the one that's struck me a few times). The word is always close, but not quite right, and always jars me out of my listening as I'm thinking "is that a mispronunciation or just a word I don't know?"
All together, it added up to the point that until I checked before writing this, I thought it was actually a different narrator and this review was going to be called "Different narrator, similar problem".
Its not enough to actually make it bad narration, but it is a bit jarring in a purely audio format that things like mispronounced words and inconsistent pronunciation are allowed through. I can't help but compare it to Kate Reading/Michael Kramer doing Wheel of Time/Stormlight Archives. Those are much larger books, with many more terms, some of which are painfully close in pronunciation. In wheel of time's case, they were produced over more than a decade, and in stormlight's case, the two were produced over 3 years apart, yet there was very little shift in pronunciation of setting specific words, and I can't think of a single normal word mispronounced. Its why I use Reading/Kramer as my benchmark for narration.
amazing book, but the reading was one of the worst I've heard (sorry Colin).
It was actually quite difficult to follow at times because it pauses at the most random times
"A disappointing pot boiler"
The Demon Cycle started with such promise. I enjoyed the first two books immensely, especially for the fast pace, character driven story line. The third book in the series, while good, finished with a cliff hanger ending (a warning sign that a series is about to go soap opera). Now with this fourth book I am losing my patients. This feels more like padding in order to make the most out of a successful series rather than a progression from previous books.
"Still going strong!"
These books stay fresh as P Brett moves from the tacticsl problems of demon killing to the strstegyrequiref to create a new world. Can't wait for the next one.
"Excellent. The best book in an excellent series!"
This is by far the best book in a series that was already excellent. Looking forward to the final part.
Collin mace takes some getting used to as a narrator as the different tones and voices for the characters are subtle, but it adds depth to the story.
Great story, please do the next book as quickly as possible, this one leaves you on a knifes edge.
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