Published by Tor Books on April 25th 2017
Our reviews of this author: The Last Mortal Bond
It may have taken a few months, but I am finally ready to hand out my first 5 star rating for 2017.
And as much as I loved the Unhewn Throne trilogy, Skullsworn has taken seat for my favorite of Staveley’s book. One thing Staveley did well in Unhewn Throne was create fascinating secondary characters that you wish had more page time, and even without knowing everything about them, you just love them. Well, Staveley has now proven he can take one of those intriguing secondary characters and create a very rich and full story that makes you understand and appreciate the character on a whole other level.
Pyrre stood out in Unhewn Throne as one of those intriguing secondary characters that really added to my enjoyment of the series. This book is the story of her trial to become a priestess of Ananshael, the God of Death and really gives us an amazing background on her to understand how she became the character we met earlier.
One would expect her trial to be full of death (which, it was), but it is love, not death, that really takes the spotlight. To complete her trial, Pyrre must take the life of someone she loves. Problem is, Pyrre can’t think of anyone that would qualify. So within the short span of her trial, she must both find love and do so knowing that there is an ulterior motive and a not so happy ending for the relationship. One has to wonder if it is possible to find love under these circumstances. And while the rest of us are wondering how she could kill them if she does love them, well, you have to understand they see “sending someone to their god” as a mercy or gift, not as violence or murder. Her perspective on death is so incredibly different from how we think. But through the course of this book, I came to really understand her and how she sees the world. For Pyrre, this is not unthinkable on the level one might expect, and yet she still comes across as quite humanized and someone you want to root for.
The prose in this book seemed to be a step above his earlier books as well. Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed his other books, but I never really considered prose a strength. I would find myself reacting not to just what Staveley was saying, but how he was saying it. I would think “wow, I love that description”. I honestly don’t remember noticing this in his other books, but I found myself just really impressed with his word choices, descriptions and the general flow. I enjoyed not just the entire story, but also how it was told.
While this book is told from Pyrre’s perspective, it is told in both a current timeline as well as flashbacks. These flashbacks increased our understanding of Pyrre and how she came to serve her God. They were integrated with the current day events very well, keeping the pace going and holding my interest just as easily as the current timeline.
Also adding to my enjoyment of this book were Pyrre’s companions. Like I said earlier, Staveley does secondary characters very well, and this book is no exception. Pick one at random, and I would love a book dedicated to them.
So, yes, as much as I enjoyed The Unhewn Throne, Skullsworn is now favorite of Staveley’s books. It is as exciting and fascinating as Pyrre herself. Perhaps it just struck my mood, but I loved getting a single perspective and just immersing in Pyrre’s character. It just felt like a quicker and more gripping read to focus on just her. And what a character she is! Even as a secondary character I found her interesting, but this book delivered more than I expected. Highly recommend, especially for fans of female characters that like to kick ass and not always follow the rules.