I like getting to a third book and knowing that it isn't the last book in a series. Even if it's the second last book, I'm ok, because it means a deviation from the standard as well as there is more story to come. Such was the case when I got stuck into Greg Keyes' third book in his 'The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone' series, 'The Blood Knight.'
I've spoken about how this book is ... different. And it is. The author writes in a way that is different than other writers.
One major example is the dedication Keyes has to his characters various languages and, specifically, their slang. There are times when a word will appear that isn't simply a variation on an English word, but is actually indecipherable except for context, and even then it's a little baffling. But I don't mind in the slightest, in fact I enjoy the depth with which Keyes takes me into his books.
'The Blood Knight' picks up where 'The Charnel Prince' left off. The queen mother is held captive, the throne is sat on by an usurper, the rightful queen is in the wilds and those loyal to her are beset by evil.
I was glad that Keyes didn't have this whole book dedicated to the unlikely team up of every single good character he's ever written. So many books give away their pride by having everybody happen upon one another within three chapters and become solid friends by the end of the fourth. Keyes did indeed bring his characters together, but no sooner had he done it than he sent them all off on their own again in varying increments. Like a tree branch branching away from the main trunk, every character by the end is essentially on their own.
I'm impressed with Keyes ability to leave his characters in varying states of depression and unhappiness. Neil ends up making a fool of himself, Stephen fumbles through like a first time lover, and Anne may or may not have made the biggest mistake of her races history.
And that's the other thing. Keyes doesn't give the whole game away at any point in the book. I'm not the world's greatest detective, and my girlfriend might have been able to decode what will happen, but I am still truly confused and unsure how this series will end up finishing.
'The Blood Knight' really kept me hooked and continued to reel me in. The happy ending for Leoff and what lies ahead for him is truly engaging and unique, and I was more than pleased with the survival of him and his two charges. The lack of main character deaths is a little bemusing considering the frequency with which they dropped off in the first book, but the passing of time between books 2 and 3 is minimal, I think, so I might be worrying over nothing. The book is really very good, as is the series as a whole, and I'm very tempted to just jump straight into the fourth and final book.
Either way, if you're looking for a fantasy book with a serious twist on the normal, engaging characters and thrilling storyline, then Greg Keyes' 'The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone' is definitely right up your alley.
Review by Joshua S Hill
8.7/10 from 1 reviews
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