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Review: Skullsworn by Brian Staveley


Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer–she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one you love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love…and ending it on the edge of her sword.

My thoughts

Pyrre is one of my favorite characters from The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne and I couldn’t have been more excited about her getting a whole book for herself. Pyrre stands out as a hardcore badass in a world full of kickass people and I thought I couldn’t love her more than I already did, but Skullsworn gave a whole new perspective on her and her life which did a lot more than just substantiating why she is my favorite. Reading Skullsworn was both satisfying and frustrating. While I learned a lot more about a favorite character it also left me wanting more.

For the first time we don’t just get to read about Pyrre from the point of view of other characters, but we see the world through her own eyes, which was a lot of fun. Pyrre might be in a completely different place in her life than where she is in the original trilogy, but that’s exactly what I wanted from this book. While I love seeing her as an established assassin, knowing exactly what she’s doing, it was interesting to see her slowly becoming that person, to see her struggling at becoming the A+ assassin we know her as. Reading from her point of view about events from the past certainly was different than reading about her in the original trilogy, but I loved her voice right from the very first page and knew I won’t be disappointed.

While the summary already hinted at a romantic sub-plot, I certainly wasn’t prepared for what Skullsworn had to offer. I was actually a bit nervous before reading it, as I often prefer my books without romance and liked how there was next to none in the original trilogy, but Brian Staveley once again caught me by surprise and created something amazing that I didn’t know I wanted. Skullsworn doesn’t just introduce as to a side of Pyrre we hadn’t seen before, one of deeply caring about other people and even falling in love, but it explorers the actual meaning of love itself.

Just like The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne, Skullsworn comes with a plot that kept me guessing, without ever knowing what comes next or how it might end. Brian Staveley keeps proving himself as a great storyteller who is able to keep me on the edge of my seat. Dramatic action plot lines as well as inner conflicts, combined with great humor made this easily another favorite book of mine.

I also loved to see more about the world of The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne and learn more about the forces at play in the trilogy as well as seeing what it was like before the Emperor died. Reading Skullsworn definitely made me want to read a lot more books set in this world. Staveley’s take on gods and mythology still has me all heart-eyes and I would love to learn more about certain aspects and characters of this world.

Staveley took a character who we already knew (and loved) and gave us something completely new. Skullsworn gives a whole new insight into the life of my favorite assassin and can easily hold pace with the original trilogy, once again delivering what I already loved about the The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne: diverse, strong, sassy characters and an exciting plot that I couldn’t get enough of.

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Jun 02, 2017