Summary: When the legendary Briar King awoke from his slumber, a season of darkness and horror fell upon the Kingdom of Crotheny. Now countless breeds of unspeakable monsters roam the countryside. An epidemic of madness has transformed peaceful villagers from the wildlands into savage, flesh-eating fiends. In Eslen, King William has been murdered, Queen Muriele is stalked by treachery on every side, and their last surviving daughter, Anne, has fled the assassins bent on destroying her family. Close on the heels of the runaway princess, young knight Neil MeqVren, the queen's one trusted ally, is sworn to rescue Anne from her murderous pursuers. Anne herself undertakes a perilous journey toward the sanctuary of her distant paramour's arms, but along the way lie the sinister agents and hidden snares of a sprawling conspiracy that few might hope to evade. At the same time, spies in the service of Praifec Hespero, the powerful Churchman, embark upon a mission to destroy the Briar King in the heart of his domain. And the power-hungry Church, spurred on by the mystical events, has launched an inquisition whose repercussions threaten even the queen. As the noose of intrigue tightens across the land, personal fates and a kingdom's destiny alike will be decided in a conflict between virtue and malevolence, might and magic.
Review: The book is a continuation of The Kingdom of Torn and Bone series (the second, to be more specific) and is just as much an attention grabber as the first, The Briar King was. Greg Keyes reintroduces all the vivid and capturing characters from the first novel as well as a few new ones. His depiction of magic (referred to as 'shinecraft') is stunning and unique and his portrayal of both adventures in the countryside and politics at court are captivating. I read the book in a day and a half and could barely put it down. All the characters are vivid and engaging. His storytelling is easy to follow and keep up with. Definitely a book that I would recommend.