The Briar King
The Kingdoms of Thorn and BoneBook - 2003
Two millennia after humans were freed from the tyranny of slavery, the Briar King, a legendary portent of death, reawakens, and the fate of the kingdom lies in the hands of the king's woodsman, a rebellious girl, and a new-made knight.
Blackwell North Amer
In the kingdom of Crotheny, two young girls play in the tangled gardens of the sacred city of the dead. Fleeing an imaginary attacker, the girls - one of whom is the reckless young daughter of the king - discover the unknown crypt of the legendary, ancestral queen, Virgenya Dare.
In the wilds of the forest, while investigating the slaughter of an innocent family, the king's holter, Aspar White, weaves his way through a maze of ancient willows - and comes face-to-face with a monstrous beast found only in folktales and nightmares. Meanwhile traveling the same road, a scholarly young priest begins an education in the nature of evil, having found it festering just beneath the surface of the seemingly peaceful land.
The royal family itself comes under siege, facing betrayal that only sorcery could accomplish. Now - for three beautiful sisters, a young man made suddenly into a knight, and woman in love with a roguish adventurer - a rising darkness appears, shattering what was once certain, familiar, and good. These destinies and more will be linked when malevolent forces walk the land. For Crotheny, the most powerful nation in the world, is shaken at its core. And the Briar King, harbinger of death, has awakened from his slumber.
Imbuing his tale with richness, pathos, action, and passion, Greg Keyes begins a new epic. At the heart of the story, Keyes has placed a remarkable young woman, Anne Dare, the youngest daughter of a royal family... and the one person upon whom the fate of this world may depend.
Two millennia after the Born Queen had defeated the Skasloi lords, freeing humans from the tyranny of slavery, deadly creatures once again terrorize the land as the Briar King, a legendary portent of death, reawakens, and the fate of the kingdom lies in the hands of the king's woodsman, a rebellious girl, an adventurers, a young priest, and a new-made knight.
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The first book in the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series.
The Born Queen, Virgenya Dare, defeats the evil Skasloi with magic and frees humanity from slavery. The Skasloi king tells Virgenya humanity is cursed. About 2300 years later, Dare's grave is found by her descendant, rebellious Princess Anne.
The forester Aspar White rescues a novice monk, Stephen Darige, from a kidnapping. Aspar is warned about the mythical Briar King by the strange Sefry travellers.
Evil Prince Robert murders his sister and tricks his brother into war with nearby Hansa. Queen Muriele secretly sends Anne and her friend Austra to a convent to be trained as an assassin. Muriele and her two other daughters evacuate to the country, aided by loyal knight Neil MeqVren who is in love with Princess Fastia.
At the monastery, Stephen finds corruption within the church, and prophecies concerning the terrifying Briar King. Beneath the castle, the captive last Skasloi (known as "the Kept") makes evil predictions. Anne's training takes a strange turn as she finds herself in a magical realm. On her return, Anne is warned she must be Queen to save the world.
The other princesses are murdered as Neil and Muriele watch helplessly - themselves saved only by the appearance of the Briar King. As the assassins aim for their final target, Anne and Austra escape the mass slaughter at the convent, aided by swordsman Cazio and his mentor z'Acatto. Prince Robert murders the king who deals a fatal wound as he dies.
Muriele, back in Eslen, consults the Kept from whom she gets the most terrible curse imaginable to cast on the murderer of her husband. She does not know that it was Robert and that he is also dead. The curse, however, is more powerful even than death and by casting this on Robert, Muriele inadvertently and unintentionally breaks the Law of Death.
The Briar King ends with the awakening of Robert, now a form of undead, which also explains the title of the next volume, The Charnel Prince
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