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Publisher: Tor (Macmillan UK)
Release Date: July 2004
ISBN: 033041945501
Format Reviewed: Paperback
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Genre:   Fantasy
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:  

The Briar King
Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone, No. 1
By Greg Keyes

       Two thousand years ago a group of people slipped through time and space from Virginia to the kingdom of Crotheny. Their leader was a fierce warrior woman called Virginia Elizabeth Dare, who caused the humans to rise up against their demonic masters the Skasloi. Now the Briar King is stirring, and Armageddon is on the way. Standing against it are a forester, a princess, and a monk who have plenty of human foes to fight as well as supernatural ones…

        Reading this brought it home to me that it is rather foolish to always think the best fantasy (or novel in any genre) is the sort that breaks all the rules and departs from the norm. This seems to be standard fantasy on the surface, complete with knights, quests, dire beings, princesses, and castles but Greg Keyes makes it all jump to attention and rattle along, making me forget that I wanted something clever and new. Because truly there is a lot to admire in here, from the fascinating use of language to the feisty and lovable characters, and from the helter-skelter adventures to the well-realized world that it is set in. This is the sort of book that reminds me why I started to love fantasy so much in the first place; I can’t wait for the second installment to be out! Highly recommended.