Author: Brian Staveley
Release Date: April 20th 2017
Published by: Tor Books
Genre(s): Adult, Fantasy
The world building and complexity of Brian Staveley's writing style honestly blew my mind. When I first started reading the book I found it extremely hard to get used to the way in which Staveley writes, but this definitely wasn't a bad thing which I will now explain. The writing is so staggeringly wonderful that it just took me a while to wrap my head around. I have never read anything as intricately woven as the writing in this book. I am new to Staveley's work and haven't read any of the other novels that take place in this world, yet I didn't feel like that took away from the experience at all. Skullsworn is marketed as being a standalone novel while also being a prequel story to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy. Even though I have not read the trilogy I can see how it may possibly link and after reading this I definitely hope to pick up the other books at some point as I am very curious on the direction they might follow.
The plot follows Pyrre Lakatur in her attempt to pass the final trial to become a priestess of Ananshael, God of Death. While also encountering several problems that may prove difficult to overcome. I enjoyed the way in which the start of the story throws you straight into the deep end and that some amazing action scenes quickly get you hooked and excited to see what happens next. Even though the story is truly one of an epic fantasy I found Pyrre's struggles and characteristics to be extremely realistic which made her an amazing protagonist. She is a bad-ass anti-hero that I really enjoyed and found both the humour and seriousness that Staveley wove into her character to be very interesting to read.
The world building was so detailed that I felt like I was experiencing what I was reading first hand and it was an incredibly vivid experience that I will not soon forget. I don't feel like I could compare it to anything I've ever read before, Staveley introduced me to such a different style of writing and one that amazingly made the world come alive around me. It was stunning!
I had a few problems in the beginning with the side characters as I just did not find them likeable at all however this slowly changed and I really started to enjoy both Ela and Kossal (Witnesses to Pyrre's trial and also Priests/Priestess's of Ananshael) and their relationships with Pyree. Which is why I found the ending to be so heartbreaking to read. It took me so long to develop a liking for them which meant I really did not like the way in which events unfold in the end. I adored Ruc and loved (haha I did not do that on purpose - you'll understand if you've read) his relationship with Pyrre.
"How much could a man love a woman, after all, if he wasn't a little worried she might kill him?"
Overall I really enjoyed the plot, the characters and the amazing world building and only had a few issues which mainly centred around the ending, and I don't want to go into too much details because that would be too spoilery. I definitely recommend this to fantasy fans; however I feel if you don't enjoy fantasy or are quite new to the genre this might not be for you as I found it to be one of the most heavy and complex fantasy books that I have ever read.
I would like to say thank you to Pan Macmillan, Tor Books and Brian Staveley for sending me an early digital copy via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.